Tim Kimberley and his wife, Patty, have recently been commissioned as “missionaries to the Internet.” Through their website, HeLives.com, they are pioneering a new kind of ministry that presents God’s Word to a visual culture around the world. In the past 7 months they have ministered to about 1,500 people per week, and visitors from 84 countries have logged on.
The need for this kind of ministry is overwhelming. Google, an Internet search engine, reports that every day, 2 million people type in the word “God” to search for related sites. And on the negative side 1,200 new porn sites—not just pages, but whole websites—are added to the Internet every day. “This is a tempting alternative for the people we’re reaching who would be spending time on the Internet anyway,” Tim said.
Tim understands this temptation and the trap of sexual sin personally. He was addicted to pornography as a high schooler before he knew Christ, and the burden of his sin weighed heavily on him. “I became very aware that God was real because I was experiencing his wrath—the guilt I felt because of my sin was much greater than my parents could have the power to inflict on me.” He even came to the point that he was ready to commit suicide.
In his first year of college, when he went on a 7-hour road trip to a rugby tournament, he realized that something had to change. The team was self-coached, so no sponsors accompanied them on the trip, and the hedonism was blatant. By the time they reached their destination, Tim was sickened by his own sin and his teammates’. He realized that two of the team members were missing and was told that they had driven to the tournament in a separate car. He found them in their hotel room studying the Bible and realized that this was his chance to choose to live differently.
“I knew that when I did things on my own, I tended to veer off course, but when I did what God wanted, life was peaceful. Their lifestyle symbolized that peace to me.” He stayed with them the rest of the weekend and rode home with them. “That was the first time I’d ever heard Christian music, and there was nothing more that I wanted than peace with God.”
When they got home, he was invited to a seeker-sensitive service on campus and began to learn about the Christian faith. A few weeks later, a pastor shared his testimony, and Tim accepted Christ. And within a year, God had rid his life of the sexual sin that had entangled him.
Tim had always loved computers, and in college he worked at John Deere developing their Internet website. As he continued to grow in his faith he developed a passion to present God’s Word online with the same creative energy and excellence. So, at night, he would apply the same techniques he used at work to HeLives.com.
Then, two summers ago, he went to Uganda for 3 weeks with a DTS student and discovered that the fastest-growing business in Kampala (the capital city) was Internet cafes. He also learned that many of the pastors in Uganda don’t even have their own Bibles, much less access to solid Bible teaching. “While they are passionate about sharing Christ, many of them are teaching heresy because they don’t know any better.”
He returned with a new vision for the website—to communicate all 66 books of the Bible to meet this kind of need around the world. Through contacts from fellow DTS students, Tim set up a board of directors for the website and filed the necessary paperwork to achieve nonprofit status.
The site offers not only resources, but also forums for discussion, which have met a real need—especially for teens around the world. In the teen forum alone more than 3,500 theological conversations have taken place in the past 7 months. And many of them are surprisingly personal. “I always thought the Internet was a little too impersonal for discipleship, but we’ve found that when we’re real with people, they have no reason to be fake.”
Tim sees HeLives.com as a way to meet people who feel more comfortable behind the keyboard than in a pew and point them toward sound doctrine and truth—then encourage them to plug back into a local community of faith. And many of those who have been discipled are now turning around and discipling others.
Paul’s exhortation to Titus to “encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Tit. 1:9) is an encouragement to the Kimberleys that they are being good stewards of the Word of God and accomplishing God’s purpose in a new way.
Tim expects to continue this ministry as long as God is using it to impact people, but he also plans to become more involved in “face-to-face” discipleship in a local body once he finishes his degree at DTS.
The mission of Dallas Theological Seminary is to
glorify God by equipping godly servant-leaders
for the proclamation of His Word and the
building up of the body of Christ worldwide.