September 13th, 2014 – an unexpectedly special day in the story of Ekballo University. As a natural innovator, the one thing that Trip Nine, founder of Ekballo U, does not do particularly well is to sit still. Yet, on the afternoon of September 13th, that is the exact assignment he had accepted as a way to support his wife having a refreshing day with friends. While sitting for hours in a waiting room with their infant daughter, Trip was certainly in an unnaturally still and seemingly ineffective posture. So, of course, that would be the space which the Lord would choose to share the vision that would eventually become Ekballo University.
One of the ongoing themes to this journey of nurturing the ministry of digital evangelism has been the verse from 2 Corinthians 4:7 which says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”
Consequently, it seems especially appropriate that the Lord would give the complete idea of how to use social media to promote the gospel as one download to a busy “thinker” on a day of stillness. Months and years of seemingly unrelated training, personal research, and random interests suddenly coalesced into one powerful Kingdom idea.
The night of September 13th, Trip decided to create the first page and gospel “ad” and send it into the nation of Pakistan, curious to know if the idea would work. By morning, he was shocked to find hundreds had already begun following his content, reaching 3000 followers of a page called “Healing Prayer” by the end of the week.
In this moment, Trip realized that he had stumbled across hidden treasure, concealed in the field of Facebook. The effectiveness of the dollar in that region of the world, and in other areas of the 10/40 window, was almost incomprehensible; and the quality and accessibility of real Gospel conversations happening over Facebook often surpassed the type of conversation that the same individuals might broach in person. Ironically, the only struggle was that the ministry was “too” effective. It was “too easy” to reach more people than one person could effectively dialogue with and minister to. As has always been the case in missions work, the harvest is indeed plentiful, but the workers are too few.
For six years, Trip stewarded this vision mostly alone. He saw the incredible potential it had to reach even the most unreachable nations, but the church was not quite ready for the paradigm shift in thinking that it required. However, all of that changed in March 2020, when the entire world was forced into digital environments, almost overnight. As evangelists, church goers, and missionaries alike found themselves in some form of COVID-19 lock-down or quarantine, the question of how to utilize technology to continue the work of the Great Commission became suddenly, and powerfully, relevant.
The first opportunity to train others in this ministry came in partnership with the Golden Shores Initiative in the nation of Myanmar. This pioneer country has become a compelling example of what is possible through digital missions when we partner with and train in-country evangelists to use technology to find the “open doors” and hearts that are tender towards the Gospel. As of September 2022, there have been 23,880,000 people in Myanmar reached for the Gospel; 3,001,047 people have engaged with the “digital tracts” we have sent to them; 128,369 have initiated conversations; and 1,798 individuals have made decisions for Christ. Here we have defined a “decision for Christ” as someone who has: said they want to follow Jesus, requested to meet with a local pastor, provided us with their address and phone number, and received a digital Bible. Praise God for the wisdom He has dispensed to reach the nations in this digital age!
Over the last couple years, this effective template of digital evangelism, demonstrated by the teams in Myanmar, has begun to be replicated in additional nations. It is the vision of Ekballo University that this work would expand to 60 nations over the next decade.
The ultimate goal of this ministry is simply this: that, in the years to come, we could continue to equip the church with technology and innovation to bring the message of the Gospel to the nations of the earth, until every ethnos has been reached in Jesus’ Name.