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"Tom, I'm online now; do you have the mikes hooked up?"

"Yes, Peter, I think it's all ready. Go ahead and Skype the missionary."

At the back of the church sanctuary, Peter clicked a small green phone icon on his computer screen. Dialing sounds came loudly over the church public address system. After three rings, there was silence and then a familiar voice answered, "Hello?"

"This is Peter from Faith Baptist Church in Knoxville, TN. Is this Frank Wordsworth?"

"Yes, this is Frank. How are you this evening?" Peter glanced out the window at the sunny summer morning, and through a stifled snicker he replied, "Uh, good evening to you too, Frank." From across the room Tom shouted, "Sounds great here, Peter, I think it's going to work fine."

Peter took his cue to take charge, "Frank, it's 9:45 a.m. here and we just wanted to make sure the connection worked. We'll hang up now and call you back at 11:20 . . . I mean our time 11:20."

Frank's voice sounded like he was smiling, "Great! It's 9:45 here in Australia too, but it's already evening. Anyway, I'll be ready at 11:20 when you ring me again."

Peter clicked a red icon to end the call and then left the sanctuary with Tom to join their wives in the church education wing for Sunday school.

That morning the worship service began punctually at 11:00 in the familiar way: Call to Worship, a hymn, an opening prayer, announcements, and pastoral greeting. However, the pastor surprised everyone by saying: "This morning we have a treat for everyone. We are going to talk to our missionary in Australia Frank Wordsworth. The men have set up the public address system and some microphones to connect to the internet so we can let Frank greet us and share about his work and we can even ask him questions. Peter, are things ready?"

Right at that moment, Peter clicked on the phone icon, the whole congregation heard dialing and ringing sounds, and then, a few people gasped when they heard Frank's voice say, "Hello?"

The pastor spoke into his microphone, "Frank, this is Pastor Richland. We're here in our Sunday morning service at Faith Baptist Church in Knoxville, TN. Would you give us a short report about your ministry?"

"Pastor," Frank began, "I can't believe I'm joining you for your Sunday service. It was only two years ago when I was there with all of you. Now during this past year and a half in Australia I have often thought of you. Our university ministry is going well. Thirty students attend our Tuesday evening Bible study. A few guys come to my flat each Saturday evening. I follow up on seven of the guys in discipleship studies, and I teach the college and career class at my church. Thank you for continuing to pray for us here and support our work."

"Our work?" Pastor Richland had a gleam in his eye, "When did Frank Wordsworth become a 'we'?"

"Oh, pastor, I'm still single, but this college outreach is not just mine, I also view it as the Lord's work and an outreach from my church here in Perth, Australia."

The pastor laughed kindly, "I'm just teasing you, Frank, but you let us know when you become a twosome." At that point the pastor changed gears by looking up at the congregation and saying, "Are there any people that would like to ask Frank any questions about his ministry?"

An eight-year-old boy raised his hand and at the pastor's nod walked up to a microphone. There were loud noises as he reached up and tipped the microphone down toward his face. "It's church time. Why aren't you in church right now?" He asked.

Frank responded, "We're twelve hours ahead of you, so it's already 11:30 at night here. When the pastor emailed me, he made sure that you contacted me at a time when I wouldn't be in a church service or be involved in a ministry responsibility. This turned out to be a great time for me."

The boy looked around, looked up at the microphone, and then walked back to his seat.

A middle-aged man walked up to another microphone. "How are things now that apartheid is over?"

There was a pause, and Peter looked at the computer screen to make sure the connection was still ok. Then Frank's voice put him at ease, "I'm sure that South Africa has changed a lot since the end of apartheid, but I'm in Australia, and we have not had apartheid here."

As the man turned to walk back to his seat, a younger teen-aged girl walked up to the microphone that the eight-year-old had used. She fumbled with it to get it at the right height for her mouth, and then she asked, "Why aren't you married?"

"The Bible says singleness is good," Frank began, "and I'm using my time of singleness to serve the Lord. If I were married, I would serve the Lord differently, but now I minister in the ways that a single person can minister effectively."

The teenager didn't quite seem satisfied with the answer, but neither did she know what else to ask, so she went back to her seat. Since no one else was moving, the pastor spoke into his microphone, "I have one last question: now that it's summer vacation, what kinds of ministry are you involved with? Are there students in summer school?"

Frank answered right away, "It's winter in Australia now. I am busy with the activities I mentioned in my report a few minutes ago. The school year begins in February and runs to December when everyone gets off for Christmas and summertime. During our summer, I focus on our college and career Sunday School class, and the university students who are home from their courses at universities in other parts of Australia."

Pastor then thanked Frank, Peter disconnected the call, and the service proceeded as usual.

After church, as Peter was driving his family home, his wife Twila asked, "Did you like that call to Frank this morning?"

Peter thought a moment and then muttered, "Yeah, it was fine."

Twila frowned. "I just don't think we got to know him well in it. I mean, it just wasn't like having him here, eating in our home, being in our church."

Peter shrugged, "It wasn't meant to take the place of a personal visit, but it was immediate contact, completely free of charge, and we even had the chance to ask him a question if we wanted."

Twila was puzzled, "You mean you would want to do it again?"

"Sure," Peter spoke a little faster, "I think it would be better if people could submit their questions ahead of time so we don't ask any more people about apartheid!" He turned his head both ways to check the traffic as he laughed at the question submitted earlier that morning. "This morning worked fine, but with time we could make the conversations a very effective way to keep up with our missionaries."

Tuesday Tea

Missionary Connection

Bunkbed Banter

Five-mile Run

A Car for a Missionary

Judah's Story

John--Apostle of Glory

Singles Pastor