Compelling and effective digital networks are not established overnight. They take time to sprout, take root, and eventually grow and bear fruit. LightNet is no exception. The first ideas about such a system and tool date back to 2013 by David Fry, now team leader of MediaWorks. He shares that this idea: “combined with the vision that OM EAST has independently had, brought to fruition what is known as LightNet today.” Following David’s appointment as MediaWorks team leader at the end of 2019, the Lord provided specialists who could take the work forward. Since December 2020, Daniël, Clayton and Jamie have been hard at work on this vision.
“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.” - 1 John 1:7a (NIV)
When MediaWorks supporter Sally heard about the digital tool in progress, she suggested the name ‘LightNet’ as she thought of it helping bring light into the world through a network. Meanwhile, MediaWorks leader David had been using the analogy of the earth viewed from outer space at night with lights shining brightly from inhabited places where people were connected. It turned out that the representative photo he had shown in presentations described exactly what Sally had in mind.
The image resonates with Jamie, a systems architect developing LightNet. “This is a picture of the world through God’s spiritual eyes,” he explains. “Every Christian is a light and as they have relationship with other Christians, it makes lines of light.” While reading 1 John 1:7, Jamie found it echoed LightNet’s name and vision: to give light and to nurture networks of relationships, which bring individuals into fellowship Jesus and with each other.
One practical obstacle the LightNet team seeks to overcome is that after “an online book or video is created, it’s extremely fragmented across ministries,” Jamie illustrates. “[LightNet] will eventually [enable] resources to be shared.” A material’s impact exponentially grows when it can be used over a variety of ministries and contexts. Jamie loves using his decades of experience and skills working on this “exciting Kingdom tool,” as he says, that will help support and further the Church among some of the least-reached people groups in the world.
Daniël, one of the software designers, describes this new system’s capabilities:
“[LightNet] will enable ministries and churches to create tailor-made apps and websites (webapps*) within as little as an hour. The webapps will serve as platforms to share curated Christian media that engages with specific people groups.
“Alongside the creation of webapps, LightNet will provide ministry teams with a place to catalogue their unique media library and manage permissions, access rights and licensing. Over time, we will add functionality so that ministries can share media with each other, allowing access to a rich media library network.
“With the new digital tool, we want to simplify creating webapps, lower maintenance costs and bundle hard-to-find (and expensive) software craftsmanship between ministries. Webapps created with LightNet can operate offline, work on mobile phones, function as a mobile app, are fast, support multiple languages, and support flexible media and content types.”
Clayton is another software engineer helping to build and create LightNet. In an interview, he shares about his role and how LightNet will help support the spread of the gospel in all languages and in all cultures.
What gets you most excited about working on this product?
Seeing the potential of so many ministries and churches being able to benefit from this project is the most exciting thing to think about. Especially the small ministries and churches that don't have resources to develop something like a website to manage their media themselves. Being able to build and then give them the tools to further their ministry and further God's Kingdom is exciting.
How have you seen God at work while you’ve been working on it?
God has been working in some big elements such as how the team is composed and its various skills and backgrounds. He's worked in mine and my family's lives personally in arranging finances to enable working on the project, housing arrangements, and previous working experiences. But God also works in the little things. There's a lot of trial and error involved with building a piece of software from the ground up, and in working with new technologies. This type of trial-and-error work can be very discouraging at times, but God in His love and mercy offers small victories at just at the right time to stave off discouragement and keep things moving. It's great to see God in the day to day too.
What does it mean to you to be able to work on LightNet?
It's a great privilege to be able to work on such a project for such a cause. I feel very grateful to be in this position, working on this project with these people. It's a blast.
Please pray for wisdom for Daniël, Jamie and Clayton as they work on this system. Please pray that God would provide further specialists needed as the work grows and for God to guide the right ministries to begin using the digital tool once available.
Do you have eBook programming or software engineer experience and want to use those skills for the kingdom’s sake? We would love to connect with you about the possibility of joining the MediaWorks team!
*Known as a Progressive Web Application, which is a website with extra functionality such as offline capabilities and an icon on your mobile Home Screen