A Meaningful Distraction: The Beeper that Wouldn’t Stop

In the course of studying the nature of technology, I am often faced with the negative side of our tools. So, for this blog’s first birthday (happy birthday, blog!), I thought I’d share a story of someone using a technology in novel way to deeply and redemptively enter the lives of those around him.

The Way Life Sometimes Goes

My pastor, Andy McQuitty, has cancer. At first, it seemed like just a minor scare. The doctors thought they had caught it early and everything would be fine. But later Andy found out that the cancer had spread and his condition is much more serious. This summer he was formally diagnosed with stage 3C cancer.

Watching our pastor and his family suffer has deeply affected our church body, but we’ve also been greatly encouraged by his faith, his candor, and his ever present humor.

A Constant Connection

A Beeper

As a way of offering him constant encouragement, someone had the brilliant idea of giving Andy a beeper and giving everyone in the church its number. Whenever we pray for him, we call the number, and the beeper vibrates letting him know that we are petitioning God on his behalf. He has preached a few times since receiving the beeper, and he often speaks of how meaningful it was to have the beeper going off all throughout the day and night. He even puts it on the podium so we can watch it dance around while he preaches.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all have something like that letting us know that people cared enough to pray for us?

Taking It a Step Further

Of course Andy thought about that and after he had the beeper for a few weeks he asked the entire congregation to do something a little different when they prayed for him. Since he spends a lot of time at the hospital undergoing treatment, he asked us to make sure that when we pray for him, that we also pray for the people he will no doubt be surrounded by at any given moment.

Now, whenever Andy is in a hospital waiting room where patients are gathered, he quietly places his beeper on a nearby table. Normally, putting a phone or page our in plain view is a social faux pas, but the patients politely ignore it and continue talking. As they alternate between talking, laughing, and crying about their various conditions, the beeper constantly buzzes across the table.

Eventaully, someone will speak up and ask Andy, “What’s the deal with the beeper?”

He then explains, “People in my church call this beeper whenever they pray for me. But not only that, they also to pray for anyone around me too. That buzzing means you just got prayed for.”

Powerful, huh?

If you want to hear how the patients and those around them react, check out the audio clip below. I don’t think the story needs much commentary, other than to say that it only takes a little creativity to use technology in a way that doesn’t pull people apart but actually brings them closer to each other and maybe even God himself.

Andy McQuitty’s Personal Pager

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John Dyer

In my day job, I work at Dallas Theological Seminary, and at night I write Bible software for countries whose leaders could be called "overlords." This one time, I wrote a book about technology and Christian faith. You can find out more about what I'm up to at http://j.hn/.

6 thoughts on “A Meaningful Distraction: The Beeper that Wouldn’t Stop”

  1. I want to build something like the BakerTweet (http://www.bakertweet.com/) to put on church foyer walls or in prayer rooms. I’d surround it with information on the churches missionaries. Then when someone comes by to pick up information and pray for the missionary, it would send them an email telling the missionary they had been prayed for today at $church.

    The pager idea is a really cool and similar project. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Now THAT is several degrees of awesomeness! And beepers are considered such an “old” technology, but all we need is a simple nudge to let us know that the body of Christ is very large and very active.

    John, please call the beeper. Another prayer went up for him and those around him.

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