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Check-IT-Out Update

JAARS hosted a Check-IT-Out conference from Feb 26-28, 2010.  It was well attended by 50 participants!  This conference is held a number of times throughout the year at different sites in North America, and this time it was held at JAARS.  The conferences which are described further on the Check-IT-Out web site are designed to engage Christian IT professionals in industry who have an interest in how their skills can be used in missions.

IT people from all different backgrounds come together to see how mission organizations are using technology to advance the Gospel.  We demonstrate the software that translators use on the field and share about how improvements in technology are helping solve remote communications / connectivity problems.  People learn how critical it is to have adequate computer and network support at field sites and how their skills with corporate systems support can be put to use.  They also get an introduction to the process of becoming a missionary and hear from seasoned missionary families about life on the field and the challenges involved.

Many people who have participated in past Check-IT-Out conferences have ended up joining Wycliffe or other missions organizations as full-time missionaries to put their technical skills to use.  Others come back as volunteers for short-term work or they retire from industry and serve as long term volunteers.  In some cases the IT professional returns to their job in secular industry and they help provide financial support for another IT person to make it possible for them to begin serving as a missionary.

Since this program has proven very successful over the last few years, some Wycliffe organizations in other countries are also considering hosting Check-IT-Out to engage IT professionals in their countries.

During this conference I served in a voluntary capacity, accompanying the participants before the official conference began on a tour to some other local Christian ministries, and then helping serve dinner on Friday night. This provided a venue to meet some of the participants and get to know them informally.  After the dinner I and others from IT Engineering joined in an open session where people with a specific interest in our field could talk with us about our needs and their background.

On Saturday I made a technical presentation which I titled "Security Challenges in 2010" which outlined what our organization is doing to face vast computer security threats, and areas where we still need improvement.  My goal was to challenge the more technical participants with information demonstrating the level of technology we commonly deal with, yet without overwhelming everyone with lengthy technical detail.  I am not going to post the details online of course, due to sensitivity issues.

After the presentation there were a number of people who indicated that they had the skill set to work in this area.  They were thankful that I shared about security because they had not seen this need in the other presentations.  I suspect that at least two of them will eventually join Wycliffe to use their specific security skills to help further God's work.  We already know of a number of other participants who are starting the path to become missionaries as a result of this conference!  Praise the Lord!