Becoming One Like Them

I changed my mobile carrier this weekend. Now, more than any point during my time doing mobile ministry am I like part of the audience I’ve spoken towards.


For almost 15 years, I’ve had this affair with the category of computing called mobile. It started with a crazy affection for a Palm device because of what I’d seen in a college math class. It evolved after ownership to accessories — a wireless keyboard, cases, and stylus+pens. And from there I jumped into mobile tech communities as a commenter, and later as a writer. Now, I’m a bit trimmed from the passion of those early days, and as such, I chosen how I do mobile a bit differently.

Differently, but with a sense of direction. With every new device, even at times down to the software, I go about looking to upgrade and simplify. Upgrade to something that fits something that matures with my understanding of mobile and life with it. Simplify in the face of more features, wider pipes, and all those great social networking services that matter. I’m always looking to refine those original reasons for going mobile, and occasionally, learn something new.

Now, new in mobile for me can mean the current trope of wearables — and I’m there. It can also mean embracing other kinds of productivity — and I’m there too. But, where I’m not is where some folks in my local and regional contexts live. You see, some of those folks might have smartphones, but they have limited service plans. Some of them don’t have smartphones, and they have a prepaid mobile — because having a contract while conveient, was too expensive to maintain. Some of them don’t even speak the same language. I’m getting a bit better there. There are a few other things I’ve noticed, and such is the way I live. So, I’m embracing another opportunity to learn (or as I call it at MMM, an experiment).

In one area of mobile ministry, a space I’ve called mobile in missions/evangelism, there’s a different kind of mobile experience. It uses smartphones, but not usually the latest. It uses Internet (data) services, but more often over Bluetooth than WiFi or even IP (internet protocol). The devices last for days on a battery… that is, when a video isn’t being shown off of it all of the time. I don’t want to make a paradise out of limitations, but there is something to be said about a mobile lifestyle that is a bit more limited, and therefore causes mobile ministry solutions to be skillfully designed. Mobile in missions/evangelism is probably the louder of the spaces inside of mobile ministry — its also the most contentious because of how mobile is being used in the field, not just in the home countries of the ministers.

I’m embarking on an experiment like that. A few years ago, I changed from a large national carrier to a smaller MVNO (Simple Mobile). Now, I’m moving to another MVNO — Truphone — because of its larger global footprint, but also because it will allow me to live a bit more like those folks we run across when serving in mobile ministry.

It wasn’t long after I had this thought to move that I said, “sure, go for it.” Nothing like looking a bit more like aspects of the culture I live, work, and play in. And I don’t know what the consequences will be. I know that I’ll not be using mobile data as much (mapping my bicycle rides will need to adjust). I’ll not have MMS (that actually might hurt a bit). I’ll have to figure out how others live on a mobile and create life out of limits.

When we evangelize, we are saying in part that others are limited in having something fulfilling because they are missing what we have. We are saying they are limited. Now, I’m enforcing limits on myself. Am I to find that there’s salvation in limits? As I go, I’ll see.