Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2016
Texts: John 10:1-5, 16; Luke 9:2; Revelation 14:6-7; Luke 19:1-10; Acts 26:11-27; Revelation 3:20
In mid-February 2012, few people had heard of Khader Adnan, even though the Palestinian prisoner was on a hunger strike for over two months. Allegedly a member of Islamic Jihad, Adnan was detained for months without any charges brought against him.
Adnan’s story was ignored by mainstream media until online activists decided to take it to Twitter. His story received no media attention until mid-February. It was reported by over 300 sources a week later. The online campaign achieved its goal of #KhaderAdnan becoming a Twitter trending topic as followers re-tweeted the story over 54,000 times in a week.
Leila Saleh, a campaign organizer, explained why they chose Twitter as the medium: “Because of the lack of coverage in mainstream news, a lot of activists indulge in social media sites like Twitter to find information. A lot of unnoticed stories usually end up online from activists, or citizen journalists if you will, who are on the ground in Palestine. This is very vital for cyber activists like us. Having seen how powerful the Internet is with Arab uprisings, we decided to try our luck.”
The Twitter campaign caught the attention of media and human rights organizations. Soon major media outlets including Al Jazeera, BBC and CNN began reporting Adnan’s story. The momentum moved offline as well, with protests springing up outside Adnan’s hospital.
“This was all from a daily tradition of informing the public on Twitter,” reports Saleh, “because that’s all that was missing from Khader’s story. The passion, the anger, the frustration was there. All he needed was the attention, and Twitter gave us the platform to give him the attention he needed.” Twitter followers brought Adnan’s story to the attention of mainstream media, and those Twitter followers helped Adnan secure his release in April 2012.1
Our lesson this week shows that Jesus has a message for the world, and He calls for people to follow Him and to share that message. Christ’s opponents figured that He and His message would simply fade away after the crucifixion. Instead, Christ’s followers, like a massive Twitter campaign, inspired thousands to take up the message within a few short years. By living Jesus’ method of reaching people—caring for their needs first then calling them to follow Him—a handful of followers created a world-changing movement.
The quiet impact of lifestyle and friendship evangelism is formidable. We read in Sunday’s lesson: “The whisper of a friend is more powerful in drawing people to Jesus than is the shout of a stranger.” Jesus befriended Zacchaeus before inviting him to accept the gospel. Paul developed a relationship with evil King Agrippa and nearly converted him. When we follow Jesus as a friend, it becomes our natural way of life to influence more friends to follow Him.
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