|CHRIST'S HANDS ACROSS THE INTERNET
Where christians come to share, pray and study.
CHAIN's origins really began in 1992. At that time several Christians met on a gaming network called the Imagination Network (INN). In the course of playing games and chatting, deep friendships were formed. Besides hours of fun, serious conversations took place and it soon became apparent that many people had needs and loads of questions that were not being addressed by the people in their own communities or at least the people and the resources were not connecting. Many others were neglecting fellowship and were feeling the effects of the lack of encouragement and struggling to live as God desired them to live from day to day.
A group of close knit friends were willing to pray for and encourage each other. During the course of the gaming others had questions and eventually a chat room on the gaming network was formed. Several people came to know the Lord and we began to realize more fully that the people behind the typing were real people, with real needs. More and more people met others who met others and share the latest news and concerns and prayer requests. Soon, others were asking if we would pray for them or if they could come chat with us. Everyone was glad to talk to anyone who wanted to chat and learn more about Jesus and what Jesus had taught or to pray for concerns. The group of people began to expand.
In 1993, a few believers started on-line Bible studies which really had an impact. People flocked to the on-line Bible Study, but continuity was always a problem. But there are wonderful testimonies of people who the time studying online led to to studying off line and then to local believers. We were absolutely excited when people grew passionate about their relationship with God and knowing more about God's word, but we were blown away when the first of many people started making decisions to commit their lives to Jesus. There was great rejoicing!
As time went on many changes occured and the group became very disorganized and scattered. A few of the original group ended up on Internet Providers. In 1995, Michael Hawkinson started an IRC channel named #CHAIN. The name was brainstormed from among Blair, Cathy, Shawn & Josh brainstormed to come up with several acronyms for the ministry that was happening on the Internet. One of the acronyms was CHAIN, which stood for "Christ's Hands Across the Interactive Network." No one had used the acronym officially and Mike Hawkinson decided to change the acronymn to CHAIN, Christ's Hands Across the InterNet" and registered the IRC channel #chain.
The official start of the CHAIN web page began in 1996 as more people began to come on and use the internet to reach out to others. Because of the challenges of showing God's love on the Undernet, a web page was created November 1996. This was done due to the persistent efforts of Michele (Sippy) who helped finance, host and support the web site. At that time Mike decided to use the acronym C.H.A.I.N., "Christ's Hands Across the InterNet." The web site just contained the Guidelines For Chat and a Mission Statement. Later, because of the increased size of the regular group, biography pages were created in 1997 and we started taking membership applications. The biography pages were to be used to introduce ourselves to those who visited the channel, unfortunately they had to be moved to the Member Only area due to abuse and harassment by visitors to the web page.
In 1997 we also added games like 'Who Am I?" (ice breaker) and 'Bible Trivia" as activities. Because of the ability to play music and do live worship, we had praise and worship times. These have been put on hold while ASCAP and The Corinthian Group sort out their policies. We would like to note that we do not encourage or allow the piracy or use of any unauthorized copyright materials. We are hoping to continue the Praise & Worship times in the future however, the issue of worship on the net seems to be at a dead standstill due to greed. It is our hope that the many talented musicians who are part of CHAIN will come up with their own worship music which will be available to all. We pray that believers will support those with such talents.
CHAIN has found many needs change over time. At times we have had access to the chat room through the web site, news about what is happening to believers on CHAIN and around the world, a CHAIN Library, a prayer Bulletin Board and prayer team, a Member Bulletin Board and a Channel Operator Training Page. We are hoping to be able to connect believers with many of their own local resources as well as provide members and nonmembers with the opportunity to meet and chat with Christians who are contemporary music artists, authors, pastors, businessmen, missionaries, homemakers, athletes and other believers who desire to share how they came to know Jesus and what he has taught them in their areas of work and play.
In June of 2000 we faced a restructuring which is continuing even until today. Chain faces many challenges, including, direction, financial stability, growth and a larger workload of people looking to help or to be helped. CHAIN paid off debt and is trying to make sure the monthly expenses to keep server and updates online are paid. A Board of Directors was formed to assure that CHAIN does not become a "program" with people who begin to intimidate, manipulate and control others. The ministry or lack thereof depends solely on the individual and the guidelines are to encourage personal communication and accountability. We do have some staff positions also and like Board Members they are not paid anything for their work. As believers we desire to share freely with any in need. CHAIN is committed to being a volunteer and member run organization, we do not want to pay costs for nonprofit status, costs of required board meetings, fees or face government regulation. Our only costs are the infrastructure.
In 2000, we experienced rapid growth, during our restructuring things have slowed down. Many believers online have acted less than lovingly and many online ministries are suffering as a result. (See: A Relationship With God and Religion vs Relationship). IRC Chat rooms can be a very passionate place and one must often learn to agree to disagree. Beleivers need to pray for effective encouragement and keep the communications online meaningful and productive. We encourage you to realize that any ministry that occurs is up to each individual, that means you!
CHAIN continues as a media or set of medias online to allow believers to share with others. Bulletin Board, Chat room, Email, Prayer Team, Bible Studies and other ways to communicate and share. The pages were graciously hosted by Theocities and we are deeply indebted to Jeremy Campbell. CHAIN desires only that members serve God and Him alone. It is not about making people feel good, it is about people knowing God. It is not about starting programs, it is about telling people to make sure of their calling and to obey God.
If you would like to be a part of CHAIN, pray about it and let CHAIN know what God wants you to do online. Join CHAIN and every day ask God, "What do you want me to do?" Many hours, both fun and trying, have brought CHAIN to where it is at today and will bring it to where is it at tomorrow. We hope many believers around the world will use their talents and abilities online to encourage, exhort and teach others online what God has done in their lives. There are many places to share online. Pray and ask God if He wants you in one of them.
We who are "CHAIN" pray that God will keep the medium of the Internet and IRC a place to believers who are willing to reach out to others. We challenge you to be a part of "Christ's Hands Across the InterNet" and to become a member today or any place God asks you to be online.