Facebook friends, and then some

fcSo a few years ago it was recommended that we allow people from supporting churches to follow us on facebook. I agree it helps people know how to pray better for us.

But it has also hampered some things that I may say on facebook. Don’t take me the wrong way. I don’t want to swear or talk about my latest fling on facebook. But I have to realize that people of all ages and backgrounds are watching me.  I have hundreds of friends but only know about 1/2-3/4 of them.  But sometimes I get a message from a stranger talking about how they are praying for my ministry.  It is a blessing and yet sometimes frustrating.

One example is a woman from a church I’ve never visited. She gets my prayer letters because they support the mission I work with as a whole.  She shares my ministry with their mission board and they really do pray.  In a facebook post, I was asking for prayer for a long trip I was taking.  Many friends and supporters hit the “like” button and I know they prayed. She too prayed but also commented on whether I was travelling with my husband or not.  LOL!!!!!!!!!   I’m single, never been married. Yet she is a prayer warrior who doesn’t know even that about me.  I’m thankful for the prayers.  But how weird is it to be so exposed to the public who doesn’t really know me?

I have also befriended some people based on their requests and seeing that they are friends with many other people in a certain church.  It doesn’t take long to see that they are not living their faith outside of church.  I find their comments and pictures appalling and quickly block them.

I have also struggled with whether or not to let my national friends be my friends on facebook.  In the end, I opened up a new account where they can be my friends without having access to all my friends.  The struggle is rooted not in what I talk about, but what others may say on my page.  It is also rooted in the limitations of pictures which I can post. In a very conservative culture, I cannot have my national friends see me in shorts, or short-skirts, or swimming suits that I may wear in my home culture or on vacations.

Recently I saw on facebook that someone from a supporting church has passed away.  I don’t know if I ever met this woman, but I know her pastor’s family and a couple others in the church.  I also “saw” her often on facebook and she would like my posts, etc…  I don’t even know what she looks like without first looking up her homepage, yet how do I mourn this passing?   Romans 12:15 tells us: Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.    So I can weep with the members of the church who I know that have lost a friend. 

What has social media done for missionaries?   Are we just putting on a mask and not really showing the real us?