Is your experience with computers one of frustration rather than dominion?
According to Genesis 1:26, man was created and commanded by God to have dominion over the earth and the whole of God's creation. This command to have dominion over the earth includes our dominion over the use of computers. However, most people would describe their experience with computers as one of frustration rather than dominion. To demonstrate this argument, consider the following scenarios:
1. The student who was stranded with computer software problem
One student from Malawi went to Kampala with his computer to fix a simple software problem. He spent a lot of time on this problem, and when he finally landed on a computer repairman, he told him that his problem would cost 50,000 Uganda Shillings to fix. He was not able to pay this money. So he was stranded with his spoilt computer and was unable to complete and submit his school assignments on time.
He walked into my office one day and somberly said that his country is experiencing severe inflation, and that their currency has been devalued to the point that 1 USD is worth roughly 5, 000 Uganda shillings. This is a drastic percentage devaluation!
As a result, he stated that his parents were even struggling to pay his school fees. So it was for this reason that he had come to me pleading for help. I fixed his problem in less than 5 minutes, and he was extremely happy to see that the problem which had been troubling him for several days and had rendered her computer nearly useless was now finally resolved!
I can't count how many times he said "God bless you!"
In response, I told him that what I had done was minor, but he objected, saying, "No, it is a major thing to me." I've been stuck and battling with this problem for days! You have no idea how much joy you have brought into my life!"
2. The frustrated student who was unable to login to her computer
Another student came up to me almost crying and said, "My computer is giving me stress." The login page is inaccessible. I am locked out. I can't log into my user account! " She asked me if I could help her solve this problem.
She drew my attention to this issue shortly after conducting a two-hour computing lesson. In addition to being exhausted, I had to pick up my child's report in a few minutes because I had been phoned the day before and advised to do so by 2:00 p.m. I was almost late. So I informed this student who had asked me to fix her computer that I was going away and that I wouldn't be back for at least two hours.
I returned when I was more exhausted. By that time, s he was sitting in the computer lab, and when she saw me, she frantically yelled out saying, "Can you come and help me with my computer?" Please assist me!!
I asked her to wait a few minutes. In fact, I was very tired and had a bit of a headache. I was unable to think clearly. So, I needed to take at least a 20-minute nap to try to clear my mind. So I went to my small office and started taking a nap. Before the 20 minutes were up, she came over and looked through the window. When she saw me, she called and asked, "Can I bring my computer now?"
My much-needed nap was interrupted. Even though I was still tired and only half awake, I said "Yes." The door wasn't locked, so she pushed it open and walked in. As soon as she got inside, she put her laptop on the table. It took me about two minutes to get my mind back on track. I started working on her computer. The issue was rectified a few minutes later. I handed her the computer and advised her to turn it off, then on again, and try to log in to see if her problem had been fixed.
As she was logging in, she exclaimed with great joy, "I can see a difference now!" "Yeah, the problem is now gone," she remarked after logging in.
"This situation was enormously upsetting me, and it had caused me to lag behind in my school work submissions," she remarked, her face beaming. To my amazement, she said, "I had pledged not to eat until this matter was rectified." She was overjoyed and grateful to God for this assistance.
Her problem was minor. She had pending updates that she needed to install and restart her computer. That was it. But she couldn't figure out that this simple thing was the problem. I can tell you for sure that if she had taken her computer to a computer repair shop in town, she would have been exploited.
It is lamentable that some technicians are very dishonest! And when they see a small computer problem like this and know that the person they are dealing with doesn't know much about computers, they see this as a chance to take advantage of that person. Even though the computer doesn't need to be opened, they take it apart and put the pieces all over the table to make the client think they're doing a great job. Then they assemble the pieces back and and then do the only thing that was needed in the first place, which is installing the updates, and thereafter they charge a lot of money.
The Technician who cheated my illiterate Grandmother who didn't know how to tune her radio to a different station.
One example that illustrates the scenarios above happened my grandmother. Her radio was always tuned to only one local radio station. Year after year, she never changed it. When I was a young man of around 14 years, I visited her. At a certain point during her absence, I got so bored that I decided to get her radio changed her traditional station and tuned in to listen to BBC. I forgot to tune her radio back to her favorite local radio station and when she returned, I had gone to the well.
So she got her Radio and to her surprise, when she switched it, she was taken straight to BBC. She didn't know English and so the things that the British were speaking on that station were unintelligible gibberish to her. She had never heard her radio speak like this before, so she assumed it was spoiled.
She got the radio and took it to one mechanic at the trading center. The mechanic obviously realized that the Radio was not spoilt but being a shrewd fellow that he was, he decided to exploit my grandmother's ignorance. He needlessly dismantled the radio, scattered the pieces on the table and thereafter assembled the pieces back without dong any repair. He thereafter charged my grandmother a lot of money which she paid, because she had enough money which she had recently obtained from selling some sacks of coffee that she had harvested from her land.
The technician who cheated a shepherd whose Radio had stopped working due to drained Batteries.
In another case, a poor shepherd entirely depleted the batteries in his radio, causing it to stop working. He didn't realize all he needed to do was replace the cells. So he got the radio and took it to a mechanic. The technician knew that the radio was fine, but he decided to take advantage of the customer's ignorance. He took the radio apart and put it back together again without repairing anything. He then advised the man to go buy fresh cells. He inserted them into the radio, turned it on, and increased the volume to maximum. The customer was so happy to hear his radio, which hadn't been able to talk before, talk so loudly. He was requested to pay a lot of money for the "repair," which he readily did because he had recently sold one of his cows. He went and told everyone that this mechanic was the best radio repairman in town. And yet, that technician had just cheated him!
Some of the computing difficulties that students bring to me are simple, but since they don't understand the fundamentals of computing, which would have allowed them to swiftly handle numerous little issues on their own, they wind up being stuck with these tiny issues, and their computers are completely unusable sometimes for several days. And if they choose to take these small problems to a technician in town, it is likely that they would end up being taken advantage of and cheated, just like in the previous two cases.
Throughout the time I have spent rendering service to God's people, I have been totally convinced that the comedian Art Buchwald was right when he said, "The best things in life are not things." And for me, when I solve a computer problem for someone who has been having trouble with it and put a smile on his face, it gives me a lot of satisfaction, even if it takes a lot of time and doesn't pay me anything.
But fixing people's basic computing problems and teaching them to to fix these basic computing problems on their own are two different things. It is like giving someone fish and teaching someone how to fish. There is a Chinese proverb which says that "If you give a man a fish it will feed him for a day, if you teach the man how to fish it will feed him for a lifetime"
It is a source of joy to solve people's computing problems, but what is even of greater value is to teach people how to solve on their own these basic computing problems. For this reason, it is my earnest desire is to use this Computing Outreach ministry to teach God's people and covenant children computing skills so that I can contribute by God's grace to helping God's people fulfill God's mandate of having dominion over God's creation and particularly having dominion over computers as part of God's creation.