Written by Hannah Elaine Braden
Instagram. An app that has the power to throw any and every message in the faces of not just people, but souls—messages that create strong emotion, either of jealousy or inspiration, positivity or negativity, hatred or love. We see politicians, celebrities, travellers, entrepreneurs, and stay-at-home mothers reveal their world in the form of curated picture feeds. We see it all: different nations, cultural groups, religions, political agendas, church groups, and communities that are being started. Today, we can see the world at the touch of a finger.
From a young age, I held a deep desire to be in ministry. Standing on the coffee table in my home, I donned my white nightdress and gathered my family members to listen to me reading from the Bible. I would preach any sermon that came straight to my head. Though it was amusing to my family members and a curiosity to others, it will always be a moment I look back on when I think of the calling on my life. I possessed a deep desire to talk about this God who loved me from the very beginning.
I didn’t think of how much Instagram could be used as a tool to help minister to others.
Here, there would be the opportunity to connect with young girls who struggled with self-image and worth, and be able to remind them of how their Heavenly Father sees them. On Instagram, pictures can express the beautiful parts of life God has given and allow us to speak words that are bold and demand a reaction. However, like any blessing or tool that has ever been made, there is the ability to use it for both good or bad; the decision lies not in the tool, but in the heart’s intention of whoever uses the tool.
When I decided to redirect my Instagram use from the personal lifestyle that showed off how many friends I had or the perfect moments I tried to create, it was because the Lord changed my heart. There was a call to use this tool for more than myself; I wanted to speak words that burned every part of my heart. I contemplated writing a book, going to school for ministry, and was wondering in what way could I participate in ministry outside my comfortable world.
Ministry wasn’t something that knocked on my door and gave me an opportunity to speak at a conference. Ministry was speaking to my Instagram friends (whether 20 or 20,000) about this God who wrecked my world. Ministry was loving and sharing the truth about Christ with every tool I was given.
I decided to use the only tool I had to reach people—I decided to use the world of Instagram. I began to post about God a whole lot more, started a blog, started making some YouTube videos, and started to branch out with any outlet that was given to me. Posting captions containing the messages that Jesus put on my heart was hard; certain friendships started to dissolve, I was under constant scrutiny in the communities I was physically involved in, and doubts started to appear in my brain. The more audience and attention my words and pictures received, the more opposition seemed to also come—strangers would write me their opinions and say terrible things about my God. “Friends” become strangers and mocked my words.
But never had I received such blessing. God gave me not only favour, but also dreams. He reminded me how much more there was than myself. He showed me Instagram was a platform, and a platform that demanded more than showing off my social life. It was a platform where I could share vulnerably about my struggles and victories; where I could connect with people from all over the world. There were souls I connected on deep levels with—perfect strangers in this world, but siblings in the next.
It’s more than Instagram. It’s about the heart. Like every action we do, whether the culture sees it as good or bad, Jesus looks at the heart’s intention. I am here to proclaim there is more than just “us.” He has given us words—words that are heavenly and powerful—to proclaim and to share. He has given us creativity to take pictures of the things He has created, to design using His colours and imagery. He has given us the desire to connect, to know and be known.
He has given us the tools; it is up to us how we are going to use them.