Although Open Arms Internet Ministry
officially began in January 1998, God had placed the concept of
it in the hearts of Parepidemos and Chalkbrd several months before
that. Both of them had been doing independent witnessing and counseling
in the Yahoo chat rooms and were discovering the overwhelming lack
of a strong Biblical foundation in many of the Christians they encountered.
They also saw many marriages being torn apart by a myriad of destructive
forces in our society, including the Internet. The
need for a solid, Biblical counseling influence on the Net was obvious.
Parepidemos was interested in taking on a pastorate, but it seemed
that God was closing the door for that in his life at this time.
The Internet gave him the perfect opportunity to minister to others
while he waited to see where God would lead him.
Out of the over 90,000 people online in Yahoo Chat on any given
night, God brought together Parepidemos and Chalkbrd and gave them
a vision for an online ministry that would reach out to those who
were searching for help and would provide them with Biblical solutions.
The concept of Open Arms Internet Ministry was being born.
Chalkbrd suggested that Parepidemos start an online Bible study
in Yahoo Chat, specifically on the topic of marriage, since almost
all of his online counseling was in this area. The first meeting
was small and the nature of chat, people coming and going all the
time, made it clear that this type of meeting might not be the way
they wanted to go with the ministry.
Parepidemos wanted to try a counseling room where people with problems
could come in and talk to a counselor and then leave if they needed
to. This required additional lay counselors to help in running the
room. Chat friends of Parepidemos and Chalkbrd were recruited to
A user room in Yahoo’s Society and Culture section was created
under the name, “Christian Counseling on Sex/Marriage”.
One of the earliest recorded sessions on January 26 hosted 31 people
through the room in the course of two hours that evening.
Originally, the room was scheduled to be open on Monday, Wednesday
and Friday nights for two hours each time (9-11
EST), but because of the volume of people and the follow-ups
to the counseling, it was reduced to Monday and
Friday nights only, which is what it is presently. [During
the winter, the time is now 8-10 EDT, but will change back in the
spring.] Wednesday night was used to connect with the staff and
pray for the requests that had come in.
Since its inception in January 1998, Open
Arms has had over 25,000 come through our room, with many
of them receiving individual counseling and many others coming to
enjoy the fellowship there. The website has had over 28,500 hits.
We have witnessed new births in Christ and freedom from homosexuality
and other sins, while helping those who are suffering from sexual
abuse, spousal abuse, alcoholism, depression, spousal infidelity,
the devastating effects of pornography, and much more.
God is working mightily through Open Arms
in this greatest of mission fields! Never before has one person
been able to share the love of Christ with people all over the world
at the same time. And yet, although the fields are white with harvest, the workers are
few. Pray that the Lord of the Harvest will send out more workers!
We are one tiny organization in one tiny corner of the entire Internet.
There is so much that needs to be done. If you feel God is leading
you into this type of ministry, please e-mail us (we ask that you
read our doctrinal statement and statement of faith first, please).
”Look at the nations and watch -- and be utterly
amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would
not believe, even if you were told.” Habakkuk 1:5