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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 help out.

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

Email: oaim@oaim.org

written by Chalkbrd

updated January 23, 2003

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