Well I don’t think Gene Rodenberry tried to predict trends in missiology, but just like many of his predictions of the future, we are now starting to actualize his ideas. The History Channel even had a multi-episode documentary on this phenomenon of whether Star Trek actually predicted the future, or if Star Trek simply made predictions that people are now trying to invent what they saw on the show. Either way, every day, we are seeing more and more of the future at our doorstep. The exciting aspect to me is how it’s going to open-up new possibilities in fulfilling the Great Commission through World Missions. Just travel speeds in the last few hundred years radically changed the spreading capabilities to unreached people groups around the world. Think about this: When my great-grandfather was born, the fastest mode of travel was a horse at about 30mph or maybe a little bit faster on a boat if there were high winds. When my grandfather was born, the fastest mode of travel was a train at around a 100mph. My dad had planes at around 300mph. When I was born, aircrafts could go over a thousand miles per hour. But when my daughter was born, the fastest mode of travel was measured in billiseconds. It takes longer to actually press the “enter” key than it takes your search engine to find 130,000,000 search results, send a message to another human being in Zimbabwe, or purchase a Swiss army knife from an actual military surplus store in Switzerland. What will be the “travel” time for my grand kids or great-grand kids? And travel time is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to new technologies. So here are my predictions on what missions will look like sooner rather than later, all based on stuff I saw on Star Trek. I honestly believe I might see these happen in my lifetime.
We’re actually pretty close to this now. I think we will end up with a little hearing-aid type piece in our ear, and a little sensor on our necks or teeth to judge our vocal inflections. We’ll hear people in our language, and they’ll hear us in theirs. Even sooner than that, we will have software that analyzes a tribe’s speech and syntax, create a written language, and have a bible in their native tongue faster than previous missionaries pronounced the tribal names correctly.
Tricorders, Hyposprays, and Medical Bays
Doctors and nurses are a valuable commodity, but it’s expensive and impractical to get medical professionals to all the places that have medical needs. One day, a Johnson-and-Johnson Tricorder can be purchased at any local Taco Bell (that’s a Demolition Man reference). It will scan a sick person, provide the anti-viral, de-worming, and genome-correcting formula that the Hypospray will then painlessly inject into the now healing patient. The Medical Bays will aid the patients that need surgical care. A battery-powered M.B. could be brought into a village and the tribes-person would be placed inside. Then a surgeon in the Mayo clinic would step into Virtual Station A113 and perform surgery on someone 11,000 miles away.
The Federation banned cloaking technology because they could only think of nefarious purposes for it. Yet in missions, it seems like invisibly hovering over a village for a few days to observe their activities seems like a win-win. It doesn’t scare the townsfolk half-to-death, and the missionary can find out if there are still cannibals in the area. Or, you could smuggle bibles past ISIS or hostile police and never be seen. (You could also mess with them and make them think they were being haunted.)
Temporary Cosmetic Surgery
Physically looking like the people you are trying to reach is certainly an advantage. A change of clothes and make-up would only help my Germanic-white wife so much. She would need a futuristic plastic surgeon to look like a woman from Laos, Papua New Guinea, Korea, Nigeria, or Columbia. If she was going to each of those countries over a few months time, it would be a tremendous value to be able to temporarily look like the native people, especially in hostile areas.
Training through cultural immersion will certainly improve when a newbie missionary can virtually simulate tribal life before heading out on the field. Trainers can freeze the program anytime they detrimentally screw up. It also can be tailored to each missionary’s potential experience. The cooler application will be in the form of a Mobile-Emitter. A missionary in Pennsylvania could have a small projector-type device dropped into a remote area, and then project a tactile hologram, which could interact with the tribes people. How cool would a Holo-missionary be that could bring the Gospel to anyone without travel? You could literally be in 2 places at once. That’s something every missionary has needed at some point in their ministry.
Yet after first-contact was made with the Holo-missionary, a Transporter would be used to physically say hello. In the early days, there will probably need to be some sort of Transporter Pad that will need to be hiked in the first time so that instant travel will be possible, but I’m sure such transporter devices will eventually not need such rudimentary technology. An even greater value will be in the transport of supplies. Machinery, food, and toilet paper could arrive instantly on Amazon Prime 5.0.
Space is the final frontier. If the Lord tarries we will have colonies on Mars and Titan, and depending on if Warp Drive is possible, an infinite number of planets scattered throughout the Universe. I have a feeling that the scientists chosen to embark on such trailblazing missions won’t be Born-Again believers, and will thus need a Gospel witness. Who will be the first person baptized on Mars? If the evangelist is a Baptist, then hopefully there’s enough water to spare for them to be totally dunked. What if the first person baptized isn’t human? What?!?!? Now I don’t personally think there’s aliens (I’ll talk about that some other post), but even C.S. Lewis 70 years ago speculated on the soteriology for aliens. I’ll defer to him. He said that basically sentient aliens would either be un-fallen (meaning they never sinned), or God sent them a Savior to be the atonement for their sin, or they need to accept Jesus as their Savior if He was truly meant to be the Savior of the Universe. Well, needless to say, C.S. Lewis’ alien novels were not nearly as popular as his ones involving a lion.
So what did I miss? What Star Trek technology do you think will radically change mission work in the future?