Little did Mike and I know that when he wrote this piece it would be his final one for our MisLinks column. Mike and I co-authored MisLinks since its inception in October 1997, and we constantly remarked to each other over the 14+ years of fruitful collaboration how much we appreciated our partnership in this task. However, the Lord unexpectedly took Mike home on January 14, 2012. All of us grieve over this loss, even as we know that Mike’s race is finished and he has entered the joy of his Master. Further information on Mike’s life and contributions is available at www.gmi.org/gmi-mourns. — Scott
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Since we began researching and writing Missions on the Web articles more than a decade ago, we’ve typically added a page of links to the online MisLinks directory (www.mislinks.org) to help you browse the links while you read the article. In this issue, we focus on MisLinks itself, giving you an overview of the website, informing you of recent site updates, and laying out a simple vision for its future.
What Is MisLinks?
MisLinks is a free, web-based directory of links to online resources and websites of value to those in international evangelical missions. Each of the sixty pages of links is focused on a specific topic (e.g., AIDS, arts, contextualization, church planting, member care, mobilization, storying, short-term missions, etc.).
Most MisLinks pages consist simply of hyperlinked site names, listed alphabetically and grouped under applicable sub-topics, with little or no annotation or commentary. However, some pages are formatted differently and have extensive notes.
Our purpose is “connecting you with missions resources,” both free and fee-based ones. Our desire is that MisLinks help expand awareness about online resources among those in missions.
MisLinks is intended to serve primarily English-speaking Christian mission professionals—agency leaders and field missionaries; mission teachers, students, and researchers; and mission pastors, speakers and mobilizers. A typical month brings thousands of visits from well over one hundred countries.
Dr. Scott Moreau, a professor in the Intercultural Studies department at Wheaton College, began MisLinks in 1997 as a convenient way to maintain and make available important links for himself and his students. Soon thereafter, he invited Mike O’Rear, president of Global Mapping International (GMI), a ministry providing mission research and information services, to join him in co-authoring a regular column in EMQ highlighting web-based mission resources (“Missions on the Web”).
We gradually added to the content of MisLinks with each new “Missions on the Web” article, primarily as a way of helping readers have instant access to resources in the articles. We also added pages because of our own personal and professional interests; others have been added as friends contributed their pages of links. The site has evolved, using various technologies, content structures, formats, and visual designs. We’re currently on our eighth “look.”
MisLinks is an independent service; however, we occasionally single out a site we especially appreciate. In fact, we often link to non-Christian and other sites we significantly disagree with but which we believe provide valuable insight for furthering Christian missions.
MisLinks has no financing or employees. It is just the two of us, with help from friends. In particular, Justin Long and the Network for Strategic Missions have been of great help to us. The MisLinks website is hosted and administered by GMI. Neither MisLinks nor we personally accept financial contributions nor receive any financial compensation from the linked sites.
What’s New at MisLinks?
We recently became serious about updating MisLinks. With tremendous help from GMI research associate Bethany Campbell, we systematically went through the entire site to check every link. Outdated links were updated. Dead links were deleted. Along the way, we discovered new sites to add.
We then redeveloped the site in a content management system that provides several advantages for the future of MisLinks. We expect that readers who have used MisLinks in the past will immediately appreciate the fresh new look throughout the site. And MisLinks now works better on most mobile devices.
The redesign includes a new logo created to reflect MisLinks’ core values.
Simplicity is a key word for us; the site provides a clean, direct, no-frills service to missions. We want it to be professional in terms of its quality, relevance, and reliability. The scope of the site is clearly international, recognizing and pointing to offerings from a wide array of nations and cultures. It’s all about being connected, linking people directly to applicable resources (thus the connecting lines in our logo). And, of course, we want the site to be user-friendly—accessible and intuitive.
We developed a new categorization system for organizing topics covered, which we hope will help you quickly locate pages you want. The sixty pages of links—all available from the home page—are grouped into six new topic areas: Communicating, Developing,
Gathering, Ministering, Practicing, and Understanding. You can also enter a word or phrase in the Search box to find all corresponding MisLinks pages.
We’re delighted that the new site is much easier to maintain, update, and expand. The new site also facilitates your input: every page header includes “Report Broken Link” and “Suggest New Link” features, so that as you browse you can let us know how to improve the site.
The completely redesigned site you see at www.mislinks.org is largely due to the time and expertise of Campbell, GMI web developer Samuel O’Rear, and visual designer Richard Sears.
What’s The Future of MisLinks?
Future-telling isn’t our forte. But we do have a vision to see MisLinks’ usefulness for the evangelical mission community significantly enhanced by expanding it to include links to many more valuable sites. We’d love to work with you toward this end. Here are some practical ways you can help better connect your peers to online mission resources:
• Explore MisLinks to gain a more thorough understanding of what it offers.
• Tell your friends about MisLinks. Use the social media icons in the footer of any page to easily let others know via email, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn when you find something valuable.
• Use the Report Broken Link feature at the top of all MisLinks pages to let us know if you encounter a broken link (typically resulting in a “Page Not Found” error message).
• Use the Suggest New Link feature, also located in the page header, to let us know of sites you’ve found to be valuable for missions. (Please note that we reserve the right to decide which sites to include.)
• Contribute content for use within MisLinks, such as sending a page of links you’ve developed on a particular topic, a report focused on online products or services, a web-based bibliography, or other ideas you have for expanding connections to mission resources.
• Contact us using the link in the page footers to let us know your ideas for how to improve MisLinks.
We look forward to a continuously improving and expanding MisLinks that provides better service to more people around the world for the advancement of God’s mission.
A. Scott Moreau is editor of EMQ and a professor in the Intercultural Studies department at Wheaton College Graduate School (Wheaton, Ill.). His email address is A.S.Moreau@wheaton.edu, and the Wheaton Intercultural Studies Department web address is wheaton.edu/intr.
Mike O’Rear was the president of Global Mapping International (Colorado Springs, Colo.). GMI remains dedicated to providing access to information for church and mission leaders, especially in the Majority World. The GMI web address is gmi.org.
EMQ, Vol. 48, No. 2, pp. 234-237. Copyright © 2012 Evangelism and Missions Information Service (EMIS). All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMIS.