This history started out as a report of my internship project for the Ministry Formation Program for Catholic Deaf Adults in Chicago. Since it is an Internet ministry and is based on a Web site, I have included links to all the Web pages. If you jump to one of these links use the back button on your browser to return to the place in this history where you were reading. The URL or address of the Web site is http://www.godtouches.org/
The best way to describe this project is probably to recount how it developed. I started in the Ministry Formation Program (MFP) in 1997, but the roots of the Internet Ministry which I began as my internship project go back to 1977.
I was raised as a Catholic, but became an agnostic. In the early '70's I was married for a few years. My wife's death from ALS marked a turning point in my life. The very evening of the day she died I began to have a strong sense that she had found out something, was happy, and had returned to tell me about it. This sense lasted for several months, then gradually faded. I have never had any other "paranormal" experience. So convincing was this one, that I began to reexamine the religious tradition I knew best, and this time it made sense.
The upshot, about a year later, was that I left my job as a computer programmer to pursue graduate studies in computer science, with the objective of using my knowledge of computers in God's service. I also began to compose prayers and poems, which later became part of my Godtouches Internet Ministry Web site.
In 1997, shortly after beginning at MFP and learning about the requirement for an internship project, it occurred to me that starting an Internet Ministry would be a logical extension of the goal of using my knowledge of computers in God's service. I had already been doing so for many years by founding and running a nonprofit organization to apply computer technology to the problems of people with disabilities, but I wanted to do something more direct to spread the Gospel and to testify to what the Lord had done for me.
A member of my local deaf group here in Madison, Wisconsin, who wishes to remain annonymous, was instrumental in getting this Internet Ministry started. Although she had little knowledge of computers, she went so far as to make a donation to get an account with my Internet Service Provider specifically for this project. The next question was what to call it. After playing around with some names, we cane up with "Touchgod Internet Ministry". Later this was changed to "Godtouches Digital Ministry", because, of course, it is God who takes the initiative and first touches us. But this is getting ahead of the story.
I began work on the Web site in November of 1997. As mentioned earlier, I had begun composing peoms and prayers almost from the time of my reconversion. These had gradually accumulated in computer files, so it was a simple matter to make a Web page for each of these categories. As can be seen, many of the poems and prayers have a direct biblical inspiration. In fact, several are somewhat reworked quotations of various Bible passages.
For many years I had also been interested in using the scriptures for spiritual and mental healing. About eight years before I joined MFP, the Lord had sent me a woman who had had a great deal of psychological and physical suffering in her life and who was also very interested in the Bible. We had worked together to find the most comforting scripture passages. These were taken from a computerized rendering of the New International Version (NIV), which is very similar in almost all passages to the New American Bible. The result became a computer file, which later became a Web page called the healing Bible.
The Web site was put up with these four pages on a Saturday in December of 1997. Several people proofread it and made suggestions. In particular, my friend who had helped get it started pointed out problems with the initial home page, so I revised it.
As you will see from the home page, I include an e-mail address at which people can reach me for spiritual discussions. I do not include a telephone number, because after all this is an INTERNET ministry. However, I do include a link to the Web site of the company which I run ((AbilitiesSoft, Inc.()) as an indication of legitimacy. This is always an issue on the Internet, since it is so easy to fake Web sites and e-mail messages and addresses.
People have looked at the site and said that it is very beautiful and inspiring. These have included several sisters in different religious orders.
A major upgrade of the site occurred in September of 1999. A few years before, I had received counseling for depression. One of the things discussed was the use of deep breathing to relieve tension. For some years before that I had been memorizing hymns to recite to myself as a sort of sung prayer. ("He who sings prays twice." Augustine) During a particularly stressful day in the office in December of 1998 it had occurred to me to combine deep breathing with silent recitation of the hymns. The basic idea was to breathe in on the first line of a stanza, breathe out on the second line, breathe in on the third line, etc. I began to practice this technique and found it very helpful. During the MFP class in September 1999, I discussed it with the instructor and the other students. It aroused considerable interest, enough to motivate me to write another Web page explaining it and giving the hymns which I had found most helpful. This page is is called Breathing in the Lord. When I told my former counselor about it, he looked at the page and also found +it helpful.