Henry Blackaby and the Positive Power of Social Media

We received the information early Friday morning that well-known Christian author and speaker Dr. Henry Blackaby was missing. Because of his close relationship to LifeWay professionally and to many of us personally, we made the decision to change the blog schedule at ThomRainer.com and related social media so we could get the word out about Dr. Blackaby.

The hours that followed were tense and ultimately extremely gratifying. We would soon learn that Dr. Blackaby had a heart attack and became disoriented. Christians around the world were able to hear through social media of his latest purported location according to his credit card charges. Of course, we were praying that he was the one actually using the credit cards—and he was.

Social Media and the Unity of the Body of Christ

It was amazing to see Christians from various backgrounds come together in unity for this man so many people love. Whether the social media venue was Facebook, Twitter, blogs, or many other forms, we were united in purpose.

The level of disagreement and nitpicking among Christians was turned down dramatically for a brief season. The critical spirit that we Christians often exhibit for the world to see subsided. We were one with one purpose.

Social Media and the Power of Prayer

One part of the social media exchange regarding Henry Blackaby was informational. Through various venues, we learned that he was missing. We learned where his credit card was being used. We learned the make, color, and model of the automobile he was driving. And we would soon learn the license plate number on the car. All of this information going out through social media became instrumental in finding him.

The greater use of social media, however, was the articulation of prayers by hundreds of thousands of believers. You could be thousands of miles from a brother or sister in Christ and still have an awareness that you were praying together. Nearly 200,000 unique visitors visited this blog Friday. I was overwhelmed with the numbers of people expressing prayers in writing. Christians from all over the world were banded together for good and for God’s glory; the power of prayer was so clearly evident.

Social Media and the Glory of God

We are all well aware of the evil and hurt that takes place on social media. We Christians are keenly aware that our own witness is often compromised by the words we choose to write, and the invectives we hurl at one another.

But the problem is not social media; the problem is our hearts. We make a conscious choice to use this instrument for good or for evil.

The story of the disappearance of Henry Blackaby is a poignant and powerful reminder of what we Christians can do when we unite in love, even over something like Twitter or Facebook. Though Dr. Blackaby faces a road of surgery, treatment, and recovery, this story did have a good ending. He was found. He is safe with his family. For that we give thanks to God.

But even if God had not answered our prayers in the way most of us were hoping, this story would still have been incredible. Christians were united in purpose. Christians were united in prayer. Christians focused on our commonalities instead of our differences for a brief season.

Ultimately, the story of Henry Blackaby and the social media response was a reminder for all of us who call Christ our Savior. I for one can say without reservation that I was reminded that I am to do all things for His glory. And that includes my participation in social media. I pray that God will remind me to ask before I strike another key on the keyboard, before I write another blog post, before I comment one more word on Facebook, before I tweet anything or post a photo on Instagram, am I doing this for good or evil, for myself or for the glory of God?

Thank God for the safe return of Henry Blackaby. And thank God that we believers got to a get a taste for a brief season of what it means to come together for His purpose and His glory.


  1. Sherry Goth says

    Thank you. I especially appreciate your observation: “But the problem is not social media; the problem is our hearts. We make a conscious choice to use this instrument for good or for evil.” It is so much easier to blame an object, technology or media rather than accept personal responsibility for the choices we make. God gave us the free will to make those choices. It is not only humorous, but rather wearisome to hear how “evil” these inanimate objects are.
    I am so thankful that Henry Blackaby was found through the prayers of the faithful. Gory be to God.

  2. Jerri Balkon says

    We were praying based on a friend’s post. In Texas when a elderly seniors comes up missing the post information on our electronic road signs that we also use for Amber Alerts. Is he doing ok since his heart attack?

  3. Ruth Blackaby Mitcham says

    Thank you so much for not only writing this but also for your part in getting the word out on Friday. I was overwhelmed by how social media was used to help find my Uncle and what you have written summarizes so well what I have been feeling these past few days. I am not overstating when I say that there were times when every post on my Facebook wall was people getting out word and asking for prayer for my Uncle. Thank you so the hundreds of thousands who prayed and are continuing to pray.

  4. says

    Thank you for your wonderful summary of what our family has felt. You may also want to know that over 1000 people from 1st Baptist Jonesboro were out in their cars searching in a coordinated grid throughout south Atlanta for my father with prayer vigils at their church. His quadruple heart bypass surgery to correct serious blockages will take place Tuesday as far as we know. We are overwhelmed by FB messages from around the world that come in telling us of prayers going out for my father. I agree that much more was going on than just a search for my dad. Even in his time of need, God is using his life to bring unity in His Kingdom. grateful and humbled, Tom Blackaby

  5. Michael says

    Wonderful insights and perspective on this emotional time. Many in our own church quickly took note of my own reposts and rejoiced as he was found.

  6. says

    I think a lot of Henry Blackaby and his influence on my life and many others. We did his “Experiencing God” study years ago and I still remember things about the study that has greatly influenced my walk with the Lord!

  7. Eric Bass says

    Praying for Dr. Blackaby as he undergoes surgery tomorrow! Having 4 stents myself, I can relate. Praising God that he was found safe and is getting treatment he needs!!!

  8. says

    Thanks for your kind and insightful words. Our family was overwhelmed to hear that prayer groups were praying for my father in the Philippines, Indonesia, Africa and all around the world. We were encouraged immensely. An interesting note. The police detective at one point told us that they were feeling awkward that they were hearing the news of my father’s latest sightings on the news before they were learning it from their standard sources. As we would receive news, we would broadcast it in hopes that people might spot him. People were tweeting and Facebooking it and news outlets were reporting it. I told the detective that, rather than slow down what we were doing, we’d be glad to share information with them so they kept up with the speed of social media! What a testimony to what can happen, world wide when God’s people band together to get an important job done.

    • Thom Rainer says

      Richard –

      I am so thankful for the way God worked in your family’s life during this ordeal. Please let your dad know that our prayers continue as he goes through the heart procedures. We are praying for a full recovery!

  9. Nel Lair says

    Praise God for Dr.Blackaby’s protection through all these calamities, only by our loving, merciful God.
    A question from this experience – can/should social media be used more directly – actually praying in groups in the media?

  10. Kristin L. says

    I only use Facebook, but I have seen how God can use it for great good, just in my random posts of Scripture or thoughts from Bible studies. Not every time, but there have been numerous times someone has commented that they really needed to “hear” that, or someone calls me to discuss something, or the one that floored me – someone who I didn’t even know was watching FB said “I’ve followed you on FB. You have a story to tell, and you need to tell it.” Wow. As crazy as social media can be, it CAN be an instrument of truth and hope! I continue to pray that I will ask the questions you mention before I post anything. To God be the glory in all things!

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