|Senior Creates Bible Web site
December 5, 2007
A Bible research Web site created by a Calvin senior is reaching a worldwide audience.
Nathan Beach, a 21-year old computer science major from Ann Arbor, Mich., receives more than 1.3 million page views per month on his site, www.ChristNotes.org. A quarter of those come from people living outside the U.S. in places such as South Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, and more than a hundred other countries.
“I love the fact that it’s a way for me to bless people all over the world—people I’ve never met and probably never will meet,” said Beach, who began building Christ Notes when he was in the eighth grade as a way to learn about Web sites.
“I was fascinated by the Internet, and the idea that I could publish my work in such a way that anyone in the world could access it,” he said. “In this case, I wanted to create a Web site that did something useful and would benefit others, and a Bible Web site was perfect for that.”
The first content Beach posted on Christnotes.org was a series of devotionals penned by himself. He soon added a tool that enabled users to search the text of the Bible and later integrated a handful of Bible commentaries and dictionaries.
Since its modest beginnings, the site has grown into a multipurpose Bible study tool. “The possible uses for the Internet are seemingly limitless,” Beach said, “I feel as though the Internet engenders innovative ideas in me.”
Two features of his Web site which receive a lot of traffic are the Daily Bible Verse and Weekly Wisdom features, both of which he also makes available in e-mail to subscribers.
“When I did that, I initially had no idea what I was getting into,” he said, “At first, I only expected a couple of hundred people to sign up to receive the Daily Bible Verse by e-mail. It grew far more rapidly than I ever expected, and I now receive about 100 new people signing up every day. It’s blown me away.”
Currently, more than 75,000 people subscribe to both the Daily Bible Verse and Weekly Wisdom e-mails, which means that the Web site sends out over 2.5 million e-mails per month to subscribers.
Maintenance on ChristNotes takes up approximately 10 hours of Beach’s average week. Every Monday, he posts two new Weekly Wisdoms, which are devotionals offering a Bible-based perspective on living a God-centered life. “Doing that has helped me grow a lot in the faith,” he said, “because I need to do research and read Scripture in order to write the Weekly Wisdoms.”
While the site keeps him moderately busy during the academic year, Beach and uses his free time during the summer to add new features.
His tendency toward innovation makes Beach stands out among computer science majors, said CS professor and department chair Keith Vander Linden: “He’s unique in that he’s a very strong student in computer science, yet he’s also interested in business and entrepreneurship.” Beach’s accomplishment with the site is the more remarkable, Vander Linden added, because he began developing as a middle school-er: “I think it’s remarkable that he produced something as significant as Christ Notes so soon and largely on his own effort. That’s a hallmark of an excellent student in computing."
Because Christ Notes is non-denominational, Beach is accustomed to hearing from Christians of every denominational stripe. He also regularly receives e-mails of encouragement from visitors to the site:
“Thank you so much for your [devotionals]. They have been invaluable to me and my wife. We were having difficulties in our marriage and your notes have gone straight to the heart of the matter.”
“I like [Christ Notes] because your primary focus is the Bible. There is no hidden agenda or denominational undertone. I am recommending it to my friends.”
And: “Thank You! I needed this; you don’t know how much I needed it.”
Despite the many positive comments he receives, Beach confessed that the feedback can sometimes be discouraging to read because “I hear from some people whose view of faith is that of a health-and-wealth gospel. But it’s also very encouraging for me to be able to create something that benefits people everywhere.”
~written by Calvin staff writer Myrna Anderson
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