Tonya Maddox of Davidson, NC has started her own online community called The Epic Journey, that will mimic other social networks but with one main difference – it will be a safe and encouraging environment for Christ followers and seekers.
After one friend told Maddox that her young daughter wanted to open a Facebook account and another talked with her about the sometimes disturbing or off-putting comments and images that can appear on your news feed, she decided to do something about it.
“I believe you have to really filter what you take in because what goes in comes out,” said Maddox. ”And I feel it is a reflection on me.”
So she created a new social network where her friend’s daughter could interact and connect online with others safely. The Epic Journey has many features that are similar to other social media sites, such as status updates, picture sharing and networking tools. However, members can’t post any explicit material. A series of technological filters will block any questionable posts from going through and those that may slip through the cracks, will be picked up and removed by staff members who monitor the site 24 hours a day.
Besides just socializing, members will be able to do a multitude of other things on the site including locating a new church or bible study, find opportunities to serve in their local community, regionally or nationally or look up Christian concerts and conferences.
“As someone who used to travel two weeks out of every month, I know what it’s like to miss your church or your life group. With [The Epic Journey], people who are traveling can just type in the zip code where they are and find a church to go to,” said Maddox.
The website is only the beginning though. Maddox plans to develop The Epic Journey into a non-profit organization and hold two to three conferences each year around the country that will be geared toward 20 and 30-somethings. The conferences will include musical performances, guest speakers and break-out sessions.
“They will be able to walk away [from these conferences] better equipped for life,” said Maddox.
Unfortunately, it is often this age group that gets looked over, according to Maddox.
“We lose people after student ministry and we send them out, just hoping they’re equipped,” Maddox said. ”But often they are looking in the wrong places for love and they don’t know how to have a relationship with Christ.”
Maddox has already held several small networking events and plans to continue hosting them on the last Tuesday of each month. The events are for strategic networking and will feature keynote speakers with their own stories of perseverance and hard work. The events are held at the Homewood Suites by Hilton in Davidson, NC.
Although she was quite successful in the more traditional corporate world in the past, Maddox said this venture has brought her the most joy, outside of getting married and becoming pregnant with her first child.
“This is the most exciting thing I’ve embarked on in my life,” said Maddox.
Maddox said she has seen the power the media and social networking can have and she’s excited to see what her “cleaned-up” version will be able to accomplish. She hopes it will change people’s lives.
“People walk around like they’re in a black and white movie,” said Maddox. ”But when you add the encouragement of Christ, you can watch those lives turn to color.”