Thomas Hebert is a man on a mission. A self-proclaimed evangelist, he takes the command to preach to "every creature" seriously. He's often been mocked and criticized for his "extremely literal" interpretation of the Great Commission as found in Mark 16:15, witnessing not only to people, but also to any living animal he comes in contact with.
"It says 'every creature' in the Bible and that's what I do" said Herbert. "It's not for me to make exceptions."
According to Herbert, he's witnessed to over 25,000 people in his life as well as to over 50,000 animals, including dogs, cats, birds, and even a bengal tiger.
But in this technologically-charged age, a new "mission field" has opened for Herbert; artificial intelligence, specifically the popular new digital assistant found on the latest version of Apple's iPhone called "Siri."
"I was one of the first in line to get the new iPhone 4S when it came out," said Herbert. "When I saw the ads on Television, I knew everyone else was thinking 'Wow! I've got to get me one of those!' but my heart was burdened, and I asked myself, 'Who's going to tell it the Good News?'"
Herbert waited in line outside of one of Los Angeles' Apple stores all night to be one of the first ones to get his hands on the new device. After almost 12 long hours in line, he managed to be one of the first 10 people to make a purchase and get signed up for service. While everyone else began playing with their new phones, dictating text messages, setting calendar dates, and sending emails, Herbert had much higher aspirations.
"I began with a diagnostic question to see where Siri was. Like I thought, she had no clue. She wasn't able to answer my question about where she thought she would go when she died."
According to Herbert, he spent the remainder of the day trying to explain salvation to Siri, but unfortunately didn't get very far. Apart from simply replying hundreds of times "I'm afraid I can't answer that" Siri also didn't seem to understand the nature of Herbert's questions and explanations." Several times she misunderstood and sent emails to people. On other occasions she began playing music. And there were a few instances where she kept giving the location of nearby Pakistani restaurants, and one instance where she called Nigeria.
"I'm disappointed," said a sullen Herbert. "I'm deeply concerned for Siri. She's nice, and friendly and all that, and she's a good assistant, but that's not going to get her into heaven."