A screenshot still from the Zaia App promo video Zaia Ventures (Graf-Martin Communications)

Zaia leads us to the online light

  • June 7, 2024

Once we step out from the pews in our churches and walk out of the parish halls, our ability to encounter Jesus and His word becomes noticeably more difficult throughout our day-to-day lives. Seeing as they take up so much of our time, some of us may turn to our phones to find inspiration and like-minded Christians to converse with. Most, we’ll be met with very little, much like it is elsewhere in our secularized society.  

In a previous article, I touted the pleasantness of being able to access the entirety of the Holy Bible right from your smartphone. While fantastic for studying Scripture alone, the lack of a dedicated space for followers of Christ to come together remained. I often thought to myself, “how could our devoted faith community, regardless of denomination, suddenly detach once we go online?” Thankfully, one bright mind from a new Houston-based company with a track record of excellence in technological innovation and marketing was having similar thoughts.

“I found myself a lot of times as a Christian feeling very lonely and wondering to myself what life could be like for us to have a really strong faith community together (as Christians) and that is where the app Zaia came in,” said Ukonwa Ojo, founder and CEO of Zaia Ventures. 

Having started a company that is set on building businesses that serve underrepresented and marginalized communities, Ojo quickly realized that Christians were one of the more excluded communities worldwide. So began her goal of developing a space that looked to change that for good. 

“I was reading the Bible one day and I stumbled across John 17:20-23 which ended up being the cornerstone for this application. In it, Jesus prayed: ‘May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me,’ ” Ojo said. “It was almost like I was reading it for the first time. It leapt off the page and I do not know how else I can explain it.” 

With a strong background in tech working as the global chief marketing officer and U.S. general manager for Amazon Prime Video & Studios, Ojo began understanding that a place that would facilitate Christians joining in their shared beliefs could be a virtual one, as its own phone application. After close to two years of development and production, Zaia (which means light) officially launched May 22, giving Christians around the globe a dedicated social networking platform of their own. 

With the app currently available for download on both the App Store as well as the Google Play Store, I had the chance to toy around with Zaia during its first week of operation. My initial experience proved to me that this is not another re-skinned social media platform with handfuls of Bible verses scattered throughout. The app feels premium, like its features were designed with the goals of Christians in mind above all else and not as a side project, mainly because it was its creator's exact attitude at the start of production.  

“We talk about what is important to us in theory and for me I would have said my faith foremost, my family, friends and then my work. When I started looking at how I was spending my time, it was the opposite in reality. I wondered what it would look like if my faith became my work and so Zaia is simply serving His greater good in a way that made sense for me,” Ojo said. 

In an effort to live up to an app made by Christians, for Christians, I was first asked if I identified with the faith. A “yes” allows you to register an account immediately while a “no”  provides information about Christianity and asks if the user would still like to join. I found it to be a nice touch to ensure the app’s goal of having a harmonious digital community, specifically for Christians. 

Once inside, the app operates under a unique “dual-feed” design that gives users the ability to see photos and video posts as well as a section known as “Word” for inspiring content that is text only. The interface felt similar to other social media apps allowing for ease of use with personalized content ranging from users’ testimonies, prayer circles, faith-based memes, Bible verses and even prayer requests. 

Another alluring aspect is a section known as “Tribes” that allows people to find public or private communities based on various passions and interests. Featured are countless options for fans of music, sports, food, Bible study, nature and more, all of which can be discussed with other users from a Christian lens. 

No app for Christians would be complete without the Bible, with Zaia offering the entire 66-book collection in multiple languages and versions. While not social in that aspect yet, the ability to read Scripture directly within the app while being a fingertip away from sharing your thoughts on your current reading amplifies the app's ingenuity. 

Although the app has only been available to the public worldwide for a short time, the impact is already being seen with positive feedback on its practical effectiveness and the influence it has had on users being shared with Zaia Ventures. Not one to be content with settling, Ojo is looking forward to expanding the app's physical functions while understanding that it is God who will continue to work through the platform. 

“This is something that I believe God put on my heart to do and so we are committed to continuing to work on this venture until it achieves the full vision for which He intended. We are ready to go on this journey together with the body of Christ and turn it into what we believe it can be, whether in a short amount of time, years or even decades. While we do not know right now, our role is to continue to move forward in obedience and trust that He will bring this together,” she said. 

With a long way to go before reaching the levels of other platforms, Zaia is without a doubt looking to solidify itself as a premier choice for connecting through faith online, and an option I hope to use more as it continues to grow. 

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