"There is no higher calling or greater privilege known to man than being involved in helping fulfil the Great Commission."
~ Dr Bill Bright, co-founder of Cru
Today, with more than 5 billion mobile phone users worldwide, an unprecedented opportunity has been presented to the global Church to see the gospel reach even more people and places.
“Almost everyone today is now enabled with a connected, smart device that integrates deeply into their lives,” said Xael Tan, co-leader of the Singapore chapter of Indigitous, a volunteer-driven global digital community founded by Cru.
Simon Seow, co-founder of Indigitous and Senior Digital Strategist serving with Global Digital Strategies Vice President's team further emphasised, “The digital space opens doors for people to be exposed to, engage and connect with content or people to point them towards Jesus.”
A global movement of innovation
Located in over 70 cities, Indigitous is a greenhouse for missional innovation. In its fifth run, #HACK, Indigitous’ annual global missional hackathon for Christians saw 105 designers, technologists, students and ministry leaders come together in Singapore to attempt four challenges in 2019.
(From left to right) Xael Tan, Russ Martin, Simon Seow
One of which was a challenge by Migrant X Me to help migrant workers in Singapore access the medical coverage they need. Despite being legally entitled, many don’t even report their injuries because of the complex process involved and lack of English proficiency. In some cases, their employers may even refuse to pay for the medical bills.
By the end of #HACK, a user-friendly mobile application (app) that enabled workers to submit accident reports to the Ministry of Manpower was developed. It simplified the documentation process, with inbuilt voice instructions in several common migrant languages and pictures to guide claimants through the process.
Past #HACK events also saw digital innovation aid organisations such as Salvation Army and Tamar Village tackle issues such as getting help to youths with suicidal tendencies and stemming sex trafficking.
At the frontline of digital missions
Russ Martin, Cru’s Senior Digital Strategist, formerly based in the U.S., made a bold decision to move to Singapore with his family in 2019 to help churches and organisations better harness the power of ‘digital’ for ministry in Asia Pacific.
“My passion is to use technology to bring the gospel to the last, the lost and the least. There are two areas we need to reach. First, in order to reach the next generation, we need experiences that introduce people to Jesus in the digital space,” shared Russ.
“Second, over half of the world's population, many who are still unreached, live within a seven-hour flight from Singapore. Although we are increasingly unable to send missionaries to some of these places, almost everybody has a mobile phone and internet access.
“I want use digital strategies to empower the church in Asia to bring a simple, relevant gospel message to people across the region.”
“People's first point of contact with the church is not in the physical space anymore. They have digitally engaged us long before stepping in the building. To connect better online, Cru is working hard to create content experiences across all our channels to help them in their spiritual journeys,” said Russ.
Illustrating this point, he continued, “Cru currently helps to run an online church in the Middle East because it is not safe for people to gather there. A friend also runs an online Skypleship group with Nepali diaspora workers in the Middle East. He disciples them digitally and remotely from Nepal.”
On the Singapore front, he was quickly roped in to anchor Celebration of Hope’s* online outreach efforts through live streaming of all three evening gospel rallies on social media. An initiative championed by Simon, more than 80 online responders across churches and organisations engaged 914 people through real-time chats, out of 468,286 unique viewers. Not only did six of them pray to receive Christ, some Christians held watch parties at home with pre-believing friends as guests.
*Celebration of Hope is Singapore’s largest Christian gathering for decades jointly organised by Evangelical Fellowship of Singapore (EFOS) and the National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) from 17-19 May, during which 125,000 people gathered over seven rallies.
Helping people take next steps to know Jesus
Just this year alone, more than 180 million globally have been digitally exposed to the gospel through Cru’s web, app and social media assets. Helping to build next steps towards discovering a personal relationship with Jesus is what’s constantly on the minds of our global community of digital strategists.
Recently, some of them came together to help JESUS Film Project (JFP) insert YouTube “cards” onto various languages of “JESUS” film videos on JFP YouTube channel. Each card helps point viewers to an article or resource which they might find helpful as next steps in their spiritual journey. Within just seven days, over 700 people have clicked on the link wanting to find out more about Jesus just for the English ones alone.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others…”
Xael shared, “There are new platforms today and new ways of using these platforms that continue to transform the mission field. One of my team members showed me a pastor in California who started publishing 10-second sermons on Instagram and Tik-Tok. He now has over 500,000 followers across both platforms.”
“We have to constantly ask ourselves, ‘Can technology help us to love each other better, and how?’; ‘Can technology help people to learn about Jesus, at a moment they desperate need to, and how?’; ‘Can technology help people to connect and uplift each other, and how?’”
Simon concluded, “Christians who understand how to use digital effectively have the opportunity to be activated and mobilised—for their skills to be used for a greater cause in bringing an unchanging gospel to this changing world.”
Would you like to know more about being a digital missionary? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to explore uncommon opportunities for missions & discipleship! Get connected to Indigitous at www.indigitous.sg.
Deborah is passionate about capturing different perspectives to create relevant and impactful content. She enjoys meaningful conversations and collecting experiences, but also loves time spent just with a good book and cup of coffee.
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