When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Acts 2:1:4

Mervyn Lee

Co-Organising Lead, #HACK 2021
Indigitous Singapore

Thanks to our friends at Thir.st for featuring Mervyn’s thoughts in this Thir.st article.

“The world may be in lockdown, but the Gospel is not.”

That was Indigitous’ 2020 pitch, and holds ever so true. The missional objective of the church to make disciples of all nations has not changed, and has stood the challenge of time.

In 2020, the Church scrambled to adapt to the new norms – large corporate gatherings were discouraged, cell groups had to meet on Zoom, missional engagements were reduced, or their plans had to be scrapped. The experience was similar for me – I had planned to visit Tokyo during the 2020 Olympics then and engage in some of the local evangelistic efforts; this was tossed aside with the postponement announcement of the event and heightened travel restrictions.

Covid did not just upset the status quo of mission-sending communities, it created an upheaval to our existing practices, and transformed the way that we think about missions. Indigitous Singapore sent out a survey to gather responses on how missionaries (from churches, mission organizations and our community) have been impacted by Covid in the past year.

What we found out:

  • Missionaries had to resort to remote engagements with their partners in the field. Besides the remote engagement fatigue and lack of presence, in some cases, missionaries even had to terminate their plans altogether due to border-restriction factors
  • Mission-funding had dropped (for a church identified)
  • Churches/mission organizations are faced with technical challenges in the delivery of the forms of missional work, e.g., methods, logistics, medium to long-term strategy

While the resiliency of our mission strategies have been been challenged, we also found some interesting developments, and how our communities have emerged stronger:

  • More focus is given to the indigineos missionaries that are reaching out to their own people, refining or creating a form of empowerment that can lead to more effective outreaches and growth models
  • As a workaround to the travel restrictions, missionaries are extending their work by engaging more local volunteers to support remotely
  • More desire for collaboration and sharing resources to solve common problems, with a willingness to fail fast, learn fast

In Acts 2, we witness a new thing that God was doing among the believers who had converged in one place:

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

Where God’s people converge, there His Spirit fills the place. The empowerment of the Holy Spirit was so great that the disciples began evangelizing in different tongues, and bearing witness of Jesus to the multitudes in their different languages. “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

This reality isn’t one that is distanced from today. We are so well-equipped with many talents and technology then we can ever imagine – leaders, educators and professionals in their own domains that contribute to the shaping of our societies; advancement in sciences that can help bridge the multi-cultural divides and facilitate information sharing. Perhaps if we converge, we can witness the same reality again, where the Holy Spirit can empower us to witness to many.

In the spirit of Acts:

  • This is the convergence we seek – being brought to the feet of Jesus, where our pathways with Jesus connect.
  • This is the convergence we seek – continuing to meet together, breaking bread and eating together, praising God, enjoying the favor of all the people and the Lord adding to our number daily those who are being saved.
  • This is the convergence we seek – after being separated for a time, returning to the normalcy of community and worship life, in eager anticipation of greater things that God will do in us and through us.

This could also be the inflection point for Christian communities or individuals who are seeking a revival in our missional engagement. Lately, the Singapore government announced that it was moving from pandemic to endemic. By the end of the year, it plans to lift most of the Covid-19 restrictions and encourage the population to resume some sense of normalcy. However, is Singapore ready to adopt this new mindset – living normally with Covid-19? In the same way, the Church is also placed in the same context to define its pathway – will we return to the normal, or could this spark an opportunity for an extraordinary encounter with God, and a transformation of how we “be” the Church?

Going back to my Tokyo Olympics plans in 2020, after a few attempts across the year to pilot some form of digital missions engagement, it seemed that God had put a hold on my plans. Between October and December, the pieces of the parcel came together for me when an e-mission team was put together by a leading church in Singapore, in collaboration with our Japan partners, to run an evangelistic campaign for Christmas digitally. I learnt many lessons through this first-of-its-kind mission engagement, but what amazed me most was the convergence of the Christian volunteers.

Indigitous #HACK 2021 is a place where Christians can converge, experience the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, use the gifts God has given us to serve the body of Christ and be witnesses to the ends of the earth. In past years, I have heard feedback from fellow Christians that feel they lack the technical abilities to contribute to a digital mission or hackathon. We strongly believe digital missions can be for every Christian (is a missionary at heart). Therefore, in this year’s #HACK 2021, not only does the solutioning track provide a more non-coder-friendly environment, we are also offering a new track for first-timers and experienced missionaries alike to take part in a digital mission.

Join our community and participate in #HACK 2021.

“If done in partnership with local churches, [short-term missions] can be fruitful for those who are going and those who are in the local community. It is essential that people go as learners and not experts. We have so many things to learn from our international brothers and sisters in Christ.”

– The Future of Missions, Barna Group, 2020

– Mervyn 

This Year’s Theme

Moment to movement

#HACK2021 is going to look a little different this year.

If you’re a problem solver and would like to work on a solution for a challenge owner, Track 1 is for you. If you would like to go on a missions trip (digitally) or engage a people group directly, go with Track 2. 

Track 1: Solution-Building

Our usual #HACK format, you’ll form teams and work with challenge owners on a digital solution for an issue they are trying to resolve. You do not need to have a tech background, nor need to code. Your solution can take the form of a social media campaign for outreach or utilising tools to help with more technical. requirements The long-term goal is to develop and deploy the solution in the context of the challenge, what we’d like to see is a well-thought out solution. 

w

Track 2: Mission Experience

Remember when mission trips used to be a thing? These trips exposed us to what God is doing beyond our shores and also provided extra seasonal support for those in the mission field. Physical mission trips may be cancelled for now, but the doors for more creative and deeply impactful digital ones are wide open!

Experience a mission trip in a hybrid model (physically with local participants in line with Safe Management Measures (SMM), and digitally with the foreign beneficiaries). This could be an exchange activity (Singapore Tour) where they can befriend and find opportunities to share the gospel.

 Behind every screen is a person, and that person is in need of the Gospel. May our hearts be open to see what God sees.