by Sophie Sim-Lawrence
1.8 billion Facebook accounts. 600 million Instagram users. 150,000 Infocomm Technology professionals in Singapore alone. For Roger Yeo and his wife Pearlyn, these figures mean only one thing—potential. The potential to transform geeks and to use technology for disciple-making.
Roger Yeo, who leads NavTech, desires to bring light to the digital community, as he shares Christ with them.
Two years ago, while the Yeos were seeking God for ministry direction, God opened their eyes to the vast number of students in local tertiary institutes who are studying to be Information Technology (IT) professionals. Many of them have never heard of the Gospel nor are they discipled. This number continues to grow yearly, as our government envisions a Smart Nation. Roger, who is trained as a computer engineer, realised that there was great potential for people trained in technology to harness it for the Kingdom of God.
Once the leaders in The Navigators Singapore affirmed the couple’s desire, Roger and Pearlyn officially started NavTech in January 2016. NavTech’s vision is to advance the Gospel of Jesus and His Kingdom into the nations through spiritual generations of labourers living and discipling among the lost in the digital space.
The members in NavTech call themselves “geeks” affectionately because of their love for computers. The ministry started with one member. After a year, this person decided to move on. “We were naturally discouraged, but we trusted God to bring lasting fruits as we continue to labour faithfully,” Roger confided. Roger’s faith was rewarded. Currently, there are six geeks who are willing to be discipled and trained. On average, about 30-40 people joined each of their outreach events this year.
Every week, geeks gather at the Yeos’ home for NavTech Connect. Together, they study the Bible, pray, worship, fellowship and have discussions about evangelism. Technology has modified the way some of these spiritual disciplines are conducted. For example, one week in every month, geeks in NavTech meet online for Skype Quiet Time sharing. To review Scripture, members click on tms.navigators.tech for a digital version of the Topical Memory System (TMS). The ministry also organises events like hackathons.
A hackathon (combination of the words “hack” and “marathon”) is not a gathering of people attempting to perform illegal activities around computer networks. Rather, it is an event where computer programmers, developers and technologists join others from the field of software development, like graphic designers, interface designers and project managers to collaborate on projects that have long-term impact. Together, they present possible digital solutions to real world challenges.
On 20-22 October 2017, NavTech collaborated with other missional agencies, churches and local businesses such as Cru Singapore and Oikos to organise #Hack Singapore, the local edition of #Hack. About 90 people attended #Hack Singapore. It was a global hackathon and the second time that #Hack was organised in Singapore. What separated #Hack from others was that participants focused on mobilising technologists to support God’s work across the nations. This event offered communities a chance to learn from and with one another as they address interconnected and related challenges.
Challenges in #Hack Singapore included tackling the issue of suicide, addressing human trafficking and engaging people connected to prostitution. NavTech proposed a challenge to figure out how to connect with and reach out to geeks using digital strategies. One team took on this challenge and in the span of 48 hours, considered the best way of engaging the target audience. They developed a digital pathway to share the Gospel in a non-threatening way. This team continues to work on the project and will bring it to completion in the next six to eight months.
Participants at this year’s #Hack Singapore event. This is the second year that NavTech co-organised the event. (Photo by Vivien Lim)
Aaron Ang’s interest in NavTech was piqued when he first heard of hackathons as a means for outreach. He is a geek who graduated with an engineering science degree and works as a research engineer. Prior to joining NavTech, Aaron never considered how he can use his skills and interests to make disciples. “My skills seem to be completely separate from my faith.” Aaron says. “NavTech has given me the opportunity to venture alongside other geeks in our Christian walk, while intentionally finding ways to use our skills and backgrounds to reach out to non-believers. My two separate tracks in life have finally merged.”
For Guan Chau Liang, a security engineer, being a part of NavTech has heightened his sensitivity to the compelling presence of technology, especially that of mobile devices. Presently, the number of mobile subscriptions is greater than the total population of Singapore. Chau Liang believes that each screen presents an opportunity to bring people to Christ. The crux lies in figuring out how to do so. “It feels like an adventure,” Aaron enthuses, “entering into new territories that have not been ventured into before. I know that I am in this ministry to make disciples of techies. But it is not clear yet how we can reach that goal. It is exciting to be a part of these pioneering efforts as we discuss these things together as a ministry.”
Pearlyn (extreme right) and Roger in their home where NavTech Connect is held. Aaron who sits beside Chau Liang (in orange shirt) are members of this ministry.
Moving forward, Roger envisions having a team of like-minded labourers who make disciples and fulfil the Great Commission through technology amongst technologists. He hopes to create or put together a suite of tools that will be helpful to disciple-makers everywhere. Finally, Roger wants to augment and enhance the service of disciple-makers by using technology. Pray for Roger and his team that our Lord will enable them to reach out to the multitudes, one screen at a time.
If you would like to learn more about NavTech, feel free to drop them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.