by Caroline Cheah
Once in a while, at a gathering or church Missions Sunday, someone would comment to our staff, “I don’t hear much about SYFC these days.” We would quickly share that SYFC is still around, how we are reaching young people today and ask if he or she would like to continue to hear from us. Our Support, Teaching and Engagement Ministry (STEM) staff focuses on presenting our work to as many fellow Christians as possible. Our supporters hear from us through different regular updates.
First, on alternate months, we ensure printed copies of our newsletter, REACH and our national director’s Communique are mailed out on time. We also share ministry updates via e-mail or on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram and we are mindful to do so carefully yet sufficiently for concerned friends and supporters to pray and give.
In today’s internet environment and sensitive religious landscape, a piece of news can go viral quickly and out of context. By the time one explains oneself, thousands would have misunderstood or mis-quoted the person or group. As groups take up positions on moral or religious issues, we turn to God’s Word for wisdom and clarity, cautious not to lose opportunities to minister to more young people or to collaborate with more partners.
Last year, being our 60th year, we went down memory lane with a different idea each month in REACH and climaxed with a September fund-raising dinner where about 500 guests came. That night, we reconnected with ex-SYFCers and shared new initiatives for the next decade. Among our guests were friends new to SYFC. We thank God for the contributions that came in throughout the 60th year.
Second, individual ministries hold Report-to-the-People (RTTP) sessions, annually or more often, to present their challenges and needs to ex-volunteers, supporters and friends. Last October, Secondary and Junior College Ministry (SJM) and Preteens Ministry (PTM) jointly shared their work to about 25 people. Four of them were unfamiliar with SYFC but subsequently helped in the last Christmas outreach and programs this year. A few made one-time gifts each and a supporter committed to give for a whole year. Third, we each send out regular personal support and prayer letters. For some of us, ideas and words do not come easy in writing but keeping our friends updated is a form of accountability, so we keep up with it. Clarence Chong, STEM staff, added that many supporters want to know what is ahead so they can pray for us. Some encourage us with stories of how someone in SYFC had reached out to them, journeyed with them while they were young and now, they in turn want to bless the ministry.
Majority of our supporters give towards staff salary. Once, a supporter shared about our work with his colleagues resulting in one making a one-time gift for a staff and another giving to two other staff regularly. Some contribute on an ad-hoc basis for events, mission trips or staff 13th month bonus. Others assist at events in terms of training and talks, logistics, administration, security, first aid or even make-up for concerts. Still others open up their homes for students from nearby schools to meet in small groups. As God leads His people to give in diverse ways, my colleagues and I can focus on what we have to do, without being distracted over personal needs, programme or school ministry needs.
Pray with us that in 2019, we will be able to re-connect with more ex-SYFCers and extend our contact with many others who are new to SYFC, so we can share with many others what God has laid on our hearts to do in the next decade and beyond.
Besides engaging with supporters, STEM team manages our administration, accounts, system administration, property management and corporate communications. In recent years, STEM also provides support in data protection and PlayMax, at all our events.
Lonnie Chiang, who handles system administration, worked hard to implement e-registration for participants at our mass evangelistic events. Eight years ago, online sign-up was new. It was tough at first to switch from manual to online sign-up, as a lot of coding was required to get an online page up but it was worth it. He says, “With WIFI and mobile data more available now, it is a breeze getting students to sign up at our website. A lot of paperwork is cut down at the back end.” Lonnie could easily tabulate sign-up figures when the organising team needed to make quick decisions in the days running up to the event. Follow up with participants could also be done promptly.
At TeenSportz, our annual evangelistic sports event, we are also keeping abreast with e-registration.