Making Disciples through Technology

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Making Disciples through Technology

Posted on 24 Nov 2023



How did you come to Christ? How has The Navigators made a difference in your life?



Roger

My mother took me to church when I was about 5 years old. During my early years, going to church seemed more like a routine centred around Sunday School and making friends, rather than a deeply meaningful or spiritual experience.

It was only when I turned 11 that a teacher from the NavTeens ministry took me under her wings and invited me to explore the study of the Bible together. Her investment in my life had a profound impact on me, setting me on a trajectory that led me to where I am today — serving God in a full-time capacity. I am truly grateful that God brought this teacher into my life. 


As a teenager, I cherished my relationship with God and eagerly embraced every opportunity to deepen my understanding of Him. Though there were many aspects of the Bible which I did not fully comprehend at that time, immersing myself in the Word strengthened my faith and moulded my life. My growing understanding of the Word set in motion a life-giving cycle that nurtured my spiritual journey.


Perhaps it was my competitive streak that drove me into the discipline of memorising scriptures. The NavTeens training camp often featured a Scripture Memory quiz where various teams pitted against each other to be the quickest to quote a verse based on a series of questions. To secure the opportunity to answer, we had to be the first to jump, leaving no time to refer to our verse cards; we had to have the verses at our fingertips. This experience ignited my enthusiasm to memorise even more scriptures, and it naturally evolved into a lifelong endeavour.


The principle of spiritual multiplication gripped my heart. As I progressed in my discipleship journey, it became evident to me that Matthew 28:19-20 is a universal command for everyone:


“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28: 19-20


Efficient multiplication of disciples is made possible when each person invests in one other person who would be faithful to pass the gospel on to the next person. Paul’s exhortation in 2 Timothy 2:2 deeply resonated with me:


“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”

2 Timothy 2:2


Along the way, God allowed me to go through numerous refining moments, one of which occurred when I initially began discipling another person. I earnestly believed that going through materials was the key, and equipping individuals with the Word would empower them to become disciplemakers. As time passed, I covered a considerable amount of material, but I noticed minimal transformation in the lives of my disciples.


During that period, my mentor highlighted the importance of shaping convictions through the Word of God. It was then when I learnt that discipleship is not solely about acquiring head knowledge; instead, it involves nurturing hearts that are truly devoted to Jesus.


It was the collective influence of various Navigator leaders who invested in my life, coupled with valuable lessons gleaned from past mistakes, that refined my understanding of disciplemaking. Understanding that God works through people and having personally encountered His grace through those who poured into my life, I fervently pray that He continues to bring faithful and willing individuals into my life for the purpose of discipleship.



Pearlyn

I grew up in a household that practised ancestral worship and Buddhism, and I used to accompany my parents to temples during my early years. Interestingly, influenced by my Christian aunt, my parents also sent me to Sunday School as they believed that it was an excellent place for me to learn good moral values.

However, navigating between two religions at such a young age led to some confusion. I distinctly recall telling a primary school friend that I considered myself 50% Christian and 50% Buddhist, only to be taken aback when she told me that I cannot be both and had to choose between the two.

There were two significant moments in my life that deepened my understanding of the Christian faith and who Jesus was.


The first encounter occurred during a Sunday School camp when I was 12. The camp’s theme that year was “Just like Him”. The camp leaders exhibited much enthusiasm for God as they served, and their genuine love for us, the younger participants, was evident as they partnered with each of us, offering encouragement to us throughout the camp. Witnessing their dedication and passion for God inspired me to contemplate who Jesus was, as He was the driving force behind their actions. It was during the camp that I prayed to invite Jesus into my life.


During one of the lessons, the teacher shared Hebrews 11:6 with us and encouraged us to write our own eulogies. Those moments prompted me to reflect on the nature of faith as I considered how I wanted to live my life.


 

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Hebrews 11:6



The second encounter occurred while I was reading God’s Word in John 17:3.



“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ,
whom you have sent.”

John 17:3



I was led to the realisation that eternal life is not merely a place or a desirable future I had hoped for. Instead, it is about the profound knowledge of who God is. This revelation deeply impacted me, prompting me to reassess my life priorities. If eternal life is about knowing God and Jesus, what do I understand about Him now, and what more can I know about Him in the future? Am I living my life in alignment with this truth?


Looking back, God has been faithful and has been divinely directing me through various people and in different ways. In fact, the Navigators may have impacted my life in more ways than I may be aware of. The church I attended, Bethesda Katong Church, was also the church that Jim Chew (former National Director of The Navigators Singapore) attended during his time in Singapore. Perhaps by his influence, BKC Sunday School included scripture memory as part of their curriculum. Though I was never one to diligently memorise Scripture, because scripture memory was encouraged as a discipline, I gradually learnt the value of hiding God’s Word in my heart.


My experience with the Navigators began through my husband, Roger, who was already serving as a staff member with The Navigators when I got to know him. Through him, I became acquainted with many others in The Navigators who have also poured into my life, encouraging me in my discipleship journey. Roger had also invested much time and effort in helping me understand the essence of discipleship.


There are two things that I have observed and learnt about the Navigators:

Firstly, the richness of ministering through life-on-life interactions stood out to me. The time spent together serves not only to foster a deeper connection between both parties, but it is also an opportunity for personal growth in faith, life, and one's mission in Christ.


The second noteworthy aspect is the unmistakable sense of purpose and mission that each person possesses as they dedicate their lives to investing in others for Christ—a truly inspiring commitment. While I have always felt a calling to assist fellow believers in their faith journey, I previously lacked a clear roadmap. In the company of these remarkable individuals, I have come to appreciate the value of investing my life in others. 


Hence, irrespective of my current life stage, my desire is to invest my fleeting existence in this world for the soul and life of another for eternity (2 Corinthians 4:10-12).



Can you share a few stories of how your family or the couples in your community have formed meaningful life-on-life, family-to-family relationships with others?


Roger

We are relatively private individuals and protective of our children. Nonetheless, as we dedicate our lives to the people we disciple, we inadvertently open our home and lives to them, allowing them to witness our interactions with our children.

Johan has been a part of our ministry for the past 6 years. During this time, he transitioned from being a student to a working professional, and is now a married man as well. We provided him with home training, hence he got to stay overnight at our home where he had the opportunity to observe how we managed the ministry while taking care of our children.


He jokingly remarked, "Kids are scary. I have no idea how to handle them in my life now. Thanks Roger and Pearlyn, for showing me how to do it."


Although he said it in a lighthearted manner, he meant that he now understands the challenges of caring for young children. Allowing him to witness the chaos in our lives, including crying children and diapers galore, is part and parcel of life-on-life experience. We also hoped that he would see our imperfections and understand that it is possible to remain dedicated to ministry even with children in the picture.

 

Johan joining in our children’s TV time


Recently, we realised that Johan took the initiative to “entertain” our children. Similarly, the children were quite comfortable with him, even asking him for pointers about the latest games and claw machine tips. It is heartwarming to see our children involved in our ministry, and conversely, people in our ministry seeing our lives for what they truly are.


Pearlyn

We had the privilege of celebrating the marriage of a couple in our ministry, Michael and Kristine. Both of them are from Cebu and are currently working in Singapore. They have been in a relationship for a long time (approximately 13 years) and have decided to get married in September this year.

Given their financial considerations, they could only hold a small reception in Singapore for family and a few friends. They had also expressed their desire to have us as guests at their wedding in Cebu. We realised then that we could organise a wedding celebration party for them at our home so that as a NavTech family, we could not only offer our support but also extend our blessings as they embark on their marriage journey.


It was a joyous occasion as the NavTech community came together to celebrate with them over Jollibee and some mango floats (prepared by Michael). It serves as a reminder that as Christ's disciples, journeying together in life through such momentous occasions is a way to love one another (John 13:34-35). Our fellowship in Christ is precious to us, and we want to continue celebrating such moments.

 

Celebrating the marriage of Michael and Kristine at our home



Can you share a few personal stories or experiences whereby an individual or a family’s life was impacted?


Roger

Kevin and I first met about seven years ago through a mutual friend. I remember praying for a faithful man I could disciple, while he, on the other hand, expressed to our mutual friend that he was looking for a mentor. It was rather divine that we met at the right moment in time.

As he often ended work late for Bible Studies, I challenged him to take a taxi or Grab ride from his workplace in Yishun to the Navigators’ office, and he did.


"Money is meant to serve you, not the other way around," I said.

My intention was for him to cultivate a willingness to pay the price for spiritual growth. Despite the ongoing demands of work, he persists in attending our Bible Study sessions. He used to struggle with working on weekends as well, but I am encouraged that he is now willing to set aside his weekends for a Sabbath rest instead.

 

Getting some precious time together at Kevin’s wedding
(Left-Right : Marcus, Kevin, Michael)


Kevin has taken the initial steps in disciplemaking and is learning the ropes of reaching out. He is currently mentoring two individuals, Marcus and Michael. Being a disciplemaker while working in the marketplace is not easy. Time is a resource that is extremely limited, but because he values the souls of men and wants to obey the Great Commission, he remains committed to studying the scriptures with them weekly.


Pearlyn

K came to Singapore for work and joined our ministry about 4 years ago. Roger met her at #Hack, a Christian hackathon organised by Cru. K expressed an interest in growing in her faith and joining our NavTech community as she was also working as a software developer. When we first met, K shared her struggles with negative thoughts about herself, life, faith and God. It was often difficult for her to overcome such depressive episodes. During those times, I shared Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 10:5 with her to encourage her to pray and submit her thoughts and mind to Christ.

During one of our Bible Study sessions, K testified that she had finally understood and experienced for herself what it truly means for Jesus to be her Saviour, as He had delivered her from the negative thought patterns she had been struggling with. Because God’s Word and promises are true, she now has full assurance of her salvation.

As such, K no longer experiences doubt or fear. Instead, she finds great peace, comfort, and joy, knowing that despite her feelings or thoughts, her salvation is certain and her faith is strengthened as a result. This conviction has enabled K to weather difficult storms in her life.



How did the Lord lead you to serve as a full-time gift-income staff ?


Roger

The Lord had already been moving in my heart regarding serving Him in a full-time capacity since my university days. However, as I prayed about it while approaching graduation, it did not feel like the right time yet. Hence, after graduation,  I worked in the marketplace for about three years as a software developer, while serving as a labourer in the NavTeens.

It was at the two-year mark of working in the marketplace when I found myself questioning whether I should be serving Him in a greater capacity. There was much work to be done, with numerous teenagers to be reached out to and discipled.


God moved my heart through two passages from the Bible. The first was 2 Corinthians 5:15, which convicted my heart that as I live, I should no longer live for myself but for Jesus.

 

“And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”

2 Corinthians 5:15


The second passage was Colossians 3:17, which reminded me that whatever I do, as long as I am doing it for the Lord, He would be well-pleased.


“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,

giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Colossians 3:17


I believed that it did not really matter if I worked in the marketplace or if I chose to work for Him full-time, as long as I served Him wholeheartedly.


However, since I had a choice and God had been preparing my heart all these years to serve Him in a full-time capacity, I chose to devote my life to my Father’s business, for which I believed He would be doubly pleased.


This conviction was sealed into my heart. However, I kept this matter to myself as I sought confirmation from the Lord; only a close brother-in-Christ knew about it. I did not want to rush into a decision hastily.


A year later, NavTeens faced a leadership crisis, as the ministry leader at that time was diagnosed with cancer. Someone had to assume leadership, and directing NavTeens would be challenging for anyone who was not serving in a full-time capacity. It was then that I finally understood why God had prepared my heart in advance — to steward His ministry. 

The timing in the unfolding of events seemed so divine, hence I said yes to serving God not only in a full-time capacity, but also as the NavTeens director. As the timing of my transition into full-time ministry aligned precisely with God's orchestration, the process was less daunting than I had initially imagined.

Pearlyn

I have always considered the possibility of serving God wherever He calls me. Trusting in His provision for my needs though, was difficult. It was not easy to take this step as I had a lot of fears and concerns — quitting my full-time job and raising financial support as we transitioned to serve as a family. We were entirely dependent on God’s provision through His people. Essentially, it was my faith at question and God was testing me to see if I would have the faith to trust in His provision.

My conviction about God’s provision grew over time. One of the verses that resonated with me was Romans 8:32 —

 
“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also,
along with him, graciously give us all things?”

 Romans 8:32 


This verse continued to remind my faithless heart that God is gracious, generous and able to provide for our needs. One of the things Roger does is to inform me whenever someone sends us a gift. It is both an encouragement and a time to be thankful, recognising that God is the one who moves the hearts of people to support us in His work.


I have witnessed Roger’s conviction and humility in sharing with God’s people about what we do, asking in faith for God to answer and provide. This made me realise that my worries and concerns were small. In fact, when we made the decision for me to quit my full-time job and serve God together as a family, there were a number of people I knew who supported us. It was a testament that God enables all resources to be provided for His work, and I only needed to trust in Him.



How did the Lord lead you to start a Disciplemaking Community among Tech Geeks?


Roger

Early on in my career as a full-time Navigator staff, I learnt that I had to let go of my ambitions. I had always aspired to start a software house, creating software that could rival industry giants like Microsoft and Yahoo back in the day. However, as I continued my service among teenagers, I had to let that dream go because it was no longer feasible. I had to raise my hands in surrender to the technology that I loved.

Through a series of events, I felt led to seek the Lord regarding the next steps in my ministry. The result was the birth of the idea to integrate both technology and disciplemaking. It was a convergence of training, passion, and skills—a sweet spot in how God made me to serve Him.

The birth of this idea coincided with a time when the government and other mission agencies were starting to explore the use of technology in various spheres. Once again, it was God’s hand at work. The cherry on top was that God knew what I loved, and this divine timing and opportunity allowed Pearlyn and me to explore this new frontier.


Establishing a disciplemaking community from the ground up was challenging. When our NavTech ministry began, one of our initial prayers was to have at least four individuals with a passion for technology join our community by the end of the first year. God graciously answered our prayers by sending four like-minded individuals to join us as a confirmation for us to continue this important work. 

 

NavTech at the end of 2016. An answered prayer and affirmation.


Pearlyn

In 2015, Roger and I were transitioning from the NavTeens ministry, and we sought the Lord for direction regarding a new ministry to join.

Around this time, PM Lee outlined plans to transform Singapore into the world’s first Smart Nation. Several initiatives were launched to support and ensure the establishment of a robust ecosystem, ensuring the success of these plans.


Discerning what God was doing at that time, coupled with Roger’s training in technology and my prior experience in a related industry, we prayed and brainstormed about the possibility of pioneering a technology-related ministry.


The early years of NavTech were faith-testing. Approval for our initiatives was necessary from the National Director, as NavTech was still considered an “exploratory” ministry. Each additional year that permitted us to continue our work in NavTech was another opportunity to express gratitude to God. It served as His affirmation that our efforts were in alignment with the Navigators’ Vision and Mission.



What is your vision and mission for the NavTech ministry?


Roger

We appended a few words to the end of the Navigators’ calling for NavTech:


“To advance the gospel of Jesus Christ into the nations through spiritual generations of labourers living and discipling among the lost in the digital space.”


Whether in person or online, we envision a thriving disciplemaking community that is constantly reproducing disciples and disciplemakers among individuals in the technology field or through technology. Our mission is to equip individuals in the community to become effective disciplemakers.

 

NavTech labourers

 

Romans 12:4-5 undergirds the rationale of our ministry:


For just as each of us has one body with many members,
and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we,
though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

Romans 12:4-5


Just as each ministry has its unique role and function, NavTech serves a vital function within the body of Christ. I envision future collaborations among tech ministries worldwide, leading to an effective multiplication of disciples and disciplemakers. By harnessing the potential of technology, we can enhance and augment our disciplemaking efforts in ways that are still undiscovered, propelling the work into harvest fields that may be challenging to reach through traditional means.


Pearlyn

I envision and expectantly hope for a vibrant, thriving and impactful community of technology enthusiasts who are not only committed to following Jesus, but are also transformative in their own lives and are living missionally among the lost.

A few verses from 2 Corinthians struck me deeply about labouring for Christ:


“...always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
So death is at work in us, but life in you.”

 2 Corinthians 4:10-12  


While I meditated on this verse, it dawned on me that my brief and fleeting existence here on earth can indeed be offered in exchange for the eternal life of another. While death is at play within all of us, life is active in another whom we assist or disciple for Christ.


With the advent of the internet, the world is becoming increasingly fragmented. There is an urgent call for the gospel to be proclaimed in every corner of the world, along with a pressing need for the truth and Christ’s love to be demonstrated by God’s people who are living among the lost in every space and across time.



 

About Roger and Pearlyn

Roger and Pearlyn are full-time gift-income staff members with The Navigators Singapore. They are currently leading the NavTech Disciplemaking Community and are now parents to three young children, Joshua, Hannah and Sarah.

NavTech was the ministry that helped to develop the Navigators' Topical Memory System into a web-based application, tms.navigators.tech. 

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