Syzygy’s grand tour of Asia

Today sees the start of Syzygy’s first ever multi-national mission support trip, taking in 4 countries in as many weeks.  As this blog is published Tim is already in the air en route to India, where he will visit the Studley family Frishta Children’s Village, which aims to combat homelessness among India’s many millions of orphans.  From there Tim will travel to Singapore, where he will meet up with old friends, including some who work with OMF, and then on to Thailand where he will be part of the Global Member Care Conference (Member Care is what those engaged in pastoral support for mission workers call their role).

While there he will meet with Janene from Eagles Rest, and then visit two projects, The Well and The Juniper Tree, both of which provide pastoral support and counselling for mission workers, before visiting friends in another part of Thailand.  Tim will then continue to Cambodia where he will spend time with mission workers before returning to Bangkok to visit Urban Neighbours of Hope and then fly home – hopefully not too exhausted.

This is not just a good excuse for a Christian holiday, despite the alluring locations.  While providing pastoral support to all the mission workers he will meet, Tim is also seeking out other unsupported mission workers who may need Syzygy’s services.  The Member Care conference will provide unparalleled networking opportunities, and meetings with other agencies may well result in future collaboration.

Please pray daily for Tim while he is travelling.  Obviously there are the usual possibilities of getting ill and missing flights, as well as some minor security risks common to such journeys.  Additionally it will be tiring meeting so many people and possibly becoming involved in some fairly in-depth discussions.

Please pray that:

  • he will be able to help and encourage mission workers
  • he will meet with new mission workers to support
  • the conference in Thailand will yield good results
  • God’s hand will guide Tim in whatever situation he finds himself

We will provide brief updates here as and when time and internet access allow!

Dates:

April
16th – Fly to India
19th – Fly to Singapore
22nd – Fly to Chiang Mai
23rd – Global Member Care Conference
27th – Day of resting at the Juniper Tree
28th – By road to Lopburi, Thailand

May
1st – Fly from Bankok to Phnom Penh
8th – Return to Bangkok
9th – Fly to UK
10th – Get home

The fifth emergency service

(with respectful acknowledgements to the AA)

Earlier this year I was at a conference where the speaker tried an icebreaker.  ‘If your organisation were an animal’, he asked, ‘what would sort of animal would it be?’ Everyone around my table was studiously avoiding eye contact, trying hard not to go first.  I was muttering to myself ‘I hate things like this.  I’m just not creative enough for this’ when he asked his second icebreaker: ‘If your organisation were a car, what sort of car would it be?’

And it instantly hit me – Syzygy is an AA van*.  We help broken down mission workers.  We fix the problem.  We get you where you’re going.  And though you might only see one person when you deal with Syzygy, there’s a whole team of experts behind him.

Within a matter of minutes I had refined this image further, to detail the types of services we provide:

Roadside assistance: We’re there for you when you break down.  Advice on stress, debriefing, mentoring and hospitality can help get you back on the road.

Relay: Wherever you’re going, we’ll help get you there!  We provide practical  support, from lending you a car to advice on preparing for re-entry, with online guides to missions on our website.

Homestart: When things start going wrong in the field, we can help by providing pastoral visits, problem solving, crisis management and relief staffing.

As a result of that revelation, we are changing our image.  We think that this imagery fully encapsulates our ethos of help, support and practical problem solving.  In future we’ll be using a photo of a flashing orange light as our logo, and we’ve adopted a new tagline:

THE SUPPORT SERVICE FOR MISSION WORKERS

I did think that ‘rescue service’ or ‘emergency service’ sounded more punchy, but on reflection we decided that this doesn’t accurately reflect the fact that much of what we do is not done in a crisis, but is about preventing a crisis happening.

A new image, but the same service – striving to keep mission workers in good physical, emotional and spiritual condition so that they are able to at carrying out their God-given mandate.  Our new flyer is out this week.  Click on the image to the left to read it.  If you’d like some copies to display at church or in your workplace, please email tim@syzygy.org.uk

*Other breakdown services are available.  Actually I should have chosen RAC because at least they’re orange like Syzygy.

OSCARactive – an online community for mission workers

Last October we featured OSCAR, an amazingly useful website with all sorts of resources and handy information for mission workers.  Another feature of Oscar which we didn’t discuss on that occasion is the OSCARactive interactive community.  The words ‘interactive community’ might speak dread to those of you who are reluctant users of the internet, but this social media tool is really easy to use and is a good resource for connecting mission workers.  There are over 300 people working all over the world in this community and it’s growing rapidly.  You might even be able to connect with someone you didn’t previously know working in the same town as you.  I have.

On one level it functions a bit like Facebook: you can connect with friends, message them, be prompted when it’s their birthday and send them ‘gifts’, but the added advantage is that the only people in this community are those actively involved in missions, so we’ve all got something in common right away.  Members are spread round the world, although you might easily bump into old friends from Bible college through this community.  There is also a live chat function for those whose work leaves them feeling a bit lonely, and online meetings are arranged.  You can uploads photos and videos too.  I’ve made new friends in missions through this community.

You can post any needs you have and people are able to help each other out with advice.  I often post the availability of the Syzygy car when nobody’s using it, and usually it’s booked out within days.  You can advertise your own events, or look at a comprehensive calendar of what’s on.  There are a large number of groups set up for those with particular interests, and I’m a member of several.   They include finance, mission-minded church leaders, ICT and Mentors for mission.  I’ve made some very strategic links with people through these.  You can also join a discussion – an open forum which gets started when one member asks a question, or makes a statement, and others support/critique/argue.  Recent subjects include Fair Trade: Think Again, Doing Mission With a Disability, Useful Apps, and Measuring the Success of Integral Mission.

I’ve not illustrated this article with screen dumps as the web pages have lots of photos of members on them, just like Facebook, and I don’t want to be responsible for inadvertently compromising anyone’s security.  But give the site a visit, you may make some good connections through it.  Go to http://oscaractive.ning.com/ or just click here:

 

 

Your chance to have your say!

Source: www.freeimages.com

Source: www.freeimages.com

It’s coming up for a year since Syzygy relaunched it’s website.   We’ve already had a lot of feedback and there are some things I’ve been encouraged by, and others which I’ve found a bit disappointing.

First of all, the highlights.   According to the latest statistics, the site has been viewed by people in 82 different countries!   I’m thrilled that our impact has spread, largely by word of mouth, to so many places.  Over half the people who view us come back again, and on average they look at 3.5 pages and stay on the site for a massive 3:30 minutes, which is an awfully long time in cyberworld.

I’m disappointed that we haven’t generated more discussion online, as I’d like this to be a place for people working out new ideas together.   I’m also disappointed that some two thirds of our viewers are in Britain and the USA.   If that’s you, don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t love you, but the prime purpose of this site is to meet the needs of people involved in overseas mission, and I’m guessing that most of you, even if involved in mission, are on the home front.

So we’re going to have a rethink about our objectives and strategies, and we’d like to invite you to participate.  Please visit our (very short) questionnaire at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ZBPVZHT which will ask you some questions and invite your feedback.   It’s anonymous so please feel free to be honest!

This will help us tailor our web presence to your needs more effectively.   You can also keep in touch with us more frequently by following us on Facebook and Twitter.  And please invite your friends and colleagues to follow us as well – the more people who know about our ministry, the more chance we have of making a difference where it really counts!

Join the Syzygy prayer network!

We believe that prayer is the number one need of every mission worker.  A regular feature of St Paul’s letters was a request for prayer that the gospel would spread through his ministry.  If he needed prayer as part of his missionary endeavours, how much more do we!  As J O Fraser observed when he realised that the breakthroughs in his ministry to the Lisu people of China were directly linked to the prayer of his supporters in the UK:

Solid, lasting missionary work is done on our knees.

So we’re committed to praying, and helping others to pray, for our mission partners worldwide.

For this reason, we’ve set up the Syzygy prayer network for mission workers with prayer needs.  If this is you, just email prayerrequests@syzygy.org.uk and your message will be automatically forwarded to everyone who’s in our prayer network.  Please don’t send us your regular prayer letters – just a short paragraph to cover your emergency needs.  Remember that we’ve got no control over what people do with it, so you might need to be discreet in what you say, particularly if you serve in a CAN.

If you’d like to join our prayer network and pray for world mission needs, just email pray@syzygy.org.uk and we’ll add you to the circulation list.  Please don’t forward emails or pin them on noticeboards as there may be security implications for the sender.  You can also find specific prayer needs on our homepage, particularly on the Featured Ministry entries.

For those of you who’d like to pray for particular countries or issues, we recommend the World Prayer Map.  It is updated regularly by a variety of mission partners across the world, and can be accessed by country or by topic.  Click here to access it.

Ask OSCAR – the missions partner’s best friend

Oscar websiteOSCAR is an online mission support service which has been in existence for over 10 years. Its broad remit is to provide information, advice and resources for all those involved or interested in world mission. This covers anyone who falls into the following categories:

  • Missionaries and Christian workers on the field
  • Prospective missionaries and Christian workers
  • Missionaries and Christian workers recently returned from the field
  • Christians open to the possibility of working cross-culturally
  • Supporters of missionaries, Christian workers and world mission in general
  • Non-UK Christians coming to the UK as missionaries or Christian workers
  • Anyone responsible for ‘resourcing’ any of the above

OSCAR began when founder Mike Frith returned from the field having served with MAF as a pilot. In his time overseas meeting and serving missionaries, Mike was surprised by the lack of support that so many of them had … not just financial but in so many other different areas. Many of these areas boiled down to either poor information or communication. With the advent of the internet, Mike saw an opportunity to improve this by creating a central service that would encourage both information sharing and communication between all the parties involved in mission. Hence, OSCAR was born.

The OSCAR website has a vast amount of information across a 1000+ page website on almost any area you can think of related to mission. It also has its own mission-focused online social network, which gives the opportunity to interact and discuss with others in the community. Alongside all the activity online, OSCAR also provides mission advice and opportunities at various Christian events, including New Wine.

So … whatever you’re looking for in mission, ask OSCAR! www.oscar.org.uk

Featured ministry: Bethany

Many tired missionaries working in East Asia are delighted to have discovered Bethany.  This is a rest and retreat complex on Cheung Chau Island off Hong Kong. It is specifically funded and staffed to offer member care to those working cross-culturally in Asia and beyond offering good quality, inexpensive accommodation. Bethany is set in gardens of trees and flowers on the quiet, traffic free island of Cheung Chau with good beaches and scenic walks, so is an ideal place to relax and recuperate from a demanding ministry.

Despite feeling remote, it is conveniently accessible from Hong Kong, so it’s not hard to get to despite feeling away from it all.  Set on a hill in attractive grounds overlooking the South China Sea, Bethany’s location is idyllic – five minutes to sandy beaches, peaceful walks around rocky coves and yet the town with its restaurants and shops is just nearby. The Bethany team includes those who have understanding and long experience of the demands on people, for example adjusting to new cultures, difficulties with co-workers, frustrations with sponsors, parenting and educational decision-making, family and marriage needs cross-culturally.

The Bethany mission is to keep people resilient, working in their God-given field for longer. At a basic level, they provide a home from home with familiar food, language and culture allowing people to recover in holiday mode from tiredness and stress. In association with this they have experienced pastoral couples available for prayer and with a listening and sympathetic ear.

More information is available on the Bethany website: www.bethanyministries.com

Welcome!

Welcome to the revamped Syzygy website and blog!  I’m Tim, and I’m one of the directors of Syzygy.  One way or another, I’ve been involved in supporting missionaries for 15 years, since I realised that too many of them are either coming home for entirely avoidable reasons, or heroically labouring on under difficult circumstances.  Syzygy is resolved to do what we can to  support such people, help them continue in their mission, and become more effective.  And more importantly, we hope to encourage their sending churches and organisations to get behind them to do in the long term what Syzygy’s doing in the short term.

I hope that through this blog we will be able to stimulate discussion around various issues concerning cross-cultural workers, and draw more people into our ever-expanding network of volunteer supporters.  Whether you go, pray, encourage, finance, or support, I hope you’ll find something here for you.

Syzygy’s directors all have first-hand missions experience, between us having served short-, medium- and long-term in four continents, and although we’re all now based in England, we all continue to be involved in our own ministries to support missions overseas.  Our mission draws its name from our belief that global mission is a task whose burden should not fall exclusively on those who go, but should be shared by the whole church.  The word Syzygy – Greek for “yoked together” – conveys the image of oxen ploughing together, and the more oxen there are in a team, the easier it gets.

Join us!

For information on how to get involved with us, go to the CONTACT US page.