Help mission workers while you shop online!

The festive season is fast approaching and here’s a quick reminder to get your shopping done in good time, if you haven’t done it already.  In doing your shopping online you have two wonderful opportunities to help Syzygy.

First, you can shop with Amazon Smile.  With Syzygy listed as your registered charity, we will get 0.5% of what you spend buying through Amazon*.  In effect, it’s money for nothing.  And if, like many of our friends, you use Amazon a lot, we could be in line to benefit significantly.

All you have to do is register by going to https://smile.amazon.co.uk/ and selecting charity number 1115354.  Then shopping in your normal way.  But remember to use the smile.amazon portal every time, because if you just go to the regular Amazon website it won’t pick up your link to Syzygy.

Secondly, if you use Everyclick as your search engine and choose Syzygy as your nominated charity we’ll also pick up some donations for every search you make and a percentage of your spending on any website you access through their website.

Happy Christmas Shopping!

 

  • Other online retailers are also available

Tech notes

It’s been a while since we gave you a tech update and so we’d like to take this opportunity to tell you about a couple of things you might be interested in.  But before we do, we’d like to remind you about Everyclick.  It’s a search engine, which uses Yahoo technology.  Instead of a silly logo it has the advantage of an attractive photo on the homepage which changes every day, but the real benefit is that it donates half its profits to charity.  To date nearly £3,000,000 has been dispensed in this way.  Each of the 200,000 charities benefiting from it is allocated a share of the profits in proportion to the number of searches made by their registered supporters.  So if you nominate Syzygy, we get money every time you do a search!  So far we’ve received nearly £70 just by searching!

You can also give directly to Syzygy (as you can through Everyclick) via Give.net, a new initiative set up by Stewardship.  Just go to my.give.net/Syzygy and follow the simple online instructions.  It’s easy for charities and individuals to donate, and it’s fully integrated with Stewardship’s existing systems so if you already have an account with them, they already know where to send the money.

Those of you who have a phone which enables you to download apps may be interested in The Examine App (http://examineapp.wordpress.com), a useful new tool from the Headington Institute.  We have mentioned before the role of the daily Examen in developing spiritual awareness and managing stress, and this app is a simple way of bringing technology to bear on that centuries-old discipline.  It asks you a few simple questions about how you are feeling, and records your answers so that you can look back over time and observe your progress.  It also gives you opportunities for reflection and response.  We recommend you use it daily for best effect.

Nearly a year ago we told you about the benefits of using Dropbox to keep your files and photos on somebody else’s server and so facilitate sharing and backups.  However some people are worried that although the data encryption is of a standard that will prevent your files being hacked, the geeks at Dropbox can still look at your files, if they want to.  For some of us that is an unacceptable security risk.  If that’s you, you might want to take a look at Spideroak.  They claim that their ‘Zero-Knowledge’ privacy commitment means that they can’t see your files, even if they wanted to.  Neither can foreign governments.  While there are some chatroom grumbles about slow syncing speeds and even slower customer service, it’s had good reviews from some reputable PC mags, and for people with large networks there is no limit on the number of computers that can be linked to it.  You also get your first 2 gig of storage free for life.

If you come across any technological solutions that might be of use to mission workers, please let us know at technical@syzygy.org.uk

Syzyzy’s new publication: The Book of Blogs

Syzygy is proud to announce the release of our first book – The Book of Blogs.  Stylishly presented in black and orange, and small enough to fit into a jacket pocket, we think it looks great.  But then, we would, wouldn’t we?

Always keen on recycling, it occurred to us some months ago to wonder what happens to all those old blogs that just sit gathering cobwebs on a server somewhere.  We thought it was a shocking waste of an excellent resource so we called them all up again, selected the 40 best ones (which wasn’t easy), and recycled them into a handy little book.

The Book of Blogs includes everything you’ve come to expect from a Syzygy blog: thought-provoking analysis, encouraging Bible studies, technical updates, information about critical developments in the UK and the mission world, and success stories from various missions.  Our accumulated pearls of wisdom nestle within waiting for you to discover them!  If you’ve ever wondered

What was the Great BlackBerry Showdown?

Why should you treat your password like your toothbrush?

How does it feel when the staircases rearrange themselves?

How can you cope with stress?

What is happening to Christians in China, Egypt and Nigeria?

this is a resource you need!  You’ll find the answers to these questions and many more.  Paying tribute to its origin as blogspots, each blog is published with its original categories and tags, which in a bizarrely reversion to printed media from electronic also form an index.  Feedback from initial distribution has been very positive – one person read it in a weekend!

It is our hope that by making this resource available we will bring an awareness of the Syzygy blogs to a new audience who have not yet discovered us online, and in the process raise some funds to help us improve the services we provide for mission workers worldwide.

Published at a price of JUST £5 (+ £1 P&P), this light and compact book will make an excellent stocking filler for people interested in mission, or whom you hope might become interested in mission.  They’ll fit comfortably on an unused corner of a church bookstall.  They’re ideal for people preparing to go overseas.  They’re cheap enough to give as Christmas present to people you ought to give something, but don’t really want to.  For overseas postage, please contact us at info@syzygy.org.uk

To order, you can post a cheque to Syzygy at 46 Wingate Close, Birmingham, B30 1AA, or if you prefer an online solution just make a donation through Everyclick (click here).  You don’t need an Everyclick account, but you will need a credit or debit card.  Here’s how:

  1. Donate in multiples of £6 and we’ll work out how many books you want.
  2. Leave your name in the ‘name’ box (it won’t appear if you’re logged into your account)
  3. Leave your address in the ‘comments’ box so we can post your purchase to you.
  4. On the payments page, don’t forget to tick the box marked ‘let this charity see your details’ or we won’t know who you are!

Please email info@syzygy.org.uk if you would like further information.  Remember, that all the proceeds go directly to Syzygy, thereby benefiting mission workers worldwide who a directly helped by our ministry.  You can also give money to Syzygy without any pain by using Everyclick as your search engine.

Giving to world missions

Many people want to give generously to world mission, but aren’t sure how to go about it.  Rumours of financial inefficiency, corruption in foreign countries, and vast extravagances generally put people off.  People want to know where their money’s going, and that it’s being used wisely.  At a time when many mission agencies are struggling financially, it’s important that prospective donors feel they are able to commit their funds, so here are some ideas that hopefully should allay your fears.

Who to support?

Support someone you know.  If you have a friend, or someone in your church who’s involved in world mission, support them, or their organisation.  A direct link fosters accountability and ongoing interest.

If you’re in a denominational church, support that denomination’s work.  So if you’re a Baptist, support BMS, for example.

Support something you’re interested in.  If you have an interest in a particular country or activity, find somebody else who’s already involved and support them.  Just type the appropriate phrase into your favourite search engine and see what comes up, or use Christian Vocations to see which organisations work where and do what.

How do I do it?

Preferred ways of funding will vary between organisations, but one thing they all like is regularity.  If you can give the same amount every month, it will help them budget.  If they can count on money coming in, they can plan to spend it.  If it just turns up periodically, it’s nice to have that extra help, but they would rather know it’s coming.

If you are employed, you can give through your payroll to maximise tax efficiency (talk to your employer about this).  Alternatively you can give by direct debit or standing order (set this up online or talk to your bank).  Many agencies now have a facility on their website to set this up online.


Are you a taxpayer?

If you are a UK taxpayer make sure you sign a Gift Aid form so that the agency can turn your  £10 into £12.50 by getting the tax back from HMRC.  This extra boost to funds is a life-saver for some organisations.  If the organisation you’re giving to doesn’t reclaim tax, you can give through the Christian charity Stewardship, or Charities Aid Foundation, Everyclick, Charity Giving or Just Giving.  They will all pass your donation on to your chosen charity, together with the reclaimed Gift Aid, but beware – they will keep a bit back to cover their expenses!

Accountability

This is important.  Many people are scared that their money is going into a black hole, or being spent on things they don’t know about.  So ask.  Any organisation worth its salt will publish its accounts in its newsletter.  They should also be able to tell you how much goes on overheads as opposed to the ‘real’ operation.  Up to 10% is ok – you’ve got to let them spend a little on their UK offices, staff and fundraising, but any more than that and you can start wondering how efficient they are at cost control.  If you’re in any doubt, ring up and ask them.  You should also be able to donate for a specific fund, region or person, and by law they must comply with this.

Tough times

We all know that money is tight at the moment, and we’re having to economise.  Discretionary spending is being cut back hard and giving is part of that.  The result is that many mission agencies are having to make deep cuts to programmes and staffing levels.  There is some good in this, in that it forces them to think about their priorities, ensure they are investing in their core vision, and live out their trust in God as it relates to their finances.  But it also means that many of their activities are being axed and many missionary families are suffering.  Some of them have experienced real reductions of income in the last three years of over 30%, and committed mission workers are starting to leave their field of service for no other reason than they can’t afford to stay there.  So please give generously!