Love travelling and mission work – and wish you could do both at the same time? We met up with Actxplorer, a Singaporean social enterprise that brings travellers and locals from developing nations together to create positive social impact on communities. We interview Danielle, Mindy and Jeremy – 3 Actxplorers in their twenties who have made this their full-time job.
Where were you on your faith journeys when the call to do this came?
Danielle: I was the person with a 5-year/10-year life plan all laid out. When the opportunity to stay on in Actxplorer came after my internship here, I hesitated initially even though it was a good fit of my skills and interests, because it did not fit my understanding of how my career would look like. However, God taught me to trust Him with my future, so I eventually decided to stay.
Mindy: It felt like God answered my prayer of many years of finding a job that combines education, youth engagement, sustainable development, and travelling Southeast Asia. Yet, I hesitated as it meant a huge pay cut, a change in lifestyle, and to be honest I was not even sure what I was getting myself into. Risk-taking always accompanies faith. I took the risk and am still keeping the faith.
Jeremy: To be honest, I was at a point where my faith mattered little to me. I was preoccupied with life, and I let it get the better of my faith. Being on this journey has given me the opportunity to meet many overseas missionaries and Christians, and seeing the good that they’ve done has helped reaffirm my faith, and I am slowly but surely taking steps back to God.
What has your life mission and vision always been? How did this fall in line with that?
Danielle: I could never imagine myself working in a typical office. It’s just not in my personality, so I guess God knew and blessed me with an “atypical” job as I committed this part of adulting to Him. Also, over the years, God has revealed to me a heart for missions — and Actxplorer is good training ground for that.
Mindy: For the most part of my twenties, I’ve been fascinated by the rich geography and diversity of cultures of our region, and with it a desire to share it with others. I was an educator in high school, and right now I believe that I still am an educator, but in the field – the Southeast Asian field!
Jeremy: I’ve always had the goal that my future job would be something that made a difference in people’s lives, whether through medical research from my field of study (Pharmacology), or now with Actxplorer. Although travel often can be tiring, the trips are almost always meaningful and help create change all around.
Describe a moment on the job where you knew you were really called to do this work.
Mindy: We bring many young people on different kinds of trips around Southeast Asia. My moment was seeing young people develop empathy for communities, gain new and deeper understanding of social issues plaguing our region, wanting to do something about them – and ultimately seeing that we can make positive impact in the region in just 2-3 years.
One of my favourite moments was seeing a group of Singaporean secondary school boys and girls dressed in Papua traditional wear, performing to a Papua song that they’ve learnt with their new Papuan friends.
The Singaporean students were really hesitant, shy, and grumpy at the beginning, but the Indonesian students were persistent in engaging them, encouraging and pushing them to overcome their insecurities. Witnessing the transformation, friendships built, and intercultural exchanges was an affirmation for me that night.
Jeremy: It was during one one of my first University student trips in 2017, doing educational work in a school within a poor district of central Vietnam. On the second last day of our 2-week trip, nearly the whole school gathered to wish us well.
Many tears were shed, and many students shared how fortunate they felt to have us teach at their school. I realised then, that even though our work was simple, and somewhat short, but the lasting impact we made will stay with the students.
What do you think God is doing in your own life through this work?
Danielle: God is giving me His lenses to have His heart of compassion. I do foresee a potential struggle where I get caught up with doing but neglect my own relationship with Him — so it is important to do what I do with the motivation of pleasing Him and not people, as well as work with a consistent effort to involve my heart and emotions, rather than delivering project after project, deadline after deadline.
Mindy: God is teaching me to get out of my comfort zone, and to use the talents that He has given to me. It is also about learning to trust in Him, and to depend on Him in all aspects of our work. It can be daunting to lead people on trips and to have constant self-imposed pressure to make sure that our work has positive impact on the communities we work with and also for the travellers. And when we are in the field, the environment can be unpredictable, many things can happen, yet God is always there with us and I take great comfort in that.
Jeremy: Through my work, He is teaching me perseverance and compassion. Sometimes, I have the tendency to give up on things midway when it gets difficult. Knowing that giving up means giving up on the people who we’ve supported helps me to persevere and do the best that I can.
I do this work because I believe that more light needs to be shed on the good works being done, and there’s only so much you can relate with someone simply through media. Being on the ground, and being apart of people’s lives is totally different, and the fruit you gain afterwards, whether physical or emotional, will stay with you for a lifetime.
What have you learnt that you hope to impart to this generation?
Danielle: I have learnt that we are really privileged, and we are not entitled to what we have. We have a responsibility to steward what God has given us! If we have been given 10 talents, we are accountable for how we have used these talents when we meet God face to face – so if you are intelligent, if you have a gift in a particular area, or if you have a burden for a certain group of people, act on it! Make full use of it for good, and don’t bury it in the midst of your busyness.
Also, I want to encourage people to start making responsible decisions, and do not think less than they should just because they are “lazy”. These decision often affect lives – if we waste less, if we choose our travel destinations and activities more wisely and responsibly … Our actions bless people more than you can imagine.
Mindy: Everyone can play a part in alleviating the social issues we see in our world today. There are a lot of opportunities to serve, locally or beyond – only if you seek them. Be proactive in seeking opportunities to serve in areas that God has put a burden in your heart for. Speak to likeminded people. Go for talks and exhibitions. Watch documentaries. Read to make sense of the world. I think it’s also very easy to lose sight of God in the midst of doing, so be prayerful always and make sure that God is at the centre of all the action!
Jeremy: I hope that my generation will come to understand that they shouldn’t always focus on themselves. Life is so much more than social media and luxury. You can find just as much meaning and satisfaction when you put others before self.
What’s next? 🙂
Danielle: Continue learning and growing at Actxplorer, and experiencing what it means to worship through my work.
Mindy: “Actxplore” even more opportunities all around Southeast Asia, and possibly Nepal and Mongolia soon!
Jeremy: For Actxplorer to grow even more, and open up offices in more cities so we can create greater impact.
Sign up here to join the inaugural Actxplorer dialogue series on November 1, 2018.
Hop onto the Actxplorer platform to find and book activities that are fun and beneficial to communities. Proceeds go back to funding good causes and supporting the local community. For enquiries on customised trips and social impact workshops, or partnering with existing social enterprises, you can drop them an email here.