I never paid much attention in the only computing class I took back in university – a compulsory module that required us to learn how to code on Microsoft Excel. Possibly the only reason I passed in the end was the blessing of having the top student, George, in my project group; I was childhood friends with the girl he eventually married and we were all in the same class.

To find myself mentoring at #HACK – Indigitous’ 42-city, 48-hour missional hackathon – which took place on October 20-22, 2017, thus could not have been more amusing.

What was a creative producer with a marketing and corporate communications background (and no programming knowledge whatsoever) doing in the midst of some of the best brains and hearts in the tech world?

Even more surprising was meeting George and his two young proteges, Leslie and Valerie, on opening night, and being asked to mentor their group. Together with another two of the youngest #HACK participants, Charis and Jasmine, we formed a motley crew of eager, albeit slightly inexperienced, humanitarian hackers for the long weekend ahead.

The 6 challenges for teams to adopt were:

#FaithatHome – Helping parents disciple their children better
#UberMissions – Matching mission agencies to relevant potential missionaries
#RedLight – Reaching out to the burgeoning online sex trade
#ReachingGeeks – Finding new ways to evangelise to techies
#HumanTrafficking – Stopping human trafficking with digital strategies
#TacklingSuicide – Confronting the rising suicide rates

My team took on #TacklingSuicide, coming up with a platform inspired by John 10:10 and a Telegram Chatbot named Lyfe.

Other hacks included amazing solutions such as a Facebook bot that could chat with suicidal victims and connect them anonymously with real humans for intervention, and a filtering system that could sieve out data from popular sites for sex trafficking such as Craigslist and Gumtree.

We took home the award for People’s Choice, but it was the experience of sitting in a meeting room flanked by whiteboards covered in scribbly ideas and listening to my young teammates discuss codes in all kinds of computing language that will stay with me. God must have known I missed sitting at a creative brainstorm table such as this.

As Pastor Mark Hall, who represented the #TacklingSuicide challenge posed by the Salvation Army of Singapore, shared on the last day, “When God met Moses at the Burning Bush, He asked him ‘what is that in your hand?’ – then He used the staff in Moses’ hand to do great signs and wonders.

“Each of us carries a handphone everywhere we go. This is where God has given us power.

“If you have a smartphone in your hand, you are part of the mission to take the Gospel into the digital mission field. You don’t have to be a coder or programmer; we all can play a part.”

Indigitous started as a movement of people who love Jesus and are passionate about using their talents for God in the digital space.

#HACK is an annual global missional hackathon that brings together the best creatives, technologists, strategists who are not only committed to God’s mission, but are also uniquely wired to ‘hack’ out creative solutions to missional challenges. These challenges seek to address social issues in the city they’re in, to contribute to the good of our world and also to make Jesus known everywhere.

The 4th edition of #HACK will take place from October 4-6, 2019 (Friday evening-Sunday evening) and the challenges include:
#koinonia – a sharing church
#antioch4asia – reaching UPGs (more details coming soon)
#childhealthnow – helping children in Cebu (more details coming soon)
#migrantxme – loving our strangers

Find out more about Indigitous and #HACK!