The New Charis Mission’s social enterprise arm reforms the lives of ex-offenders by offering hope through productivity and excellence.
Contributed By Jeremy Chua
William Ford Jr., executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company once said, “A good company delivers excellent products and services, and a great company does all that and strives to make the world a better place.” His words perfectly encapsulate the spirit behind the social enterprise arm of The New Charis Mission.
Although most of the TNCM team have been helping ex-drug addicts since 1995, TNCM’s social enterprise was officially started in 2003. Under the purview of TNCM Halfway House, which helps former drug addicts and inmates on their road to recovery, the social enterprise brings in revenue to fund the various operations of TNCM, which could run up to S$63,000 a month.
The services provided by TNCM’s social enterprise include relocation services, painting, and general maintenance works such as reinstatement works, grass cutting and electrical works. The income from these projects covers around 80 percent of the monthly expenditure. While they still have a challenging road in front of them, in a few short years, they have managed to come a long way. Johnny Chin Chung Niap, 36, operations manager at TNCM, shares how they struggled with the lack of resources in 2005, “We had 24 workers, and only one 14-feet truck for removal services. It was difficult to meet the expenses even though we had a handful of dedicated staff.”
Revealing how the lack of resources was somewhat like a vicious cycle, Chin continued, “The one truck we had was insufficient for us to engage in projects to generate revenue. Without the critical mass of projects, there were not enough jobs to give to our workers. We resorted to renting trucks but the availability was not always consistent.” Right now, they have four trucks and four vans that enable them to take on multiple projects, increasing efficiency and productivity.
More than income generation, the main purpose of TNCM is to provide jobs and a sense of hope and purpose to the former inmates. Chin states, “Many ex-offenders have difficulty securing a job due to their criminal records.” In spite of that major obstacle, through TNCM, Chin hopes “to see ex-offenders’ lives changed and transformed, and eventually to be able to obtain a stable job to provide for their families.”
In place to do that is a unique training program. “Our graduates go through a one-year residential programme, in which the DNA of TNCM is developed in them. This is done through training, discipleship, and empowerment.” Chin explains. He also points out the wisdom in this method, “It is more stable to have people who share the same DNA run the social enterprise as they are more reliable. At the same time, those who are more senior in the job double up as brother-keepers and role models to the younger ones.”
Chin credits their breakthrough in part to the staff attending the School Of Theology. “The most evident change happened when the staff of TNCM went through the discipleship training at SOT. Our mindsets were renewed, and we changed our attitudes to strive for excellence in whatever we were doing. This provided the focus and a more stable foundation for the social enterprise.”
The direction that TNCM was heading in also took a subtle, but crucial turn. “The ministry began to be geared to another direction, where great emphasis was placed on discipleship. We adopted the tagline ‘Building The Vision, Rebuilding Lives’ because we do not only want to see lives turning around and ex-offenders reintegrating back into the society; what we want to see, first and foremost, are the characteristics of a disciple being ingrained into the lives of these ex-offenders. It is not just about quitting drugs, quitting gangsterism or stopping crime. It is about a transformed ‘disciple’ lifestyle,” Chin said with conviction.
This lifestyle that Chin speaks of is a lifestyle dedicated to God. A typical day starts bright and early at 6:30 a.m. with everyone having their own devotional time. At 8 a.m., everyone will take part in prayer, praise and worship, and will also listen to the preaching of God’s Word. Then, at 10 a.m., the teams move out to the locations of their various projects. There will also be a team remaining at the halfway house taking charge of the in-house work such as cleaning, cooking and the laundry. Finally, their day ends at 8 p.m., with everyone having an hour of personal reflection time and devotional. In addition, once or twice a week, there will be bible study classes in the evening.
Chin explains why they spend so much time focusing on God. “There must be faith to know that God will transform, faith to believe that God will provide and faith to see God in every situation of our lives. Through this, we motivate and encourage each other to keep pressing on and to finish the race.” All these activities allow the TNCM team to be focused on a common goal.
Chin is deservedly proud of the substantial influence TNCM has in the lives of the ex-offenders. “People who have worked with us generally catch the positive attitude that our staff show. The Bible says that bad company corrupts good character, but the reverse is also true. Ex-offenders who have worked with our staff never fail to be challenged and most of them are now attending church and some even serving in ministries.”
|PHOTOS COURTESY OF JOHNNY CHIN|
A large part of the success of TNCM can be attributed to the family-like atmosphere among the workers and staff. They radiate such positivity and joie de vivre that clients are amazed when they interact with the TNCM team. Chin highlights, “To us, every day and every job is fun. We believe a family that plays together, prays together and stays together will grow together. Our guys are always cheerful, singing and joking even when the job is tough. This is one thing that amazes our clients. They never fail to put on a smile even when they face long nights and a heavy workload.”
On the business end of things, TNCM is also flourishing, thanks to their attitude of excellence. “With the right attitude, we provide more than just a moving service for our clients. We often get referrals through word of mouth. In the past two years, we have established our services and are now able to demand premium prices for offering quality service. We are also blessed to be able to partner with big companies like KC Dat and UTS. This helps to boost our credibility,” Chin shares.
Chin is clearly proud of what TNCM has achieved, especially in the level of their professionalism. “We have at least one supervisor with each team to ensure that any work carried out meets the requirements stated by the project manager. We believe that our social enterprise cannot depend on the sympathy of society; it should be judged on the service we provide. We want to be treated as a regular business. Clients can expect the same, if not higher, level of quality delivered by other companies. We are here to tell society we mean business.”
Those who are interested in engaging the services of TNCM, may contact Chin or Marvin at +65 648 3307/+65 8101 7545.