Spotlight: Chan Yun Xuan – Culinary Missionary

When we think of someone doing mission work, we usually think of someone getting on a plane, flying to another country, and working to help the people there. However, Yun Xuan and her friends found an unconventional way to contribute to mission work from right here in Singapore. I met up with Yun Xuan to find out how she used her culinary skills to create a dessert menu to raise funds to provide education to children in Batam.

Hi Yun Xuan! You were our cover model in Issue 3, and now you’re on Spotlight for Issue 28! What have you been up to since then?
I graduated from polytechnic with a diploma in Cooking and Culinary Science. I went on to work for two years and I am currently studying sociology in Singapore University of Social Sciences. I also work part-time with a company where I am involved in visiting girls’ homes and doing various projects to help the poor.

You recently partnered with some people to open a restaurant for a short amount of time. What was that about?
The project was called “The Good Hours.” It was a private event where we invited family and friends to come together to consume our desserts to raise funds for the education of children in Batam. A common misconception is that people separate mission trips and humanitarian works from their daily lives. Something common that people say is, “I am a student and I cannot do anything now!” But that is not entirely true! Through this project, we wanted to use whatever talents we have to reach out to people who are in need.



Who came up with the idea, and who decided to bring it to life?
Isaac Ong, my youth leader in church, was the one who came up with the idea. During my time in polytechnic, I went through a competition that gave me a lot of exposure and learning experiences. Isaac was exploring the idea of how we can leverage on such experiences. One day, he approached my friend and I and asked if it was possible for us to impact society in a more unconventional way. We eventually decided on desserts (that was my friend’s and my forte) and after exploring and experimenting with ideas for a few weeks, we managed to come up with a dessert menu. We rented our friend’s space and things started to shape up.

What made you decide to get involved?
My heart is for the mission field, but during that period of my life, I did not have the time and capacity to fly overseas for missions. However, I knew that I was supposed to be in Singapore to do whatever I can. So when Isaac proposed this idea, I immediately agreed. The culinary skills I had were put to use for a good cause — giving the impoverished children in Batam an education!

Were you surprised at how much attention/how popular the project got? Why?
I was! Initially, we were actually pretty afraid that it would backfire because we are not renowned dessert chefs at all! But so many friends and family believed in us and in this project. We ran it three times a week for a month; the people who came were so receptive to this idea and invited so many friends to support us!


What was the most faith-stretching part of this project?
At the start, I was filled with excitement at the novelty of something new, but as the weeks went by, when I was just bombarded with all the physical work, I became more focused on making sure I delivered results. But actually, whenever we plated a dessert, it had to be done with a lot of love and prayer because that was the power that actually made this project so successful! I had to continuously remind myself of the heart of this project and why I was doing what I did.

What is one lesson you’ve learnt that you will never forget?
It is to never underestimate whatever small talent that I have. I never acknowledged that baking was a talent I had. When I bake for people and receive compliments, I perceive it as them being courteous toward me. However, we need to understand that whatever talent we have is not ours but given by God. God gave us such talents, so we need to steward them faithfully and use them to the fullest for His glory.

Is there any chance that there will be round two of this project? Why or why not?
I think… yes. When the project ended, we did think to ourselves that we might do it again someday. In that project, we managed to fund the education of 30 kids! We praise God for that but there is still so much that we can do. Blessedly, we had people coming up to us after the project ended and asking if they could support us in any way. There’s so much we have yet to explore — with savoury food, or even with drinks! It will be nice to do something similar again to get more people and their talents involved.

What will you say to someone who has a passion to reach out to a group of people but doesn’t know where to start?
I think the most important thing is that you do not need to have a particular sum of money or to have a lot of experience to be qualified to help others. Because of this revelation I had, I did things differently! I started to not undermine my daily actions because though they might be seemingly small, they can amount to something eventually. Be faithful in stewarding what you have and God will open the doors.

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