In 1956, an island-wide curfew imposed during one of the worst riots in the history of Singapore forced students and staff at the former Nanyang University, the only Chinese university in South-East Asia, to remain within the Yunnan campus over the weekend. It was then that Christian students and staff decided to hold their own Sunday worship and fellowship. This led to the formation of the Nanyang University Christian Fellowship (NUCF) in 1957.
With an increase in the intake of Chinese-speaking undergraduates at the former University of Singapore in the mid-sixties, it was found that integration was difficult in a campus dominated by English-speaking students. To address this, a Chinese sub-committee – known as the Chinese Varsity Christian Fellowship (CVCF) – was then set up in 1967 within the framework of the Varsity Christian Fellowship (VCF) at University of Singapore.
As time went on, those involved in the ministry were convinced of the need to coordinate Chinese work at the various tertiary institutions. This led to the formation of the FES Chinese Work (CW) Committee in 1970.