A Hopeful Lens in a Perishing World (GS letter Oct 2021)
We have entered the final quarter of 2021. In these ten months, FES has tried its best to continue student ministry as usual in spite of the constantly changing safety measures. This October also feels drastically different from last October. Ironically, the novelty of the circuit breaker and sudden digital shift last year gave our students and staff a united motivation to discover and discuss new ways to do student ministry. One year on, there is now a sense of fatigue, isolation, and loss among the students and staff. Most tellingly, there is now a generation of students who entered university or polytechnic in 2020, and whose experience of campus life and CF ministry is dominantly from home. This has critically affected the feeling of corporate identity among the local fellowships.
The glimmer of hope in this pervading fatigue is the ability for us to connect easily with our international fellowships. On 16 October, 100 students and staff gathered online for World Student Day, including students from Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. We shared our challenges in ministry, prayed with and for one another, and remembered student ministry globally. We also gathered to find hope in these uncertain times. Prarthini, Head of the English Section, offered “A Hopeful Lens in a Perishing World”. She began her sharing from Psalm 13, which starts with:
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Though classically known as a lament psalm, the ability to see and hear the suffering of the world, and to lament and cry out to God in solidarity, becomes not only our individual practice but our corporate participation. Lament says that we have not given up. Lament is the process leading to hope. Hope that rests upon the covenantal grace of God to make all things right in His time.
On a different note, every year-end we make a special appeal to ensure that the FES staff will get at least one month’s pay for their Annual Wage Supplement (AWS). To do so, this year we need to raise close to $125,000 for our staff team of 28. If the Lord moves you to participate with us in this campaign, kindly indicate in your cheque, PayNow, or standing instruction “For Staff AWS”. For more specific details on how to support us, please go here.
Again, this October is different from the last. As much as I shared earlier about the overhanging fatigue among the students and staff, I will also share that there is still much determination to not give up meeting and to be persevering witnesses of Christ. The recent World Student Day and National Conference have emboldened the students to realise that they always remain witnesses of Christ in any situation, whether on the physical campus or in the digital classrooms. There is much expectation in the coming year of 2022 as we transition towards being endemic on campuses and in the workplace. Critically, the borders are reopening, giving way to the opportunity to travel again, for student exchanges, for mission exposures, and for international students coming in. With that outlook, we expect meetings and ministry to increase significantly next year, and we will need the support from you to sustain this increase.
Please pray for this expected transition as FES now considers its plans for 2022: to embrace new opportunities and also recover what might have declined this past year. Pray for perseverance and sustenance as we enter yet another uncertain period of transitions. Pray also for the many upcoming CF camps this year-end as all have the added challenge of responding appropriately to all the new measures in place then.
Note: The featured image above shows the World Student Day planning committee