FES News and Updates (Aug 2021)
Census 2020, Religions and Youth: Inputs from Youth and Young Adult Leaders
Here are two reflections from our students on the forum.
Harold Tan, a Year 2 student in Early Childhood Development and Education at Temasek Polytechnic, gives us his takeaway from the forum.
One of the points discussed that I found particularly insightful was how youths naturally desire authenticity. Youths are in a season of life where they want to find a purpose for their life and reason for their beliefs. It is natural and even healthy for youths to have questions and doubts about their faith, but when churches and the people they look up to are unable to step in to provide the support and answers they seek, many youths resort to leaving their communities to search for answers elsewhere.
As a student-led initiative, the CF ministry can empathise and address the issues youths are facing today. However, we are also susceptible to rushing to give cookie-cut answers and unhelpful blanket statements, instead of being patient and being open to process the grief together. We ought to reflect, contemplate and innovate how we can reconcile the gaps in our faith and the relationships between youth and the Chrisitan community. Even so, it takes a great deal of humility to sometimes say “I don’t know” when challenged by these questions. It is when we accept that we may not always have the answers, that the ministry can learn and grow towards being more sincere and authentic with our youths. In the end, behind every doubt and skepticism is just a youth seeking genuine faith and community.
Christopher s/o Magendran who is a Mechanical Engineering Year 4 student at NUS, shares how he found the forum.
I found the forum very helpful as I can relate well to some of the struggles that youths face especially through my experiences of serving in church youth ministry and currently in NUS VCF. It has saddened my heart to see some youths struggle with certain issues and eventually turn away from the faith. I feel that as the world is turning more liberal now, some youths might find the Christian faith to be ‘boring’ and hence, they do not feel ‘attracted’ to it nor do they see any viable reason to attend church anymore or believe in God. Regardless of which generation we belong to, we need to pray and intercede for a revival that these youth will start to turn back to God and witness the power and glory of Christ in their life again.
Be it the CF or the church, we should explore different options in our outreach to youths. The foundations must also be set right, and it is important to disciple and walk closely with this coming generation as they will be future leaders in Singapore and in the church.
Christopher s/o Magendran
NUS, Mechanical Engineering Year 4
Nanyang Technological University Christian Fellowship (NTU CF) Get-Together
CF Get-Together (CFGT) is an annual event, co-organised by all three ministry/language (Chinese, English, and Indonesian) sections of NTU CF, that serves both as a welcome event for newcomers, as well as a platform for existing and new members to bond within their respective language sections and across other CF sections. To comply with the current safe management measures, CFGT 2021 was held virtually on 17 August 2021, from 7:15–9:30 pm, involving a total of 96 participants. As one body of Christ, CFers came together for a time of worship, sharing, and fellowship!
Naomi Faustina Limarno, a Year 3 student in Civil and Environmental Engineering and who serves in NTU ISCF, reports on the event.
For this year’s CFGT, a greater emphasis was placed on fostering closer bonds between the members of the different sections in CF. Hence, an inter-section bonding segment was planned where members from the different sections were split equally into groups for a time of games. The games were specifically adapted to help CFers learn more about each other and CF! We received feedback from the participants, including the FES staff, that they enjoyed the games and there were even requests for more of such inter-section events throughout the academic year!
Wenling, a Year 1 student reading sociology, shared, “the gathering was a good platform for people from different CF sections to come together as one and worship God, as well as build relationships with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ”.
Additionally, Aurelius, a Year 1 Nanyang Business School student said, “I think it was very informational, fun, and exciting! Made some new friends as well!”
NTU CF being a student-led and student-initiated fellowship, every CF-er plays a crucial role (be it in big or small ways) in running the ministry. Hence, it is important for us to be intentional in our interactions with one another and to foster close and genuine friendships while we all work towards fulfilling the CF vision – to be effective salt and light of the world on campus and later in society upon graduation.
IFES Global Week of Lament (2–6 Aug): Walking the Valleys Together
Overnight our world changed – an unexpected pandemic, political meltdowns, and lashings of nature. The recent IFES Global Week of Lament, themed Walking the Valleys Together, gathered the IFES family to stand in solidarity amidst the raging times we are in. During the week, we were encouraged to set aside time in solitude, review our year, and capture our laments. Two programmes were organised to facilitate this: a global prayer room and a global service, ‘Lament in Hope’. In gathering to lament, we sought to re-affirm our hope in the One who holds our lives, and our role as messengers of Hope in these turbulent times.
Chan Sook Ching, FES senior staff worker shares with us her reflections during this week of lament.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
– Psalm 130:1–2
The psalmist’s plea to the Lord in Psalm 130 can best describe my cry to Him, especially when I see how the spiritual lives of our students become challenged after they graduate. Their relationship with God is hijacked by work, social status, and values of the world. There is greater fear of year-end assessments than the fear of God. The kingdom mindset of being salt and light in the world is slowly desalinated and the light becomes dim. They are satisfied with just attending church service on Sunday. Their love for God is maintained at the level whereby ‘as long as God’s wrath is not upon me; it is ok’.
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. (130:3–4)
Yes, O Lord, you are a merciful God. I pray that at your altar, you will forgive us for loving the world more than You and focusing on a life that is full of selfish desires rather than having the kingdom mindset to bear witness for You and be a blessing to others. So, I keep waiting.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. (130:5–6)
O Lord, you are a merciful God, forgive us for our spiritual blindness, for desiring the lusts of our flesh, the eyes, and the pride of life more than You. O God forgive us in Your steadfast love.
O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities. (130:7–8)
O God have mercy on us, our students and graduates. Amen!!
Pray with Us
Pray for a fruitful new academic year as universities open yet again. Pray for strength and perseverance for the student leaders and the staff workers as they continue ministry under the various restrictions and limitations. Even though the situation was similar last year, fatigue has accumulated through the year. Pray also for creativity in charting a new form of ministry in these times.
Please pray for our students’ National Conference on 24–26 September 2021. It will be largely focused on digital ministry and seeks to understand how profoundly the digital world has now shaped student life and faith, but also to then consider how mission can still be done in such a context. It will be a hybrid camp, so the logistics and administration of the camp will pose a different challenge than what we have been used to when planning for national conferences. Pray for a fruitful conference as the students will explore many unknowns to chart a clearer direction ahead.