New Normal. New Humanity. New Leadership (GS Letter May 2020)

Many have written about the New Normal – what our workplace, school, church, ministry, and family will look like beyond the Circuit Breaker (CB) period. Some are more optimistic than others. With minimal inconvenience of social distancing, work and school will be restarted. Dining in at restaurants will be back soon. Social gatherings will resume. The economy will rebound. Church life will flourish again. However, not a few also warn of the danger of being complacent. A second or third wave of the virus outbreak may happen and could cause much more devastating loss. The Singapore Government seems to be embarking on a controlled approach to resume activities safely over three phases.

Nobody knows the future for sure, yet we can learn from what has happened. At least, I learned two important things during the past two months of CB period.

First, the virus excruciatingly reveals, peels, and exposes us. The following is a part of the poem, Exposed written by Sarah Bourns, which shows succinctly what I mean.

Corona is exposing our addiction to comfort.

Our obsession with control.

Our compulsion to hoard.

Our protection of self…

Corona is exposing the gods we worship:

Our health

Our hurry

Our sense of security.

Our favorite lies

Our secret lusts

Our misplaced trust.

Let what has been revealed and exposed to us not be just gone and forgotten once the CB period is over. Our addiction to busyness, productivity, and selfish self-protection must stop. Our take-for-granted attitude towards our family members must cease. Our activity-centered and number-oriented church and ministry must come to an end. Our ignorance of the lack of attention given towards the livelihood of migrant workers and other marginalised groups in society must end. Our obliviousness on the environmental damage our lifestyle has produced must halt. Otherwise, the Covid-19 pandemic and CB period are just like a momentary nightmare and when we wake up, life goes back to what it was before. The latter must not happen.

I think a similar exhortation is found in Paul’s writing in Colossians 3:1–13, that as the Colossians have been raised with Christ, they must “put to death therefore what is earthly in [them]” (3:5), “put them all way” (3:7) and “put off the old self with its practices” (3:9).

Secondly, following the above, Paul reminds the Colossians that as “God’s chosen ones” (3:12), they are now a New Humanity, who “have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (3:10). And when describing what a New Humanity entails, Paul uses: “holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another, forgiving each other.” (3:12-13) – all are virtues independent of any external situation.

In other words, using the phrase of our current context, whether things will become better or worse in the New Normal, we must live out the virtues of what a New Humanity should exhibit. In addition to that, this understanding personally gives me a comforting assurance, that my responsibility is not to guess or rightly anticipate what a New Normal will be, which is an impossibly difficult task to do, but to steadily live out how a New Humanity should live.

At this juncture, allow me to introduce a New Leadership that will lead FES in the near future. As I have informed you earlier, I intend to step down as FES General Secretary sometime next year. After much prayerful consultation and deliberation, the FES Council has agreed to appoint Jeremiah Goh as the General Secretary Designate of FES. Jeremiah is the current head of English Section and Communications of FES.

I will work together with him to implement a leadership transition plan to be completed within the next 9 to 18 months. I am confident that Jeremiah is more than qualified to lead FES forward and into a new chapter. I ask that you continue to support the FES ministry by praying for a smooth transition, and that God will continue using this ministry for the extension for His kingdom among students and graduates in Singapore.

A New Leadership against the backdrop of an uncertain New Normal can be daunting. However, as a New Humanity in Christ, “the peace of Christ [will] rule in [our] hearts” (Col 3:15). Come what may, none to our dismay!

In His grace,

Lisman Komaladi

General Secretary