Impetus (April 2023)
Two New Challenges for FES Student Ministry 2023
FES had its 65th Annual General Meeting (AGM) on the morning of 25 March 2023 in the FES-GCF Conference Room. This year we had the AGM fully in person with an attendance of 60 Council members, advisors, student delegates, graduates, and staff workers. Our Vice-President, Dr Lawrence Chia, gave the exhortation to start the AGM and helped to chair the AGM as well. The design of the FES Annual Report went through the next stage of evolution with more emphasis now given to impact, programmes, and people. I highly encourage you to read it here.
I mentioned last year that AGMs and Annual Reports often focus on the accountability of society and organisation. But it is equally important to talk about community and continuity. Last year’s Annual Report started to include campus reports by our student leaders of the year. That continues for this year with the addition of alumni group leaders, as well as people serving in subcommittees. I hope that all this will give insight into the work done with students on the campuses, and among our graduates, as well as the input of our volunteers, to truly recognise that sense of the larger community that contributes to the student and graduate ministry in FES.
From my report, I extract the two future challenges for FES as a whole. The first challenge is the increasing attention given to youths in this post-pandemic year for various reasons. One common reason is the competition for youths to ensure the survival and continuity of shrinking communities. In this case, youths are pushed into leadership positions, not because of opportunity or development but to keep them within the fold. Students share how it is only guilt that prevents them from looking for better opportunities and communities elsewhere. Yet as the population of youths in Singapore shrinks, I can only expect this attention to youths to further increase.
In this context, the second challenge is about what it means for FES to work within the ecosystem of youth work, youth ministry, and higher education, to wholistically engage our youths and young adults. We cannot see youths as a commodity for organisational continuity. The youths are individuals and a community with their rights, and they must continue to have the space and freedom to flourish through their own means. In this regard, FES continues to champion student leadership and initiative with the hope that our students may be empowered with the knowledge and skills to do the work of God effectively and that they may flourish in communities that will last for them.
Pray with us as we step up our efforts to minister to our leaders, graduates, and the international community:
- The FES Leaders’ Party will be from 12 to 13 May. This is the first part of the Leaders Party for 2023. Pray that plans can be settled in time and that it works to foster a strong and shared community of student leaders for the future of God’s work.
- The Graduation Party is currently planned for 15 July. Pray that new graduates can be connected to the larger fellowship of Christians in the workforce and be prepared for the next phase of life after graduation.
- The IFES World Assembly will be held from 2 to 10 August in Indonesia. We are sending 10 staff and students as official delegates to represent FES Singapore in this international gathering that happens every four years. Besides prayer, please consider supporting FES to cover the financial costs, especially for the student delegates, and even to sponsor students from other movements for this conference. If you would like to give, please follow the instructions here for the English Section and remark: World Assembly 2023.
News and Updates
What does cutting fruits have to do with MELT Camp?
From 26 February to 3 March, six students – two each from Singapore Polytechnic and Ngee Ann Polytechnic, and one from Nanyang Polytechnic – gathered at Halton Hideaway for the FES Ministry Exposure and Leadership Training (MELT) camp for polytechnic student leaders.
At the camp, besides being equipped with relevant skills, we learned more about the CF and ministry in general. We were also provided with opportunities to bond and grow in our understanding of serving in the CF. A major aspect of the camp was the introduction of the concept of ‘rest’, that is to intentionally set aside time to rejuvenate through activities such as an ‘awe walk’, cutting fruits or having a short stretch break before a session. This allowed us to truly rest and be refreshed, thus enabling us to contemplate more deeply about the sessions and ourselves. Every night, time was set aside for selah so we could reflect on the day and pray using the Prayer of Examen.
The first session was “What is Student Ministry?”, covering the purpose of campus ministry. Through this session, we learned the importance of student leadership and the need to be aware of our campus context as students are exposed to individual campus needs and cultures. We were introduced to the phrase, Student Ministry: By Students, For Students, reminding us that student leaders should take ownership of our ministry and community in CF. Furthermore, we learned about incarnational engagement and how to utilise the methods of engagement while considering the unique campus environment. Lastly, the meaning of incarnational was emphasised, in that we should be committed to and fully involved in campus life beyond the CF ministry.
– Evangeline Foo, NP, Diploma in Early Childhood Development and Education Year 2
For me, MELT camp was about rest and retreat. One of the workshops conducted by our staff worker Becky was about the meaning of rest; and how we can reshape it to fit better into different aspects of our life. Different spaces could bring different kinds of rest – active or passive, and even both. I think this workshop was really helpful for incoming (and especially) first-time leaders like me, knowing when to start and when to stop.
– Jessica Tham, NYP, Diploma in Social Work Year 1
MELT camp was a super enriching experience! Using the planning aid deck, we learned the various stages of planning to help us do a better job at preparing programmes for the CF. Having a common understanding of the event’s purpose as a team before proceeding with the next stage of planning is essential. During the communication sessions, we gained more insight into our personalities and conflict management styles and learned how we could leverage our unique strengths for better collaboration. At one of the sessions, we had to ask questions to guess the mystery image shown. The activity was difficult but it helped me to understand the need of asking good questions and stepping back to check if we’re moving in the right direction during discussions.
– Sybil Lim, SP, Diploma in Biomedical Science Year 2
Initiatives and Challenges
Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT)
Gaius Ting, a current student at SIT and a Ngee Ann Polytechnic CF alumni, felt called to start a Christian fellowship at SIT and approached his former staff workers for advice. After some discussion and a search for other SIT Christian students, three students and a staff worker had their first meeting on 14 November 2022. Currently, two to three students try to meet once a week.
As SIT is spread across six campuses, it presents our first challenge – that decentralised campuses make it more prohibitive to meet up. The SIT academic year also runs by a trimester system, which contributes to a fast-paced rhythm of work for the students resulting in less free time to gather for meetings. Furthermore, the school has yet to have a policy for religious clubs to operate on campus. But we are praying that the situation will change for the better when SIT consolidates its existing campuses and moves to Punggol in 2024.
Despite these difficulties, we believe that there is a place for Christian students to learn and grow together as a community during their university years. Do pray for us as we try to gather more students to join us. If you know of any SIT students who might be interested, please contact Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org
– Gabriel Jiang, FES staff worker
Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD)
I guess it’s the stories that we have been hearing. Students who struggle and/or stop going to church because of the busyness of school life as well as the far-flung location of the campus. The relatively small number of students who join the existing Christian group at SUTD compared to the total number of undergraduates in the university. The constant influx of Indonesian students to SUTD is evident in there being an Indonesian students’ club on campus. And, most recently, there has been some casual talk of high-school students and teachers in Indonesia having an increased interest in applying to SUTD. All these have prompted us to prayerfully consider and explore pioneering an Indonesian Students’ Christian Fellowship (ISCF) on campus.
With the help of several Indonesian Christians who are currently working at the university, we have begun and hope to continue getting to know more Christian undergraduates there. Depending on the responses and preferences of the students, we are praying for and looking at the possibility of having a regular gathering beginning in May or June (during the summer term). Kindly pray along with us on this initiative and journey of exploration.
– Adrian Nugroho, FES staff worker
NUS Chinese Varsity Christian Fellowship (NUS CVCF)
In 2022, several CVCFers graduated from NUS and very few first-year students joined the CF in the new academic year, resulting in a smaller size fellowship group. Because of this, the committee decided to adjust the CF’s weekly programme by reducing the number of meetings. In the next academic year, there will also be a change in CVCF’s committee structure as there will only be two committee members compared to the usual five to seven.
The students’ workload includes but is not limited to, study requirements, internship demands, and church commitments as most of the CVCFers also take on leadership roles in their church. If CVCFers do not see the fellowship as a place of growth, CVCF may become just another ‘workload’.
Since CVCF has reduced in size, some students may serve out of obligation and/or guilt for the sake of the survival of the CF. Hence, it is common for students to question the meaning of service. Additionally, some students are feeling the absence of God in their own life. Hence areas like facing the hidden God and encountering doubts in our faith are key areas for pastoral care and discussion as these can be fertile ground for spiritual growth.
– Steve Lam, FES staff worker
Dual Perspectives: Where the World and the Gospel Collide
About 15 students attended the annual Chinese Work (CW) mission event themed 双声道：世界与福音的碰撞 (Dual Perspectives: Where the World and the Gospel Collide) on 18 March 2023 at Foochow Methodist Church. The purpose of this event is to help students understand the unique role they play in God’s plan for this age.
We began with a theme talk via Zoom by a podcaster, Brother Ricky Mao, who shared on “Studying in Babylon? – Finding a Sense of Purpose in the Burnout Society”. By exploring the collision of the world and the gospel, we were equipped with a deeper understanding of the cultural and spiritual content in which we live. From this talk, I learned that it is easy to get swept away with the world, but it is ultimately also our choice to choose whether or not we want to obey God.
In the afternoon, there were two workshops: “Explore Gender Inequality in Human-to-Human Talk” and 成功在望，我望什么？ Success is in sight, what am I looking for? (Redefining Success: Navigating the Reality of Unequal Opportunities). I went for the second workshop where we explored the complexities of success and how unequal opportunities can impact one’s ability to achieve it. Success can be seen from many perspectives, and the view we hold is largely determined by how we see success in our own eyes. However, one should also remember to consider the situations that people are in, to give thanks to God for everything, and to be grateful for the blessings that we have received in our lives. Through this event, I was enlightened to see other points of view that I was not aware of before. It was a good reminder to me of the importance of looking at things from God’s perspective and those of others, in whatever I do.
– Ruth Wong Zhen Ting, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Chemical, and Biomolecular Engineering, Year 3
“It sounded like staff work!”
I studied at James Cook University Singapore (JCUS) and graduated with a Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours) in 2022. During my time at JCUS, I served in JCUS CF as the small group coordinator in 2019/2020 and president in 2020/2021.
In December 2020, I had dinner with my staff worker, Lim Jie, to thank him for supporting the CF through the COVID period and journeying with me. Lim Jie asked about my plans after graduation, and I shared that I hope to work with youths to develop their character and leadership. Lim Jie laughed and said that it sounded like staff work and asked if I had considered it. Initially, I did not think about it but I did not want to dismiss the idea without having a better understanding of what staff work entails. Hence, I decided to apply to join FES as a ministry intern (mintern) to find out more about what the work involves.
I joined FES as a mintern from June to December 2022. During that period, I was attached to NTU CF and NYP-TP CF, supporting their programmes, while participating in the larger poly team and public university events such as the combined Poly CF camp and SWAT camp. After seven months as a mintern, I grew to appreciate what FES aims to do amongst youths on campus and I wanted to be part of this ministry.
In January 2023, I joined FES as a full-time staff worker, serving at NTU CF (until the end of this academic year) and NYP-TP CF (main campus). I am also supporting the resources department in HR. I worship at Covenant Evangelical Free Church.
– Leal Tan, FES staff worker
Book Review: Understanding Life and Eternity
Understanding Life and Eternity: A Collection of Sermons
by Bobby E.K. Sng
Christians Assembly Hall (2022)
FES Library call number: 248 SNG
This two-volume collection* features sermons by Dr Bobby Sng which were originally Sunday pulpit messages delivered to his home church, the Wilkie Terrace Christian Assembly, during the course of approximately the last decade of his life.
Read the full book review here
*These two volumes are sold as a set at the Bible Resource Centre, 7 Armenian Street, Bible House, Singapore 179932 (Tel: 6337 3222) for SGD 20.00 before GST.
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