Impetus (August 2022)
Remaining Connected, Building Communities
It has been an eventful holiday season for FES. We had our inaugural Leaders’ Consultation-Conference-Commissioning Party from 23–25 June. This party was meant for the Exco student leaders of our Christian Fellowships (CFs). It was well attended and thus offered a good visible representation of the larger community of student leaders in FES across campuses and sections. The main purpose of this Party was to develop leadership skills and to commission the student leaders for a new academic year. It was also to allow the community of student leaders to gather and be aware of the larger extent of FES student work.
We also held another inaugural event on 9 July, the Graduates’ Party, together with GCF. This party was meant for the new graduates from our CFs but the invitation was extended to graduates from the past two years because of the pandemic restrictions. The main purpose of this Party was for the community of fresh graduates to gather across campuses and sections to celebrate graduation and be commissioned into the workforce, or at least into life after graduation.
This is the season of transitions for us. New academic years, new student leaders, new graduates, and new plans. The National Student Council (NSC) held its handover Weekend from 5–6 August, which is a sign that the next generation of student leaders is now taking over. This Weekend served as a platform for the community of CF chairpersons and presidents to share their plans and prayers and to remain connected to the larger body of student ministry in Singapore.
I hope you have observed a consistent theme running throughout our holiday programmes by now. It is not the party, but it is indeed the building of community. That has been something felt missing through the Covid years and something that our students, leaders, and new graduates are constantly searching for. This has been a season for more visible efforts and platforms for communities to form and build around. But the formation of the community can be shallow and insufficient. The deeper purpose beyond building communities is to build connection; being connected as persons, to our passions, and to the issues that student ministry has faced across generations. To me, being connected goes beyond being updated to being active participants in student work.
It is at this point that I now mention our upcoming FES-GCF Dinner on 16 September. The invitation is to Reconnect – with each other and with God’s continued faithfulness in His student and graduate work. Let us make use of any opportunity we have now, even while things remain uncertain and ambiguous, to have fellowship together, to bear witness to this work that God has sustained throughout the years and generations.
As mentioned, this is the beginning of a new academic year for the universities. The polytechnics also had a brief holiday and have started school again. Pray for a fruitful start to the year. The lingering effect of the pandemic now is that of change and transitions. There is an expectation of many changes in response to a rapidly changing society and the world, thus leading to a dominant mood of unsettledness. Students are not starting their year as refreshed as they can be but stressed and tired. Pray for their energy and vigour.
Pray also for the upcoming FES-GCF Dinner. Pray for old connections to be renewed and new connections to form. Pray for good planning and a fruitful fellowship. I hope to see all of you there!
News and Updates
Serving God together
FES had our very first Leaders’ Party for student leaders from 23–25 June 2022. 55 student leaders from 15 CF groups gathered at the Salvation Army Praisehaven Retreat Centre for this party. The programme consisted of:
• Consultations on “Leaders Who Fail” and “What is our Story?” (the CF as a witness)
• Conference tracks on Vision and Strategy, Restoration, People Relations, Scripture and the CF
• Commissioning of the new student leaders
Below three student leaders share their reflections on their time at the Party.
I appreciated the opportunity to mingle and develop friendships with other student leaders through morning devotions, theme sharing, discussion, and meals together! The consultations were inspiring and encouraging as the true stories and life experiences shared by the speakers can ignite our thinking and help us to see a broader view. Though we may have different issues to deal with in this current generation, the biblical principles remain unchanged. Being witnesses for Christ is a lifelong journey and it’s always something worth reflecting on from time to time.
– Phoebe Lei Yuhe /SIM CCF/ Data Science and Business Analytics, Year 2
The Scripture and CF track was an insightful one for me, not only in my role as the teaching coordinator in VCF but also in my personal spiritual life. One of the focus areas was on how we read Scripture. It helped me to see how we might have different lenses and biases when we read Scripture. One interesting way we used to realise this was through acting out a passage. Through the activity, I gained a deeper appreciation of what it means to be patient, curious, and attentive in my Bible reading. The track also allowed me to discuss alternative ways of doing Bible study to engage with CFers. I’m thankful for the time we had to be taught by the staff workers and connect with other leaders!
– Daniel Ong Yi Jeah/ NUS VCF/Dentistry, Year 3
My most memorable moment was the commissioning service and the sight of Christian student leaders taking up the mantle to serve. Back in my junior college days, I saw leadership as essentially a ticket to self-development and improving oneself. To me now, leadership is more than that. Throughout the activities at the party, I am convinced that leadership is not only for oneself but for others. And seeing how many people are willing to serve for the glory of Christ in their respective positions during the commissioning service, it was and is a great joy and comfort to know that we are not alone.
– Matheus Calvin Lokadjaja / NTU ISCF/ Material Science and Engineering, Year 3
Is there a Rainbow?
Embarking on life after graduation
On 9 July from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm at St Andrew’s Cathedral, FES together with GCF, organised a Graduation Party for the graduates from 2020 onwards. About 80 new graduates from the FES-affiliated CFs attended this event. Dr Lai Pak Wah, principal of the Biblical Graduate School of Theology gave the exhortation, followed by a short commissioning service for the new graduates led by Jeremiah Goh, the FES General Secretary. Finally, to help young graduates in their transition to working life, the GCF programme, C2C (From Classmates to Colleagues) was introduced to the new graduates.
Three recent graduates share their takeaways from this party.
After graduating from Poly, I was not only filled with joy (that I am free from the many assignments) but a strange sense of hopelessness. I was afraid and was constantly asking God, “what is next for me?” Despite all my prayers and cries, all I heard was a silence so suffocating that I developed a minor eating disorder. Then came the Graduation Party where I was reminded of not only God’s goodness but His provision as well. In the exhortation, Dr Lai talked about the story of Joseph and reminded the graduates to trust God in obedience as He continues to mould and shape us. Dr Lai’s sharing felt like a warm, fuzzy hug from God and reassures me, that despite all my doubts and insecurities, He will continue to lead me wherever I go. The party also reminded me of the bigger FES family which will always have my back.
– Irvin Lum Jun Weng/2022 graduate/SP Biomedical Science
I joined this party out of curiosity, as this event seems unique. I got to meet some of my seniors who graduated before me. We had opportunities to share our current situation and challenges. I was blessed by Dr Lai’s exhortation, as he reminded us to keep seeking God’s guidance as we enter the marketplace. Looking back, our generation struggled with many uncertainties, from education to health, and job security. This event reminded me again to be thankful for God’s guidance throughout my university studies and to believe that He will still guide me as we enter the workforce.
– Steven Kurnia/2022 graduate/NTU Computer Science
The Graduation Party affirmed my two years journey as an “online” Christian student during the pandemic. Knowing that God is using our careers to glorify Him is an important reminder and helps me to set the right attitude in my new identity as a Christian worker. In his exhortation, Dr Lai shared the story of Diarra, the first foreigner to do a PhD in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in China. I am amazed by Diarra’s submission to God’s calling, despite the initial setbacks, cultural differences, and huge language barriers he faced. As I embark on my journey into the workplace, I hope to be more attentive to God’s presence and work in the manifold experiences and remember that He will navigate our uncertainties in the life ahead (as He has done so during the pandemic), transforming us into His ambassadors in the workplace!
– Venessa Fong Qi Yun/2022 graduate/SIM Bachelor of Business (Marketing)
“Remember your Creator”
The NUS VCF Freshman Orientation Camp (FOC) was held over four days from 5–8 July 2022. 46 freshmen and 32 seniors attended VCF’s first fully in-person physical FOC in two years. The theme verse was Ecclesiastes 12:1a: “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.” Entering university is a time of major transitions, with new experiences, environments, and people. Guided by this verse, the campers took part in activities that encouraged reflection and practical application on remembering God as their Creator even as they enter university.
Each day began with worship, morning devotions, as well as a sermon from our camp speaker, Rev. Dr Tan Soo-Inn. This was followed by group discussions and Heart-to-Heart Talks. We also bonded through games such as Amazing Race and The Good Life, a station-based game that simulated important life decisions and encouraged reflection on God’s place in our decision-making processes. Afternoon workshops covered topics such as social justice and relationships. Segments such as Faculty and Hall Time and Standing Committee time were included in the programme to allow for the freshmen to learn more about NUS VCF through the seniors who were serving in their respective ministries and committees.
– Lim Sze Min Joan (Logistics)/Philosophy & Life Sciences, Year 2
Here is a freshie’s response to the FOC …
The FOC was really good! I found it very meaningful that I could have such deep conversations and a restful time in the presence of other brothers and sisters in Christ. I am also thankful that VCF places such a strong emphasis on the Word and understanding it within its full context. I was impressed by the camp booklet in general, and our devotions especially, which really helped with the discussion! God definitely spoke to many of us over the past four days and I am sure many others have been encouraged. Thanks to the camp committee for planning this FOC, and praise God!!!!
– Lim Soong En/Computer Engineering, Year 1)
“Come to me … I will give you rest”
FES senior staff worker Fuji Yew has been working with FES since 1999 except for a two-year break in 2004 to do his theological studies. Last year, he took a nine-month sabbatical leave after which he resumed working with polytechnic graduates, besides doing pioneering work with ITE students. Below, Fuji reflects on his life and ministry since returning from his extended period away from work.
Living in a time where everyone is in a rush, and especially after returning from my sabbatical rest, I realised that many graduates would face disorientation when they first enter the new world of working life as an adult. Identity and insecurity are issues that many students and graduates face. People frequently question the meaning and purpose of life because of challenges and upheavals.
What has encouraged me is God’s Word, as paraphrased by Eugene Peterson, in The Message, “Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace” (Matt. 11:29). During my downtime, I struggled, got burned out, and even came dangerously close to dying due to a health issue.
The Lord has reached out to me at every turn to know and experience His grace. My philosophy of life and ministry has been significantly impacted in three areas. First, I am confident in God (John 10:28). Second, may God fulfill all my necessities (John 6:35). Thirdly, following Christ’s guidance (John 10:27). Without Him, we are unable to have a purpose or bear fruit. Let us ruthlessly eliminate our soul’s lack of rest and instead turn to God to discover true rest. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28, ESV).
Flint: FES Library E-Newsletter
FLINT here, and first off, congratulations to our fresh graduates on making it to the end of your journey as a student (for now), and on embarking on a new phase of life ahead! For this edition of Flint, we’ve gathered some books, recommended by your staff workers and fellow graduates, that might encourage you for this next chapter of life, a companion for the way ahead.
Speaking of fresh, on top of the new books we have this month, I would also like to welcome our latest publication – Pursuing Humility? Meditation of a Proud Heart – into our library. Do check it out!
Browse these titles, and more, in the FES Library located in the FES office. For more information on the library books, go to: https://www.librarycat.org/lib/FESLibrary
Impetus is published every two months. For enquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org