Impetus (August 2023)
Amid Polarisations and Isolations, a Global Fellowship Remains Steadfast
IFES held its World Assembly 2023 in Jakarta, Indonesia from 2–10 August. Over 900 delegates made of staff, students, and board members from 160 countries gathered as the visible global fellowship that is IFES. We celebrated the 75th anniversary of IFES then and welcomed four new affiliates into the IFES family.
FES Singapore was formed in 1959 and affiliated with IFES in the same year. Despite being a small nation, we played big roles at the international level. Chua Wee Hian was the second General Secretary of IFES. Dr Bobby Sng and Dr Choong Chee Pang served on the IFES Exco and Board. The latter two were publicly acknowledged during this World Assembly along with other IFES leaders who have gone to be with the Lord in the past four years.
In 2007, as the VCF Chairperson, I went to the World Assembly held in Toronto, Canada. This year I returned to my second World Assembly but now as a General Secretary. Many have asked me what my experience of World Assembly sixteen years apart is like.
One thing that has remained constant and even grown in strategic importance is the mission to the campus. The tertiary campus was and remains a formative period of life for students where they might encounter God for the first time, or have their faith tested and sharpened by ideologies from all over. IFES remains committed to the wholistic engagement of the campus, from its students and faculty to its subjects, research, and education. Books like Shining Like Stars (2006), Campus Lights (2019), and the latest book, The Priesthood of All Students (2023) speak about how seriously we take the campus context as our mission field.
The second thing is about the global fellowship. This phrase was stressed numerous times throughout the conference to encourage unity, love, and dialogue amid tensions, disagreements, and discomforts over ministry issues. Rather than emphasise unity as a principle or activity, global fellowship instead describes and imagines what IFES is and desires to be. In the global climate that is shifting towards nationalism and protectionism, IFES’ call to be a global fellowship is a powerful and faithful counter-global narrative. Sixteen years on, I find this narrative of the global fellowship much more needed than ever before.
- Pray for the upcoming conclusion to our Leaders’ Party 2023 on 1–2 September. The first Party in May focused on skills and strategies. This second and final Party focuses on conviction and commissioning. We are inviting church leaders and parents to this Party to support and pray alongside our student leaders and to learn more about student ministry today. Pray for a spirit of partnership and support among the students, leaders, staff, and parents, as we strive to make an impact on campus for Christ.
- Pray for National Conference 2023: Is there a new mission for youth and young adults? This is a partnership with GoForth 2023 and it seeks to explore how new trends today will influence mission for the future. Pray that we might be led to new frontiers of mission for the complex and changing world of tomorrow.
Please visit https://promo.fellowship.sg for more details on upcoming events.
News and Updates
Alora: Shining God’s Light
The Varsity Christian Fellowship Freshmen Orientation Camp (VCF FOC) serves to welcome Christian freshmen of NUS into the VCF community. The theme of the camp was about being God’s light on campus, and the aim was to help the freshmen consider God’s purposes for them as they begin their university journey, as well as to root themselves in a Christian community such as VCF. The 4-day-2-night camp held from 11–14 July on the NUS campus, was attended by 71 freshmen. The programme included games, devotions, heart-to-heart talks, evening theme talks, workshops, and time to get to know their faculty and hall CFs, as well as VCF standing committees. Two freshmen share with us their reflections on the camp.
VCF FOC 2023 has blessed me greatly. It provided a platform to meet and fellowship with like-minded Christians who share a heart for God, as well as a time to seek God intentionally and reorientate my heart towards Him before university. The theme of being God’s light was seen throughout the camp, from the games, workshops, and theme talks, to the devotionals and Selah. These were avenues that allowed God to speak to me. It gave me space to seriously reflect on my aims and goals before entering university and align them with God’s heart. During the Faculty/Hall time, I was able to ask questions, hear concerns from my peers, and listen to the honest sharing of the seniors who went before us on this journey. This encouraged me, that as I enter university, God is faithful and never changes.
– Henry Wang Tian Cheng, NUS Medicine, Year 1
VCF FOC 2023 was thoroughly memorable. I enjoyed the good balance of time set aside for bonding, reflection, and engaging in God-edifying conversations. Apart from orientation games, and talks centred on shining God’s light, I most enjoyed the interpersonal discussions with my orientation group. It was through such discussions which helped me realise I was not alone in my spiritual struggles, and the experience of connecting with a community on a level where we could be open and vulnerable with one another was truly uplifting. I am thankful to the VCF FOC committee for creating a safe space where we could make meaningful connections and experiences!
– Lee Jing Ching, NUS Law, Year 1
FES-GCF Graduation Party
On 15 July 2023, FES alongside GCF held its annual Graduation Party at Orchard Road Presbyterian Church. A total of 44 fresh graduates spanning 10 campuses, together with 21 older graduates and 12 student representatives gathered for a time of fellowship, celebration, and commissioning. The programme included:
- Thanksgiving reflections by two fresh graduates, Grace and Gracious, on completing their student journey.
- Sharing of post-graduation experiences and lessons by two alumni, Indrik and Elijah, in the hope of inspiring and encouraging the fresh graduates as they embark on a new chapter.
- Commissioning of the fresh graduates by Jeremiah Goh, the FES General Secretary.
- Discussing topics like “Finances”, “Uncertainty of Future” and “Work-Life Balance” through 12 table talk discussion groups, each facilitated by a graduate. The fresh graduates were given the chance to ask questions and share their concerns.
Here are reflections from three fresh graduates who attended the Party:
We engaged in a fruitful discussion on managing money, savings, and the quality of life we each desired to achieve. I enjoyed the table talk as we were able to unpack the complexities of juggling finances, especially when we aim to live independently from our parents. While many of us may be laden with financial anxieties, I also learned that we can surrender them to the Lord and let God be glorified through our money. As a polytechnic fresh graduate, conversations like these are thought-provoking and hold great importance as we begin our journey into adulthood.
– Josephine Surya, graduated from SP (2023) in Biomedical Science
In my table discussion, we talked about what lies ahead of us after graduating amid the uncertain and unpredictable future. No matter how good we are at planning, we cannot be sure of what will happen next. Having said so, it is still good to have something like a five-year plan covering the different aspects of our life, for example, career, finances, and relationships. We acknowledged that having such a plan will prevent us from decision fatigue and allow us to keep pressing on despite the uncertainties ahead. As we do this, we should pray, seek and trust in God’s plan for us, and always glorify Him in every aspect of our life.
– Christopher William Riady, graduated from NTU (2023) in Chemical Engineering
Initially, I perceived work-life balance as simply time spent on work versus personal pursuits such as interests or family time. However, the facilitator shed light on a crucial perspective – we all have our personal and professional responsibilities and work is just one facet of our lives. This realisation helped me to see that a regular pause for evaluation is essential, considering evolving circumstances and changing priorities. Personally, this discussion struck a chord within me as I recognised the need to allocate more time to my grandmother. Family bonds are invaluable, and as I contemplate the passing of time, I realise the significance of cherishing these moments. Moving forward, I intend to reassess and recalibrate my time allocation to strike a meaningful balance that nurtures both my career and personal relationships.
– Caleb Tan Jing Xuan, graduated from NUS (2023) in Mechanical Engineering
IFES World Assembly 2023
IFES World Assembly (WA) takes place every four years, gathering IFES students, faculty, staff, and board members from all over the globe. The recent WA held from 2–10 August was hosted by Perkantas Indonesia. Together, the participants explored the theme “Tabah & Tangguh” (the Indonesian words Tabah and Tangguh suggest steadfastness and strength), through the book of Psalms to hear what God has to show us about becoming resilient witnesses in the university and beyond amidst all of the challenges we face in the world today.
Below, a student and a staff worker reflect on their time at WA.
The student gathering, which began two days before WA started, helped me understand what student leaders are doing to help their movements in their unique contexts. My perspectives were broadened as I interacted with different international staff and students while attending the various workshops and sessions. It allowed me to see how student leaders play very important roles when we want to impact the university and bring students into the kingdom of God.
Meeting students from countries where practising Christianity is illegal or restricted, and hearing their testimonies of how God has been so good and faithful to them despite the persecution and violence they witnessed or faced, really shows how much they love God and want to advance His kingdom no matter the cost. It made me reflect on the freedom and challenges in our context and the importance of having a heart for students to turn the university towards God, and to do that by engaging students in conversations and ultimately letting them see how we live our lives through Christ.
– Shalom Lau Ee Ann, SIM Data Science, and Business Analytics, Year 3
WA has been an eye-opening experience for me. As a campus ministry staff, I believe in the importance of networking and collaboration in ministry as it is a practical application of the church as the body of Christ. In my interactions with people during the World Assembly, I try to look for new possibilities to collaborate. This intention helped me to have deeper conversations with other participants which have challenged my work as a staff worker at FES Singapore in many ways.
I listened to a story of conversion to Christianity during the civil war after the collapse of Yugoslavia. I met some people who have been missionaries to different countries. One of my small group members was a board member of a school built by missionaries in a restricted country more than 20 years ago (though they can no longer do this ministry now). Hearing such stories has inspired me in my journey in following God. I’m grateful for the opportunity given to me to join WA 2023. It has sparked a lot of new possibilities that I can pursue in my ministry as a staff worker in Singapore.
– Jerry, FES staff worker
On 31 July, we bid farewell to Lai Sze Khiong who first joined FES in 1993 ministering to the Chinese-speaking students. He then left for a few years to study at Trinity Theological College and pastor a few churches. In 2009, he returned to FES as a senior staff worker and led the Chinese Work team until July 2023. All in all, Sze Khiong has just reached two decades of service with FES. In all these years, he has also played a critical role in the life and health of the Chinese Churches in Singapore. He has decided that it is the right time now to move on to a renewed calling to pastoral work. However, he will continue to support the Chinese Work as a committee member.
We thank Sze Khiong for his faithful and committed service in FES as a staff, co-worker, and leader. May the love of God continue to be experienced by everyone through you in your new area of ministry.
FES National Conference 2023: Is There a New Mission for Youth and Young Adults?
Saturday, 30 September, Praisehaven Retreat Centre (500 Upper Bukit Timah Rd), 9:00 am to 1:30 pm
All youths and young adults (15–35 years old) are invited to participate in this joint missions seminar organised by FES and GoForth 2023. We will explore whether there is a new mandate and mission for youths and young adults in this world of hyperchange. So much has happened since Covid-19 and many new questions are being asked about Missions and the future of it. We now respond to these questions and learn to be aware of more changes to come.
There is LIMITED SPACE for this Seminar and the maximum capacity is about 200 people. Please indicate your interest in this Seminar through this form: https://links.fellowship.sg/nc2023
We will reply to you to confirm your participation and to give you instructions on how to make payment.
For more information about the above events and others in the pipeline, go to: https://promo.fellowship.sg/
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