Impetus (December 2022) – Special Edition
FES 2022: Looking Forward and Looking Out
Hello! Grace and joy to you during this year-end season of 2022. This is a special edition of Impetus that we wish to send to all our subscribers and which also replaces the Annual Review that we usually send out at this time.
Following a relatively muted 2021, 2022 has been a hectic year for FES as schools reopened and ministries resumed their in-person gatherings. Now that we are in the final month of 2022, two key themes have persisted throughout the year. One is the formation of new communities marked especially by our new initiatives like the Leaders’ Party in June and the Graduates’ Party in July. The second key theme is reconnecting with old communities that all came together especially at the FES-GCF Dinner in September. While 2021 ended as a year to build resilience against ministry uncertainties, 2022 has become the year to reconnect with all the different communities that have helped to build and sustain FES throughout the years.
I have found myself frequently turning to the text of Acts 2 these past two years to talk about fellowship and community. Acts 2:37–47 is a common text used to describe what believers did as part of the new fellowship. This included devotion to the apostles’ teaching, the breaking of bread, prayers, having all things in common, and redistributing their possessions to any who had need. This was the activity that characterised the fellowship.
However, Acts 2 describes not only the activity of the fellowship but also the diversity that identified them as a spiritual fellowship of God. In Acts 2:14–21, Peter quotes the words of the prophet Joel, beginning in 2:17 with, “In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh …” There might be the tendency to think of prophecy as a function of time. In other words, we are drawn towards looking forward to the last days as is mentioned in 2:17. In my opinion, 2:17–18 does not go on to expand ‘the last days’ but to expand on ‘all flesh’ instead. And in these two verses, we encounter the Spirit poured out on sons and daughters, young and old men, and even male and female slaves. Besides looking forward to the last days, I believe we are exhorted to be looking out in another direction, paying attention to the growing diversity of the fellowship and community of believers. Why talk about Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Cretans, and Arabs in 2:9–11? John Stott writes in his commentary on Acts that, “there are still spiritual conditions for receiving the Spirit, but there are no social distinctions whether of [gender], or of age, or of rank.” The universal gift of the Spirit is available to those who will receive it. And the fellowship of believers witnesses this universal availability of the Spirit and in turn are witnesses of the grace and mercy of Christ our Saviour.
Essentially, 2022 has been the year to reconnect this diversity of FES communities, from donors and alumni to subcommittees and volunteers. This is especially reflected in our Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in March, as we highlighted not only the proper governance of FES but also the community that has supported and sustained FES thus far. It is to recognise the many people and efforts that go into keeping this society a diverse community reflective of a believing community that worships God. As we reconnect these communities to the student work that has been running now for more than 70 years since VCF was formed in 1952, we add the new communities that are formed through the Leaders’ Party and Graduates’ Party. I continue to be amazed at this diversity of believers through all these years which is a witness of the faithfulness of God and His power at work through students on campus. It was how it was 70 years ago, and I believe it remains so now in 2022.
I thank you for your support in giving to FES and remaining connected with FES student work. As 2022 comes to a close, I wish you a blessed Christmas and New Year season. Looking forward to and looking out for 2023.
News and Updates
Ignite the Spark
The IFES World Student Day (WSD) is an annual day that unites the global student movement to celebrate and pray for student ministry on campuses around the world. This year, FES Singapore celebrated WSD on 22 October where 104 students and staff participated in a half-day event held at SIM. Based on the WSD theme, “Renew”, the programme included ministry sharing through testimonies and prayer stations that aimed to inspire and ignite the “Spark” in our own lives for student witness locally and globally.
When we had to go around to the stations and pray for the nations, it helped me understand, even if it was just a little bit, how much Christians in other countries are suffering. I was able to better appreciate the blessings God has given Singapore, especially the Christians in Singapore. It also motivated me to be more involved in reaching students with the gospel.
– Elijah Poh (SP CCF), SP, Architecture, Year 3
The time we spent praying allowed me to see beyond my borders and gave me a glimpse into the different realities that our brothers and sisters experienced. The difficult situations that they faced might have seemed very far removed from me but when we started praying for them, the differences didn’t seem so apparent anymore. Knowing that the other ministries were going strong despite the circumstances, encouraged me, and it was then that I understood what it meant to be united in Christ as one body.
– Tan Shao Qi Macey (SIM SCF), SIM, Sociology, Year 2
I am in awe of God’s wonderful work in CFs around the world. The faithfulness and persistence of our brothers and sisters despite the struggles they are facing inspire me. This experience at WSD has drawn me closer to God and encouraged me to be more faithful in my prayer life and to pray continuously for CFs around the world, and not only the ones in Singapore.
– Jocelyn (SIM ISCF), SIM, International Relations, Year 2
I did not expect the CFs in other parts of the world to have such similar prayer requests as our local CFs; prayer for spiritual growth and wisdom to navigate the distractions amongst the youths. Also, the Mongolian CF had a prayer request for a larger office space. It was very inspiring to learn of their willingness to continue their fellowships and Bible studies despite potential persecution. I pray that we will take encouragement from them and remain steadfast in our pursuit of God as well!
– Anthony Teo Jin Yang (NUS VCF), NUS, Law, Year 4
From 26 to 28 October, eight JCUS CFers gathered at the National Service Resort & Country Club for a 3 Day 2 Night camp with the theme “One Pursuit”. The camp programme included teaching sessions by staff workers Gabriel Jiang and Lim Jie, icebreakers, games, and food preparation.
I came to the camp without any expectations but with my personal goals such as wanting to get to know others and engaging in deeper conversations with them. It was also my first camp serving in worship with the camp committee. To me, the fellowship aspect impacted me the most. From random conversations to preparing food with the team I was assigned to; all were significant aspects of the camp. Being able to worship together with the rest, as well as having conversations about common areas of interest and concern was a very meaningful time for me. On top of that, I managed to make new connections with others. Overall, it was a fulfilling camp!
– Sherilyn Chomrat, JCUS, Bachelor of Psychological Science, Foundation Year
JCUS CF turns 10!
On 28 October, about 38 of us gathered to give thanks to God for guiding us through 10 years of ministry in James Cook University Singapore (JCUS).
Coming together for JCUS CF’s anniversary was more than just a celebration of the length of the ministry but was a true testament to God’s partnership in doing His work on the campus. As we mingled and bonded with friends we have not seen for a long time, laughing over once-lost memories, and pounds gained on our waists, we also got to reflect on the journey the ministry has taken. Many a time, JCUS CF presidents would share how they were worried about whether the ministry would be able to carry on. Despite our worries, the ministry has been faithfully persevering, serving new batches of students who have entered the school. This emphasised to us how we are merely stewards, and God is multiplying and sustaining the efforts we put in.
We also got to hear how the CF is currently doing, and the challenges faced by the more recent cohorts seemed to take on new forms. COVID-19 had certainly made an impact on campus life and connections in JCUS, and the CF is also still recovering from its repercussions on ministry. There remain different obstacles to overcome, but as I reflected on the road ahead for JCUS CF, it was heartening to realise God’s steady hands still guide the course, and we look forward to the plans He has in store for the ministry.
– Ronak Robert graduated from JCUS with a Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours) in 2020. He served as JCUS CF President from 2018–2019.
Walk with You
The annual Chinese Work Big Family Gathering was held on 21 October at the Church of the Good Shepherd. Approximately 100 participants (81 onsite and 19 online) comprising students, staff, and alumni gathered to witness and count the blessings we have received from our Lord. We were exhorted to walk with God, not just as an experience or journey, but to be in the presence of God Himself. The chairpersons from the various Chinese CFs also shared about the challenges of having online lessons and fellowship sessions.
Woven by Him
In January 2019, FES staff worker Rebecca Lim was seconded, with the support of her home church, Orchard Road Presbyterian Church, to serve with the Fellowship of Campus Students (FCS) in Mongolia. Currently, Becky works primarily with medical students from two universities, serves as one of the lead staff on the evangelism committee, and is involved in translating publications from English to Mongolian. Becky shares with us some reflections on her time with FCS so far.
Being away from home, especially during a pandemic, was nothing but easy. I no longer had access to the systems that allowed me to hide when things got tough. The veneer of security is gone and each difficulty hits harder than it normally would. But it was the loss of that veneer that allowed me to know God afresh. Over the past four years, I’ve watched depressed, hesitant students become the first to volunteer as an emcee, and brash, self-sufficient students slow down to gently sit beside one another. Watching them grow and being changed myself as we opened our hearts to each other and God, I learned afresh the transformation that the Holy Spirit brings.
When the lockdowns were extended and ministry seemingly collapsed, the staff threw in everything we could just to keep the few students we had afloat, even though it cost a few of us dearly. As our world slid down the slippery slope of the pandemic, I learned again the hope of renewal that Christ presents through the gospel, persevering steadily through the harshest winters of life. While navigating these twists and turns, hurdles, and hidden pitfalls, I grew in my prayer life with God. Learning to lean on Him rather than place my expectations on man, and to walk with Him through joys and pains that few would understand, I felt anew the intimacy that God the Father and Creator pulls us into, the One who weaves my very being. Through it all, I saw that God holds us completely in His Trinitarian presence.
Looking Forward To and Looking Out for FES 2023
In my previous October 2022 financial update, I highlighted our financial needs for 2022 and the gap we have left to cover. I also broke down how donations in FES are spent. As of November 2022, we still need $150,000 in donations to reach our budget of $1.7M for this year. I thank you for your continued support and urge you to prayerfully consider the ways and means you can help to keep FES sustainable for a more effective ministry.
In this update, I would like to share what you can look forward to and look out for in FES 2023. I share these plans not only for financial support but also for voluntary support. If you wish to learn more about a particular programme or project, or if you wish to help out, please get in touch! I hope to see the whole community of FES helping and serving the students and young graduates of today, to build the next generation of leaders for campus, church, and society. Let me list seven key projects here in order of definitely happening to making it work.
World Assembly (WA), 2–10 August 2023 in Indonesia. WA happens every four years and gathers IFES students, staff, faculty, and boards from across the globe. Those who have been for WA will attest to its effectiveness in inspiring students for global mission, myself included. The conference fee for WA is USD$1250 excluding travel costs. As we wish to send at least five staff and five students as delegates, we need support to cover the financial costs.
Leaders’ Party 2023. Following the first Party in 2022, we wish to build upon and improve the planning, process, and participation of student leaders. We aim to develop this as a signature platform for FES in developing the next generation of Christlike leaders, particularly in formación, engagement, and leading change. More accurately speaking, the Leaders’ Party is one of many initiatives that focus on our vision of developing student leaders. Other initiatives include the Youth Leaders Camp (YLC) co-organsied with the Chinese Work Committee of the National Council of Churches Singapore, and the Polytechnic Ministry Exposure and Leadership Training (MELT).
Graduates’ Party 2023. Also building upon the first Party in 2022, we wish to improve the Party for our young graduates in light of how transitions and work seem to be more challenging for them than ever before. We are looking to diversify our engagement from well-being and mentoring to career development as a Christian in the workplace.
FES-GCF Legacy Fund. I first shared the vision for this Fund at the FES-GCF Dinner. This is a fund to aid in the learning and development of FES and GCF staff workers and to enable a more sustainable career pathway for them. We are currently at the stage of drafting the necessary legal documents. We envision this Fund to be ready to receive donations very soon, in the coming months.
GoForth 2023. GoForth 2023 is a national missions conference that is co-organised by the Singapore Baptist Convention and Evangelical Alliance of Singapore. The conference aims to cover a broad number of topics related to missions. FES is leading one track focused on Youths, Young Adults, and Mission. In many ways, this is a continuation of collaborative efforts with other organisations at a national level, such as the Census 2020 dialogue co-organised with the Bible Society of Singapore in 2021 which led to the publication Census 2020, Religions and Youth (2022).
Engaging the Campus. The FES staff team spent several months discussing mission to the campus as engagement with the campus. A key attitude towards campus mission and ministry today is to understand more accurately the changing youth culture, language, and education landscape. We wish to recover this attitude of seeking to understand, especially in the context of higher education, and in turn, help others better understand the experiences of students today.
Bible Reading Project. The emphasis on Bible reading has always been core to FES. It is unfortunate to hear every year about declining Bible literacy and interest in reading the Bible for all its worth. Even so, it remains core to FES and we wish to put considerable effort into better understanding the situation of Bible reading from the perspectives of our student leaders and young graduates for the sake of a more biblically-grounded future.
Giving to FES
If you would like to find out how you may support FES to help keep FES sustainable for a more effective ministry, click here.
For the witness of Christ on campus,
FES General Secretary
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