Impetus (December 2023)
FES 2023: A Fellowship of Global Citizens
This is now my third year as General Secretary of FES Singapore. I started in 2021, right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. In that sense, it was normal for the office to be empty. It was normal for everything to be on Zoom. We did not need to think about travelling and clearing immigration. Now that all pandemic restrictions have ceased in 2023, things have not yet returned to normal. In fact, 2023 felt hyper-normal. It was like all the travelling, gatherings, and events that could not happen in the past two years took place this year instead. 2023 has been an extremely eventful year for FES and me with one critical difference – the resumption of international travelling.
The IFES World Assembly 2023 took place in Jakarta, Indonesia. World Assembly is a conference that takes place every four years gathering delegates from movements all over the world. I briefly wrote about it in the August issue of Impetus. One reflection I had from the World Assembly was how FES Singapore was part of the global fellowship of student movements around the world under IFES. To me, the image of a global fellowship offers a more compelling imagination of what IFES is and desires to be as it also deals with the divisions, disagreements, and discomforts between its affiliated movements. It goes alongside the usual discussions about unity and diversity, but I believe that the image of the global fellowship offers a more fruitful identity for the world today. To me, the use of the global fellowship allows us to revisit the discussion of the local and global church. The local church is not called to be identical to others or do the same thing as others. It is called to minister specifically and contextually where it is. Yet it recognises itself as part of the larger, global movement. There are noticeable shared values, beliefs, and practices across the fellowships of IFES such that there can be a feeling of familiarity and strangeness at once if you were to visit other movements.
This year, I took a course in SUSS called Youth in the World. It has been raised in the course that education is now trying to bring in cosmopolitan attitudes that foster citizenship concerns for the whole world. This should lead to youths having more global awareness and concern, and participating in life as global citizens. This answers my observations on how many youths today across nationalities seem to share similar values and concerns regarding life, work, and spirituality. While being from very different cultures, many youths have the same concerns about mental health, the future of work, relationships, and community. Globalisation helped to connect countries and foster trade. But now, what is seen especially among the youths of urban centres is the formation of a global identity. This identity is being built at a time when conversations about diversity, inclusion, and equity are also becoming common in workplaces and schools. Even as youths today can be said to be born as digital natives, I would also think that youths will be born as global citizens where diversity, inclusion, and justice will be held as native values and attitudes.
In Ephesians 2:11–21, Paul writes about the reconciling work of Christ that brought together two peoples who would have no reason to join as one – the Jews and the Gentiles. Christ broke down the dividing wall, created in himself one new humanity, and called all as citizens and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone. In 2023, as international travelling has resumed, the sense of being part of a global fellowship has also resumed. A global fellowship that is founded upon the reconciling blood and work of Christ Jesus.
News and Updates
The IFES World Student Day (WSD) is a day set aside every year to remember the global student work – celebrate what God is doing, as well as pray for the needs, challenges, and opportunities ahead. This year, FES Singapore celebrated WSD on 21 October where 74 students and staff participated in the half-day event held at SIM.
The theme of WSD 2023 was “Persevere” and it was accompanied by the Bible text in Hebrews 12:1–2, to not ignore the issues going on in the world and look the other way because of our privilege; not plastering over it with joy or sucking it up. Instead, we are to look towards the future with hope and remember Christ. The programme began with icebreakers to help everyone get acquainted with one another, followed by an introduction to IFES by Shannon Chieng, the FES National Student Council coordinator, and a speaker session by Steve Lam, Head of FES Chinese Work. We then prayed for four countries: India, Nigeria, a country from East Asia, and one from North Africa. For this segment, each group went to different classrooms that acted as prayer stations to gain more context on the issues that each country faces as well as to pray for them. Lastly, we all came together to pray for the Singapore movement.
As I was serving as the chairperson of the planning committee, there were quite a few things that I had to juggle with to complete what I needed to do. Nevertheless, WSD was still meaningful to me as it helped me to understand better what were the issues that were going on in various countries and there was a space for me to pray with students from other campuses.
– Ruth Wong, NP CCF, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Year 3
Last year when I joined WSD 2022, I got to know more about many other student-led fellowships outside of Singapore and their struggles. This year as part of the WSD 2023 organising committee, I was able to learn a lot about how students worldwide manage to persevere amid the hurdles they face. One such example is the Indian student movement, where not only are some parts of the country rocked with ethnic and religious unrest, Christian students there are marginalised as they are from a minority group. For us in Singapore, we also face challenges in our ministry, which may be due to personal or academic struggles. Nevertheless, it does not compare to the difficulties students in other countries face as they work hard to spread the gospel within their campuses. It made me realise how privileged we are as Christian students in Singapore.
– Mario Ian Widodo, NTU ISCF, Materials Engineering, Year 3
At WSD I was able to meet old CF friends and students from different CFs as well. It also gave me a new perspective on the Christian student community in Singapore and in other parts of the world. I learned about the trials and struggles Christian students had to face in other countries. This led me to realise how fortunate I am as a Christian in Singapore and made me feel deeply for my brothers and sisters overseas. A story that affected me greatly was the one from North Africa. When I heard that the students weren’t allowed to share the gospel, but they still tried to do it, their strong faith encouraged me not to be afraid to share my faith with others.
– Alastair Lim Enle, SP ECF, Media Arts and Design, Year 2
FES 华文组 大家庭聚会 2023
The FES Chinese Work (CW) Big Family Gathering was a heartwarming event that took place on 20 October at the Church of the Good Shepherd. Approximately 90 alumni and students gathered to celebrate the spirit of togetherness. This year’s theme was about rekindling the kampung (village) spirit which struck a chord with me on a personal level.
What made the event truly special were the insights shared by 国宏干事 Guó hóng gànshi (Steve Lam, FES CW Head) and Chinese Christian Fellowship (CCF) members from other universities and polytechnics. Their experiences and stories resonated deeply with me, and it was evident that we all shared a common bond, a sense of belonging.
I was given the precious opportunity to represent SIM/SUSS/SIT CCF to share our journey when we did not have an Exco in our CF. During that period our CF members came together, supporting one another, and having faith that God would provide and sustain our CF.
After the event ended, it was heartening to see CFers from other campuses approach me and share how they have similar challenges and struggles in their CF. This sense of solidarity and shared experiences across different CFs was truly uplifting, reminding us that we are not alone in our journey. The CW Big Family Gathering served as a powerful reminder that, even in our fast-paced and modern world, we can still nurture a sense of unity and togetherness, much like in a traditional kampung.
– Jocelyn, SIM International Relations, Year 3
Journeying with God as Artists
This semester represents a noteworthy shift in SKETCH ISCF (NAFA-LASALLE Indonesian Students’ Christian Fellowship) as we approached our CF from a different perspective by inviting Christian lecturers from NAFA, University of the Arts Singapore to have fellowship with us. The idea originated within us, but it is undeniably a manifestation of God’s work as we witness the convergence of events according to His plan.
Throughout the semester, we were honoured to host three lecturers: Grace Leong and Rebecca Kan, each with over two decades of teaching experience at NAFA, and Ming Wei Neo, a NAFA alumna who now serves as an adjunct lecturer. Across four sessions, we had the privilege of hearing their reflections on their spiritual journeys as senior Christian artists and educators in the performing arts. In the closing session for 2023, Ming Wei shared her profound experiences of walking with God through a series of challenging events and years of hardship.
Through their stories, we were all refreshed and reminded of God’s great faithfulness to His children. Although the sessions were intended to be a sharing of topics related to the arts, we realised that listening to their stories and seeing how God works in each of their lives is also a great challenge and encouragement to us. We are reminded that our walk with God should be the basis of what we create (as students in arts and design) and we are nothing without Him.
Their great enthusiasm and faith have been a huge blessing for everyone who came, and we are ever so grateful for the privilege of listening to their experiences and journey with God. Soli Deo Gloria.
– Eunice Gabrielle, NAFA, Graphic Communication, Year 3
The IFES East Asia Young Leaders’ Training (YLT), held in Taipei from 13 to 17 November 2023, was organised to train and equip staff workers who are currently holding leadership positions within their respective national movements. Six of us from FES Singapore were among the 46 staff workers from the region who attended this training. The bulk of the learning and equipping was done through plenaries, coaching sessions, and issue groups where we tackled specific issues of choice. It is hoped that YLT will serve as a platform for the participants to support one another in their leadership journey together. Below, three of our staff share their reflections on YLT.
My time at YLT was very fruitful. Having entered the training with many concerns regarding my work in Singapore, at the first evening reflection session Koichi Ohtawa, one of the facilitators at YLT, spoke into my situation by asking an incisive question: “Where are you from?” Initially, I thought that he was asking us which countries we came from. But later, he clarified that he wanted us to reflect on the situation that we left behind and the emotional baggage that we brought with us into YLT. Ohtawa also emphasised the importance of taking a posture of patience as we enter the training: to relax, wait, and see; to ask the Holy Spirit to help us find something relevant and meaningful in the time that we will spend together.
I thought that Ohtawa’s words were very profound, given that this was a time set apart to prepare God’s people for leadership. In many ways, leadership might be viewed from a technical perspective – good leaders need to have particular skills to be effective. While this is true, what I appreciated more deeply from YLT was that good leaders need to be self-aware: to be open to one’s inner activities in order to make sense of one’s experiences and allow God to use these experiences to facilitate growth and change.
– Loo Kee Wei, Campus Ministry Staff worker (English Section)
“What (who) makes a leader?”
“What (who) makes a Christian leader?”
Upon reflecting on these questions, I realise that my concept of leadership has largely been influenced by personal experiences and traditional leadership programmes. These resources often focus on the desirable qualities and actionable steps required to assume a leadership role. However, the distinctive aspect of Christian leadership lies in acknowledging that our ultimate leader and guide is the Lord. As Christian leaders, we are first called to be a follower of God before aspiring to lead others. This entails not only aligning our hearts with the Lord but also moving people from where they are to where God wants them to be.
Engaging in conversations and discussions with staff workers from different movements provided me with a deeper understanding of self-awareness in leadership. It shed light on the imperfections and blind spots that leaders, including myself, might possess. Despite encountering conflicts and disappointments, I was amazed by how these experiences demonstrated the work of the Lord in our lives and at the places we serve. These experiences not only uncover potential areas that can be explored to make the ministry a better place for people to serve and grow, but also highlight the fact that each of us holds the capacity to profoundly impact the lives of students and coworkers, regardless of our specific leadership positions and roles.
– Joyce Sune, Vice-Head, FES Chinese Work
Alongside the plenaries, I appreciated the exchanges in the issue group on tackling conflict. Though the session was to allow us to learn from one another in addressing certain concerns, the personal stories shared were very meaningful. Through them, I was able to hear the struggles and challenges that other leaders have in carrying out their roles. The insights gained provided the space to help me evaluate and tune up my journey in leading the team, especially in the way I guide and communicate, as well as appropriate and welcome feedback from team members under my care.
I pray that the learning and enrichment will not stop here and that the leadership path that we are journeying on may bring flourishing to the team and the movement as a whole. Continue to pray with and for us that we may be found faithful and fruitful in the role that has been entrusted to us.
– Darryl Andriyan Putra, Head, FES Indonesian Ministry
FES Closing 2023 and Opening 2024
In the October 2023 financial update, I highlighted our financial needs for 2023 and the gap we have left to cover. As of December 2023, we still need $270,000 in donations to reach our budget of $1.9M 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 and manage the inflations in the coming years.
I started the year 2023 remembering the various communities that constitute FES. There were the Student Leaders of the Christian Fellowships, the Young Graduates, the Council and Subcommittees, the Staff Workers, and the Donors, Alumni, and Churches that supported FES. In this update, I want to share with you some plans that FES has for each community and what you can look forward to in 2024.
Student Leaders. The Leaders’ Party is the signature platform for FES to develop the next generation of Christlike leaders through the development of skills, senses, and spirituality through the gathering of all our student leaders across the campuses of Singapore. Other initiatives such as Exco Advances, Youth Leaders’ Camp, and Polytechnic Leaders’ Training are all part of FES’ mission to empower and encourage our student leaders who have shown courage and commitment in stepping up to lead in such times. For 2024, one significant leadership project will be for student leaders to engage with their churches to better understand how the CF can partner with the church in the formation of youths and young adults.
Young Graduates. The Graduation Party is a significant milestone for our young graduates to mark their important transition from school to the workplace. We have managed to build a small community of recent graduates who are now able to share their own recent experiences of transitions and challenges of work with the new batch of young graduates. We hope to grow this community along with the development of a curriculum to help make work and the workplace more fulfilling, meaningful, and above all, missional. Scripture and spirituality will be core to this curriculum to be in continuity with the student ministry experience.
Council and Subcommittees. A significant governance project this year has been reviewing the FES Constitution and updating it in light of governance changes recommended by the Commissioner of Charities (COC) and IFES. FES will submit the new Constitution to COC soon and that will help give more accountability, sustainability, and credibility to the governance of FES as an organisation. Following this, we hope that more alumni and volunteers can be involved in subcommittees and ad-hoc projects. This will help foster the sense and recognition of the greater community of FES, a ministry that has been impacting students across generations since 1959.
Staff Workers. The challenges and demands of student and graduate work have changed tremendously these past three years. The most significant change has been the societal push to engage in lifelong learning – to acquire new knowledge and competencies for a very different world. This is especially critical for staff to remain relevant and engage effectively with students who are always native to the changes of their generation. The FES-GCF Legacy Fund was started chiefly to support and encourage lifelong learning for staff workers, especially from a financial standpoint. For 2024, the next step is to properly develop the culture to encourage not only staff, but everyone connected to FES, to embrace learning as a missional attitude for God.
Donors, Alumni, and Churches. As FES further develops and refines its programmes and principles for students and young graduates, we see it valuable for FES to also reconnect with its alumni across the generations to show how FES has changed across the years as it responds to the shifts and swerves of higher education, theology, and youth culture. In this climate of growing intergenerational concerns and suspicions, FES might be able to stand in the gap and act as bridges for generations to better understand and relate with each other. For 2024, FES wants to engage more with its alumni and connected churches to foster more partnership for the sake of the youths to develop them as wholistic witnesses of Christ in a constantly changing world.
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
Impetus is published every two months. For enquiries, email email@example.com
Upcoming events: https://promo.fellowship.sg/