Impetus (February 2023)
Five FES Communities to Pray for in 2023
This new year of 2023 began very differently from 2022 for FES and the CFs. This has largely to do with the campuses and borders re-opening and travelling being an option for everybody all over again. The CFs held many physical camps and retreats locally and overseas. You will read about many of them in this issue. There is a large sense that ministries are now back to normal or what they used to be before the Covid-19 pandemic. We have all tried various means and ways to maintain the communities and commitment of leaders and members during restrictive times. It is time now to look forward to new means and ways to be effective witnesses of Christ on the campus.
I want to begin this year by remembering five communities to pray for and which act as the focus for FES these coming months.
Firstly, I want to give thanks to all the donors, alumni, and churches that supported FES last year. We managed to end 2022 with a slight surplus even without government support. This was crucial especially for the staff team as we struggle to deal with inflation costs all around us. More importantly, we are looking to grow the ministry, not only in terms of CFs on the campuses but also in the capabilities and capacities of the staff team.
Please remember and pray for the staff. For 2023, we are focusing on staff learning and development to meet the new demands and issues of a post-pandemic world. Campuses and workplaces are all changing and that brings about a need for new approaches and mindsets to ministry and youth work. We are looking forward to our Staff Conference from 17 to 20 April in Malaysia which will focus on personal and professional development for the staff. I also give thanks that the staff managed to gather as a whole team for a Lunar New Year celebration at the Lowercase café located in LASALLE College of the Arts on 3 February.
Please remember and pray for the student leaders of the CFs. Even as most of the pandemic restrictions have been lifted, leaders are encountering different needs and expectations of ministry from before. The campuses are also changing extensively, which forces the students to change their approach to ministry and their studies. There is a need to help our leaders manage these transitions meaningfully and fruitfully. The Leaders’ Party that was introduced in 2022 continues this year as we seek to further build our community of student leaders, to equip them with the heart and skills to engage the campus and make a lasting impact in their schools.
The young graduates of the CFs are also experiencing similar issues of change and uncertainty in the workplace. Please remember and pray for them as well. The Graduates’ Party was started in 2022 to help build a new community of young graduates each year to manage this transition from the campus to the workplace. We aim to continue to do this again this year.
Finally, as the FES AGM is coming soon on 25 March, pray for the Council and subcommittees of FES as we handle the many changes and demands of improving governance and organisation. Pray for commitment as volunteers dedicate their time and energy between work and ministry. Pray for courage as decision-makers respond to the ever-changing needs and circumstances of good governance and organisation. I believe that FES remains strategically poised in a very different context now of higher education, work, church, and society. Pray that we will remain effective and that all communities involved in this work of ministering to the next generation continue to remain dependent upon the strength, grace, and love of God to begin the year fruitfully.
News and Updates
A Wake-up Call and More …
SWAT– short for ‘Studying the Word All Together’ – is a six-day biennial Bible Camp organised by NUS VCF and NTU CF open to all the FES tertiary level CFs. After the past two years of online camps, the CFs returned to an in-person camp at Majodi Centre, Johor, Malaysia from 26 to 31 December. A total of 128 students (87 NUS, 32 NTU, 5 SIM, 2 SIT, 2 SUSS) attended SWAT 2022. Here are reflections from three of the campers.
The theme talks were a good reminder (and wake-up call) of whether I’m ready for Jesus’ second coming, and if I have been intentional in engaging in the Christian communities God has placed me in. Our speaker, Mr Quek Tze Ming, a lecturer from the Biblical Graduate School of Theology, broke down the passages in 1 Thessalonians into digestible and highly applicable points. What impacted me the most was hearing my group’s sharing about the topics covered like rapture and grief, preparing for Jesus’ return, and the salience of the Christian community in today’s world. I was able to see Scripture come to life in my members’ experiences, and that level of vulnerability throughout made us much closer.
– Tricia Khaw Jing Xuan
NUS VCF/Business Administration, Year 1
Going for Bible Reading (BR) 301 was one of the things I was most looking forward to. In my own Bible reading journey, I found how early Christians looked more eagerly toward the judgement and resurrection than I did, and I wanted to understand what this hope is. We were introduced to the many ways that the book of Revelation is approached, and not just as study, but even from the perspective of visual art and music! Outside the BR sessions, we also found ourselves discussing Revelation, its many references to the Old Testament, and how it connected nicely with the camp theme. While I have come out of BR301 with more questions than answers, it is these valuable questions and perspectives which has equipped me to seek more direction and purpose!
– Benjamin Tan Wee Jin
NTU CF/ Art Design Media, Year 3
A highlight for me for SWAT Camp 2023 was the workshop “Lament” conducted by Idelle Yee, an NUS VCF graduate. We explored the story of Job in a new light, on how his feelings of anger, sorrow, and questioning of God were part of having a genuine relationship with Him. This retelling of Job shifted my perspective on my relationship with God. Society generally tells us to sweep our pain and grief under the rug and to be positive all the time. But I learned that it’s okay to air our feelings out and care for the soul. Lament shouldn’t be seen as something negative to get over but as a great expression of hope where we can trust that God listens to us in times of brokenness.
– Nathanael Lim Yeong Sng
SIM SCF/International Trade SIM-University at Buffalo, Year 3
Why I’m Attending and Serving in a Chinese church
From 18 to 20 December 2022 about 74 participants from the various Chinese churches in Singapore attended 四宗青年领袖营 4D Youth Leadership Camp (YLC) which was organised by the FES Chinese Work (CW) and the Chinese Work Committee of the National Council of Churches Singapore. Held at Trinity Theological College, the overall objective of the YLC is to delve into the history of the Chinese churches so that participants like myself can gain insight into how and why there is value in having church services and fellowship in this language.
On the first day, we got to understand, through a skit, the language and cultural barriers missionaries faced in the early days while trying to share the gospel with locals. The following day we visited four of the oldest Chinese churches from the Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and Presbyterian denominations. The respective church pastors gave us some historical background of their church and denomination before moving to the ministry and the challenges they are currently facing. It was eye-opening to see the differences across the denominations in terms of church practices, ministry areas, and architecture, but ultimately all worshipping the same God. Unfortunately, all are facing a similar problem of a dwindling number of Chinese congregation attendees, especially among the youth.
This entire camp caused me to reflect on why I am attending and serving in a Chinese church and the role I play in God’s narrative for Chinese churches. This can manifest in different ways like just being a Chinese church congregation member, serving in the different ministries of the Chinese church, or even reach out to non-Christian Chinese friends to share the gospel with them.
– Simon Tong 董心玺, NUS CVCF/graduated in 2021 from the NUS Engineering Science Programme
Gaining a Fresh Perspective
This year’s 跨时代的书信 CW Combined University Bible Study Camp, which was held at Foochow Methodist Church from 3 to 6 January, had a total of 26 participants from NUS CVCF, NTU CCF, and SIM CCF. The camp focused on studying the Epistles. Through a series of talks and hands-on sessions, our staff workers gave us an overview of the Book of Acts as well as the New Testament (NT) epistles and helped us to master inductive Bible study skills. In the process, our knowledge and understanding of the NT, especially the Epistles, was deepened.
The sessions that impacted me the most were the overview of the historical context of the NT and the Epistles. The former provided a comprehensive and holistic review of what it was like to live during the NT times. It was as though we were placed in a time capsule and teleported back in time. By looking at the different dimensions – economic, political, social, and philosophical – we gained a fresh perspective when we visit the different NT texts. There is now a more complete understanding of the purpose of the writing. The session on the Epistles provided a concise and consolidated overview of the Epistles, helping in setting the direction and foundation when one reads the Epistles.
Despite the hectic programme and schedule, I think most of the participants enjoyed the camp and walked away learning something. We were also elated to see familiar faces from the other campuses where we had the opportunity to catch up and deepen our friendship.
– Titus Ong, NTU CCF/Sports Science & Management, Year 3
Remembering Our Roots, Bearing Good Fruits
About 130 of us gathered at the NUS Medicine Multi-Purpose Hall for the FES Indonesian Ministry (IM) Family Day on 14 January to remember God’s blessings in the past, especially since the birth of our first Indonesian Students’ Christian Fellowship (ISCF) in 1998. The theme “Remembering Our Roots, Bearing Good Fruits” stems from an anchoring verse in John 15:8, that we may “declare our purposes in the Father’s glory and bear much fruit, showing ourselves to be His disciples”. Through this event, we hoped to reunite the FES IM family through stories of struggles, growth, victory, and blessings from our Heavenly Father.
A highlight of the programme was the “Human Library” segment where participants listened to stories of how God has been leading the alumni in many aspects of life since their student days. Among many things, participants could see how international the movement is, and can also find new ideas for ministry.
As working adults, we often do not have time to pause and reflect, much less to commune with the people we served with together during our student days. At the most, we can meet with those who happen to be in the same church as us. The planning committee for the Family Day was made up of recent graduates, and everyone had ideas on what we wanted to achieve through this event. As many people who served in the early days of ISCF were present, it was a reunion of like-minded people who love God and their community. Seeing everyone’s hearts eager to serve others and reach out to students was the best part of this event. And I hope that this doesn’t stop here. We pray that students and graduates will be propelled to further invest in student ministry, be it in their time or money.
– Winona Wijaya, NTU ISCF alumni, graduated in 2019 in Environmental Earth Systems Science
Reignite! Rebuild! Reposition!
Held from 30 November to 6 December at Port Dickson, Malaysia, the IFES East Asia Staff Conference (EASC) was the first regional conference I’ve attended since joining FES as a staff worker. Meeting fellow staff workers from other countries and listening to their stories gave me a peek into student work in the region these past two years.
During the pandemic, some countries found online meetings frustrating due to the poor internet connection, while others lost contact with students totally as their students had no internet access. The more privileged countries like ours struggled instead with getting students to be responsive over the screen. After the pandemic, some students are reluctant to return to meetings onsite and prefer to continue with online meetings, while others had to be reached through home visits.
Though the challenges we face as staff workers may appear different, our struggles are similar. There is general physical and spiritual fatigue amongst staff workers as we strive to hold together and rebuild the faith community amongst the students. Relationships have been distanced and we need to focus on strengthening the bonds between us and the students, as well as amongst fellow staff workers, before we can move the ministry forward. Furthermore, students who have lived and studied ‘in isolation’ marks the birth of a new generation of students that is different from the previous generation, both outwardly and inwardly.
The theme for EASC 2022 “Towards A New Horizon – Reignite, Rebuild, Reposition” is a timely reminder. The task we have at hand is to reignite our passion amidst our fatigue, rebuild our distanced relationships with fellow staff and students, and to reposition ourselves ready to serve the new generation of students. I am thankful for this time to pause and ponder and to share and find strength so that as a team, we can look and move towards a new horizon together.
– Kwok Siew Hwee Siew Hwee joined FES in July 2020. She currently serves alongside students from NTU CCF and NP CCF
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. These sermons capture the godly character and theology of a man whom countless people have had the privilege to learn from and to serve with.
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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