Impetus (October 2022)
The Joy of Intergenerational Fellowship
Over 350 people gathered and reconnected at the FES-GCF Dinner on 16 September at the Raffles Town Club. For me, the joy of the fellowship was demonstrated with contributions by alumni, students, and staff workers: a poem by Lucy Tay, a song by Benny Bong, an exhortation by Rev. Dr Edwin Tay, an instrumental by Daniel Ong, and a closing prayer by the FES President, Bishop Dr Titus Chung. This was all supported by Cassie and Timothy as emcees, and Daniel and Joshann leading worship. It was a night to remember as we gathered as such a large group for the first time since 2019. I introduced the FES-GCF Legacy Fund which we hope to start by December 2022. I recounted the legacies left behind by student leaders in the early years of FES and GCF but most notably the work done by staff workers, such as Dr Bobby Sng and Dr Choong Chee Pang, who had dedicated their lives and their career to student and graduate ministry.
Another gathering that has not happened since 2019 is the IFES East Asia Regional Staff Gathering (RSG). Each year, the leaders of the East Asia student movements will meet to reflect and plan for the coming year. Three attempts were made since 2020 to meet in Taiwan but quarantine orders prevented that from happening. Eventually, it was decided that Singapore will host this RSG in 2022. From 10–15 October, 19 leaders from the East Asia movements gathered in Singapore for RSG 2022. Some met for the first time but also some for the last time. It was a week to reconnect with one another and to acknowledge the new challenges that each leader and movement, as well as the East Asia region, will face.
On a final celebratory note, the campus staff team completed a major milestone on 23 September when we finished the IFES Engaging the University (ETU) e-learning course as a staff team. Imagine 22 staff enrolling for a course and finishing it together. ETU challenges participants to think biblically and critically about the context of the university and the unique call to engage the university. The course is run by IFES, but we adapted ETU into eight sessions for Singapore as a national movement. I was told that Singapore is the first movement to attempt something like this. The greatest value was to have staff come together to think critically about campus engagement. We conducted interviews, campus exegesis, and reimagined how ministry can look like on campus. It is a deeper level of engagement than what is presented in our popular ebook, Engaging the Campus which is available at https://www.kobo.com/sg/en/ebook/engaging-the-campus.
As we enter the final quarter of 2022, I ask for prayer for the following:
Student camps in December
Overnight camps and overseas travelling are options once again. However, there are more considerations now when planning for such stayovers and travels. Pray that the additional planning and logistics will not get in the way of fruitful fellowship and growth while in camps.
Financial and staff sustainability
FES has accumulated a $30K deficit as of the end of the third quarter. Unlike the past two years, there is no more government funding to rely upon. As we now move into a post-pandemic environment, pray for better sustainability of our finances. This also contributes to the sustainability of staff welfare, to be able to give AWS and increments to keep in step with all the inflation that is happening worldwide.
News and Updates
Combined Polytechnic Christian Fellowship Camps
Our Campus, His Canvas
From 5–8 September, 31 of us from the different polytechnic English Christian Fellowships (ECFs) gathered at the premises of the Indonesian Family Church for our camp with the theme, Our Campus, His Canvas. The camp programme included theme talks, Bible Reading (BR) 101, a few workshops as well as interactive games.
Personally, what impacted me the most was BR101. These sessions are aimed at making us better readers of Scripture and dig deeper into the process of interpreting the Bible. One of the things we were taught was to compare the accounts of the same story that appeared in the four gospels. This helped me to understand the different perspectives of thegospel writers. For example, in the account of the woman who anointed Jesus with expensive perfume from an alabaster jar, some writers gave more details, while others only gave a brief description of that event. I also learned the importance of looking at the words that Jesus said and trying to understand the meaning behind them.
– Ng Rong, SP Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Year 1
From 10–13 October, the Polytechnic Chinese Christian Fellowships (CCFs) held a Combined Bible Study Camp with the theme 书信接收中 (ReceivING Letters). Eight students from NP CCF and SP CCF attended this in-person camp which was held at the premises of Foochow Methodist Church.
This being my first time attending such a camp and serving as a camp leader, I have learned a lot of new things and grown, not only in terms of knowledge but also spiritually. As a person who rarely picks up the Bible to read in my free time, it has truly been an eye-opener for me as I listened to the different teaching sessions and viewpoints presented on the epistles. All these have helped deepen my understanding of the Bible and encouraged me to study the Bible further including exploring the history and practices during that time.
– Roysten Keefe Kong, SP Computer Engineering, Year 1
FES-GCF Dinner 16 September 2022
As I scanned the room with more unfamiliar than familiar faces, a question came to mind – How am I connected to everyone in this room?
Immediately we are connected to those with whom we share a common ministry and fellowship once upon our time on campus, and even after graduation. I have known those at the table for close to a decade (2007–2015). We planned, prayed, persisted, and journeyed with fresh graduates entering the marketplace.
And then there are those unfamiliar faces. The young ones still on campus and the mature ones whom I’ve never met. Yet somehow, we are connected in a common history during our formative years, either as a student or as a young graduate. I imagined we must have walked the same paths on campus, sang the same songs, angst in prayer and with each other over the ministry, and found ourselves drawing closer to God and His Word. In the process, our view of church and ministry beyond our local churches was expanded. God is bigger than a building we grew up in.
But finally, there is a third dimension that connects us all, and that is our common faith which Rev. Dr Edwin Tay reminded us of. Our faith connects us, our shared belief that we are sinners in need of repentance for which salvation alone is in Christ Jesus our Lord. God has so ordained that this be His means of grace for us in a transitory yet formative season in our lifetimes. And these would include the likes of spiritual seniors who have passed on who shaped the fellowship and ministry and indirectly shaped me.
A decade and more since graduation, I see a room of fellow pilgrims connected in friendship, fellowship, history, and above all in Christ our Lord. A glimpse of God’s goodness and faithfulness. Reconnected.
– Chen Yanchang was chairperson of NUS VCF in AY 2006/07. He graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering in 2007.
70 years of VCF on campus
How could anything run by students survive for such a long time? One of my fellow Exco friends reminded me that “VCF is one generation from becoming extinct,” and there was a great deal of truth in that. Naturally, there was so much incoherency and anxiety in my thoughts as I began my research into the VCF archives. 70 years … how?
In my pursuit of finding what programmes and activities made VCF who she is today, I was gently reminded, but more importantly, rebuked, that the “how” was because of the “Who”, and there could be no other answer to the question besides God, the Head of this ministry. It has never been about us, and it never will be. All that can be seen is His love and faithfulness to His people. Truly, if it is His will, He will let it be done.
Indeed, how exciting and what a privilege it is to participate in and contribute to VCF’s legacy and heritage! As we commemorate 70 years of VCF, my hope and prayer is for VCFers, current and prospective, to continue to return to “Who” to form our “how’s” and “why’s” in shaping how VCF will look like, meeting the needs of their own time. May we continue to diligently yearn to be His faithful disciples who will be effective salt and light of the world on campus and in society.
– Joshann Lee Chean Wen, 71st Chairperson of VCF, NUS Biomedical Engineering, Year 4
NTU CF celebrates Mid-Autumn Festival
On 8 September 2022, NTU CF organised a Mid-Autumn Festival event to bring all three ministry sections – English, Chinese and Indonesian – together to celebrate this festival which symbolises reunion. Around 70 people attended this special event. We were especially glad to see some new friends, such as international and exchange students, joining us for the first time. The time of bonding over interactive games and eating mooncakes helped us to foster a deeper relationship and enjoy the fellowship we have in Christ.
Jeremy Mikhael Kurniawan of NTU ISCF (Materials Science and Engineering, Year 4) writes,
Through this celebration, I got to know people from the other ministry sections of the CF. We also had the opportunity to exchange information about the cultural backgrounds we come from. Overall, the event was fun but for the songs, it would have been better if pinyin was added to the lyrics of the Chinese songs so that we could sing along together.
Why did I join FES?
Rebecca Goh graduated from NTU with a degree in Mathematical Sciences in 2021. She served in various capacities in NTU CF during her student days. Currently, she works with students from NP CF and NUS VCF. Rebecca worships at True Way Presbyterian Church.
The time I spent at NTU CF was very formative to my faith; my love for and understanding of God had broadened and deepened. While seeking God’s direction for my life regarding my career, I was challenged to seriously consider joining FES. Because of the student ministry’s impact on my life, I was sure that staff work is something very worth investing my time in. However, I was uncertain if I was suitable, or if I will add value to the ministry. Hence, in January 2022, I decided to start with being a mintern (ministry intern) to explore what staff work entails. During the minternship, I found the work dynamic, enjoyable, and fulfilling. Thus, in July I decided to become a full-time staff worker and look forward to exploring how I can contribute to God’s work in student ministry through serving here.
Nancy Elisabeth Suryadarma graduated from NUS in 2018 with a degree in Psychology. She joined the Indonesian Students CF (ISCF) during her NUS days. Nancy worked as a special needs teacher for several years before joining FES as a part-time staff in September 2022. Her work in FES is mainly focused on the Indonesian fresh graduates’ ministry. Nancy worships at the Reformed Evangelical Church Singapore.
I am convicted of the importance of student ministry as I have been immensely blessed through ISCF. ISCF allowed me to see the importance of the Christian community and helped me to think more seriously about my faith. As I interacted with people from different denominations, I was challenged to work through certain presumptions and perspectives that I had held when I was growing up. Therefore, when I was approached to consider staff work, it was not hard for me to see the value of working at FES, as ministering to the students and fresh graduates is a meaningful calling. In addition, I am currently pursuing a course in counselling, so working in FES will also give me an opportunity to put into practice what I am learning to hopefully bless others.
FES Financial Update and Future Projections: January to September 2022
In the past two years through the Covid-19 pandemic, FES has managed to remain financially sustainable. However, this was largely due to the generous financial support given by the government to charities and non-profits. Without that support, FES would have faced deficits along with a declining trend of giving over the past three years. FES has coped with the situation by reducing our expenses including limiting the AWS and increments for our staff workers. We have been unable to keep pace with all the inflation that is going around right now.
For the first three quarters of 2022, by God’s grace, FES has managed to remain financially sustainable despite the withdrawal of government support. However, since the end of September, FES has started to incur deficits again. Our current budget for 2022 is $1.7M. As of the end of September, we have received $1.2M in kind donations and church support. The gap now is $500,000 to cover deficits and to be able to give staff a full month of AWS along with increments to keep up with the rate of inflation.
Besides inflation, FES also needs to keep pace with the hyper-changes that are happening in the institutes of higher learning and the workforce. 2022 was the year to reconnect with as many alumni and donors as possible as we came out of all the pandemic restrictions. This coming year of 2023 will be the critical year to rebuild and reintroduce many of our key programmes and initiatives, especially in student leadership, Bible reading, and young graduate transitions. This will help us to be ready by 2024 to minister to a new generation of students and graduates.
Currently, this is how every $100 of your donation is spent in FES. But in 2023, I am hoping that more can be spent on Training and Development for our staff workers, as well as Resource and Ministry Development.
Thank you for the support you have given to FES all these years. This has been critical to sustaining student and graduate work through the difficult years of the pandemic. Now as we move out of the pandemic situation, we are looking to grow the witness of Christ on campus and seek to take the opportunities available to us as things re-open even more in 2023.
Giving to FES
To find out how you may support FES, click here.
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