Impetus (October 2023)
What Shall We Do About Biblical Literacy?
Since 2022, FES started two key initiatives to minister to our two key communities – student leaders and young graduates. We launched the Leaders’ Party as part of our ongoing efforts to be intentional in developing wholistic Christlike leaders of the future in character and competencies as well as providing for the future leadership of the church and society. Additionally, as part of FES and GCF’s efforts to develop graduates who will be effective salt and light in the workplace and society, the Graduation Party was initiated. But this is not all that FES has been doing. All our platforms and programmes are undergirded by the missional and biblical ethos that has been present throughout FES since its foundation in 1959. I will briefly mention two other initiatives that the FES staff have embarked on these past couple of years to establish a consistent ministry experience for all students and graduates.
Last year, all the ministry staff went through the IFES e-learning course Engaging the University (ETU) as one staff team. ETU is an IFES global priority that takes seriously the place and purpose of the campus, from campus life to faculty to research, as part of student ministry. This belief was shared by FES when we first published the monograph Engaging the Campus in 2014. The staff team went through the course and discussed what it means to witness wholistically on campus and to develop new skills and tools for effective campus engagement. Many of us have fond memories of our missions programmes like MEET, and CF projects like Project Gratitude. Engaging the Campus is a furtherance of this missional spirit that takes seriously its mission to witness Christ to all students in the institutes of higher learning (IHLs).
This year, all the ministry staff are going through Scripture Engagement, another IFES global priority and e-learning course that takes God’s Word seriously. FES has always been committed to sound understanding, interpretation, and teaching of Scripture through our programmes like Inductive Bible Study (IBS) and Bible Reading (BR). Many of us will remember fondly the Bible study programmes that have inspired us to appreciate the Word of God so much more and the many ways that God speaks in and to His world and His people. Scripture Engagement is a furtherance of this biblical spirit of FES that takes God’s Word seriously and the staff team is now dedicating renewed efforts to share and declare this spirit to all students and graduates from the IHLs.
- Student camps: Three years on from COVID-19, it seems student and CF life have returned to a semblance of routine. Many CFs are having camps this coming November, December, and January. While many restarted camps last year, much of the concern was over logistics and safety because pandemic restrictions were still in place. This year, the concerns revolve around rebuilding the CF identity that has diminished since the pandemic years. Pray that all our CF camps and events organised this year-end will help rebuild and reestablish the community and identity of believers called to be witnesses to the campuses.
- Financial sustainability: FES has accumulated a $40K deficit as of the end of the third quarter but this is a more unstable and uncertain economic and political climate than last year. We have started the Legacy Fund to address more long-term issues of FES development and sustainability, but we still need support for our immediate and short-term needs. Please pray and consider supporting FES to address these needs. More in the Financial Update below.
News and Updates
Leaders’ Party 2023: The Finale
The final part of the FES Leaders’ Party was held from 1 to 2 September 2023 with 51 student leaders from 19 CF ministries gathering at Trinity Theological College for this event. This second and final party (the first party was held from 13–14 May) was an opportunity for our leaders to pause from their planning and running of the CF to recalibrate their purpose and motivations in serving as leaders, as well as reflect on their leadership experience thus far. The key elements of this final Party were:
- Fellowship of Eccentric Sojourners: The Chronicles of Student Ministry, a video podcast (or vodcast) to relaxedly converse on student ministry happenings locally and share stories from the recent IFES World Assembly.
- The 4Rs: Recall, Review, Reflect, Refresh, a time to regather, refresh their memory of their prior party learnings as well as share their leadership experience.
- Leadership Quest: Examine Your World explores the possibilities within student ministry as a community of leaders while sharing their struggles, and situating their ministry within the wider context of campus, church, and the global student ministry.
- Sent-Out!, a commissioning service for the student leaders.
Below, several student leaders offer their reflections on their final party experience, as well as FES Learn, which is an equipping channel over the learning platform Moodle.
Fellowship of Eccentric Sojourners
The 2023 Leaders’ Party was an eye-opener for me. It was quite amazing to see FES having their very own vodcast through Zoom. Viewing the vodcast was truly an interesting experience and it has helped me better understand the various student events in FES, such as the World Student Day and World Assembly. All these are great opportunities to witness FES working within the wider student ministry community. Such initiatives are also fantastic avenues for students to actively participate in communities and activities on a more global scale. Furthermore, it was an inspiring experience for me to listen to other panellists share their leadership journeys, and hear their stories of why they decided to serve (and lead) in the ministry. I am reminded to read more to broaden my horizons as well as to pray for each other so that we may be accountable to one another until Christ returns.
– Lim Si Ya NP CCF, Early Childhood Development and Education Year 2
Being a leader is more of a process and journey rather than an end goal of becoming someone ‘perfect’ to lead others. The various stations in the Quest allowed me to see other student leaders like myself, who have embarked on this journey full of uncertainties and the unexpected, while still trusting that God has placed each of us in our schools to do his work and engage his people.
The Surmounting Struggles Summit ‘realm’ was particularly helpful because we had to find clues for a ‘real-life’ case study on leaders facing struggles, such as burnout. Recently I have been finding it challenging to keep up with the workload of being in the Exco and thought that it was a problem that only I was facing. It was encouraging, however, to know that the other leaders were facing similar issues yet they continued to press on, taking delight in the help and support they received from the people God placed around them. As such, it helped me view my situation from a more positive perspective and give thanks for what I have.
– Shalom Lau, SIM SCF, Data Science, and Business Analytics, Year 3
A distinctive of the CF is to be church-oriented. As an incoming National Student Council leader, I invited one of my church leaders to witness the commissioning service. I’m immensely grateful for his presence and unwavering support. His guidance and prayers have already played an important role in steering my journey towards God’s purpose for our campus. This connection has strengthened my sense of belonging to both the church and the CF.
In his address, the FES Chairman Mr Reuben Ang shared Psalm 100 to emphasise the connection between service and worship to the Lord. He stressed that service is both a command and an opportunity to serve with joyful hearts. Yet, he acknowledged that the path of leadership will have inevitable challenges. Mr Ang’s words served as a reminder that God remains in control, and is unwavering in his faithfulness. As the poly leaders look ahead to the final semester, I’m excited to see what God has in store for the CF. My prayer is that we hold fast to Jesus and keep in mind his enduring goodness and unwavering faithfulness.
– Ashley Tan, NP CF, Community Development, Year 2
When I explored the modules, especially during the initial weeks of my Exco’s formation, I was reminded about the importance of having the same vision, goals, and directions, as well as working together for God and not for ourselves. With this mindset, we strived to focus on God’s will despite all the obstacles blocking our paths. Indeed, it is such a leadership and team-building style that resembles Jesus’.
Taking up these courses allowed me to have a shift in my understanding and attitude toward leadership. I learned more about developing myself through a growth mindset and that failures are stepping stones to reach the greater good. Even as I stumble upon obstacles, I am reminded that God is with us and empowers us to rise confidently to reflect and reorient ourselves toward God and the future that lies ahead.
Another learning unit that I found very beneficial was defining boundaries. The courses made me realise that I am not to intervene in matters that I have no authority upon. But with the help of new knowledge, reflection, and encouragement, I have been blessed with improved leadership and decision-making skills. Thank you, FES! Soli Deo Gloria!
– Luc Anthonny Vanjoo, NTU ISCF, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Year 4
Sowing Seeds, Lasting Impact
This year’s GCF Annual Thanksgiving Dinner was held on 15 September at the NUSS Kent Ridge Guild House. About 160 people, consisting of members of GCF, graduates of FES, friends of FES and GCF, students, and staff, gathered for this time of fellowship. The main highlight of the evening’s programme was the launching of the FES-GCF Legacy Fund which is a long-term fund created to remember the legacies left behind by former student leaders and staff workers such as Dr Bobby Sng and Dr Choong Chee Pang, who dedicated their lives and their career to student and graduate work. As FES and GCF staff workers play a critical role in the faith development of students and graduates in the universities and polytechnics, there must be proper investment in the staff workers to sustain them for effective ministry in the long term. To read more on how we can sow seeds to make a lasting impact for the sake of our future generations through the FES-GCF Legacy Fund, refer to the section below on this, or go to https://legacy.fellowship.sg/
Is There a New Mission for Youth and Young Adults?
FES, in partnership with GoForth (the national missions movement in Singapore) organised a joint National Conference (NC) for youths and young adults (15–35 years old) on Saturday, 30 September, from 9:00 am to 1:30 pm. Held at Trinity Theological College (TTC), this conference saw a total of 81 participants, of which 59 are our CF students, graduates and staff workers and 22 are from the Christian public, come together to explore whether there is a new mandate and mission for youths and young adults in this world of hyperchange.
The conference began with a keynote address by Dr Andrew Peh, lecturer in mission and world religions at TTC, followed by a panel discussion. The participants then attended one of the five workshops offered, namely “The Influence of Adulting on Missions” by Mr Vincent Lim, “The Influence of Pop Culture on Missions” by Dr Justin Lee, “The Influence of Digitalisation on Missions” by Ms Pauline Phoon, “The Influence of Plenty on Missions” by Mr Chng Eu-Lee, and “The Influence of the Future on Missions” by Rev. Dr Nathanael Goh. Below, two of our CFers share their takeaway from this NC.
This being my first time attending an FES NC, I came with no expectations. Nevertheless, it has been an enjoyable experience with many learning points, particularly from the keynote speaker and the panellists during the panel discussion. Dr Andrew Peh presented a simple yet powerful talk on “Theology of Mission”. This is a form of theology that hasn’t been given its proper weight. How many of us have heard of the missiological study of the Bible or missional hermeneutics? It serves as a reminder to us to see that mission is deeply ingrained in the purpose of the Bible and in each of the different books.
The panel discussion was more like a sharing of how the idea of mission has evolved in the lives of each panellist. I remember one panellist mentioning how he used to view mission as something that only takes place in regions where Christianity was a minority religion. However, this idea was challenged by the realities that he faced and how he realised that missions mean a lot more than just “saving souls” in those non-Christian places. This event provided us with a renewed understanding of missions and, hopefully, a greater zeal for it.
– Michael Hadisusanto Chatox, NUS ISCF, Mechanical Engineering, Year 4
As the emphasis of this NC was particularly on youths in the polytechnics and universities, I felt the conversation was especially relevant to my peers and me as it examined the definition of mission and how students can fulfil it even on our campuses. This was shown significantly through the panel discussion, where speakers with distinctly diverse portfolios explored this issue of a new mission for youths and young adults. As the dialogue involved academic and personal interpretations of the matter, it enabled a closer analysis of how youths and young adults can carry out our mission by utilising and not disregarding our unique position as students on campus which resonated with me.
I attended the workshop “The Influence of the Future on Missions” by Rev. Dr Nathaneal Goh, which tackled the concern of sustaining missions in this turbulent world of unprecedented crises. My primary takeaway from the workshop was how we should restructure our point of view on this issue to see missions as a constant that will persevere despite an uncertain future and consider how missions can influence such a future instead. The workshop also discussed practical recommendations as individuals in managing this matter by being mindful of the habits we form through our daily interactions, for instance, learning ‘over accepting’ in conversations by not just saying ‘no’ or ‘yes’ in a conversation but accepting and then attempting to re-contextualise the situation with a fresh mindset through a mission perspective.
– Evangeline Foo, NP ECF, Early Childhood Development & Education, Year 2
FES Financial Update: January to September 2023
This is the first full year since the COVID-19 pandemic and the ministry has largely returned to routine. However, there has been a significant increase in our budget this year because of the need to travel overseas for conferences and events, and the rapid onset of inflation. For the first three quarters of 2023, FES managed to remain sustainable due to generous donations from senior donors. However, since the end of September, FES has started to incur deficits again. This mirrors the situation from 2022 where FES incurred the same amount of deficit at the beginning of September.
Our budget for 2023 is $1.9M. As of the end of September, we have received $1.3M in kind donations and church support. The gap now is $600K to cover deficits and to be able to give staff a full month of AWS along with adequate increments to keep up with the rate of inflation. Unfortunately, we have not been able to match inflation rates for the staff team for 2022.
On 15 September 2023, we launched the FES-GCF Legacy Fund. The Legacy Fund has specific aims, which can be read in the section below, is meant to be a strategic long-term fund to support needs such as lifelong learning and career development for FES and GCF staff workers. Currently, we still need support for our day-to-day operation expenses and short-term sustainability.
We expect that things will only get more expensive in the coming years. Yet we are trying our best to rebuild the organisation sustainably and to develop new key programmes and initiatives such as those mentioned in the GS Letter: Leaders Party, Graduation Party, Engaging the Campus and Engaging Scripture. This will help us to be ready by 2024 to minister to a new generation of students and graduates.
Thank you again for all the support you have given to FES all these years. I hope that you will prayerfully consider continuing to support us in the work of witnessing Christ on campus and developing the next generation of student leaders and graduates for campus, church, and society.
For information on how to give to FES, go to https://fellowship.sg/participate/support-us/
For the witness of Christ on campus,
FES General Secretary
The FES-GCF Legacy Fund
The FES-GCF Legacy Fund is a long-term fund created to remember the legacies left behind by those who dedicated their lives and their career as staff workers to student and graduate work, such as Dr Bobby Sng and Dr Choong Chee Pang. It continues to this day that the FES and GCF staff workers play a critical role in the faith development of students and graduates in the universities and polytechnics. It is essential that there is proper investment in the staff workers to sustain them for effective ministry in the long term. As such, this Legacy Fund is all about the sustainability of FES and GCF staff workers in three ways.
Sustainability in Learning. The world is changing at such a rapid pace and the staff need to keep up with learning. Yet even as living costs have risen, so has learning costs. There is also the need for staff to acquire new skills and competencies for modern ministry by fully embracing lifelong learning for themselves. The Legacy Fund is meant to provide FES and GCF staff workers with more learning opportunities to acquire new capabilities that will be critical to ensure the long-term sustainability of FES and GCF for a new generation.
Sustainability in Career. Time is needed for staff to gain the experience and wisdom that is necessary for organisational leadership and sustainability. Yet staff will begin to feel many pressures once they stay in ministry beyond three years as more life considerations come in. It is a challenge for staff to consider ministering long enough to develop the necessary experience and wisdom for effective leadership. The Legacy Fund is meant to enable staff to stay longer in student and graduate ministry and to consider it as a viable long-term career thereby enabling FES and GCF greater leadership sustainability.
Sustainability in Ministry. There have been unpredictable times when FES and GCF have faced financial uncertainties and have had to divert attention from ministry to crisis fundraising for the staff. The Legacy Fund is meant to provide a responsive source of funds for these situational needs to ensure that the ministry will continue without undue disruption.
“Over the years we have seen growth in many areas of the movement. For example, there was no full-time staff worker
at the beginning. A few dedicated part-time workers were on the job. The first staff worker was appointed in 1963.
The full complement of staff workers is now thirteen. In no small measure, it was the staff
who formed the backbone of the FES in giving continuity of purpose and general direction of goals.”
– Dr Chew Pin Kee, Chairman of FES Council (1960–1963) in FES 25th Anniversary
Commemorative Magazine (1984)
Will you join us to be part of this effort to ensure the continuity of the ministry to students and graduates?
To learn more about the Legacy Fund and find out how to give, go to https://legacy.fellowship.sg/about-legacy-fund
If you have any inquiries about the FES-GCF Legacy Fund, or about FES and GCF student and graduate work, please get in touch!
Email: email@example.com Phone: +65 6338 3665
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