My First Month as the FES General Secretary (GS Letter Jan 2021)
Hello there. I am Jeremiah and this has been my first month being the new FES General Secretary. I joined FES in 2009 and started my first three years as the campus staff worker for SMU Diaspora, SIM SCF, NUS VCF Hostels, and helping in the Communications Team. For the next three years, I became the NTU CF staff worker until 2015 when I took a sabbatical and study leave to finish a Master of Divinity at Regent College, Vancouver. When I returned in 2018, I was staff worker with VCF and JCUS CF. I was also heading the English Section and Communications Team in 2019 and 2020.
One of my most formative experiences came when I was a student in NUS from 2003-2008. I entered university with the basic Christian question: What is God doing in my life? It was a question that kept growing as I took on various leadership roles and responsibilities in VCF and FES. When I attended the CGL training as a CGL from the Science faculty along with all the other faulty and hostel CGLs, I realised that the Christian presence in NUS was much bigger than I imagined, and the pertinent question then was: How is God at work in NUS through VCF? When I was the VCF Exco Chairperson in my final year and represented Singapore at the 2007 World Assembly in Canada along with the other 100 IFES movements, the question of greatest concern then was: How is God at work through the students in Singapore? This constant enlarging of God’s ministry has shaped my understanding from my faith in God to God’s faithfulness to His work around the world.
In Acts 2:42-45, we commonly emphasise the more practical activity of faithful believers: from their devotion to teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread, to have all things in common, and to have no one in need. But just as critical is the lengthy record from the Parthians to Egyptians to Arabs in Acts 2:5-12 who hear of God’s deeds of power in their own languages. It is this context of diversity that magnifies the solidarity of the fellowship later. It is this same sense of fellowship which I have regularly experienced in my days with FES and which continues to excite me as students fellowship with one another across campuses, cultures, and languages; to witness to and share God’s deeds of power.
I believe that embracing this work of fellowship carries on the excellent leadership of Lisman and Yvonne. Many people have referenced the goodwill that has been built by them over their ten years of leadership. I desire to continue this work of gathering and re-gathering everyone who has been involved in our student ministries in some form or another. This is to affirm the support you have given to FES all these years to help sustain the work and to encourage your continued commitment to student ministry. As I have mentioned Lisman and Yvonne, they will continue to play important roles in the ministry. Lisman will focus on staff development as part of the IFES East Asia Regional Staff Team, and Yvonne will lead the FES Engagement Team to research on and respond to long-term strategic needs for our campuses, churches, and our graduates in society.
As far as transitions go, the quiet stability built by Lisman for the past ten years has made this transition less challenging than transitions could be. My critical concern this past month has been to reconvene a new Leadership Team, and gather the FES Staff Team to get 2021 off to a good start! But as far as this new year has been, it still feels like 2020 for many of the students and staff workers, not least because most of them are right in the middle of their academic year. Moreover, some students will have spent their first year of tertiary education, such a formative time of their lives, learning and socialising primarily through the screen. However, several campuses and CFs have begun to do a hybrid form of ministry which involves physical and digital experiences. There are implications of this for the future of student ministry that I am eager to share more about soon.
For now, I wish to mark my first month as a month of gratitude: for the many years of dedicated support by our graduates and alumni; for the commitment to student ministry by the FES Council; and for the resilient work by the staff workers, students, and student leaders, particularly through the turbulent year of 2020. May we continue to be found faithful by God and faithful in His ways and His Word.