GS Letter November 2018
Recently I bumped into an anonymous quote that set me thinking: “Every life is a story. Make yours a best seller.”
I have no qualms with the first sentence. I am truly convinced that every person is unique – with different talents and interests, diverse ethnic backgrounds, and personal experiences. Before God, each one of us is special, “fearfully and wonderfully made”, and “all the days ordained for [us] were written in [his] book” (Psalms 139:14,16).
Though we each have a unique story to tell, I believe, as disciples of Christ, the intent of our life story is not to make it a best seller, where many people will “buy”, read, remember, talk about it, or even give praise or admiration to it, like how a best-selling book is usually treated. It should be exactly the opposite.
Reflecting on the life of D E Hoste who succeeded Hudson Taylor as leader of the China Inland Mission, Patrick Fung wrote: “He [Hoste] lived to be forgotten in order that Christ might be remembered.” To this, Ajith Fernando also commented: “[Hoste] was determined that his name and reputation would be subsumed under the desire to see Jesus get all the honour for everything.” And consequently, Timothy Keller reflected: “[towards our life] it is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less.”
Hence, we must live to be forgotten and think of ourselves less, so Christ is remembered and thus is given all the honour.
I often observe the above motives and expressions in the life and work of our staff. I may represent the FES ministry to students, graduates, church leaders and supporters as they often see me and my writing in various FES events or publications. However, behind the scenes, the staff team does the real work and bears the heavier burdens.
The ministry staff are important as they are in positions of influence – being at the frontline, reaching and discipling students. The support staff (like admin, finance, communications and resource) have essential roles to ensure ministry staff are empowered to do their functions well. In many occasions, I can testify that they work selflessly and wholeheartedly, in their respective roles, without much publicity or recognition. Sometimes, they even bear adverse remarks or ridicule from some who may not really understand what they are doing this for.
I trust that their hearts echo the hymn Margaret Clarkson wrote in 1954:
So send I you: to labour unrewarded,
To serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown.
To bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing
So send I you, to toil for Me alone.
To this cause, I am personally committed to ensure that we take care of their welfare adequately and responsibly. Every year, we have been trying to give the equivalent of one month’s pay as our annual so-called Christmas Gift or 13th month bonus. Technically, it is called Annual Wages Schemes (AWS). To do so, we need to raise close to $110,000 for our staff team of 28. For the past few years, we had to dip into our reserves to meet the shortfall from donations.
Prayerfully consider this appeal as one expression we can show to our staff that as they “live to be forgotten so Christ might be remembered”, we recognise the glory of Christ being illumined through the work they have done. You can indicate in your cheque, PayNow, or standing instruction “For Staff AWS” and we will administer it accordingly. Please refer to https://fessingapore.org/participate/support-us/for specific details on how to support us.
In His grace,
FES General Secretary