07 Nov GS Letter November 2019
It is November again. From year to year this is the typical month when I appeal before you to consider giving more to FES especially towards the Annual Wages Scheme (AWS) for our staff. As I planned what to write this year, I was struck with a deep melancholy. A small voice within me was lamenting: “Why must I write this similar appeal each year? Why can’t our Lord, who is Jehovah Jireh, generously and miraculously provide for this need?”
Unsurprisingly, the above emotion has clouded my mind as well. I was unable to find any novel way to articulate this need in writing. It is as if all means has been exhausted. Here are some glimpses of what has been written in the past three years.
GS Letter (Nov. 2016): fund raising as shared responsibilities of FES council and staff
At FES, the responsibility of raising financial support for our ministry, including staff salaries, is shared by the FES Council/Board and staff. Our staff are encouraged to share the ministry’s needs with alumni as well as their church leaders. We are grateful that the local church support for our ministry has increased, with 20% of our income coming from them compared to a mere 8% eight years ago.
At the same time, the FES Council, with the working committees from the three ministry sections (English, Chinese and Indonesian), will rally support from their respective alumni. We are heartened to see that almost 70% of the financial support we have received comes from our own graduates – though only half of those are giving regularly on a monthly basis. The other half gives one-time contributions or on an ad-hoc basis.
GS Letter (Nov. 2017): on the sacrifices our staff have made
In my conversations with our staff, I often ask them why they still choose to work and serve in FES despite the lack of financial gains and security. One of them shared this with me:
… “Deciding to work and serve in FES did not come easy. There were some other job offers with more lucrative financial gains back then. However, after having calculated all the risks and costs involved, I decided with a clear mind of what is to come. I will not expect a luxurious and comfortable life, but instead I look forward to see God’s provision is sufficient in all times.”
GS Letter (Nov. 2018): on living to be forgotten
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.
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.
However, to stop me from continuing in this state of lament, the Spirit exhorts me with a gentle but apt reminder, saying “Didn’t all the previous appeals end with all our needs being sufficiently met? Didn’t the whole process of asking, help me to put my trust in God alone and not in people or systems?” The answers are all “yes, it did” – I know for sure. Jehovah Jireh is not a slogan; we have seen and experienced His provision from year to year.
To the above realisation, I am personally recommitted to ensure that our staff will get the equivalent of one month’s pay as their AWS. To do so, this year we need to raise close to $130,000 for our staff team of 32. If the Lord moves you to participate in this campaign, kindly indicate in your cheque, PayNow, or standing instruction “For Staff AWS”. Do refer to https://fellowship.sg/participate/support-us/for more specific details on how to support us.
Lastly, allow me to repeat Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians that his appeal to be generous is not to put pressure on one and to bring relief to others, but more of the principle of fair balance of those who are in abundance and those who are in need. Let us look forward to the outcome we all long to see, as stated in the following verse:
“The one who had much did not have too much,
and the one who had little did not have too little.”
2 Corinthians 8:15, NRSV
In His grace,
FES General Secretary