Perpective Special Edition
A Curious Case of Uncultivated and Vulnerable Ground
Then Samuel… named it Ebenezer; for he said, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” (1 Sam. 7:12, NRSV). Just a few months ago, in Perspective March 2019, I wrote that 2019 is to be the “Fallow Year” for FES Singapore – a year of rest and celebration, replenishment and listening.
My journey in Varsity Christian Fellowship (VCF) began in 1953, the year I entered university to study medicine. I had converted just before entering university. My choice of study was due in part to the influence of various doctors who were both strong Christians and very good in medicine.
My first encounter with campus fellowship started even before I entered the university. In 1962 Dr Choong Chee Pang, then Nanyang University Christian Fellowship (NUCF) member, encouraged and managed to persuade a few Chinese-speaking youth like me to attend the FES Annual Conference at Port Dickson. Little did I realise that the conference paved the way for my life-long involvement and conviction in student ministry.
When I entered Singapore Polytechnic, I was a new Christian. Converted in 1972, I was enthusiastic to join PCF, which also underwent a spiritual revival at that time. During my time, PCF had three subcommittees taking care of three SP campuses: Ayer Rajah Campus (ARC), Princess Mary Campus (PMC), and Prince Edward Campus (PEC).
My time as a student in VCF was one of much learning and spiritual growth. While a good deal of that growth and mutual learning came through interaction with my peers in VCF, FES staffworkers at the time, Thomas John and Chng Guat Eng, greatly influenced me as well. It was in my time in student ministry that I felt the call of the Lord to serve him in missions, and VCF helped me see the mission field among students.
I became a believer at a Billy Graham Crusade in 1978 and subsequently joined a Brethren church. I grew up with Brethren ways of worship and church life, and this reality formed the contours of my Christian world. One can only imagine my initial surprise when through VCF, I was acquainted with other Christian traditions and met fellow believers who expressed their faith in different ways.
It is often said that the true impact of CF can only be seen in the way students lead their lives upon graduation. Here are the stories of two graduates who, having grasped their Christian identity in an integral perspective in their CF days, chose the road less travelled in their journeys as teachers in public education.
Daniel Bourdanné served as the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students’ (IFES) General Secretary since 2007. He stepped down as the GS at the IFES World Assembly 2019, which took place in South Africa from 3 to 11 July 2019. As the outgoing GS, Daniel delivered this final address and exhortation for the future of student work at the closing session of the World Assembly.