Learning To Expect The Unexpected

How a student saw God at work in Ulaanbaatar through RevUp

Amanda (L) dared to be different by choosing to go on a different kind of graduation trip!

 

Amanda Young, a recent Ngee Ann Polytechnic graduate, and her team mate, Yvonne Soh, were left on their own to roam a campus in Ulaanbaatar without a local student translator. This RevUp* trip to Mongolia was not quite what they had imagined it to be.

Discouraged after 20 minutes of aimless walking, they decided to pray as they walked, hoping to start a decent spiritual conversation in English with any student.

Not long after, they approached a lady sitting alone on a bench. To their pleasant surprise, she spoke excellent English! However, their hearts soon sank as they learnt she had heard the presentation of the gospel two weeks ago and chose to remain a freethinker. Nonetheless, Amanda continued to share The Four Spiritual Laws booklet with her.

At the end of the conversation, the lady stunned both Amanda and Yvonne by deciding to acknowledge Christ as her personal Lord and Saviour!

Amanda with her newfound friends!

 

“God showed me that He can really do the impossible,” recounted Amanda, now an intern with the Campus Ministry of Cru Singapore.

“Through this experience, I learnt to expect the unexpected. Despite my skepticism, He caused a complete change of the student’s heart towards the gospel in a span of just two weeks.”

“I am humbled and thankful to be used by God in this mission trip.”

We are reminded once again that God is the God of missions whose arm is not too short to save! (Isaiah 59:1)

Be used by God to share the gospel this December! Signups for RevUp trips are now open. Registration ends on 28th September 2018.

*RevUp is the student missions initiative of Cru Singapore.

Strength in Weakness. Ambassador for Christ

Precious lessons gleaned by a millenial in full-time Christian ministry

Rebecca inspires us not only with her positivity but also, wisdom beyond her years. 

 

Millennials who join full-time Christian vocational ministry are a rare breed these days. Rebecca Kwa from Cru Singapore Campus Ministry forsook a potentially lucrative career trajectory to be a mentor for youths and young adults.

We caught up with her after a year in ministry to hear her experience thus far.

Hi Rebecca! What made you come on board Cru Singapore?

I have never imagined myself to be a full-time Christian worker actually. I was studying marketing and corporate communications in Singapore Management University (SMU) and had already decided to join a public relations (PR) agency upon graduation.

However, one night during my last internship, while staring at the computer screen, I heard God say that this would not be the path I was supposed to take. Subsequently, through my time with Him and a series of conversations and events that were not related in any ways, I saw His hand leading me towards full-time Christian vocational ministry.

How did you handle the anxiety and uncertainty that comes along with that decision?

God led me to John 6:67-69, in which the disciples responded to Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

When I read it, I felt God asking me a similar question: “After hearing my call and my words, do you want to go away? Or will you stay?” The disciples’ answer showed me that they stayed because they knew who Jesus was, even though the decision to stay was not a popular one. That knowledge of Christ’s identity and character became their source of confidence and strength, giving them enough assurance to say “yes” to what Jesus was asking them to do.

When that realisation hit me, a supernatural peace overwhelmed my heart. I knew that God was giving me the assurance that I can trust Him as I respond in obedience to what He was asking me to do.

Family support is vital for all Cru staff!

 

Could you share with us one significant outreach encounter you’ve had the past year?

Sure! During a campus-witnessing session in Nanyang Technological University (NTU), my colleague and I met a Mandarin-speaking lady who was waiting for her husband.

She was not a student, but she happened to be studying for an external English test. Although she was not a believer then, she was extremely open and started asking us questions about the Christian faith. We ended up inviting her for an evangelistic bible study which she happily agreed to.

During the first session, language proved to be an issue where both of us struggled to translate our points accurately. After the session however, as we chatted, she actually thanked us for reaching out and befriending her.

She struggled with finding the words to say, and ended up writing “I feel like I meet God” on the paper before giving us one of the most genuine and sincere smiles I’ve ever seen.

That moment stuck with me because the truth that God really uses us in our weaknesses truly hit home. It was also the first time I felt the honour and privilege of what it means to be an ambassador for Christ. Our interactions with others truly have the ability to point people to Him. It’s amazing how God can use our simple actions to reveal Himself in ways that we may not even grasp.

Thank you for reminding us that encouraging someone today is simply taking the initiative to step out in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the outcome to God! Lastly, could you share with us one lesson that you have learnt that will help other young Christian workers in Cru, parachurch organisations or churches? 

One lesson which I hold dearly to comes from an article I read, “The best thing you can do for those you are serving is to abide in Christ”. Although I’ve only been in full-time ministry for a year, I have to admit that there were many instances where my focus subconsciously shifted away from Christ, as ironic as it sounds.

I’m referring to the times where I find myself thinking that the best thing I can do for my disciples is to understand them more, or meet them more, or bring them out to evangelise more. Without realising, my focus shifted to what I can do for Christ instead of what Christ can do through me.

The lesson is clear in John 15, “without Me, you can do nothing”. This is a verse we often remember in situations where we really can do nothing. However, in situations where something can be done, we are also often tempted to shift the focus away from Him and take things into our own hands.

Rebecca having fun mentoring the NTU disciples!

 

Through this, I’ve learnt that the ministry belongs to God more than it belongs to us. Indeed, the best thing we can do for our disciples is to abide in Christ, and let Him be the one to do His work through our lives.

 We’re encouraged by your journey, Rebecca, and our prayer for you and all our young staff workers is for each of you to find fulfilment in Christ and experience deep joy while serving the Lord!

To explore opportunities with Cru Singapore, simply drop us a note at hr@cru.org.sg.

 

 

Living Uni Life to the Fullest with Less on Your Plate

New beginnings, new opportunities


The late American poet and author, Sylvia Plath, wrote in her controversial novel, The Bell Jar, “I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.”

As a eighteen-year-old about to enter into NTU, I could relate. I was eager to milk my university education for all it was worth. Like Plath’s character in The Bell Jar, I wanted to participate in the whole spectrum of human life experiences out there. I didn’t do very well for my “A” level examinations and my co-curricular activity (CCA) record in junior college wasn’t particularly outstanding either. When I entered university, I was very determined to see all that change. Beginning my university education was pretty much like being given a fresh clean slate to start over. That ex-co position, that internship, that volunteering opportunity – I was setting my sights on all these things. I didn’t want to graduate feeling like I had shortchanged myself by not trying out all the options available to me.

The array of options offered was dizzying but I didn’t want to miss out on having a “fulfilling” university life.

If there was one thing that presented at least some of those opportunities to try my hand at something new, it was definitely the annual CCA fair. Being at the CCA fair during my first week of school was like standing in line for a never-ending buffet of possibilities. I took every single flyer handed out to me and pored over each one. I lost count of the number of booths where I’d given my name and number. The array of options offered was dizzying but I didn’t want to miss out on having a “fulfilling” university life – or lose out and have a sad, paltry resume. When I had looked through all my options, I had shortlisted and eventually joined the following:

  • my residential hall’s publications committee as a reporter (I needed those elusive participation points so that I could secure a place in hall next year)
  • the Red Cross (I had a first aid certificate that was in need of a renewal, so why not?)
  • the Lindy Hop club (a new skill always comes in handy), and
  • my school’s talent time sub-committee (I got roped in by a friend I just met – how could I say “no”?).

Oh, and I topped off my already-packed schedule with ad-hoc volunteering at plays and charity sales. The thought of my CV taking shape made me feel slightly delirious, as a freshman. Thankfully, by God’s grace, I managed to survive my freshman year, get a decent GPA and still not burn out from maintaining such a crazy schedule. It felt so gratifying to know that I could do well academically but still manage all those commitments. But at the end of my first year, He brought me to the realization that I couldn’t continue living like this. Not only was this way of living unsustainable in the long run, I came to see that my schedule revolved around me – and not God. I hadn’t cared to seek Him in planning my schedule and in deciding whether to take up or decline responsibilities. God wasn’t just not at the centre of my planning and decision-making; He wasn’t even factored in at all. As a long-time yet spiritually immature Christian, I had absolutely no concept of what it meant to seek God and His agenda above my own.

I sugar-coated my actions, trying to assure myself that there was nothing wrong with wanting to make the most of my time at university. Not only that, I learnt that my packed-to-the-brim schedule was symptomatic of my own insecurities. Being able to pack my schedule and still handle all my commitments gave me a sense of self-worth and validation. I sugar-coated my actions, trying to assure myself that there was nothing wrong with wanting to make the most of my time at university.

The greatest potential to glorify God

Before my second year of university rolled around, I prayed and asked God to help me in choosing my modules for the new semester. Though it sounded silly and insignificant to bring up something like module selection in my prayers, I knew that no matter was too trivial to commit to my Heavenly Father.

With each new semester in university, I would keep praying and seeking God on how I should organize my schedule.

Which module should I pick, Lord? Should I take up this responsibility to serve? Would agreeing to this research assistantship allow me to have the time to do the things You want me to do?

I kept pressing on to take up only the things that God was leading me to, and saying difficult “no’s” to others. For example, I had worked as a research assistant for a professor during the holidays and the offer to continue working for her when school started sounded enticing. As much as I knew this would pave the way for a future research career and that I’d have extra cash from being an RA, I knew that I didn’t have the capacity to manage this. I wouldn’t be able to handle my heavy school workload, serve in ministry and do a decent job for my professor.

God was so faithful. As He expanded my capacity and I got entrusted with greater responsibilities in my third and final years, He allowed every one of my commitments to fall into place. Yes, I still struggled with these responsibilities from time to time, but I could say that I never hit serious burnout. I still had time to rest, spend time being involved in evangelism and discipleship, and still had time to focus on my core priorities as a student.

A lesson that I learnt – and advice that I’ve been dispensing to juniors ever since – is that a well thought-out schedule has the greatest potential to glorify God. And by “a well thought-out schedule”, I don’t mean being an over-planner and mapping out every single area of your life goals and plans. I came to see that desiring to have this schedule meant that I would be willing to recalibrate my life priorities to His will and do only the things God was leading me to do.

It meant that I had sufficient time for physical and spiritual rest.

A well thought-out schedule has the greatest potential to glorify God And it also meant that my choices weren’t squeezing out my time with God as well as my priority to hang out with my family and friends. I knew that though I had taken on multiple responsibilities, these were things that God had led me to, and that I didn’t have to worry about the possibility of conflicting priorities in my schedule.

Lastly, it meant that I was able to undertake each commitment with joy and an attitude of love. Because I was well-rested enough and convicted by God that this should be on my plate, I was in a good position to give of my best and serve God in every activity with the right heart motivations. I recently gave counsel to a younger girl who was burning out from managing too many commitments. I drew a really helpful principle from best-seling author Lysa Terkeurst’s The Best Yes: “… doing [an] activity without an attitude of love would not reflect God’s love… My attitude of love must trump my activity every time.” One could be engaging in a potentially God-glorifying task such as volunteering at a shelter or serving in church even, but not with the love that Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 13.

A general rule of thumb

I eventually dropped all my commitments that I had as a freshman, joined Cru and stuck with that for my next three years of university life. I knew high-achiever friends who could do just about anything, but I realized I wasn’t designed to accomplish many things all at once. I’ve found these helpful in guiding me (as well as others) in making decisions about their commitments:

  • Am I praying and seeking first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness?
  • Am I submitting to the Lordship of Christ and letting my desires and ambitions be subordinated by His plans? Is what I’m planning to do going to count in God’s eternal scheme of things?
  • Do I have the time, energy and capacity to handle whatever commitment that is being offered to me?
  • If so, am I undertaking this commitment with an attitude of love for God and the people I’m serving?
  • Am I being a good steward of my time or am I frittering time away?

Taking hold of the life that is truly life

Yes, I’m horribly limited and I might not have laid hold of all the experiences I’d want to have. And true, the world will continue to measure me by how substantial my CV is. I’ve often been lured into the trap of thinking that the most fulfilling life is defined by how much I’ve accomplished.

Jesus, however, calls me to a way of living that’s different from what the world extols. He declared that He came and died for me that I might have abundant life (John 10:10). This life isn’t about setting our minds on earthly things (Colossians 3:2) and striving to store up treasures here as though God isn’t clued in on our needs (Matthew 6:20, 32). It’s a life of peace, restedness and joy that comes from knowing and walking obediently with Him. I can, therefore, rest in the knowledge that I just need to faithfully pursue what God has led me to do – not more, not less.

And that’ll be enough for me.