I just came back (it’s now 2am Sunday morning) from Easter service at City Harvest Church and a night out with my friend’s CHC cell group. As I write I’m still full of awe and praise towards God for what has happened in the past 9 hours or so! A bit of background first…
As some of you know, I’ve been teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) for just under a month at a private Business School. I got into this field for basically one reason. I hope to do missions in future and teaching English as a foreign or second language is in great demand throughout the world – especially in the mission field where I hope to use this skill to earn a living and reach out to the lost.
When I was in Perth last year, I saw the amazing potential that teaching ESL had in reaching out to the lost in the developed world. And I knew that I wanted to do that in Singapore. The context in Australia and Singapore is different. In Australia, there’s a lot of opportunities to reach out to those on Working Holiday visas. Many churches give free English classes to these people and reach out to them through that. The English classes aren’t just a source of free English lessons but also a place to meet other foreigners and get any help from the teachers there.
In Singapore, you don’t have foreigners coming here on one-year Working Holiday visas. Rather, you have a lot of people from Asia who come here to study in schools. For those who come here to study in Primary or Secondary school, they would be able to integrate into Singapore society. However, many also come here for their University education and go to private schools that offer degrees from Western Universities. Before they are able to start their University studies, however, they normally have to go through English lessons to get their English level up to standard. A lot of these students are of course from China, but there are many also from Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam. And I think most of of them do not integrate that well into Singapore society. This is because their English is not very good. And a lot of private schools have students which consist mainly of foreigners. The places these foreigners live (especially the hostels) are also filled with foreign students. The result is that these foreigners tend to mix around with other foreigners – and thus most likely will not come into contact with Singaporean Christians.
There is thus a great need to reach out to these foreign students. And of course, the ideal person to reach out to such students are ESL teachers. And so this is what I wanted to do while being an ESL teacher in Singapore. I loved teaching. And I loved interacting with youth. I think I can relate to them well and am able to build up a good rapport with them. And I put a lot of effort in my teaching because I want to be the best teacher I can to help my students.
I invited my students to City Harvest for its 5:30pm Saturday Easter service. I didn’t invite them to New Creation because it didn’t have any special service and I knew that New Creation didn’t have the community to be able to reach out to them. I wanted a community of people that would be able to befriend them, make them feel welcome, reach out to them and follow up with them. I had a good friend in City Harvest and had visited his cell before. I knew that they would be a community that would be able to reach out to them. One thing I love about City Harvest is their strong cell community. New Creation sorely lacks this.
On Thursday, about 12 students said they would meet me for the service. I didn’t expect all 12 to come because something always crops up! But somehow as I prayed, I prayed for 11 to come. I thought that was perhaps a bit unrealistic, but I wanted to believe God for that. In the end, 11 of my students came and 1 of them brought a hostel mate of hers. In all, 9 mainland Chinese students and 3 Vietnamese attended the service.
The Easter drama was moving at times. I didn’t watch the beginning because I was waiting for some friends who came late. But the part where Christ was crucified was very good. I was glad for my Chinese students that the drama and the sermon by Pastor Kong were in both English and Chinese so they would understand what’s going on. However, I wasn’t too happy with the sermon as I thought the gospel presentation was extremely unclear. In fact, I thought that was probably the worst Easter service message I’ve ever heard. But I won’t get into that here :)
What excited me was the response from my students. Before the service, I was praying for 3 salvations. In the end, God surprised me when 10 of the 12 students actually responded to the alter call and went to the front!! I don’t know if every one of them understood the significance of it all as I thought the message was very unclear and also the alter call. However, I also know that most people don’t understand the gospel clearly when they first accept Christ. Whatever the case, I am full of joy that they did take the step they did. I’m reminded once again that this is the reason why I’m teaching. Yes, I want them to improve their English. But more than that, I want them to know Jesus and find true meaning for their lives.
After the service, my students ate together and got to know my friend’s cell members. This is the reason I brought them to City Harvest. Responding to the gospel is one thing. But it’s so important to be part of a community. And I don’t know any other Church in Singapore that can provide such a community like City Harvest can. Nor do I know any other Church in Singapore which is as passionate for evangelism and missions as City Harvest. While I don’t think City Harvest’s teaching is as good as New Creation’s, I’m quite happy to see my students get involved in the City Harvest community.
God is a faithful God. I’ve already seen answers to some of the prayers I’ve been praying since the beginning of the year. Not just regarding the above, but also in other areas. The teachings of New Creation have challenged me in my faith – especially as it relates to believing God for what we ask for.
Now I’m actually thinking and praying about two things. Firstly, on whether I should continue on teaching in my school. I have to make that decision pretty soon. I’ve already mentioned here that the English department is a big joke. And I kind of decided to stop working there once I finish with my present class next month. However, after what happened yesterday, I am praying about it. I know there’s a great opportunity to reach out to more students in the school. That’s what’s making me think twice about quitting. Yet, I don’t like short changing my students – something I’ll have to do if I continue teaching there.
The second thing is whether to continue to stay on in New Creation. This is not something new I’ve been thinking about. Rather, I’ve been praying about it for a while. I know I’ll never be able to get as good teachings in other churches as I would get in New Creation. On the other hand, my view of Christianity as a community is just so different from the community (or lack of) I find in New Creation. I don’t want to always reach out to people and get them to settle in another church! I want to be able to bring them to my church and I want them to find a loving community there. If I were to commit myself to another church, I could still buy and listen to New Creation’s CDs (or even attend their Sunday afternoon services), but you can’t buy community…