A comfort in every Methodist school

Grace Toh is Assistant Editor of Methodist Message. She put this article together with valuable input from the Rev Kenneth Huang, Director of Ministry in Schools of The Methodist Church in Singapore.


“We have the privilege of touching the lives of people in the school by sharing God’s Word, praying for them and with them, and providing care, comfort and counsel in times of need. As a CMS, I’m very encouraged when someone tells me, ‘Thank you for teaching me God’s Word and for praying for me.’ ”


Imagine you are a student in one of our 14 Methodist schools, and you find yourself facing an issue that is beyond you – perhaps there is a family matter that is affecting you, or a bully at school who is targeting you, or your friends are pressuring you to join them in an activity that you think is wrong, or you find it difficult managing your schoolwork. Apart from your parents and teachers, who can you turn to for a listening ear and sound advice to handle your problems?


In every Methodist school, you will find at least one Christian Ministry Staff (CMS), whose role is to undertake Christian ministry with, and provide pastoral care for, students, teachers, school leaders and parents. This means that other than planning and running school Chapel programmes, devotions, student ministry and other activities such as camps and events, a CMS also builds relationships with students, teachers and parent helpers, and provides counselling, pastoral care and training.


It also means that teachers and parents – not just students! – can seek out and benefit from the ministry of the CMS appointed to their Methodist school. Lin Risheng, CMS at Anglo-Chinese Junior College, shared: “My most memorable experience was when a teacher messaged me after I led devotions one day. She texted me to say that she found my session encouraging, and that was affirming as I had felt led to change the topic of my session just the day before.”


Noted Ms Julia Chua, CMS at Methodist Girls’ School (Primary): “We have the privilege of touching the lives of people in the school by sharing God’s Word, praying for them and with them, and providing care, comfort and counsel in times of need. As a CMS, I’m very encouraged when someone tells me, ‘Thank you for teaching me God’s Word and for praying for me.’ ”


Where applicable, the CMS also provides valuable care and guidance in our Methodist student hostels, often helping to soothe feelings of homesickness and loneliness. At times, they may provide the first opportunity for foreign students to hear the gospel.


Shared Ms Joyce Seet, CMS at St. Francis Methodist School: “Recently, a new student who had just arrived from China came up to me after Chapel and said she was very interested to know about Jesus – an unusual occurrence. Since then, we’ve continued to meet and I was able to share with her about Jesus.”


Perhaps one might wonder whether it is all uphill work for a CMS. After all, we live in a time of growing secularism, and the younger generation is often particularly sceptical of religious classes and material. Do students respond positively to the work of the CMS in our schools?


Ms Grace Foo, CMS at Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), noted: “Whenever I complete the standard Religious Emphasis Week follow-up classes, the students tell me they don’t want the classes to stop, that they still want to meet me every week to learn more. If I cannot make it for the day or time they suggest, they would come up with an alternative day or time. This is all the more amazing because the students in my school have a million things on their plate.”


Indeed, many CMS witness God working positive changes in the lives of those they minister to. Said Jaime Hang, CMS at Anglo-Chinese School (Junior): “I witnessed a wayward student turning around to accept God’s love, who now continues to serve in a local church even after graduation.”


Chu Yeok Ming, CMS at Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School (Primary), is encouraged by seeing teachers, parents and pupils come to the saving knowledge of Christ and finding hope in Him; seeing teachers, parents and pupils experiencing breakthroughs as they draw near to God and revive their personal relationships with Him; and seeing the lives of pupils transformed by the power of God’s love.


Unexpected blessings include having the tables turned on them, as shared by Mr Philip Poh, CMS at Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road): “The most positive experience is when several students gathered spontaneously around me to pray for me and to thank God for my spurring them to grow in their faith.”


Indeed, the CMS in our Methodist schools need our prayers and support as they provide vital pastoral care to students, teachers and parents. The CMS in a school works closely with the Principal of the school as well as the appointed Chaplain-in-Charge of the school. Will you join in praying for our CMS, Chaplains and Principals as they continue to serve in this important capacity in their schools?


Christian Ministry in Methodist Schools The Christian ministry in our Methodist schools is a meaningful one – one that requires love for children and teenagers, wisdom in sharing God’s word, dedication to be faithful in “planting” and “watering”, and leaving God to cause the “growth”. Chapter 9 of Forever Beginning II (MCS, 1986, p.34) describes the beginnings of Christian Ministry in our schools: “Historically, this ministry was known as the Methodist School’s Chaplaincy Programme with chaplains representing the Church while the day-to-day programme was executed by Christian education workers assigned to the schools. “This programme in 1985 was reorganised with the appointment of a Director for the Ministry for Schools. The Christian education workers became Ministry staff and each school set up a Christian Ministry committee.” Pioneer Christian education workers were Mrs Ang Kim Kiat and Miss Grace Kwee, with others, such as Miss Esther Chelliah, Miss Philomena Samuel and Miss Jean Lee, later joining the team of workers. To find out more about the ministry of Christian Ministry Staff, visit http://www.methodist.org.sg/index.php/ministries/methodist-schools#cmis


Photos courtesy of the respective Christian Ministry Staff