Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly

Dr Cheah Fung Fong and her family today

When asked what she would tell her younger self, Dr Cheah Fung Fong responded: “Love God, and love your family.”

It is a path she has faithfully walked—not just paid lip service to—over her many years of serving God. And she will stay the course in the coming years and beyond, after being elected the Vice President of the Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC) last November.

The post of President of the Annual Conference is held by a member of clergy, and Vice President by a lay person. Fung Fong is the first female Vice President of TRAC, the connection of 21 English-speaking churches of The Methodist Church in Singapore.

A love for God

Fung Fong has been serving at her home church, Fairfield Methodist Church (MC) for decades. Her firm belief in raising up the next generation and families to love God led her to serve in the Youth Ministry for years. In 1995, she took up the position of Children’s Ministry co-ordinator.

“I believed that God would equip me as I stepped into a ministry that I had never previously served in, and God indeed did just that. He raised a team of like-minded fellow servants who believed that children are not just the leaders of tomorrow, but the disciples of the church today,” she shared. She and her Children’s Ministry team had the privilege of reaching out to the kids in the community with the gospel and rooting them in the Word of God.

Even after stepping down as the Children’s Ministry co-ordinator, she continued to serve in ministries involving children and youth. From 1998 to 2011, she was a Board Member of the Fairfield MC Kindergarten. While she was advisor to the Youth Ministry between 2003 and 2011, the ministry piloted the Pre-Teens ministry. She also served as the TRAC Board of Children’s Ministry chairperson from 2004 to 2016. She is currently serving as Fairfield MC’s Associate Lay Leader, after an earlier stint from 2007 to 2011.

A love for people

Fung Fong studied Medicine at the National University of Singapore and practised as a doctor in various postings with the Ministry of Health and later as a Senior Family Physician with Raffles Medical Group.

With her passion for helping people, God called her to serve the community through Yong-en Care Centre, a social service agency affiliated with Fairfield MC. There, she served as Deputy Executive Director and was involved in setting up services targeted at dementia and preventive healthcare for the elderly. She also continued on her mission to help young people by working with children and youth, especially in sexuality education and with those at risk of dropping out of school.

As a Family Life educator, Fung Fong has spoken extensively to parents in schools and the community. She was invited to be the speaker for the Ministry of Education’s inaugural COMPASS Speakers Series in 2013. She often contributes to various media outlets to share advice on families and parenting.

She is currently the Executive Director of Filos Community Services, which has a mission is “to build resilience and empower individuals and families”. She elaborates: “We provide integrated health and social care services for seniors living in the East (Kembangan Chai Chee and Kampong Chai Chee). These include Active Ageing programmes, Befriending programmes for isolated seniors and Case Management services. We are also the community mental health provider in our location, providing services for persons living with mental disease, so that they can better integrate into community living.”

“Our Family, Children and Youth services build the future of the next generation who come from low-income families by improving their literacy skills from a young age and supporting them through their school education through tuition classes in core subjects. We also provide workshops for parents to equip them with skills to improve parent-child relationships to build strong and happy families,” she added.

In 2019, Filos was appointed by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, as the Volunteer Centre for Bedok Town. It functions to bring together private and public organisations and individuals to care for and serve the needs of beneficiaries in the eldercare, children and youth, and disability sectors in Bedok Town.

A love for family

Fung Fong and her husband Christopher were classmates in medical school and served together in the Varsity Christian Fellowship. They have three children. John, 29, is a personal trainer who represented Singapore in weightlifting at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Grace, 27, followed in her parents’ footsteps and is now training to be a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Esther, 25, is a diplomat with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Fung Fong has not taken for granted the need to juggle career, ministry commitments and family life. To spend time with her children in their formative years, she decided to eschew full-time clinical work—a decision she has never regretted.

Being at home with the children gave her time to coach them in their schoolwork, and also to play and have recreation. “We tried to carve out time for them to have a day of rest, in a model of the Sabbath rest, but that meant holding them accountable for their schoolwork on the other days of the week.”

As busy parents, Fung Fong and Christopher found a way to spend time together as a family to read God’s Word and pray together on a daily basis during the half-hour car ride to school. Deuteronomy 6:5–7 (NIV) formed the basis for their family devotions:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

As the children progressed to teenagerhood, the family made a point to re-connect each night and to work through issues of identity and worldviews during their family prayer as well. Their nightly prayer time continues to this day.

“The Bible is very clear in instructing parents to be the primary nurturers of faith for the children God has given them. I need to have that personal relationship with God, reading His Word, loving Him and growing in faith in Him myself. I can then lead and teach my children to do so too,” she emphasises.

Different gifts

In the Church worldwide, women outnumber men.1 However, the opposite is true of its leadership, where women make up a visibly smaller proportion.

But Fung Fong says she has not experienced any significant prejudice as she served God in leadership roles with the local church and in various Christian organisations which were often male dominated.

“There was a mutual respect that we had for each other as we served as co-workers, whether male or female, in God’s service,” she said. She takes inspiration from Huldah, a female prophet described in 2 Kings 22:14–20: “When King Josiah discovered the Book of the Law during the repair of the temple of the Lord, it was Huldah that he sought advice from, not the greater prophets like Jeremiah. […] Huldah’s modelling encourages me to step up to serve God, when called to do so, with the gifts and talents that He has blessed me with, for the purpose of bringing glory to God.”

Fung Fong is also inspired by the work of the female lay workers—often called “bible women”—from the early days of The Methodist Church in Singapore and Malaya. Despite their minimal training, these women used their ability to speak the vernacular languages and worked with foreign missionaries such as Sophia Blackmore to evangelise the locals.

“In our times,” she says, “where there is openness and greater opportunities for women to serve God in many kinds of ministry—even in leadership roles, perhaps much more than in previous generations—I would encourage women to look to God and to obey Him as He calls them to rise up to serve and to lead. As Paul teaches: ‘We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance to your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement, if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently’ (Rom 12:6–8).”

And, in all the ways we serve and do all things, we should “act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8).


At Fairfield MC’s 73rd anniversary in Jan 2020
An evangelistic rally during a mission trip with FFMC Children’s Ministry to Cambodia in 2010
Representing TRAC Singapore at the TRAC Malaysia session in 2017
On a TRAC crisis relief trip to Pakistan in 2004

Sheri Goh is the Editor of Methodist Message. / Photos courtesy of Dr Cheah Fung Fong