Obeying God’s call

Five Christian Ministry Staff (CMS) tell Gracia Chiang why they chose to move from their cushy jobs in the corporate world to serve in our Methodist schools.

YOU CAN THROW OUT your name cards, power suits, high heels and makeup, said one of my interviewees candidly, painting a picture of how her life has changed since she left an 11-year career in human resource.

“But,” she emphasised, “there is so much meaning and eternal value in my work now,” said the Christian Ministry Staff (CMS), who has been with Anglo-Chinese School (Primary) for three years now.

Mother of three, Ms Christina Sim, 38, explained that her responsibilities ranged from “conducting chapel sessions and sharing devotions” to “running after the boys and arranging chairs”, a job that she sums up in one word – servanthood.

It was a one-month stint in the school that proved to be the clincher for Ms Sim, even though she did not have any prior theological training.

“I was very blessed instead of going there to bless. at made me say to God: ‘Okay, I will do it!’ ”

Her story is not unlike the other four others told to me. Take Ms Elaine Lim, 37, for example. e former executive secretary in an American firm said she has been stripped of her fears, growing from someone who lacks confidence to being used by God to transform the lives of youths.

Appointed to serve in St. Francis Methodist School after her recent graduation from Trinity Theological College (TTC), Ms Lim said unlike in a commercial setting, where monetary rewards are incentives, “what is rewarding here is building relationships with individuals, getting to know them and earning a right to speak to them”.

Being in a private international school marries two of her passions – missions and youth work.

She said: “I like school ministry even more than church ministry because of the opportunity to get in touch with those who are new to the Christian faith.

Former CMS Ms Cynthia Ang, 40, who was at Anglo-Chinese Junior College for over three years, agreed that having a Christian presence in schools is particularly important.

“Most people who receive Christ do so when they are below the age of 18. Children and youth are impressionable, and this is one way we can get the Gospel out to children who haven’t heard it.” Besides regular chapels and devotions, there is also the yearly Religious Emphasis Week or Discover Jesus Week, what Ms Ang calls “very precious opportunities for us to share the Christian faith more and let those present have an opportunity to respond”.

She said: “In general, we may find that students are not interested (in the Gospel). But once in awhile, God brings along a ripe fruit, and when you share with the person and he responds and receives Christ, that’s the most exciting.”

In addition, while employees are often measured against goals and targets in a secular environment, the benchmark in ministry is, instead, faithfulness and obedience, my interviewees pointed out.
“When you walk in the path of obedience, the joy cannot be explained in words. God provides for you in a different way. I have no lack,” said Ms Ang.

Aptly, it was the reminder of a faithful man that gave Ms Stella Chen, 54, the assurance that God would provide if one answers His call to serve.

When the former early childhood educator was urged by a Christian friend to become a CMS and enrol at TTC, she drew encouragement from how God had helped Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

“The corporate world is very often about status and authority, but satisfaction is only for a moment. Now, I am happy every day because I can be of service to people. I can bring joy and transformation,” said Ms Chen, who has been working in Fairfield Methodist School (Primary) for more than six years.

Mr Philip Poh, 57, CMS of Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road), had a similar sentiment. His motivating force is seeing students begin to change, open up and share freely with him.

Previously a facility manager overseeing seven departments with more than 100 staff, Mr Poh said the sacrifices made in the last five years were worthwhile, as he has learnt to see the work in school as a calling.

He explained: “ ere is a lack of role models for many boys, even among their fathers. We need more guys (in ministry). We need people of different ages. Age is not an issue, it’s availability and the willingness to reach out to them.”

Overview of Old Testament

TRINITY METHODIST CHURCH (TMC) is conducting a course entitled “God’s Master Works: An overview of the entire Old Testament”.

Starting on Jan 18, it will continue on the subsequent 3rd Wednesday of every month, except on public holidays. To be held from 10 am to noon at the Upper Room in TMC, it will be conducted by the Rev Peter Goh, a TMC pastor.

To register, email churchoffice@tmc.org.sg or visit http://www.tmc.org.sg/highlights.html for more information.

This is the first article in a two-part series on the work of a Christian Ministry Staff.

NEXT ISSUE: What principals and chaplains say about the vital role Christian workers play in schools and what they appreciate about them.