Why build empires when you can build lives?

Mr Philip Poh (extreme right) with other Christian Ministry helpers and a student band at the last chapel of the school year at
ACS (Barker Road). – CMS picture.

AN OPPORTUNITY TO INTERACT with children and youths. An avenue to express one’s creativity. A chance to shape the spiritual climate of an institution.

If you ticked all the boxes on such a job description, serving in a school as Christian Ministry Staff (CMS) might just be a career you would want to consider.

Relating the benefits of having a CMS, Mr Peter Tan, Principal of Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road), said both staff and students appreciate their CMS, Mr Philip Poh, for the well-crafted devotions given, good scheduling of speakers during chapel programmes, Christian Fellowship camps and Bible quizzes, among others.

He said: “Philip has a knack of finding interesting analogies or stories to bring out the essence of what he wants to share. I often hear them recalling his examples when they speak, which says a lot about the impact he has on their lives.

“Staff and students remember the lessons learned from observing his life. They tell me of the gentle and quiet way he goes about doing what needs to be done.”

Mr Tan added that Mr Poh’s innovative ideas, such as a medal and booklet designed to capture key themes covered in the last three years as part of a “Running the Race” concept, were well received.

“The silver medal symbolised the completion of their journey, and we told the staff and students that they would receive their gold medal from Christ.”

While pastors are assigned to schools as chaplains-in-charge, there are only so many pies they can have their fingers in, as they juggle the demands of the church with those of the school. The CMS is really the man on the ground, ploughing the fields with passion and perseverance, waiting for the right time to harvest, said pastors.

The Rev Nga Mee Hee, Chaplain of Geylang Methodist School (Primary) and Geylang Methodist School (Secondary), said: “The CMS, being full time in the school, has direct contact with the students. Thus, he or she is better able to extend pastoral care to the students, and at times, to the teachers.”

The Rev Poh Heow Lee, Chaplain of St. Francis Methodist School, said that the CMS also helped in creating a greater awareness of the school ministry among church members as well as introducing students to the parent church.

“The church needs to form active links with the school to both understand and effectively minister in the schools. The CMS fulfi ls that role,” he explained.

Said Anglo-Chinese Junior College Principal Mrs Kelvyna Chan: “I appreciate the fact that we can pray together for the needs of the college, discuss and plan how to build the spiritual life of the college, and that I have another person who can help me reach out to students, staff and parents.

“If I didn’t have a CMS, I would miss having a ‘sister’ to share God’s perspectives in events.”

When asked what were the “must-haves” of a CMS, principals and pastors listed “God-loving”, “faithful”, “the ability to relate to both young and old”, and more.

In other words, the three Cs, said the Rev Nga, “calling, character and competence”.

Mr Tan added that a CMS would have to set a good example for others to follow, as he or she would be “looked up to in the school”.

Despite the high standards to be met, he pointed out that “it would really be a wonderful vocation to be in since there are no books to mark, attendances to take, etc, but there are opportunities to impact young lives for Christ in a school environment”.

As a CMS, one would be able to experience the joys of “seeing someone coming to Christ, growing in Christ and living for Christ”, said the Rev Nga.

The clincher? “Instead of building empires, being a CMS allows you to build lives,” said Mrs Chan.

“In our current times, children and teenagers have many issues to contend with

… Being a part of their daily interactions and speaking love and goodness into their lives is the most significant act any one of us can do.”

– Mrs Kelvyna Chan (above)

Mr Peter Tan: Appreciates the benefits of having a CMS.