EXPLORE 2020 Reflections
The EXPLORE internship program is a program designed for youths and young adults to grow in their spiritual maturity and better discern God’s calling for their lives. Over 3 months, interns are mentored by members of the church staff over a range of topics such as Spiritual Disciplines, Theology, Bible Study and Missions. They also have opportunities to explore the different ministries in church, as well as ministries conducted by external agencies, to be exposed to the work being done by the church in Singapore and the region. This year, we are happy to have had 4 interns – Daniel, Ethan, Miranda and Timothy. These are their personal takeaways that they would like to share from their time in the internship.
Having just finished NS, I saw the EXPLORE internship program as a meaningful way for me to spend my time before university starts. However, one week into the program, I realised that these three months had the potential to be more than just “meaningful”. This was a time where I could be more deeply engaged in the study of my faith, and it has indeed been a good opportunity for me to ground myself before a new chapter of my life begins.
As a second-generation Christian, I have always managed to “float” through my Christian life without really questioning my faith. This changed in the army when I started to backslide, and this internship has been helpful in reconnecting me with key tenets of the faith. I have also learnt how to better question, reflect and apply what I learn about the faith, whether through sermons, bible studies or the internet. The internship has also challenged me to articulate my faith more often and share it with others. In doing so, not only is the love of God shared with others, but my own understanding of my beliefs is also refined!
Perhaps what was most interesting about the internship was being exposed to the work being done by different mission organisations around Singapore. Migrant x Me and OMF were 2 such organisations. Through them, we got a glimpse of the work being done among the migrant worker community and streetwalkers in Geylang. We also managed to partner with Micah Singapore in their effort to collate notes of encouragement for our healthcare workers. These experiences have opened my eyes to the breadth and depth of mission work here in Singapore, and I hope to play my part in the near future as well!
Looking back, I’ve been able to grow in many ways by God’s grace, and I thank Him for the work He’s done through the staff to make this internship possible. They have been such a blessing to all of us! :) To anyone who is looking for a way to spend your post-school/post-NS break next year, consider this! You’re never too distant for God to work within you. All He asks for is that you come with a heart that is willing to learn.
What is church? This is a question that surfaced many times and in various forms during my time in the program. What is the mission of the church? What is the role of each person?
We talked to and learnt from different church workers who seemed to have a better idea than us. I found that – from the missions staff connecting churches across the country, to the teachers training AG leaders to disciple their AGs, and even to the media staff who tries not to use the building to represent the church – very many of them have a sense of church as a community.
In ministry, I saw the emphasis on personal interaction. In Christianity Explored, guests sit around a table engaging hosts with questions. Church leaders teach members to study the Bible so they can go on and study it with others. Local missions, such as the one in the red-light district, visit the area regularly to build trust and relationships. People are seen as people with their own lives and stories.
How Biblical is this community approach? In our study on Philippians, we saw that the church is supposed to strive side by side for the faith of the gospel. The church must regularly meet and every member must be involved in building others up – in exhorting, encouraging and even scolding – and helping to teach the gospel both within and outside of the church. None is exempt from this work.
It made me think about Zion Bishan. Growing up here, I have seen a rise and decay of my immediate church community. I have seen some old friends leave. I have seen gaps between age groups who tend not to mix and get involved in each other’s business. Perhaps, therefore, a question I have about Zion Bishan is: what must the church’s members do to train up the next generation so that they can take over in future? I hope that we will know what to do and will do it seriously so that we can be faithful to our job until Christ comes.
EXPLORE has really been a fulfilling time of getting to know myself better in terms of my spiritual walk. I have learnt a lot from my mentors Timmy, Pastor Dev, Zhiwen and Vernon through their various sessions over the course of 10 weeks. We were also able to meet with most of the church staff over many meals, which gave us the opportunity to know more about their respective ministry work.
Throughout these 10 weeks, I have benefitted a lot in terms of being able to reflect deeply on many topics such as what it means to be living as God’s people, on how we should be meditating on God’s Word, that we are all gospel partners, and that God is love, and many other things. I am glad that I made this decision to be a part of this programme, and I am really glad that this internship could happen.
Just attending church worship services every Sunday isn’t enough to grow deeply in my walk with God. It isn’t about the number of AG/YD/CD sessions I’ve attended, nor is it about reading through the Bible —I learnt that it really takes a lot of faith to be living out as a Christian in this world that is mostly hostile to Christians, to practice spiritual disciplines, to know more about theological topics & to have an active part in the mission of God – God’s mission is actually all around us, whether local or abroad. To end off, I would like to share these two verses which resonated with me: “…our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21)
My biggest takeaway from EXPLORE 2020 is learning to live as a practicing Christian rather than merely a believing one. Despite only having moved to Zion for slightly over a year, I decided to join EXPLORE immediately after concluding my national service to deepen my faith. My experience over the past two months have indubitably enabled me to achieve that aim, and beyond that, gained a confidence in God’s plan for all of us. Though the four modules we took seemed very diverse on the surface, in many ways they all linked back to our status as citizens of heaven.
For me, this realisation began when we read Philippians in depth with Vernon. What really spoke to me was how Paul called on the church to behave in a manner befitting their heavenly citizenship. Whether it was being other-centred, or partnering together in the gospel, I realised that what we learned in Philippians formed a strong biblical foundation for the practices that we learned in the rest of our internship.
It is precisely because we are citizens of heaven that we must behave as such and let it reflect in the way we live, not just on Sundays, but in our everyday lives. Just as Paul called on the Philippians to let their manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ (Phil. 1:27), we too must change our mindset to live in a way that seeks God actively. As we progressed through the other modules, the necessity of such a mindset became evident, be it through learning the subtle differences between different aspects of theology, making space in our hectic lives to listen to God’s word, or going forth into the world to care for others and living as ambassadors of Christ.
My time in EXPLORE has come to an end, but my citizenship of heaven hasn’t, and I pray that as I head to university and beyond, Philippians 3:20 will always be at the forefront of my mind: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ”.
Over the past two months, I have gained much, and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from Ps Dev, Timmy, Vernon, and Zhiwen.
For information on the next EXPLORE Internship
contact Vernon Quek: firstname.lastname@example.org