The Zion Bishan safeguarding team was formed in 2018, and comprises Deaconess Deborah Yang, Danny Chua and Ee-Ling Shankar.
What is Safeguarding?
Safeguarding is the process of protecting people from abuse or neglect. Abuse is a sin and offense towards the Living God because abuse harms His precious image-bearers. We aim to build a safe culture in Zion Bishan so that the church may be a place where we protect each other, especially the most vulnerable; a safe place for people who have suffered abuse; and a community of both justice and forgiveness. A safe culture means that every member and visitor can freely and confidently enjoy what God intends church to be – a place to truly know our Lord Jesus in loving communion with other believers.
Why do we have a Ministry of Safeguarding?
Simply put, Scripture mandates it. The Lord Jesus commands it. The Church needs it.
Scripture mandates it – The Bible is absolutely clear about the responsibility of God’s people to care for the vulnerable. Consider this: there are more than 2,000 references to issues of justice and injustice in Scripture – from which many principles of safeguarding and caring for one another can be gleaned. Whether you’re flipping through the pages of Exodus, meditating on the Psalms, or doing an intense study of the book of James, you will find repeated exhortations to care for the least among us.
The Lord Jesus commands it – some of Christ’s strongest words and warnings are given to those who neglect to care for the vulnerable. In Matthew 18:5-6, Jesus said, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin (or stumble), it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Indeed, care for the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40), the weak, wounded, and voiceless, are the marks of Jesus’ true sheep and disciples.
The Church needs it – we are a community and family committed to holiness, as our God Himself is holy and set apart from the world. Yet, while Christ has cleansed us to be holy by His loving sacrifice, we are still sinners in need of God’s transformative power each day. We need safeguarding because we require all the help we can get to protect one another from the dangers and realities of sin. We need safeguarding because safeguarding embodies the very truths of the Gospel we stand for, and is a living reminder to us in the church that we will not take the safety and lives of every individual for granted.
We hope that these brief paragraphs help you realize that safeguarding is more than just an organisational checkbox, institutional obligation or burdensome legal liability problem. Safeguarding is Gospel in action, and doing it well means we can love one another as Christ has loved us so all the world can know we are truly His disciples.
Does abuse even take place in Christian communities?
Yes, it does. Building a safe culture is a deeply challenging task no less because it requires us to change our mindsets for a start. It involves confronting the reality of sin, recognising that abuse can occur anywhere, even within a church community; taking steps to prevent harm; and caring well for those who have suffered abuse.
For instance, consider these examples in the news of abuse taking place within religious organisations (remember these are just the reported incidents!):
- Religious teacher gets jail for molesting woman in mosque on guise of curing her infertility
- Student care volunteer who molested 10-year-old boy in church toilet gets probation
- Man who lured boy into mosque toilet for sex acts jailed
- Former assistant pastor jailed 16 months for sexually abusing 15-year-old girl –
What steps has Zion Bishan taken in growing a safeguarding culture in our community and ministries?
Education and awareness-building is crucial, which is why the team has been engaging ministries serving children and young people (Youth, Children, Tuition, Soccer Ministry) since 2020. Through these engagements, the team conducts basic training for ministry leaders and volunteers in areas of safeguarding awareness, abuse reporting, and safe behaviours.
Our aim is to ensure every small group leader (Children’s, Youth, Action Group etc.) has the requisite Biblical understanding and practical training needed to play their role well in this collective safeguarding effort. A refresher training session is conducted at the beginning of each new year, which also ensures that any and every new volunteer is equipped in this regard.
In 2021, the team carried out basic Safeguarding training with the pastors, elders, deacons, ministry staff and AG leaders of the 4 English congregations. The goal was to ensure every leader on the ground had a fundamental awareness of abuse and how to respond or escalate a call for help when necessary. The team hopes to do the same with the ethnic congregations in 2022.
At the moment, the team is assisting the church leadership with clarifying a Biblical and practical framework for dealing with complex pastoral care situations. Specific areas of concern such as domestic violence are also being discussed.
If you are personally interested in the important work of safeguarding in Zion Bishan, or if you simply wish to find out more about what the team does, please contact Dns Deborah (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Danny (email@example.com).
If you are a brother or sister from another church looking into starting a safeguarding ministry in your community, please feel free to contact Danny as well.
To access some of our safety policies, please click here.