Young Adults who grew up in CCMC.
by Goh Eck Kheng
CCMC has now a second generation of members who have grown up in the church in Covenant Kids (CK) and the One Community (OC).
OC Camp, 2016
David, 24, was brought to church in utero, his parents being Sandy and Michelle Chian. David used to help lead the worship ministry in OC, but has since stepped
back as he’s just started work in hospital after graduating as a doctor. “Currently I'm offering advice from experience to my successor in the ministry as well as developing processes that help make doing ministry a lot less administrative heavy so we can focus on God and the people.”
David in a CK class.
Luke, the son of Ming Ying and Tim Tan, joined CK in Primary 3. He serves as one of the youth leaders in OC, heading up the Service Leaders and Managers ministry. “I also help out with the 11.15 am sound team, and the service recordings right now,” said Luke, aged 25 and a student.
The daughter of Benson and Vivien Foong, Ivfen, 28 and an analyst, also started CK in Primary 3. She serves in the Young Adults Committee and in the 11 am Teller’s Ministry.
Amabelle, 25, a compliance specialist, whose parents are church lay ministry staff Joseph Lim and Susan, is a support singer in the praise team for the 9 am service and is a representative of her small group.
Chung Hong’s mother is Suzane Tan and he came to CCMC and joined OC as a 14-year-old. Now 27 and a HR associate, he is mostly involved in the Young Adults committee as the Christian Education chair. He said, “We organise and run seminars, YA learning content, leadership training or anything involved with Bible study resources.” He also serves occasionally as a keyboardist in the 11:15 am band.
For those who came to CMMC as young children, memories of the church then are distant and vague.
“I can’t recall much of my primary schools days in CCMC,” said Ivfen. “The earliest memory I have is of CK in the old OC room where we would sit on the carpeted floor, and the dance studio which we had service in. But which came first?”
Luke confessed: “Unfortunately I can't remember any of the lessons from Sunday school, but maybe the stories of Jonah and Moses?” But he does recall watching VeggieTales featuring animated fruit and vegetable characters that retell Bible stories.
David’s first memory of CCMC is putting in a dollar coin for offering in the Chapel during CK. Asked for his strongest memory of CK, he recalled: “Justin Tan and I racing to see who could recite John 3:16 the fastest. Either that or games days.” But what remains real for him from CK is that “learning about God through His word can be more fun when you do it with friends.”
What remains real for him from CK is that “learning about God through His word can be more fun when you do it with friends.”
Amabelle does not remember much of CK either, other than the ‘Jesus You’re My Superhero’ song. Friendship, however, was significant to her. “I was only in Sunday School for less than a year, and having familiar faces around me – friends who were from MGS – helped me to integrate.”
Ivfen has the memory of being asked to choose a life verse in CK. “I chose the shortest one I could find while flipping through the Bible. It was Psalm 136:1 “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever."
Significantly, CK teachers and facilitators made an impression. Amabelle spoke of
facilitators surrounding and guiding her. Ivfen named Serena Liau as a warm and friendly teacher.
For David, Hugh and Betty Lim are the teachers that come to mind when he thinks of CK. “Over the years each and every one of my Sunday School teachers have been a real blessing,” he added.
“Sadly,” said Luke, “I can only remember Aunty June (Teo) from Sunday school, mostly because she always comes up now to say hello at the concourse after service.”
OC facilitators also made an impression. For Chung Hong, it was at church camp in Bintan. “I vividly remember my first encounter with (Lim) Kim Pong when he asked me to hold his guitar for him while he ferried the youths in a buggy to our villa. I remember saying to myself, ‘what a nice guy.’”
Almost all the Young Adults interviewed became Christians in CCMC although Ivfen’s life-changing experience was in school.
“I received Christ during an altar call when I was in MGS in Primary 1,” Ivfen said. “I was very moved by the message that day, and seeing how many went up in answer the altar call encouraged me to do so.”
Amabelle accepted Christ as Lord when she was 11 years old, in Primary 5. “I was born into a Christian family, but my point of dedication of my life to God came after I had a clearer understanding of the Christian faith, acknowledged it, and decided to affirm it. It was when I had my water baptism as well.”
David is less sure about the exact time. He said it could be during OC camp when he was in Primary 6, but was probably during the Nepal Mission trip when he was in Secondary 1. “That was when I felt God the nearest and most real and saw that God's truth transcends language and cultural background.”
Luke said he started taking his faith seriously halfway through secondary school. “I was going through a lot of personal struggles but somehow I resolved to take God seriously after hitting an absolute low point in life.”
Chung Hong’s family went through a difficult time when his father fell sick in 2006. They sought pastoral care by trying out different religious beliefs. He fondly remembered a trip to the Hindu and Buddhist temples in Waterloo Street although it was not very eventful. “Not long after,” Chung Hong said, “my aunt Shirley (Au-Yong) introduced us to Pastor Edwin (Wong) who showed us that the love and comfort of God was incomparable to anything else. Things were smooth after that.” That resulted in him eventually getting baptised with his mother at CCMC. He also joined OC.
As someone not having grown up in CK, Chung Hong initially found it difficult to integrate in OC because everyone else knew each other. “It was also odd that youth services were conducted in the dark!” Nevertheless, people were contagiously warm and genuine, and within a year he found a Bible study group. He affirmed that, “this was when I forged the most lasting friendships and the spiritual accountability I have till today.”
“This was when I forged the most lasting friendships and the spiritual accountability I have till today.”
Graduating from CK to OC within CCMC did not guarantee an easy transition. “It was scary not knowing what to expect,” said Ivfen, “especially when there were some older and cooler kids!”
Luke agreed that it was “quite scary” since he was completely introverted and closed off at that time.
Ivfen in yellow and Luke, standing in a blue T shirt, with OC friends.
For David, he was one of two Primary Sixes at the P6 OC camp which is now a regular rite of passage in CCMC. “I was taken really good care of by all the older youth. However, during the camp altar call, I remember sitting in the corner by myself and feeling very lost and confused. I had no idea what was going on at the time and there wasn't really anyone I could ask or talk to since everyone seemed really absorbed in the whole situation.”
At OC, most of his cell group were from the same class in school, and for at least the first year or so, David hovered by the peripheries of the group because he felt he didn't really fit in with them.
“So I guess it was quite tough, but worth it,” he said. “Over time, we managed to overcome these differences. I think transiting gave me the opportunity to discover who God is for myself.”
Moving from Sunday School where things were more guided and taught through workbooks to OC where there were cell groups and Bible study with peers was a very exciting time. “It felt like I was taking my faith into my own hands,” David said.
“It felt like I was taking my faith into my own hands.”
Amabelle had generally a smooth transition to OC. “We were slowly exposed to OC during the end of our P6 year by joining OC services.” She joined the OC band as a keyboardist and, through that, got to know more people.
OC had a big part in David’s spiritual growth. “I think I would be in a very different place if I hadn't grown with this community – learning, growing, sharpening each other and praying together,” he said. The accountability of group prayer helped to grow his faith. Having the opportunity to be discipled and to disciple someone also helped a lot. “I was discipled by our Youth Worker, Jonathan Choy, and he really walked with me for the better part of 1-2 years, and then in turn I was given the opportunity to walk closely with one of the youth and I think we both grew through that relationship.”
“My small group and small group leaders certainly anchored and kept me in church” said Luke. “They didn't forget about me even though I didn't really open up to them much back then.”
Amabelle agreed that OC facilitators contributed a lot to the spiritual growth of the youth. “We met up consistently to feed on the Word and we were very close to our facilitators,” she said. This made it much easier for the teens to share about their journey in Christ and to hold each other more accountable.
According to Chung Hong, the level of spiritual intimacy through the sharing of struggles with each other builds character. “I’ve been friends with some people from OC for over 12 years and I rely on them to keep me in track when I occasionally lose my way. Yes, we have the Bible, and we pray and listen to God, but having a community of friends who are serious about God too is the best sidekick to tackle life.”
"Yes, we have the Bible, and we pray and listen to God, but having a community of friends who are serious about God too is the best sidekick to tackle life.”
Ivfen puts the same idea this way: “OC Friends who lent a listening ear, a helping hand, showed me they cared, gave me advice. They helped me see my unique identity in Christ.”
As Christians, our identity should be in Christ, but the adolescent years are when people are especially vulnerable to what the world offers and faith can easily waiver.
And there is teenage angst. CCMC’s young adults, having recently emerged from this stage of life, have clear perspectives on this.
“It is a battle between our own wants and doing what is right in Christ’s eyes,” stated Amabelle succinctly. “Often, the desire to give in to our own wants is stronger, due to heightened self-consciousness and wanting to fit in with the crowd. So, when we encounter someone or an idea that goes against that, we display ‘teenage angst’.”
She thinks that teenage angst is part and parcel the awkward journey between childhood and adulthood and the experiences of the adolescent years play a very pivotal role in shaping one’s perspective of life.
“Hence, the Church plays a very vital role in nurturing teenagers and ensuring that they are not misguided,” said Amabelle. “Having facilitators, mentors and other spiritual parents that can befriend them and give them a safe outlet for their concerns could help alleviate their stress and encourage them to pursue God more.”
Luke agreed that teenage angst is a legitimate struggle that has to be worked through. “How we approach it as leaders, brothers or parents could really affect our youths to positive or negative lifelong outcomes. I would say we have to be careful and sensitive when discussing Christianity with our youths as it can be easy to end up misusing Christianity and its principles to 'talk down' to our youths as if their worries and struggles are small matters.”
Luke, in blue T shirt and Amabelle, in striped cardigan, with OC friends.
For Ivfen, feeling inferior, having low self-esteem, and truly understanding that one is uniquely created by God is a struggle for teens.
“Identity finding” is how Chung Hong tags it. “I wanted to know what God wants to accomplish in me, which resulted in a stoical questioning of everything I did in life,” he shared. “I began to blur the boundaries between what God really wants me to do, and my own projection of ‘God’s direction’ in my life. I struggled and complained to God every day.” Chung Hong said he eventually got out of this pit with the help of mentors whom he was able to share openly with. The accountability and spiritual authority through these relationships helped reshape his Christian identity “to focus more on the grander scheme of things rather than to force an outcome on God.”
Having a second generation of CCMC members who initially came to church with their parents contributes to our profile of family church.
To Ivfen, CCMC is “homely and diverse. Foodie paradise.” Chun Hong recognises that “we have warm and friendly people, a place here to learn about God and find a Christian family!”
CCMC, for Amabelle, is a church that focuses on community and makes people feel welcomed. She thinks that it is great that there’s a ministry for different age groups to ensure there is some level of support for people in different stages of life.
Luke echoed this, saying, “As I got older, I appreciate having the different age groups meeting and interacting together in one house of worship.”
David sees that there's a growing proportion of people who come to CCMC because they have been invited by friends. “I think over the last few years, especially in the youth group and YA, we've been working hard to be more inclusive of everyone regardless of background and maturity in the faith,” he added. “There's a lot of things we're doing right, but at the same time we could work on being more inclusive.”
Luke agreed. “We definitely have areas to improve on but I'm glad we have passionate church staff, pastors and volunteers who soldier on to keep the church going.”
Serving and being part of a Church ministry, and close friendships in small groups, are what bonded the young adults to CCMC, even though they have come to the church since childhood.
David felt that CCMC became his home church “truly solidly in about Secondary 4 as I started serving in ministry.”
Likewise, Luke said CCMC became his home church, “probably after serving in ministry for a while and getting to know youths and adults alike from all the different services.”
Luke said CCMC became his home church, “probably after serving in ministry for a while..."
Ivfen had never really thought about this before, but now realised that it was the moment she stepped up in OC in Secondary 4 to serve as a youth mentor and had “kids” to care for.
When Chung Hong came home from university overseas, he saw that some of his returned friends had gone “church hunting” as part of the norm because their friends in Singapore had moved along in life and become out of touch. “Not that it is wrong or anything,” he said, “but for me I have always been used to serving in church and forging relationships with the people I serve with.” This was for him a very accessible platform to reconnect with CCMC after a long hiatus. “Staying with CCMC was a natural and straightforward choice.”