Janice shares with us her insights on priorities in life as a student, and how evangelism, once something foreign, has evolved into an experience that is both familiar and fun!
Hi Janice! Tell us about yourself.
I am currently pursuing my undergraduate studies at the National University of Singapore’s Faculty of Law. In addition, I also participate in a few Co-Curricular Activities (CCAs), volunteer weekly as a Sunday School teacher, and was the main coordinator for the outreach arm in the Varsity Christian Fellowship (VCF). I grew up in church and Christianity has always been an important part of my life.
In January 2017, I was presented with an exciting opportunity to lead a campus-wide event for 3,000 people. This made me arrive at a sobering realisation – my duties at VCF had been neglected with the amount of campus activities I had chosen to take part in. I questioned myself: Should I add more to my plate by volunteering to lead this event, which would enhance my resume considerably? Or should I turn down the opportunity, and focus on VCF outreach activities which were less “high-profile”?
Eventually, I chose VCF, knowing that outreach was part of what God had called me to do during my time on campus. At subsequent meetings and discussions with the VCF outreach committee, Alpha was a recurring suggestion. Despite minimal experience and knowledge of Alpha, we adopted it as our key outreach activity after attending training with Alpha Singapore’s Campus Coordinator, and with many prayers for wisdom and courage!
What happened during Alpha?
There were a number of people who were a little hostile in the beginning but with time, it was encouraging to see the same people begin to discuss their perspectives on the Bible and other topics. As each session progressed, it was a joy to see people return regularly. Looking at the run as a whole, I believe people returned each week because they enjoyed the company of the friends that they had met at Alpha. I have come to realise the importance of being a welcoming community, and learned to create positive experiences for each of our guests.
On campus, I’ve seen how Alpha is not just a program, but rather an opportunity to catch up and have meals with friends. It is a lifestyle of evangelism! The forming of new friendships, the strengthening of existing ones, and the community at Alpha have all been factors in making the run an enjoyable one.
What were some challenges you faced in running Alpha?
During the first session of Alpha, there were visiting seniors and final-year students. I felt a little intimidated managing the entire event, as I was one of the youngest students there. I had never been asked to explain the reason for my faith, which to me was a simple one – acknowledging a God whom I believe and trust in.
One worrying factor for me was the collection box for the weekly meals. I recalled a time when I was raising funds for a Christian law student conference and we were unable to meet our target amount. Having experienced disappointment at fundraisers like that one, it was daunting to raise money for the eleven sessions of lunch that we provided at Alpha.
To my amazement, the free-will donation box proved me wrong! At each Alpha session, there was always enough money collected to cover all the meals! Even though there were also a few ‘surprises’, such as when the pizza guy came late or the room we needed to use was unavailable, each session turned out well!
Financially for me, it was the story of the five loaves and two fish come alive. Relationally, we experienced the giving of time and love. At each Alpha run, there was always a big group of friends who stepped in to serve. I began to appreciate the amazing community that I had!
Would you recommend running Alpha to others?
Definitely! Alpha is good at challenging people to open their minds and think further about the faith. I see potential for very broad impact. The videos are interesting and I would feel comfortable sharing them with anyone who wants to find out more about Christianity.
It’s also important to run Alpha with a team! Gather your friends, neighbours and classmates; a united community will help bring to life the vision that God has given you!
In the term that I was running Alpha, I asked myself if I should give up Alpha to achieve better grades. Looking back, I realise my desire to help others discover God outweighed my desire for academic achievements. Surprisingly, even though I gave up my time for Alpha, I have managed to do well by God’s grace!
Evangelism used to be a very difficult thing for me, even though I knew it was an important part of my faith. The entire Alpha experience has challenged me to think deeper about personal evangelism; that it is more than just a checkbox to be ticked during my Christian walk. It is about loving each person that God has placed in my path, to do something bigger than myself and to be able to use my time in the most meaningful way. Through Alpha, I have learnt the difference between temporal and eternal pursuits. And the divide is very clear!