Campus Students Burn with Zeal for the Lord
Amid an unrelenting pandemic, students from tertiary institutions gathered for a powerful three-day conference for growing in a passionate and enthusiastic pursuit for God.
By Marcus Leow
This year, Campus Ministry students braved a turbulent season with tightened restrictions and disruption to onsite church services.
Yet by God’s grace and leading, an onsite conference for Campus Ministry still took place, coinciding with the first day of Singapore’s Phase 3 (Heightened Alert). Held from July 12 to 14, Conference ZEAL saw an attendance of 184 students.
Students gathered onsite at Trinity@Paya Lebar, adhering to Pre-Event Testing (PET) and meeting within their respective demarcated zones to rekindle their zeal for the Lord – for which the conference was named.
Conference ZEAL would not have been possible without the planning committee who worked tirelessly to make it a reality.
“Planning and organizing ZEAL was no easy feat. Yet, prayerfully, we knew nothing was going to stop us from planning a conference for God to move powerfully in and through the lives of Campus students,” recounted Gabriel Ng, 26, conference chairperson.
“Although we couldn’t organize mass group activities, Campus students still had fun playing experiential games that followed safety regulations. These games simulated church planting and evangelism in challenging environments,” Gabriel said.
Interestingly, the extra safety precautions made the execution of games more relevant and unique, giving students an eye-opening opportunity to experience what a life of faith might look like in an environment lacking religious freedom.
Over three days, students had more opportunities for experiential learning via workshops on the call of missions, godly conviction, and singleness and marriage. “Students met in Trinity’s classrooms and created presentations, later sharing with each other what they learned,” said Gabriel.
Charis Kwok, 20, is an NUS student impacted by Conference ZEAL’s focus on missions. “I can be passive about sharing Christ with others, but I was encouraged to take every opportunity to reach out to my pre-believing friends. I realize now that evangelism is not just about going beyond Singapore to share Christ, but also within the communities I am placed in. It’s a good reminder that I am placed at NUS not just to study but also to share Christ with others!”
Living with New Hope
Students were renewed as they received God’s Word from sermons by Trinity’s ministers – taking part in up to four services within a single day. Brother Poon Chong Lin, in-charge of Campus Ministry, first shared with students about how God zealously pursues people with reckless love, redemptive grace, and restorative purposes.
He preached that Hosea’s unconditional love for Gomer reflected God’s endless love for humanity and exhorted us to pursue others with the same love.
Executive Pastor Gerald Tan reached students on a practical level with a sermon on combatting fatigue and zeal-killers in our lives, sharing: “Prolonged tiredness festers into fatigue, and when left unchecked this turns into weariness, which leads eventually to burnout and depression.”
This message came at an apt time as Campus students prepared for the imminent academic year in the backdrop of the pandemic, which has left many feeling physically and emotionally exhausted.
Preaching from Isaiah 40:31, Pastor Gerald spoke on God’s solution to weariness during life’s challenges:
“But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
Campus students also sought the presence of God during times of worship and prayer and were uplifted.
Shania Tan, 19, from NUS, was in a spiritually dry season before attending Conference ZEAL. “I used to be passionate about the things of God and about the people around me coming to know about God. Somewhere along the way, my passion diminished.
During Conference ZEAL, three different leaders came and prayed for me. Their declaration over me was a confirmation of a word I received previously from the Lord in another camp.
Despite how I felt, God was calling me to walk by faith and to be used by Him no matter where He brings me. I thank God for using Conference ZEAL to clear my doubts. He is true and always at work!”
Brandon Chew, a 23-year-old NTU student, shared: “During worship at Conference ZEAL, God reminded me of something spoken to me earlier as a younger student in Trinity’s IGNYTE ministry. Pastor Gary Chia saw that I rarely smiled because I felt sad on the inside, and he told me this was not God’s plan for my life.
Previously, I thought I was alive because I hadn’t died yet. But God has been changing my outlook in life.
Now I see His plan is the backdrop of my existence, and the true meaning of my life is to act in accordance with God’s plan and purpose for me. My perspective has changed, and I have gained a newfound ZEAL for the Lord!”
Moving Forward in Confidence
The final day of Conference ZEAL saw a culmination of the Spirit’s powerful work. Sister Elisa Tan, ministerial staff of Campus Ministry, preached on “A Zeal for God’s House.” Contrary to prevailing worldviews, Sister Elisa encouraged students to leave behind consumerism, complacency, and shallow religiosity. As believers, we can rise above this and treat God’s house with reverential worship.
Campus student Shannon Chow, 19, reflected candidly on how God used this message to realign her heart.
“The week before camp, I regretted signing up because I wanted more time to myself before school started. Nonetheless, by God’s grace, I woke up early in the mornings and made it to church for Conference ZEAL.
Despite the less-than-ideal posture of my heart, Sister Elisa's sermon about having zeal for the house of God really impacted me. I felt God calling me to ask myself if I served Him from a place of genuine love or simply to feel better about myself.
So much of my zeal had been lost over the past month as I chose to pass it off as another casualty of the pandemic. But I was the one who had let go of God and my reverence for His church.
The conference helped me revaluate my walk with God and realign my heart for Him. NUS will be another testing ground for my faith, but Conference ZEAL has reassured me of God’s promises.”
“How are we pursuing others with God’s relentless love?”
Brother Chong Lin concluded the conference with a message about relying on God’s Spirit to represent Christ and share Jesus with our community, especially during these times.
While the Church is beset by stifling restrictions and an increasingly uncertain outlook, Campus students at Conference ZEAL found immense hope and confidence in the Lord.
Let not outwardly bleak circumstances douse the buried embers of our zeal for the Lord. May we – while being tested and tried – continue to burn with the Spirit’s passion and enthusiasm in pursuit of our God and touch many lives for Jesus.
Reflect & Respond
How can you encourage a young person in their faith this week?
Are there any worldly attitudes keeping you from fully following the Lord? Ask the Holy Spirit to help renew your walk with Jesus.