A group of us who attended Office for Young People (OYP) ’s School of Witness (SOW) earlier this year decided to commit to a follow up programme called ‘SOW n GROW’. The core of SOW n GROW is to deepen our relationship with the Lord and build on the encounters that we have experienced at SOW, through communal living and being disciples on mission, rooted in Christ. The call to live out our lives more intentionally, being single minded in our pursuit of Christ and expanding our hearts for others stretched many of us, but above all, we grew deeper in our faith and built a stronger desire for Christ and His Church.
Daily activities included in-house ministry such as painting and revamping of the youth room, gardening and housekeeping. We also served in the camps and retreats organised by OYP and journeyed with the different polytechnic and university communities. It was a blessing to have also participated in mercy work in our backyard, cleaning houses for the elderly and packing rations for the less privileged. There was street outreach downtown where we were paired up to share our faith with strangers.
Our personal formation was prioritised during SOW n GROW with personal prayer time set aside for us every morning. We were encouraged to do spiritual reading, received input and had opportunities to give formation sessions on various topics. We also had one on one sharing partner time with a OYP staff, to help us to see God’s hand in our day to day activity and also to push and challenge us deeper.
SOW n GROW was a very rich and fulfilling time for all of us. It pushed us beyond our comfort zone and allowed us to know what it means to give God the space and room to move in our lives. We are all truly grateful to be part of this programme and would like to give our sincere thanks and appreciation to the staff of OYP who have been guiding and shepherding us over the past 6 months in SOW and moving into the SOW n GROW. We have all grown not just in faith, but as a community and as individuals through the witnessing of all those involved in the programme. We have grown to be men and woman after the heart of God and His people, now daring to dream for the Church.
“Thank you Jesus for the first 6 months of 2018 which I could have never planned for or even expected. Thank you for surprising me, challenging me and continuously growing my faith. The seed of faith planted in SOW has had time to be more deeply rooted in the truth of Your goodness and love through SOW n GROW. I am a new creation in Your raised hands.
I see now how You have desired for me to go deeper within myself, to heal me in greater degree and to allow me to discover what is possible in You and through You. You show me and convict me that You are enough, that You catch me and that above everything else, You love me. Through the retreats I have had the opportunity to facilitate and the people I have been privileged to meet and minister to, You show me how You work in such personal and intimate ways to chase after each of us. Through living in community, I have realised the great value of hospitality and continue to learn what it really means to love my brothers and sisters. I see examples of lives given to You and the purpose and joy that comes with it.
Living a life in You isn’t easy, and requires a constant returning to Your truth when temptation of living an easier life with less of You comes. But I choose this life because I have never experienced greater Joy or Love and I find security in You that doesn’t exist anywhere else. I am truly living my best life in You, and my prayer is that in this next season of my life I will always claim the truth that You are more than enough as you break new ground in me and allow me to discover who I really am in You.”
– Rebekah Broughton
“In Sow n Grow, we have sharing sessions every week that our brothers and sisters plan, based on the particular spiritual book they are reading or the topic they have an affinity to and have been invited to learn more about it and to share. As I prepared for my sharing, I’ve gained a greater insight on how as Christians, God is present in our daily lives and how we are called to live and to serve one another in community.”
– Darius Tay
“SOW n GROW has stirred my heart to desire Christ and be Christ-like in all that I do, even in the most ordinary situations. Through the different activities (scraping and painting walls, cleaning houses, making art from pieces of wood, giving sessions and serving in camps), I’ve learned what it means to live my life as a prayer to God, allowing Him to enter into every moment. No gift is too small for God, and I trust that the Lord will magnify the little I have to love Him and His people.
I’m especially thankful for the SOW n GROW community, my brothers and sisters who are also pursuing Christ in their own special ways. Just as how the theme of SOW18 is a communal ‘increase our faith’, in our journey over the past few months, we have built each other up and increased our faith together. I’m excited to see what the Lord has planned for each of us!”
– Amelia Tan
“SOW n GROW has given me an avenue to discover how I can encounter God in everything that I do, through refurbishing the youth room, going for street evangelisation and even as I shared how my week went with the SOWers. It also allowed for an avenue for healing and conversion to take place again through my sharing partner time.
I’m grateful for the many blessings I’ve received in SOW and grow by the sharing of life stories and having companions on this journey after SOW and also for a time and space to bless others during community lunches where I could bake for everyone.”
– Nicolette Lee
“SOW n GROW really helped to anchor my blossoming faith post-SOW. The multitude of opportunities given to us to expand our capacity to love were experiences that I will always hold close to my heart. I was given the chance to help direct a video for OYP and through this, I realised that it’s possible to share my faith in so many ways, even in the ways I have never dreamt of. Through SOW n GROW, I found myself a new wineskin and a new heart of flesh.”
– Nicole Er
“Through the last 3 months in this SOW&GROW programme, I have grown to love more. For me, what makes me, me, is God, (interaction with) others and myself.
God: The idea of solitude spoke to me after we read through a little article summary on Henri Nouwen’s “Reaching Out” – which later planted a desire in me to read the book – and a session by Francis on Solitude with God vs Loneliness & Isolation. As I embarked on the journey inward and toward a greater solitude with God, I remember that I’m not alone on this journey, that the greater self-awareness and desire for Him to fill all the voids and fears in my heart is done WITH him and His Spirit’s guidance.
Others: We learnt to work with and serve others both in our SOW & GROW community, the OYP family and the less privileged in society. In loving my brothers and sisters with our different work styles and viewpoints, I realised what it meant to be Christ-like, die to my stubborn prideful self and increasingly, love selflessly. I learnt humility, too, through the various wood work tasks and learning to ask for guidance because I was less equipped with these skills than others. Indeed, there’s no shame in asking for help! 🙂
Self: I think this is linked intricately with my point on God. I’ve learnt more about myself in this time, and I really thank Him. I’ve learnt that I need to grow in patience with myself, to not fixate on the not-yets or my future ideal self, but to love myself for who I am presently— just as how God loves me dearly in spite of every imperfection I see. In the same breath, I’ve really grown to believe that the brokenness from my struggles and past can be used to bless others in the vulnerability of my sharings, especially for those I journey or have faith conversations with. Isn’t that beautiful? Our brokenness sometimes multiplies the blessings in others’ lives— just like how the miracle of multiplication did not happen until Jesus broke the bread. 🙂
Hence, I feel I’ve grown to love the 3 things that make me, me: God, others and myself. And, for sure, I couldn’t think of a better way to follow up my amazing experience at School of Witness with SOW n GROW. I thought it would just be a bed of roses initially, with the staff hand-holding us. But, I think the God of surprises has revealed to me that in every single crushing and pressing, He made new wine out of me and continues to do so every day.”
– Jeremy Chua