By Dr. Luke Tan, Steph and Christel
How Stretch Out Started
During my (Dr. Luke) years as a medical student in the mid-80s, the late Dr. Bobby Sng, then the Fellowship of Evangelical Students’ (FES) General Director, spent much of his time working with Graduates’ Christian Fellowship (GCF) amongst tertiary students and young adults.
It was during those years that I was challenged by him to stretch out my life for the Lord. I have been doing just that for the past 30 years, and now challenging students and young adults to do the same. So S T R E T C H Out!
Stretch Out is a collaborative annual missions event held by a collective of missions organisations. We aim to create a missional awareness among the young adults who desire to understand the call to missions more deeply, who want to understand the realities of a journey of commitment to Christian ministry and inspire them into the work of God in missions. The Lord brought 150 receptive young adults and tertiary students and several committed themselves to service.
“Going to Stretch Out has inspired me to rethink and reimagine ways I could be prayerful in serving Him this year. The workshops were very informative as well as encouraging. Their vast experience that the speakers have coupled with their humility brings a lot of inspiration to my friends and I who have attended the event. When Dr Luke challenged us all, it was also very refreshing to see so many of my peers equally fired up and passionate about missions.” ~Kenji, participant
Stretch Out 2020 was planned because a large proportion of those who came last year were young adults seriously looking to commit their lives to the Lord.
God’s Grace in a Sudden Disruption
It’s a Saturday afternoon on the 1st of February; Singapore had just been put on alert on the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level Yellow after the first case of COVID-19 was reported. The week that led up to the day was an uncertain time for our group. Our plans, invitations and venue in OMF were based on an initial 280 registrants, not inclusive of the speakers and volunteers.
As news broke of the DORSCON status, the number dwindled to 200. Still, the numbers were more than what we had anticipated! In spite of hindrances, we thank the Lord that the event could proceed with all the safety measures put in place. Some 75 churches were represented at Stretch Out 2020; including several from Grace Assembly Of God (Grace AOG), which was later found to be the center of a major COVID-19 cluster. It was only after three weeks had passed that we knew Stretch Out 2020 was not going to be a potential infection cluster. Mercy was bestowed on us and all Glory to the Lord!
Stretch Out: Work and Missions
Last year, Stretch Out 2019 worked with OMF, FES and former Missions Education & Exposure Training (MEET) members from the 1980s to host a missions seminar. We looked at ministry to the poor, the family, through businesses, healthcare sector and preparation to be a full time minister.
This is the second time that we held Stretch Out, with this year’s theme on Work and Missions. Through this event, many who came were encouraged to work out how we can stretch our lives for God and for the sake of others! Six workshops were run, namely, Ministering to the Underprivileged, Tentmaking, Theological training, Business & Missions, Bible Translation, and Reaching Young Professionals.
“It was a good exposure to the realities of missions (e.g. in one of the workshops: reflecting on what the church is (not the physical building), and seeing how it was built and looks like in another community/ society), and a good opportunity to hear from and talk to the missionaries, the very people who have committed themselves to missions… I was also reflecting on how missions also seem to be a personal journey for the missionary, and was reminded to continue to come before God and seek His guidance, and learn to obey step by step. The sharing from Scriptures at the end was a good anchor.” ~Jie Si, participant
As the event closed with an appropriate song, ‘I Say Yes’ by local worship band, Awaken Generation, Samuel Lim, a missionary in Northern Thailand, challenged the audience to the call of missions in Haggai 1, to build the Kingdom of God with His presence that goes with us.
In closing, missions today take on varied forms and is ever evolving. The task is far from finished and has been passed down to us. Will you allow God to stretch your life, and pull you to the call of missions? We pray that you will do just that, and will indeed S T R E T C H your lives for the Lord!