News from the Covenant Christian Education Society

On the night of October 10, 2014, men of the Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church gathered together in response to the call of Deuteronomy 6:7 – “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up”. These men recognised the pressing need for our children, and our children’s children, to be given a Christian education: an education that was founded not only on academic excellence, but especially on the Word of God. That night, thirty- one men signed the roster forming our first society for Christian education, and elected six to its Board.

The Board was immediately given a number of tasks. The Board was to propose a name and constitution for the newly formed society. But more importantly, the Board had to begin investigating into the conditions necessary for forming our own Christian school in Singapore.

As the investigation progressed, it quickly became clear to the Board and Society that a fully functional Christian school – think having a school building with classrooms, labs, a gym and so on – would not be ours for several years yet. In the first place, the small number of children of school-going age in CERC today meant that it would be nearly impossible to set up such a school. There would not be enough students, nor sufficient funding to pay for the school. In addition, education in Singapore is heavily regulated by the government, thereby presenting us with a number of hurdles to cross before our school can be set up (more on this later).

With these considerations in mind, the Society at its January 2016 meeting adopted the name Covenant Christian Education Society, along with a Constitution for the Society. The adoption of the Constitution was significant because in it was embodied the basis for the Society: its belief in Scripture as the foundation for all things, the covenantal relationship between God and His people, and the need to raise covenant children for the service of God. In addition, the adopted name and Constitution reflected the unique position we had in Singapore. The Society expanded its initial goal from establishing a Christian school to one that also included providing a means for us to give our covenant children a Christian education while a school could not yet be formed.

In the course of its investigation, the Board uncovered a number of issues that would stand in the way of our having a Christian school. The largest hurdle to the formation of our Christian school today would probably be the enactment of the Compulsory Education Act. Established in 2003, the Act requires all Singaporean children to undergo Compulsory Education (CE) in a national primary school. Exemptions are only permitted for special needs children, Muslim children wishing to attend the madrasahs*, and those who wish to home-school. Parents who wish to home-school their children may apply to the Ministry of Education (MOE) for an exemption from CE, but home-schooled children must still, like all other students, sit for and complete the national Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) when they are between 11 and 15 years of age**. There are currently no laws requiring children to further their education after completing the PSLE.

Because of the apparent difficulty of giving our children of primary school- going age a Christian education, the Board has decided to focus its investigation first on the possible alternatives for Christian education for parents with young children.

Undoubtedly, the most ideal scenario would be to have our school recognized by the MOE as an official alternative to the public primary schools. However, at this point this appears difficult to do. Establishing our school as a national school would mean having to comply with standard MOE policies, which would almost certainly prevent us from teaching the Bible or from a biblical perspective. And while a Christian private school currently exists as an officially recognized alternative to public school education, it was formed before the current legislation took effect, and today the authorities appear to have little desire to grant approval for more of such schools. It is also not possible for us to establish our school as an international school, as Singaporean students would not be granted exemptions from CE to attend an international school.

The investigation appears to have yielded nothing but difficulty after difficulty, and obstacle after obstacle. Perhaps as you read this you are beginning to ask– will we ever have a Christian school?

The Board does not have an answer to that, but we trust that God will provide in His time. However, let us not despair as though the cause of Christian education is lost. While we do not yet have a Christian school, there are still possibilities for our children to be given a Christian education instead of attending a public school.

The opportunity to apply for a CE exemption to home-school our children remains open. While home- schooling cannot replace the learning experience which a child can enjoy in a Christian school, it provides us with the ability to educate our children from a Reformed perspective instead of leaving our children in the hands of the public schools. Because this option appears the most feasible as a near- term solution for Christian education, the Board is exploring the possibility of developing a Christian education experience for home-schooled children. While there are no concrete plans yet, possibilities include providing a suggested home-school curriculum for parents, and gathering the children for lessons, outings or other activities.

Despite the difficulties, let us remember that the Christian education of our children is an urgent calling for us. The third generation of children are already arriving one by one, and in God’s providence we will be blessed with more children in future as our young people marry. We – yes, all of us – have to be ready to raise these children in the ways of the Lord. How can we be ready?

Young people, make the covenant education of your children a priority.

You may not be married, or even dating at this point, but you can already begin to make preparations to enable you to give your children a covenant education in future. Start by taking an interest in the work of the Society, because providing our children with a Christian education is not only the Board’s work. It is also your calling too! Familiarize yourself with the possibilities and constraints of Christian education in Singapore. In addition, recognize that you may one day need to apply for a CE exemption to home-school in order to give your child a Christian education. There are certain requirements to be fulfilled for that exemption to be granted, and you can begin exploring how you can be ready to meet the requirements, should the time come that you need to apply for that exemption.

Adult members, your own children may be past the school-going age, or perhaps the Lord has not given you children of your own. Nevertheless, the calling in Deuteronomy 6 comes to you as well. As the entire nation of Israel was commanded to teach their children the ways of God, so also are you to teach the children of our church, though they may not be your own. If you are able, consider giving financially to help the cause of Christian education, for Christian education is costly, especially for young parents raising a family on one income. You can also volunteer your time to support the activities related to Christian education, perhaps by teaching a class or two, or being a chaperone at an outing for the children, should such activities be organized. In any case, Christian education is no easy task, and there will be many different ways for you to contribute.

Finally, pray for the work of the Society and the Board, for the work ahead is too great for our own strength to bear. It is only through Christ, relying on His strength and resting on His promises, that we may one day see our children, and children’s children for generations to come, educated in a solidly Reformed school.

*Madrasah: An Islamic religious school

**Ministry of Education, Singapore. (2016). Com- pulsory Education: Exemptions. Retrieved from https://www.moe.gov.sg/education/education-sys- tem/compulsory-education/exemptions

Written by: Daniel Tang | Issue 40

Advertisements

Our Children’s Education (IX)

Covenant education for Covenant seed is faithfulness to Jehovah’s Covenant. Leaving our children to fend for themselves in the ungodly education of public schools is contrary to all the precepts of the Covenant. We rob our children of their Covenant privileges when we give them an ungodly education instead of a Covenant one.

It is sheer folly to expect godly, spiritually mature men and women to be raised under an ungodly education. As a corrupt tree cannot produce good fruit, so an ungodly education cannot produce godly children.

Jehovah’s calling for Covenant parents is not to raise up the political and business leaders of this world. It is to raise up “Davids”, “Daniels”, and “Pauls” for the church of Jesus Christ; it is to rear mothers in Israel.

Educating our children carefully in the ways of the Covenant will serve an important purpose. We will raise a generation that knows their Reformed faith intimately; by God’s grace, they will love it, confess it, maintain it, defend it, live by it, and even die for it. We will raise a generation who will be jealous for their precious Reformed heritage because they have a God who is jealous of His glory. We will raise a generation whose chief end in life is the glory of their God.

It is extremely crucial for parents in CERC to understand and be convinced of Covenant education. Most of our second generation members have undergone the public education process and know of its evil consequences. If the Reformed faith is to survive and be developed in all its splendour and beauty, the next generation must not be bystanders in their children’s Covenant education.

If CERC pursues the path of Covenant education for her young (using whatever means the Lord provides us), we will be very much alone. Most churches in Singapore have carelessly given their Covenant seed over to the public schools and are suffering its devastating consequences. We must not be afraid to be alone, for God’s people always constitute a very small remnant.

 

I have no doubt that Covenant education in Singapore is a difficult path that will involve much sacrifice. It is, nevertheless, the path that Scripture directs for us as Covenant parents. God assures us that He will bless us in the way of obedience.

God has provided the Protestant Reformed Churches (PRC) as an example for us. There is nothing cultural about the PRC’s insistence on providing a Covenant education for her children. It is Biblical. It is confessional. It is Reformed.

For reformation to take place in the church of Jesus Christ, we must give serious consideration to the education our Covenant children receive and make significant effort to be greatly involved in it. The Christian education of our children is not a matter of choice. It is our Covenant duty. It is our Covenant privilege.

It is a Covenant necessity.

Written by: Aaron Lim | Issue 39

Our Children’s Education: A Covenant Necessity (VIII) – Objections Answered

Weighty objections have been laid against the idea of a Christian education in Singapore. While it may be true that circumstances in this land make it more difficult to give our children a Covenant education, it only means that we as Covenant parents must be willing to make greater sacrifices for this cause. We do not let the situations in life dictate our Christian walk. Scripture, to which our consciences are bound to, must always be our binding principle.

Objection: A Christian education will raise socially inadequate children. Christian   education excessively shelters our children from the world, producing socially awkward adults.

The concern is valid in that if we place our children in a Christian environment throughout their childhood years, they will not know what the world is really like. They will be ignorant of how the world functions and how to interact with their ungodly colleagues in the workplace when they are of age.

Covenant parents must be assured that this will not be true. A Covenant education that has its basis in Scripture teaches our children true wisdom—how to walk circumspectly and purposefully according to the station and calling God gives to them. Wisdom will enable our children to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves in the midst of this world (Matthew 10:16).

We are not raising Covenant seed to integrate them into society. From a biblical viewpoint, God’s people will always be social outcasts. They are the social pariahs because they are extremely different from the people of this world. They do not share the same principles, goals, and ideals in life. God’s people will always be fools in the eyes of this world, but precious and dear to Him. They are preparing to live in the heavenly kingdom.

Dreadful will be the day when our children are comfortable in this world. The day they find themselves at ease with this world is the day they lose their identity as Covenant children. They become comfortable with pursuing the world’s ideals and living its philosophies. That day signals the end of the antithesis between God’s children and His enemies.

We are raising our children for war with the enemy. Scripture warns that persecution will always face God’s people, and increase in measure as the return of Christ draws nearer. A solid Christian education, contrary to an ungodly and worldly one, prepares them well for this warfare.

Objection: Christian education diminishes our children’s Christian witness to the unbelieving world.

The objection stems from the idea that if we shelter our children by giving them a Covenant education, they cannot be effective witnesses for Christ, especially while at school.

It is very unwise to think that our young children can be effective witnesses when their spiritual faculties are not properly developed yet. Pastor Ronald Hanko writes:

“It is especially important for our children, who are compared in Psalm 128 to young olive plants, to be protected from evil influences. No young plant can be immediately exposed to the elements  and to the full heat of the sun and be expected to live. Nurture (Ephesians 6:4) is not exposure” (Christian Education, http://www.cprf.co.uk/pamphlets/ christianeducation.htm).

Nature itself teaches us this principle. No mother hen allows her young to wander around on their own. Turtles which hatch from the beaches are very quickly preyed upon as they make their way to sea on their own. Lambs are easiest prey for wolves in the sheepfold.

Christ would not allow His lambs to fight the fierce battles of faith until they have been properly trained and equipped with the necessary spiritual armoury. While the calling of the Christian is to reprove the world and to shine forth as a light in the midst of darkness, he must receive a thorough and solid training before he can perform his calling effectively. One must not only have strength, but also much training and practice in order to wield a sword effectively, along with the other weapons of war described in Ephesians 6:13-17.

Written by: Aaron Lim | Issue 38

Public/Home Schooling

Public Schooling

I have been in public schools since kindergarten till secondary school. I am sure most of us know what being in a public school is like. So I will be talking about the bene ts and challenges of Public Schooling in my spiritual life.

I have a vague memory of sharing God’s word with a particular kindergarten friend. I do not remember any details but I remember that she told it to her parents and her family attended church soon after. This proves that even from a young age, public school does have its benefits. The major benefit is the opportunity to share the true gospel with our non-christian and Christian friends. I have had plenty of small ‘arguments’ with my Christian friends over certain doctrines, especially over Limited Atonement and Unconditional Election. I feel that defending the gospel makes me stand firmer in God’s word and encourages me to read up and memorize more scripture so that anytime and anywhere, I would be ready to defend God’s word.

One notable problem I have faced is curriculum that contradicts God’s word. My first encounter with such a scenario was when I was in Secondary 1, and the teacher was talking about the Himalayas being created million of years ago. When I heard that, I was deeply troubled. Perhaps I was still young, but I felt that it would be wrong to write that on my exam script. It was as if I believed that the world was formed millions of years ago due to the big bang or even evolution. I even felt the need to speak up about this nonsense that was being taught. Of course, those teachings did not stop at Secondary 1 – they last till now. Silently, I assure myself that God’s word is the one true word, and if there were any doubts, I would immediately check the Bible. This is when our faith is put to the test. Will we believe what the world teaches us? No! We must stand firm in God’s true and living word!

Once, my principal announced that we were not allowed to spread religion around school, due to cases of seniors inviting juniors to their churches and

parents complaining. When I heard this I was frustrated. How could he say such a thing? Since when did spreading God’s word become a ‘crime’? Certainly it is only the devil’s work that can cause anyone to say such a thing. It discouraged me, but God has provided me with church friends who have told me to continue doing what I do and not let what he said affect me.

In terms of time management, waking up early to do devotions isn’t really a problem although sometimes it can be difficult and requires a lot of will power. Personally, school does not require me to spend huge amounts of time in the school compound. However, my co-curricular activity requires me to attend lots of practices and sometimes skip Covenant Keepers (CK) youth meetings. Every time I skip any church event I would be filled with a terrible sense of guilt. Therefore placing CK activities as my number one priority over band practice or school was my first step to attending more CK meetings. Furthermore, after joining the CK committee, I have felt more responsibility to attend CK meetings. After all, they are spiritually enriching and no company beats the warm fellowship of God’s people.

Matthew 5:14 “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” We are indeed God’s children and we must show the world our good testimony. In a public school, we are given the opportunity to share the gospel. Certainly we must set a good example, so that people can immediately identify that we are the light of this world.

Finally, let me share from 1 Timothy 4:12 “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” In an environment where worldly influences abound, we must continue to be strong in our faith, and remember our eternal prize.

Written by: Isa Chan | Issue 4

Home Schooling

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” What better way for parents to teach their children the ways of the Lord than through homeschooling?

Homeschooling enables families to spend their days together. And because families spend their days together, parents and children, as well as siblings, have more bonding time and develop closer relationships. This is in contrast to most children in public schools who spend most of their time in school, and spend whatever time left at home on the ever-present burden of homework, projects, and studying for tests. Personally I enjoy homeschooling because I have lots of free time to read and pursue other hobbies. Our family also enjoys the flexibility to have family outings on weekdays, as well as cheaper travel during off-peak seasons.

Another of the “pros” of homeschooling is that it enables Christians to have a closer walk with God. Public schools in Singapore nowadays are assigning more and more homework to students, so that they have practically no time for anything else. This could be one of the devil’s attempts to draw believers away from spending time reading God’s Word and praying. Homeschooling allows more free time, and thus more time to pray and meditate on the Word of God.

When our family first started homeschooling, many well-meaning relatives and friends strongly advised my parents against it, thinking that homeschooling does not provide enough opportunities to socialize. Although it is true that special effort has to be made to socialize, the socialization found in public schools might not be very good either. There are many worldly influences like inappropriate speech (Ephesians 4:29; Proverbs 10:31-32; Colossians 3:8) and undesirable values from ungodly teachers and peers in public schools nowadays (Jude 4), and we should be careful who we socialize with. (1 Corinthians 15:33; Proverbs 13:20)

Another reason for the strong urging of many of our family and friends not to homeschool was that they thought homeschooling did not provide as good an education as public schooling, and that there was therefore no future for homeschoolers. That is definitely not true. Homeschooling provides as good an education as public schools, or maybe even better. In homeschooling, there is a wide variety of curricula to choose from, and a curriculum can be found to t each student according to his/her character and needs. In contrast, public schools use the same curriculum for every student, no matter how different they may be and regardless of whether it works well for them.

The last reason for the advice against homeschooling from our friends and relatives was that students in public schools meet people with good and evil intentions, and when they are older, they will supposedly know how to tell such people apart. Homeschoolers, they think, will not know how to tell these people apart because they have not had “experience”. In my opinion, Christian homeschoolers will be able to tell these people apart just as well as students who attend public schools, because they will have been firmly grounded in the Word of God, and will know what goes against the Law of God. But, finally, no one, except God, will know the true intentions of man, for God alone knows the heart, which is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9-10).

Despite its benefits, homeschooling also has its challenges. One of the challenges is self-discipline. Because there is no competition from peers, there can be a lack of motivation, and self-discipline is needed to withstand the many temptations we are surrounded by, like books, the television, and the computer. (James 1:12)

One of the “cons” of homeschooling is that because there are lesser opportunities to socialize, there are also lesser opportunities to witness to others. But despite this disadvantage, we must not take it that we have no opportunity to witness at all. There are still people to witness to, like the people we meet in our daily lives, for example, unsaved relatives, neighbors, and even our parents’ friends and colleagues. We are to be good testimonies, both to Christians (to strengthen and encourage them) and non-Christians (to gain them to Christ) alike. We should also pray for opportunities to witness.

From my two-and-a-half years of homeschooling experience, I have gained a lot. Not only have I gained a closer relationship with my family, I have also gained a closer walk with God. And I hope that what I have written will give you a better perspective of homeschooling.

Written by: Koh Ming Hui | Issue 4

Homeschooling

From the age of two, I went to school like most Singaporean kids, completed PSLE and started secondary school. While in primary school we had contemplated homeschooling but did not take it up because my father objected, concerned about my future. About four months into secondary school my mum started reading up about homeschooling again. My family prayed about it, and with my dad’s approval I began homeschooling in April 2008.

So why did I/we decide to homeschool? My parents wanted to properly obey God’s command in Deuteronomy 6:7, which says “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” It is almost impossible for parents to bring up their children in the Lord when they are in school for almost the whole day and have tons of homework to complete when they get home. Furthermore, God calls covenant parents, not the government, to train up their children in His ways so that they will not depart from it (Prov 22:6). Homeschooling also allows us to choose a Christian curriculum, which will ground me more firmly in the faith, keeping me close to God and enabling me to be a better witness for Him. Money is not a problem because you do not have to choose an expensive curriculum.

A typical day of mine starts with personal devotions, breakfast, and then devotions with my mum and brother. After chores I’ll start my lessons, with breaks in between for lunch and rest. A big challenge I face is discipline. It’s tough at times to focus on my lessons and complete all my assignments on time. Also, there is the temptation to cheat as I have all the answer keys on hand.

Many think homeschoolers don’t have a social life, but that’s not true. The Singapore Homeschooling Group is very active and regularly organizes activities and outings where homeschoolers get to meet and socialize. In fact, if I attended all the activities organized, I wouldn’t have any time for my schoolwork.

I’ve enjoyed homeschooling very much and have never regretted it. I really hope the number of homeschoolers in our church grows!

Written by: Joanna Tang | Issue 3