By Nathan Ang Wee Kiat, labourer with The NavTeens
Nathan Ang is in his last month of internship as he pursues a Diploma in Mechatronics and Robotics. Beyond academic pursuits, Nathan spends time mentoring his juniors from the Boys’ Brigade (BB) in his alma mater, Christ Church Secondary School. At just 20 years old, Nathan’s convictions and sense of mission are firmly rooted in God’s Word. Last year, Nathan was one of top 10 Primers in Singapore to be awarded The President’s Award, the highest accolade in the BB programme. Here, he reflects on his ministry and personal walk with God.
Why did you join Boys’ Brigade?
Being adventurous, I intended to join Outdoor Adventure Club (ODAC) as a co-curricular activity (CCA). I never considered joining any uniform groups until a friend told me that the BB had activities such as kayaking and rock climbing. This friend also recommended that I enrol in the BB’s orientation camp. I learnt that the BB provides holistic growth—development of character and leadership together with sports and skills. Also, because the BB is Christian-based, I figured that it is a very safe environment.
What brought you joy in this ministry?
It was fulfilling being with the BB because I could challenge myself through competitions such as 45 km-long triathlons and Bible knowledge contests. There was a balance of physical and spiritual input.
Oliver Kelly, a ministry staff with The NavTeens (TNT), also made BB enjoyable. His one-to-one mentorship and Bible studies were so in-depth that to me, one month’s time with him was worth one year of spiritual input elsewhere. I had never seen this kind of discipleship before! The Bible became more applicable in my life and I grew in my love for God and His Word.
I really enjoyed my time with my peers and seniors because they were like-minded people. Simple things such as planning for camps were opportunities to develop leadership, as we assumed various roles such as being responsible for food, budget, administration and registration. We learnt to pass on our skills and knowledge to our juniors too.
Why did you decide to continue in TNT ministry?
I was sure I wanted to continue in this BB ministry as a Primer for multiple reasons.
- According to the BB Singapore website, “The Object of The Boys’ Brigade shall be the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom among Boys and the promotion of habits of Obedience, Reverence, Discipline, Self-Respect and all that tends towards a true Christian Manliness.” While many focus on the second part of the objectives, our Company is one of the few which intentionally shares the gospel. Uncle Oliver challenged me to advance the gospel through this platform.
- I have always wanted an older brother who would watch over me, be with me and whom I could talk freely with. This group helped me along. As such, I want to be the person the boys can actively seek out to share their problems and burdens with. Being their confidante sharpens both the boys and me—the challenges some of them face are beyond me, and I can only sympathise with them. I realise there is a limit to my mentorship and God tells me I am to let Him be in-charge of their lives.
- Ministry allows me to experience God like no other. Sharing the gospel to unbelieving friends is a delight, especially when some of them respond excitedly and eventually come to Christ. My greatest joy is discipling a group of youth for three years and seeing them return to co-labour. Investing in the boys is a way of loving them like Jesus did. The process is arduous, but Christ is patient in re-shaping their lives.
What else did you learn that you can apply now?
My time with the BB helped me hone soft and hard skills such as administration, communication, time management and developing convictions. I learn to consider everything we do, question what we’re doing and see if we can improve the processes or ourselves.
I took the soft and hard skills I gained and applied them to my studies. I had expected my peers to have a similar level of professionalism in their work, but group projects taught me otherwise. I had to be tactful with different peers just as I did in BB. Instead of writing my group mates off for poor effort, I held on to what my senior, Captain Wesley Chong, said about teamwork, “You are only as strong as your weakest link. If you miss out or don’t involve any person in your team, he will affect the entire team’s performance.” There is no solo effort.
The supposedly weakest person may possess untapped potential and skills that are not unleashed, because he has been dismissed. Hence, building a relationship with my classmates helps me overcome my prejudices and empower them instead.
What are the criteria for The President’s Award?
We had to complete The Alpha course or equivalent, serve in church and community, hold a leadership position in school, clock 150 hours in BB and attend compulsory leadership workshops. There was also a Primers’ Challenge, which is an overseas trip where went for activities such as hiking, rafting and abseiling. For me, the highlight of the trip was when we went hunting for Rafflesia. But with daily fellowship, camps and activities, by God’s grace I exceeded all requirements. The hardest thing was summarising my life’s mission statement in 25 words:
To influence, empower and equip youths spiritually so that they too may do the same for others, for this life unto eternity.
How are you anticipating your next phase of life—National Service?
I believe God will bring me through, come what may.
I can do everything through Him who gives me strength (Philippines 4:3).
Nothing seems scary anymore. Uncle Oliver and the fellowship have taught me to take leaps of faith and since my gifting is faith in Christ, I can take my trust to another level.
Before I enlist, three God-given goals of mine is to develop in mentoring, surrendering and obeying in the “crucible of fire”. The crucible would refer to hardship and trials I will face. I want to stay true and focussed on the Lord, having the mindset that these allow me to be transformed more into Christlikeness to make me a better servant. As a pillar of fire preceded Moses and the escaping Israelites from Egypt, I aim to be that fire leading at the front line. I want to be a godly mentor, surrendering every aspect of my life and going through the coming tests in order to burn for Christ.
This article is in line with The Navigators CORE Values:
CORE 1 The passion to know, love, and become like Jesus Christ.
CORE 7 Love and grace expressed among us in community.