All I wanted was to cruise through my two years of National Service (NS).
No hiccups, no frills. Blend in, be done, then wipe the dust off my boots as my pink IC and I ride into the ORD sunset. That was the plan.
But then my pastor posed a question to me over meepok and kopi: “Julius, what do you really want to get out of these two years?” Hearing those words prompted a shift in my mindset and direction.
I decided then that I would seek God more than ever; I committed to living a life of purity as a man after God’s heart.
Life in an army camp has its good moments. The connection Singaporean sons share as fellow soldiers is one of things that I cherish.
But when us guys get together, chaos always ensues. At the back of my head, I always thought we knew where to draw the line in terms of the jokes or comments we made. But we didn’t. What I hated was how we – in the absence of our mothers, sisters and girlfriends – would objectify women.
We would assure one another, with nervous laughter, that the things we were saying were fine because they were jokes. But nothing about what we said was fine. I heard some share about how they secretly wanted to cheat on their girlfriends. The boys were brought together on the common topic of pornography and sexual desire.
I was upset because I knew in my heart that I should have no part in all this.
There was a period last year where these conversations would keep popping up, and I was at a loss about what I should do.
My NS buddies asked me why I avoided cussing and why I looked upset during their conversations; they noticed my uncomfortable silence during these conversations, and they asked why I didn’t join in.
“Live a little lah. You only live once, so enjoy life all the way”, was what they said.
In the absence of our mothers, sisters and girlfriends… we would objectify women.
But I had told God from day one that I was not going to conform to worldly standards (Romans 12:2). I was not going to be the hypocritical Christian who professes to worship Jesus yet parties with the devil.
I need to put out this disclaimer: I’m not bragging that I live a holy life. In fact, my life has been far from holy. I have tripped and messed up a million times over. I’ve lusted after women on screen and in real life. My unguarded heart succumbed, all because I wanted to blend in with the majority – the “safer” place to be.
Yet God held my hand through every broken moment.
I cried out from the confines of my bedroom for clean hands and a pure heart. I knew I needed to change, so I sought out brothers who would keep me accountable.
God has placed dreams on my heart that do not line up with a life of compromise. This compromise is not a self-sacrificial give-and-take you might find in a relationship. This compromise results in a drained soul because the deceitful heart and the wandering mind mutes the authority of the Holy Spirit. This compromise is a rebellion against God.
So I take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), and I pray that my heart is constantly aligned to His.
I am almost 21.
I dream of marrying an amazing, God-loving, Christ-centered woman. I want to raise godly kids who will impact this world for God. But how will these dreams work out if I follow my worldly passions?
Rebellion against God will only lead us into a messy and chaotic life. A relationship with God, on the other hand, brings real life.
I thank God for the NS cell I had while serving the nation. We gathered, worshipped and prayed together. We shared in our struggles and we lifted each other up. To me, these brothers were a light in the midst of the darkness.
Serving God’s kingdom never stops, and enlisting into NS doesn’t exempt us from it.
When we accepted Christ as our Lord and Saviour, we assumed the mantle of servanthood. Just as Christ came to serve and sacrifice, we are workers in God’s service (1 Corinthians 3:9). We carry the heart of a servant in our family and community.
It’s my last year of NS, and I’m still on my mission to bring the joy of salvation to my camp. I’ve been mocked for my “holiness”; the boys love to shout “Hallelujah” and “Praise the Lord” as a joke – maybe with a hint of contempt – but I just want to show them Jesus, anyway.
I’m learning to love people unceasingly. I know the love of God will ultimately touch the hearts of my brothers in NS.
- Do your friends and colleagues in NS know you’re Christian?
- Since you’ve enlisted, have you grown closer to or further from God?
- Do you have a band of brothers you can be accountable to?