Under the Enlistment Act, I was due to enlist on July, 5 2019.

Unlike my peers, I was actually looking forward to enlisting as I wanted a career in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). I had heard advice from SAF regulars in church that I should be careful and go through BMT first before I make the decision.

On the outside I would just smile and nod, but on the inside I really wanted to sign on as I was unhappy with my current field of study. I also wanted the sign-on bonus so I could get married with my girlfriend.

I wanted to enlist, I was dying to. All my eggs were in the basket that had “SAF” written on it in caps.

But after I enlisted, I realised how wrong I was.

Right from the first day, I felt disillusioned. I could not comprehend why we had to be rushed for every single thing. At first, I thought maybe the commanders were rushing for time. But after they rushed us, we would have to wait cluelessly for a good 15-20 minutes for the next set of instructions.

Rush to wait, wait to rush. I just didn’t get it.

I would just feel sad for no reason at all, I even cried in the shower where no one would know.

Another thing I did not brace myself for was the culture shock. The constant cursing really got to me. I felt out of place. And I knew I needed to be there, but I couldn’t help missing my home, freedom, friends, family and time alone with God.

I vividly recall my first night in bunk. I was on the phone with my girlfriend (who is abroad studying), and as she continued to talk about her day, tears welled in my eyes when I realised just how far away she was from me. Throughout that first week I would just feel sad for no reason at all. I even cried in the shower where no one would know.

I talked to my buddy and sergeant about it, but their response was always “it will get better”. That was not a satisfying answer.

As there was no way to change the fact that I had to serve NS, the only thing that needed changing was me.

The whole adjustment period made me realise my priorities were not in the right place. When the things that used to comfort me were no longer there, I realised I could only depend on God for help. I’m also thankful to have supportive family members and church friends who prayed for me to adjust well.

Even though I have finished BMT, I still find that I have not fully adjusted. There are times when I dread booking in, meals and even my section mates. But I thank God that He has comforted me and pulled me through many uncomfortable situations.

To my fellow brothers who are not adjusting well to National Service (NS), I urge you to cast your cares upon Him for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). Having good Christian friends by my side praying for me and a small Bible to read during admin time has really helped me to adapt to life as a soldier.

It’s tough to talk about Jesus to my peers. But I’m glad that I still shared the Gospel to some of them including my platoon sergeant.

The reality is that I have two years of NS to serve, so I might as well serve to the best of my abilities. 

I’m entering a new phase in my NS. I’m going to Specialist Cadet School, even though I clearly circled “no” to being a sergeant. I guess the cycle continues: I’m placed in a position that I don’t want to be in.

However, this time I have a goal in mind. I won’t waste my two years. I will share the Gospel to my peers and live a life pleasing to God.

  1. What do you want to get out of NS?
  2. If you have gone through NS, what would you have done differently?
  3. How can you be a blessing to someone in camp right now?