New friends we haven’t met yet

Zahra and I attended our new church on Sunday 5th August. It was recommended to us by our house agent. It’s called Victory Family Centre (VFC.org) and they meet in seven locations across Singapore. We attended the one nearest to us, about 3km away from where we live.

Facilities

We had visited the building on Friday 3rd August to see where it was and we’re given a tour of the facilities by one of the staff.

Escalators or the lift takes you from the ground floor (car park, coffee area etc) to the first floor main hall called the Sanctuary, a hall that easily fits 500 + people. There are seven floors to the building (B1,B2,1,2,3 and Attic) housing various large rooms for different church meetings.

The Attic house children’s church and has large toilet facilities for children too (with colourful walls and low level looks and sinks). There were multiple rooms for the different age groups for children’s church but easily the most impressive was the crèche facilities. The room was the size of a UK Primary school hall and had the popular jigsaw matting. There were lots of age appropriate toys and painting as well as high chairs and changing facilities.

The church has an office there too. It was a huge, fully used building.

What’s available?

The main English service is at 10am on Sundays in the Sanctuary. There are Madarin, Cantonese and Filipino services too on different floors of the building. (Apparently the Filipino members always have great food! I’ll have to find out!).

Also at the same time is the children’s church and crèche. The teenagers meet separately on Saturday afternoons.

There are other meetings and activities throughout the week and the church provides free kids craft classes on Saturday afternoons for the local community and free parenting classes at the same time too.

I am sure I will find out more as I attend but there was so much to take in on the initial ‘tour’.

Meet and Greet

We arrived at 9:45am on Sunday 5th August (having previously ascertained that the service does start on time and to arrive early to register Zahra in with children’s church). They didn’t know in advance we were attending that week – relevant for how we were fabulously greeted.

As the taxi (we don’t know our neighbourhood yet and didn’t want to get lost) approached the car park usher waved and asked a church member to show us where to go. We were escorted to the escalators. At the top of the escalators we were met by a lady who introduced herself and stayed by my side the entire time until the end of the service. She took us to the lift and up to the Attic to register Zahra in children’s church. This was impressively organised and computerised. They typed in Zahra’s details and my contact no and printed out a label for her and two labels for me. These had to be produced when collecting Zahra at the end of church and were checked and matched before releasing Zahra back into my care.

I was escorted back down the lift to the Sanctuary for the main English service. We sat 2/3rds of the way down the hall in the centre rows. The chairs were proper chairs with comfy seats and the room was carpeted ( a stark contrast to the tiled floor and plastic garden chairs in Bangalore we endured for years!).

Sunday Service

The worship team (band and singers) started on time at 10am. The songs were on the big screen backdrop behind the stage whilst the cameraman focussed on the lead singer (also projected to the middle of the screen).

I didn’t recognise any of the songs that were enthusiastically sung and played. (So many new Christian songs are written all the time now that I rarely recognise any from my ‘ye olde worlds and hymne’ days!). It was a great worship session. After the 2 minute networking time the offering was taken and the main speaker introduced.

(Just an aside here. It is my pet dislike that churches insist on doing this. Nothing panics me more in church than being asked to forcibly introduce myself to strangers. Even worse ( and always done in Bangalore) is the “please stand up if this is your first time with us today”; (everyone claps and the newbies are given a welcome pack to complete their contact details). Why, why, why would you do this? It’s not welcoming, it’s terrifying. It make me feel extremely uncomfortable, embarrasses me and turns my stomach in so many somersaults that I think I might puke or run out. I do wish churches would stop doing this and just say that visitors are very welcome. Maybe it’s the Brit in me or maybe my anxiety – either way, I really do find it challenging. Anyway, back to the main theme…)

This was a live projection from one of the other church locations as they had a visiting missionary / pastor speaking on his farewell tour of Asia (he’s 75!). He spoke on the ‘Benjamite Blessings’ and interspersed his talk with humour and some quite funny / laugh out loud jokes.

There was an ‘alter call’ which is when people go to the front of the church (which used to be the alter) to receive prayer or to receive Christ as their Saviour. Lots of prayers and thanksgiving followed.

The service ended with Pastor Esther giving a final prayer.

After the Service

Before people started to make their way out of the Sanctuary my phone rang. (I always have it on silent during church but could hear the buzzing). I answered an unknown number to discover it was one of the meet and greet team looking for me to take me down to the basement for coffee and snacks. She located me in the seating and took me to collect Zahra (matching up the wrist bands) and going down in the lift to the basement.

Zahra immediately eyed the pizza and was off to the vending machine to get a drink too. I was introduced to a whole host of people whilst asking questions about the church. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming – I really was in the middle of a room full of friends I hadn’t met yet. The kindness of strangers is something I have written about before; it really is true. It is summoned up by the churches motto/ strap line/ mission statement:

At Victory Family Centre, we want to help you to become the person God made you to be.

We left very happy, if exhausted from the sheer size and friendliness of this wonderful church. We’ve been back again and are looking forward to joining them weekly.