From disappointment to blessing: How being in The Boys' Brigade changed my life
Alain Chen shares the highs and lows of being in the 60th Coy of The Boys' Brigade, and how God directed his path to grow in Christian leadership and service. Below is the the text of his speech which he gave on BB Sunday, 14 March 2021 at the 8am and 10am services.
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Good morning Pastors, Captains and Chaplains of The Boys’ Brigade 2nd and 60th Companies, BB members, and Kampong Kapor Methodist Church members. I am Alain Chen from the 60th Company at Raffles Institution.
The Boys’ Brigade was not in any of my nine co-curricular activity choices back in Secondary 1. When CCA results were released, instead of a CCA were the words “Please see CCA HOD”. Needless to say, I was disappointed not to have had any of my preferred choices. Instead, I was allocated to The Boys’ Brigade, which I had never heard about.
Truth be told, I really struggled in my first few months. Having no prior experience in primary school, it was tough adapting to the culture of a uniformed group. The emphasis on discipline, standards and teamwork was hard to swallow. Appealing to change my CCA was always at the back of my mind.
Despite my lack of enthusiasm, my Captain, Chaplain, teachers, Primers, seniors and peers constantly reached out to me and encouraged me to be more involved. My parents also told me to give BB a chance. Gradually, the thought of leaving BB faded. As I opened my heart and mind, I realised that BB has so much to offer. I started to participate in programmes such as Blaze, the Band and Drill Competitions. Before I knew it, four years in the Seniors’ Programme had flown by. Looking back, my growth as a BB Boy has only been possible because of the care, love and guidance of our BB community.
Moving into Junior College, I felt that it was natural for me to serve as a Primer, and this time I was assigned to my only CCA choice. The Primers Programme added another dimension to my BB journey. It allowed me to better appreciate the work of my Officers, teachers and seniors, which I had not known before.
While I joined Primers to give back to my Company, I received so much more from those 2 years. The Primers community is probably my most precious takeaway from JC. I made lifelong friendships, and to this day my batch keeps in close contact. Primers has also been a blessing in my walk with God. Having a supportive Christian community around me, I was able to explore Christianity and eventually come to know Christ.
After JC, I returned to 60th to serve as a Volunteer Adult Leader, which brings me to reflect on God’s grace in the past year. 2020 was a difficult year for the 60th Company, and I believe the same can be said for all of us. Parades were suspended in March. Programmes such as March Camp and Blaze were cancelled. This was just as our new Secondary 1s were beginning to adapt to the Company. It was a disruptive period for everyone, and Officers, teachers and Primers had to work hard to shift parades online.
Fortunately, we were able to resume parades virtually. It was encouraging to see how we could creatively adapt our programmes and activities to online delivery options while maintaining their original objectives. For example, our Drill Committee Primers taught drill using self-made tutorial videos, and we organised our first ever e-Annual Parade over Zoom.
During the Circuit Breaker period, Seth Ong, then a Y5 Primer, found out that children from lower-income families were hit hardest by Circuit Breaker measures. Roping in a few of his friends from 60th Company, they responded to Kampong Kapor Family Service Center’s call for tutors for low-income families. Both 60th BB and 45th Girls' Brigade companies started by tutoring eleven beneficiaries. Despite the official program ending in late August, several BB and GB members continued volunteering until the beneficiaries' exams were over in October.
Towards the end of 2020, we received good news from the school that physical parades could resume. Despite the short notice, we were able to implement a meaningful parade program. Some of the activities included Adventure Quest, BB CARES, badge work lessons and Company Christmas celebrations.
BB CARES was a community service collaboration with KKFSC. This year, the Boys were unable to participate in BB Share-A-Gift. As such, Officers and teachers conceptualised BB CARES to be similar but smaller in scale. Together with a planning team of Y3 Boys, 60th organised a hamper packing session in school, giving our Boys a taste of the warehouse duty experience. Due to Safe Management Measures, the Boys were unable to deliver the hampers in person. Instead, we relied on the support of our alumni, teachers, Officers and a few KKMC members to complete the delivery. Our Y6 Primers have embarked on a similar project with KKFSC and will be delivering hampers to another 60 beneficiaries by the end of the month.
These community service efforts are vital in teaching our Boys to be thoughtful and humble citizens, who give back to society and appreciate those around them. 60th has been blessed with resources, insights and people during the pandemic and I believe it is only fitting that we share these blessings and give back the community.
2020 has reminded us that God is with us in times of uncertainty and difficulty. There were moments when we felt like we had run out of ideas for online parades, when we did not have sufficient manpower to run parades, or when the spirit of 60th seemed to be threatened. Through these trials, 60th has emerged stronger and better, hence the theme “Our Steadfast Spirit” for our 30th anniversary celebrations this year.
As we continue to navigate challenges in the coming year, we should be encouraged by the perseverance and determination with which our 60th community has responded, the history of our Company, and the regular reminders of God's faithfulness in the Scriptures and our own lives.
If you would like to show your support for The Boy's Brigade 2nd and 60th Companies, please visit the Giving.Sg page. Your donation will open doors and opportunities for the Boys to grow in Christian leadership and service.