National Service Testimonies

A Testimony of a NSF

Daniel 4:35, “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?”

Almost every Singaporean son… and some daughters will eventually serve National Service Fulltime once they come of age. Many will agree that it is something inevitable and almost unavoidable. However, just because everyone is serving, that doesn’t mean that everyone is actually serving. Let me explain myself. Sitting in front of a desk and reading a textbook, doesn’t mean that you are studying. Your mind could be wandering or thinking of something else, but no studying is being done.

I have seen and experienced many different characters and individuals during my service thus far and there are simply two kinds of people in the army. Those who want to serve and those who do not.

Ultimately whether you like it or not, everyone has to serve. There’s just no getting around it or running away. Personally, serving in the army was not something I actively thought or worried about when I was growing up. The only reason I put thought into army when I was growing up was when my sisters or mum would mock and ask me how I would survive in the army next time whenever I did something that didn’t appear to be manly or soldier-ish enough. But I just brushed it aside and told myself that I would deal with it when the time comes.

If you know me well enough, you will realise that I am not a very optimistic person. And where I was going; pessimism could very easily kill your morale. Every soldier knows how important morale is, and why it is important. It would have been easy for me to approach Nation Service with a negative mind-set, but with much encouragement and prayer from my family, I went in with peace. Also, I thank God that I had my dad; who was the biggest pro-army non-regular I have met in my entire life.

My Basic Military Training days were basically an adjustment period from a civilian to a soldier. Suddenly, from having so much freedom to none at all, and at the same time; from so little real responsibility to so much all at once. Overcoming BMT was all about the mind-set. Physically, the instructors would train you and overtime, the drills and regimentation of the army would set into you. But the one thing that only you yourself can manage is your mentality. It can honestly be a very humbling experience, and being able to thank God for every single moment really helped get me through it. A quick prayer in a tough situation or reciting Psalms 1 whenever I felt weak or angry. It was clearly evident to me when I marched onto the floating platform, signifying the completion of my BMT, that I would not have been able to accomplish any of these without God’s help every step of the way.

After passing out from BMT, another trial awaited me in SAFTI MI. BMT had been fun and I was already missing the company of my platoon mates. My morale was pretty low and I struggled to find motivation in an entirely different environment. Officer Cadet School brought regimentation and discipline to a whole new level. There was pride that came with being an officer cadet, but that pride had to be earned. I still remember lying on my bed on the 2nd night; my mind was overwhelmed with the pressure of the upcoming schedule in the months to come. I debated with myself on what I had gotten myself into, and whether or not I could do this. I closed my eyes and prayed earnestly to God for strength and guidance.

The next morning, my buddy overslept and did not fall in for first parade. I got scolded and screamed at for about 30 minutes on the importance of the buddy level system and did about 100 push ups with my buddy. Later on in the afternoon, someone had left the tap running in one of the toilets. Our whole platoon had to write 3000 lines of “I will not waste any more water as it is a precious resource and will not leave the tap running.” by the end of that day. At the lecture, someone was caught writing his lines and not paying attention to the lesson, and every one of us had to write 2000 lines on “I will concentrate and focus during lectures.” My hands cramped up that entire day. That day, we did about a total of 500 push ups for all the mistakes we committed one way or the other. Somehow, at the end of the day, I was not so worried about the months to come and neither was I debating internally on whether or not I could do this anymore. God had seen me through what could have been a difficult day, and I was still in one piece lying on my bed waiting for rest to come. There was no point in worrying about what lay ahead or whether I could get through it, because I knew that God would see me through and whatever happened was in God’s control. I slept soundly knowing that I had absolutely nothing to worry about.

My buddy apologised to me for oversleeping and I apologised for not checking up on him. Because of the incident, we laughed it off and became a lot closer. I also found out he was a Christian and we managed to encourage each other throughout our OCS days because of this.

The days and months ahead in OCS were daunting and trying. There were many difficult exercises and short weekends, burnt holidays and family time. So many times I felt dread and exhausted. But through every step of the journey, God has undoubtedly been with me and guided me. The difficulties and trials that you will face in Army, whether big or small, outfield training or in-house administration, from superiors or your men; are part of God’s plan. It is up to you how you choose to face them. You can choose to do your best for Christ, or you can choose to escape. Everyone has to serve, but not everyone chooses to serve Christ. I hope you get the idea.

Psalms 1, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”

In Christ,

LTA Zachariah Quek