Life Training Apartment: Doing Life Together

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Life Training Apartment: Doing Life Together

Posted on 27 Jun 2024



The Life Training Apartment is rooted in the spirit of "Life Together" (Psalm 133:1).


Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!

— Psalm 133:1


The purpose of Life Training Apartment is to cultivate believers to be a Christ-centered community, with Christ-like characters and teamwork to advance the Gospel together.

Four to five trainees, singles in their 20s and 30s, typically stay together for a month or more. They immerse themselves in the culture of life-on-life formation, living out the discipline of daily devotions, the ministries of hospitality, helpfulness, meekness, bearing, listening, and more.

Every month, we set a specific monthly training objective and the relevant training activities that are relational and formational. The general training objectives and activities are as follows:


Training Objectives:

1. Devotional Life (Psalm 5:3): We aim to deepen our relationship with God through regular devotional practices.

2. Christ-like Character (Philippians 2:5): Our goal is to develop a character that reflects the humility, love and servanthood of Christ.

3. 
Protection from Worldly Values (Hebrews 3:13): We seek to guard our hearts and minds against the influences of worldly values, fostering sanctification in biblical truths.

4. Stewardship (Luke 12:42):
We strive to manage our responsibilities and resources wisely and responsibly, recognizing them as gifts from God.


5. Teamwork (Ecclesiastes 4:9):
Emphasising the importance of working together, we aim to build a strong, supportive witnessing community.


6. World Vision (Matthew 28:18-20):
Inspired by the Great Commission, we seek to develop a local and global perspective.

Training Activities:

1. Spiritual Basics: Engaging in foundational spiritual practices like Quiet Time, scripture memory and worship to strengthen our faith.

2. Daily Evaluations: Reflecting on our daily experiences (lessons and thanksgivings, joys and struggles, hope and disappointments…) to foster self-reflection, self-awareness, encouragement and growth.

3. Serving in Apartment Duties: Practising life skills, humble servanthood, stewardship and helpfulness through everyday tasks.

4. Participating in Table Fellowships: Seeking spiritual communion, building relationships and sharing life over meals.

5. Practising Hospitality: Welcoming friends into our community as an expression of God's love and witness to the world.

6. Praying for Missions: Interceding for people, local ministries and global missions.


Most people may not notice what is happening in this life-training apartment—seemingly insignificant, unremarkable, and ordinary. We believe the Lord does.

May the Lord of the harvest use the life-training apartments to raise up generations and teams of labourers with humility and unity for the advance of His Gospel and Kingdom into the nations.

—--

What daily rhythms of life do you consider important for maintaining a healthy Christ-centered community? 



Nicholas  


As a proverb goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” A life of following Jesus isn’t a 100m sprint, but a marathon. God had designed this race to be run together, so that we would all be on track in chasing Christ.

From the first moment I stepped into this, I knew this would be serious training. To keep us focused on Christ, there would need to be a training objective and a daily schedule.

We would rise early for the day and after a morning stretch, spend time in Quiet Time and house chores before heading off for school or work. At the end of the day, we would return for a time of evaluation and prayer together based on the training objectives. To do this alone daily is tough, but doing it together with brothers of the same heart and a shared vision helped us to spur one another on in Christ Jesus.

Years ago, I remember an older brother shared about the need to come in with a training mindset to get the most out of the Life Training. This has stayed with me since then—to take training seriously to reap its fullest rewards.


For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things,
holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

— 1 Timothy 4:8


Sammy

I believe that one of the most important rhythms of life for a healthy Christ-centered community is the sharing of life. One of the greatest blessings I have received from the fellowship is the openness of brothers to share their burdens and struggles along with how God is leading them and what they are learning from God through the process. It is through their lives that I get to see the word of God become alive in them and so minister to me as well as I go through similar struggles. On the flip side, when I share life transparently with my brothers, not only do I receive encouragement from them, but also experience the grace of God through the brothers who accept me for who I am with my burdens and weaknesses.

I believe such sharing fosters a deeper relationship with Christ through the fellowship that is centered on the love of Christ to build one another up. As Galatians 6:2 says:


Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.



Joining forces to repair the second-hand
bed frame, a testament to teamwork and shared resolve.



Janson

We usually come together to start the day with housework, cooking and daily devotionals. We will take turns doing different housework and cooking according to a timetable set by the apartment leader. For example, I could be mopping today, washing the toilet tomorrow and cooking the day after. 

This trains me to be a good steward of what I have been entrusted with. Seeing others serving alongside me empowers me to complete the serving well. I also learn to serve not according to my own way but with consideration of others.

For instance, when preparing breakfast, I have learnt to consider things like nutritional value, dietary needs and food allergies before deciding what to cook. When serving others, the consideration of their interests is where we can learn to serve each other like Christ. Yet, all this learning does not come overnight; I can only learn through seeing the examples of others and applying them in the next opportunity I have to serve.



Janson (second from the left) preparing
Good Friday gifts for friends together with the apartment brothers


How did living life together build you up in your character towards Christlikeness? 


Nicholas 


As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

— Proverbs 27:17


It takes a man to sharpen another man. That is God’s way of building us up in Christlikeness. When living with one another in such close quarters, we expose so much of ourselves to one another and there is nowhere for us to hide our weaknesses. I remember that a brother once took the courage to give me feedback about what he observed in my life. I am not a very neat and organised person and sometimes I could be negligent, leaving my things lying around.

I realised that I was not sensitive enough to consider the interests of others, given that the apartment was a shared living environment. I was thankful that my brother-in-Christ chose not to withhold giving me his feedback so that I could understand what my blind spots are and work on my weaknesses.

In a similar light, living together also enabled us to observe each other’s lives close-up and God has used their life examples to challenge me too. Last year, there was a brother who chose to stay at the apartment while waiting for a full-time job upon graduation. Though he was going through a tight financial situation, I observed that this brother was still willing to pay the apartment training fee out of his own pocket. This showed me his faith and conviction to put spiritual training above all else. His example greatly challenged me.

Jesus says,


And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple… In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

— Luke 14:27,33


Sammy

Staying with different brothers, each one uniquely made by God comes with an array of likes, dislikes, preferences and ways of working and thinking. One thing that the Lord has helped me to grow in is loving and appreciating each brother for the blessing that he brings to the fellowship through his own uniqueness.

I remember that in the past, I perceived that it would be challenging to stay with certain brothers because of the differences in our personalities that I observed. However, when we stayed together, I saw how their personality brought, in my eyes, a fresh facet of living together. For example, I am not a well-organised person, but through observing how fellow believers who are organised live, I can learn from them. This helps me to appreciate how God uses different brothers to bring their unique blessings into the fellowship.

Another aspect of Christ-likeness is showing care and concern. Sometimes, it is easy to tell that someone is having a bad day. I used to avoid approaching such topics as I feared that I would not know how to respond. However, God showed me that I was just too concerned about myself and not really loving my brother in this way. As a result, my fellowship with Christ and my brother will be hindered.

As 1 John 2:9-10 says,

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.

Janson

There will be objective(s) of the month that focus on addressing certain areas of our lives as guided by the Scriptures. One example of the objective given recently was to focus on casting off destructive tendencies of comparison, condemnation, resentment, and self-justification (Luke 9:46) and instead, to see God’s image in one another and recognise the mutual need for “one anothering”.


An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest.

— Luke 6:46

We will come together in prayer to commit the objective to the Lord and evaluate at the end of the day, how we are doing. This helped me to be mindful as I go through my day to recognise such thoughts I have and share with the brothers what I had experienced. It requires each of us to be vulnerable to share.

Upon hearing the sharings of others, I also became aware that I may have such tendencies in my own life. We also shared what are the symptoms or patterns of the destructive tendencies of comparison and how can one overcome it. This was very helpful because, in other contexts, we may not always share about this in-depth like we did in the Life Training Apartment.

I am thankful that the fellowship here is free from condemnation and judgment, and that instead, mutually encouraged each of us to share life together in such an authentic way.



What are some common challenges as you lived life together? How did you navigate through conflicts and misunderstandings?


Nicholas 

Though most of us who stay in the apartment are in similar life stages, each of us faces different challenges and has different personalities and preferences. Just as how living with different ones can be exciting due to different dynamics being introduced to the group, it can be equally challenging to adapt to each other.

Change is the only constant, yet it is something many of us struggle to adapt to. As I led the apartment, I learned that important decisions must be made to ensure that training remains a priority. When circumstances forced a schedule change, it took rounds of discussion, attentive listening to concerns and reminders of our training purpose for us to accept and submit to one another. Living for Christ and with one another will always come at a cost, and as Christ's disciple, I learnt to be willing to pay the cost at the expense of my desires, comfort, and sometimes even my own needs.


Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.

— Matthew 18:19

Sammy

One of the things I struggled to accept when living together was the feedback given by others as they observed my life. I would be quick to have many self-justifying thoughts and start to find fault with others. I also compared myself with others. My thought pattern was that others wanted to bring me down by pointing out my faults.

However, I remember a believer once said that if someone can say something about me, there is probably some truth to it. This humbled me and helped me to seriously consider the feedback I had received. As brothers in Christ who have seen my life and know the word of truth, I ought to carefully listen to them and be thankful for their courage to speak the truth to me.


Janson


It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.

— Lamentations 3:27


While giving myself to training, I am thankful that my brothers bear the yoke together. I recall how, on some days, I felt the stretch in my physical capacity to serve, and other brothers would volunteer to serve alongside me, making the task much quicker and easier. Serving together with like-minded believers motivated me to press on and not become complacent.

Through living with different brothers, I became more aware of my speech towards others. I realised that I tend to be too quick to speak and pass comments, rather than being sensitive to others' feelings. This awareness helped me take note of whether the brothers received my words well and examine whether anything I had spoken was insensitive or motivated by my own pride.

Once, I learned to humble myself and apologise to a brother when my heart was not at peace after something I had said. That opportunity also opened our hearts to share our weaknesses, and we grew in understanding each other. I am thankful to God for my brother's forgiveness and for experiencing God's peace filling my heart once again. Since then, I have become more aware of how I should communicate with others.



How has your life or the lives of others been influenced or transformed post-Apartment Training?


Nicholas 

Several years ago, when I started leading the Life Training Apartment, I resolved to clear the choke in the kitchen sink. I rallied the brothers and discussed the plan to push the choke down the pipe with a plunger. But the plan backfired. The choke ended up blocking the pipe where the water expelled from the washing machine went. This caused a massive flood in the kitchen when we turned on the washing machine.

Upon seeing the flood, we were all in a state of panic, but quickly worked together to scoop the water from the kitchen into the toilet and clean the whole place up. We eventually got rid of the choke in the pipe too, with the help of a strong unclogging solution.

I was thankful to God that each of us drew many meaningful lessons from this experience, which we still talk about fondly today. I learnt that when we allow sin to creep into our lives, it can accumulate to the extent that it chokes the word of God, preventing it from entering our hearts. We must rid ourselves of this with genuine repentance.

Apartment training spurred me to grow deeper in my walk with Jesus through intentional discipleship training, especially when I experienced a spiritual plateau. It taught me to serve beyond my comfort zone. It built deeper bonds of unity among us. If we can’t live and work together under one roof, submitting to each other out of reverence for Christ, how can we work together to advance God’s mission to the nations?


How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!

— Psalm 133:1


Sammy

Through the life training, I have become more intentional about serving others and seeing opportunities to serve. This comes from the examples of servanthood observed in others at the apartment. At times, despite being engaged in their own work, the brothers continue to think of one another.

It has also shaped the way I view my fellow brothers. Each brother in the apartment brings their own unique flavour to the stay, bringing blessings to the fellowship. I began to appreciate the individual and how God has made him with both strengths and weaknesses so that he may both administer and receive grace from the body of Christ. This helps me to see the people I follow up on as precious individuals in Christ who are part of the bigger body which serves to perform its various functions to honour Christ.


Janson

I had the privilege of staying together with my discipler previously. He modelled to me what a humble servant leader is like.

Though he was the apartment leader, he would always volunteer to take up the labour-intensive housework and the inconvenient ministry tasks. I was touched by how he cared for the well-being of those staying together. He would ask the newcomers what type of bedding and pillow would be comfortable for them. He would even prepare these personally for them.

I recall once when I was down with a cold and cough, he prepared ginger tea for me and stayed up at night to ensure that I could sleep well. I learned from his humility and servanthood in considering others before himself.

His real-life example impacted me and opened my eyes to see the opportunities where I could also learn to think and serve others in the same way.


Could you share one meaningful takeaway from living life together? 

Nicholas 

Someone once shared with me the idea that “we gather to scatter”. It is catchy, but also very profound. The purpose of living and training together is for a future plan to be scattered across the nations for Jesus. We won’t always be living together as a time will come when the Life Training Apartment is complete. Then, we may be called to go forth and reproduce the discipleship training somewhere else. I am very blessed to participate in this training and hopefully, God will multiply this blessing throughout my life too.


Exchanging blessings with each other over dinner


Sammy

Through living life together, I began to appreciate the value of doing things together. As we do housework or cook together, we catch up on each other’s lives which makes life sharing natural and integrated into our daily lives. I not only enjoy the sharing of life but also working together with my brother towards a common goal. I have learned, even when I am not staying with brothers, to seize opportunities to do things together as it allows the sharing of life and team working together to accomplish a purpose.


Savouring the joy of cooking and camaraderie as we prepare dinner together
 

Janson

I am thankful for the many opportunities to learn teamwork and partnering together to reach out to our friends or contacts. We come together to share their needs and pray for one another. We invite our friends or contacts over for a meal we would prepare together, having the intention to encourage them at whichever life stage they are in. We even involve them in our food preparation. Doing things together creates special memories and builds our relationship with one another.

I invited my friend over for dinner at the apartment. The brothers who were staying with me could relate to my friend over their National Service experiences and stories. I am thankful that God could use this to learn to share, serve and involve one another.





Janson (second from the right) and the apartment brothers enjoying a delightful dinner with his friend (middle of the photo)





About Nicholas 

Nicholas came to receive Christ through The Navigators while he was a Polytechnic student and later discipled by the Navigators. While labouring among the students on campus along with Janson and Sammy, he also works as a Civil Servant.






About Sammy


Sammy was introduced to Christianity at a young age by his mother. Later during his polytechnic days, he met the Navigators and began to experience significant change, gaining joyful assurance of his salvation. Sammy serves in the campus ministry along with Nicholas and Janson while working as a Facilities Management Engineer.





About Janson


Janson came to receive Christ after being invited by his polytechnic classmate to attend a Church service and thereafter discipled by the Navigators. Presently, Janson serves in the campus ministry along with Sammy and Nicholas while working as a Web Developer.








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