The Founding of MCF

MCF is where it is now only because of the honorable efforts and achievements of many godly men and women. Rev Dr Patrick Tan was our Founder and first Chaplain of MCF Singapore. He heard God’s call to him to start MCF and began to rally others around him in accordance to Rev 3:8 (NIV), “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.”

(A word from our Founder, excerpt from Onwards Soldiers, 1st Quarter 1995)

Brethren in Jesus Christ, friends, ladies and gentlemen; my name is Patrick Tan. I am a retired Lieutenant-Colonel of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and a medical doctor by profession. It is my pleasant duty to introduce to you the founding of the Military Christian Fellowship of Singapore.

On August 9th 1965, Singapore became an independent nation. It was clear that we needed an armed forces of our own. Full-time national service began in 1967. At that time, two men began to pray for a Christian witness to the soldiers in the SAF. They were Mr Tom Hamblin of the Sandes Soldiers Home and the late Mr Gerald McClelland of SASRA (Serving Airmen Scripture Readers Association). I was enlisted in February 1968 and posted to the People’s Defence Force at Beach Road Camp. I became acquainted with the trauma of soldiers, especially the trauma of Christian soldiers. God gave me a verse from Revelation 3:8, “Behold I have set before thee an open door and no man can shut it. For thou has a little strength, and has kept my word, and has not denied my name.” I began to look for Christians and in a year’s time, I found over two hundred of them.

On January 1st 1970, 43 officers and men met together to launch a Christian Fellowship for servicemen. Our attempt to register it as a Society in the next two years failed. In sympathy and conviction, my good friend, Dr Bobby Sng, General-Secretary of the Fellowship of Evangelical Students (FES) offered to affiliate our fellowship as the Armed Forces Committee (AFC) of the FES. It was the moving of the Spirit. As prayer warriors were at work, small groups of Christian servicemen and women started to gather together for fellowship and bible-study.

In 1972, an aircraft technician was referred to me with a drug abuse problem. I led him to Christ and when he was committed to detention, I promised to look him up there. Thus began the Tanglin Detention Barrack Saturday Ministry. Many detainees were brought to Christ and several were baptized.

In 1970, I attended the Officers’ Christian Union Conference in Kassel, Germany. The Christian soldiers of many nations cordially received the AFC of Singapore into the world body. In 1975, and again in 1985, members of the AFC were represented at the International Conferences of the Association of Military Christian Fellowship (AMCF).

The Lord continued to bless this ministry. In 1980, AFC changed its name to the present MILITARY CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP, which reflects its ministry more appropriately.

The MCF then adopted the motto: “We believe with great conviction that our primary ministry is where the Lord has placed us” and its operation is based upon the tenets of evangelical faith on an inter-denominational basis.