Alumnus Lim Nan – Changed Trajectory Through EAST

Left to right: Christy, Emmaus, Lim Nan, Ekklesia


EAST alumnus Lim Nan who graduated with a Master of Arts in Mission and Evangelism (the discipline is now known as Intercultural Studies) first stepped into EAST because the school was located nearby his then workplace. From taking a few classes to finally becoming a program student, studying at EAST has totally changed the trajectory of his life.

Upon graduation he served as a principal of a refugee school in the Middle East together with his wife. He then returned to Singapore, saw God’s providing two miracle children, and is currently an associate lecturer at SIM Global Education. But his heart still beats ever strongly for missions and especially for the refugees. Later this year, he and his young family will take time off and travel to serve refugees in difficult places including the displaced Ukrainian refugees. Below is a recent interview done with him.

1. Could you recall how you ended up studying at EAST and choosing to do the Master of Arts in Missions and Evangelism program?

I attended the first GoForth Missions Conference in 2002, and it was there that I came upon a booth set up by EAST. I realised to my great delight that it was literally just behind my workplace! It couldn’t get better than this, I thought. There was simply no excuses not to study. It started with some night classes after my work to taking most of my leave days to attend day classes. Before I knew it, I had to make a decision to either complete my overseas internship and the remaining half or end abruptly as I simply could not fulfil the requirements of the then 2 months overseas internship. The choice after prayer was clear. There was no holding back. I tendered my resignation from my job then and completed the second half of the program.

2. How did studying at EAST change the trajectory of your life (and consequently that of your family too)?

It was the ‘World Missions’ module under Dr Rick Langston that really got me “upset.” I recalled that it was concerning statistics of resources allocated for global missions especially a particular sub-group, as compared to the home front. It was a situation of a disproportionate and gross misallocation of the resources of the global church.

I asked the Lord, “Why is this so?” He replied, “Go, and add towards that side then.”

I accepted the challenge.

3. When you were serving as a Principal of a refugee school in the Middle East, you partnered with EAST in receiving our students for their Field Practicum there. How would you describe the spiritual impact of the years you spent in the Middle East?

Singapore is so small relative to the world. We have a population of under 8 million in a world of 8 billion! At the same time, the living conditions are beyond comparable. Yet our resources continue to be so misallocated. The sheer numbers and their particularly challenging circumstances (i.e. believers who are persecuted minorities and the flow of refugees) demand our response. Have you already been lulled into a sense of comfort and security that prevents us from taking bold steps towards completing the Great Commission?

We rode through the Arab Spring of 2011 and that was the most exciting season of our lives. Does this sounds like the adventures featured in The Lord of the Rings? Unfortunately, it sparked off a chain reactions of very violent demonstrations and on-going wars in Yemen and Syria.

4. What have you been up to since returning from the Middle East to Singapore?

Upon my return, I completed a Masters in International Relations from the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, National Technological University (NTU). It was a great time as I had so many foreign friends. It was during this time that I clocked the highest number of invitees to church in a year as they were so open! In fact, amongst them was a Vietnamese army captain who told me that it was his first time stepping  into a church.

During this time, we had our 2 kids as well. Both were conceived via In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF).  God has given us so much. How can we ever out-give Him? Are we still counting the small change with Him?

I am currently an associate lecturer at Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) – Global Education under the University of London (UOL) Program of International Relations. I have an average batch of a hundred undergraduates each academic term. We cover topics like war crimes, refugees, humanitarian intervention, identity politics, the arms industry, etc. I have received many feedback from students telling me how much this course has changed them both as a person and their future direction, be it either to further pursue a related Masters or to explore a humanitarian option in the future.

This is as close as engaging others in conversations pertaining to justice, wickedness and the meaningful of life. Due to the content of the subject, we are constantly at the brink of humanity and exploring in a sense, what makes us more or less humans. I am still in contact with many of my former students and some of them have also visited my church.

5. What has Christy, your wife, been up to, besides being a mother to Emmaus (7) and Ekklesia (5)?

Since our return, she has been serving as the National Director of the Interserve (Singapore) – our sending agency. Her job scope includes managing a local team, journeying with potential partners and partnership with sending churches.

Prayer Request:
Upcoming Family Refugee Trip (May-June): We will be serving refugees in one of the Mediterranean countries. They are mainly Afghans, Iranians, Syrians and other Africans. The first wave of Ukrainian refugees have also arrived. This is our first family trip of such a long duration outside Southeast Asia. Pray for adaptability and a formative experience for the kids. Pray for the Covid situation and also all logistical provisions.


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