Crossroad Catering Services SingaporeCrossroad Bible Institute’s international campus in Singapore has a lot on its plate these days after launching Crossroad Catering Services, a new hospitality business run by former CBI student Fernando Soh.

This new branch of CBI Singapore’s ministry is unique for its special emphasis on employing returning citizens. “We did not create this business to fix our need,” explained CBI Singapore director Paul Tan. “We created the business to help students reintegrate back to society.”

CBI Singapore, which just celebrated its five-year anniversary, has consistently demonstrated a holistic approach in its ministry to prisoners. According to Tan, turning hearts to Christ is foundational to equipping students for successful reentry. “We believe that internal transformation must take place first,” he explained.

To that end, CBI Instructors visit students three times a week in half-way houses, coupling discipleship behind the razor wire with discipleship on “the outside.” Thus, starting a business that would assist students in reentry seemed like the natural outgrowth of the holistic care already taking place.

Crossroad Catering Services will serve as key piece in CBI Singapore’s reentry ministry to address one of the most significant challenges facing returning citizens: finding a job. In Singapore, just as in the United States, securing employment after incarceration can feel like finding a needle in a haystack, despite the many studies that correlate employing returning citizens with lowering recidivism rates.

Aware of this correlation between reentry success and employment, Tan began to view CBI Singapore as an “incubator” to nurture students’ raw gifts and talents. “We looked to identify potential students with skills that we could develop so that we could help them run a business,” said Tan. “As we develop their strengths, we can then teach them our three business principles, or the three H’s: honor, honesty and hard work.”

Fernando Soh stood out as the perfect candidate to help this vision become a reality. Soh, who converted to Christianity while taking CBI lessons, had two qualifications: a need to support his family after release and a gift for hospitality. After Soh agreed to take on the job, Tan started making calls to local churches about his new business venture, and the rest, as they say, is history.

With Soh at the helm, Crossroad Catering Services has experienced remarkable success in its first year. The business has expanded quickly to provide a wide menu selection, from high tea pastries and Bento-style lunches to Thai-themed meat dishes and full-on wedding buffets.

The website for Crossroad Catering Services promises to “treat you and your guests like royalty” and it appears that Soh is making good on that pledge. As reviews about the business spread over last summer, Soh’s calendar filled up with events for local churches, restaurants, companies and retirement homes.

Boon Shiong wedding-2Tan noted that one of the highlights of 2014 was the opportunity for Soh to cater the wedding of Boon Shiong, another former CBI student who became a Christian while taking CBI lessons. Like Soh, Shiong attributes his reentry success to the strong support of his church that helped him find a job as a production worker after his release.

With many CBI friends in attendance, the wedding celebration bore witness to how God is working through CBI Singapore to change prisoners’ lives. “Fernando’s and Boon Shiong’s stories are truly a testament to the difference hands-on discipleship makes when extended beyond prison walls,” said CBI international coordinator Jacob.

CBI Singapore requests prayers that God will continue to open doors for Crossroad Catering Services to help more prisoners, like Shiong and Soh, successfully reenter society. The ultimate goal for Crossroad Catering Services is to establish a half-way house where up to ten returning citizens can train as cooks.

Relying on God’s perfect timing, Tan remains hopeful for the future: “We have created a business plan where everybody wins. The former prisoners win, the clients win and CBI wins.”

Dr. David Schuringa, president of CBI, also sees the great potential for Crossroad Catering Services. “It’s inspiring to witness CBI Singapore’s intentional approach to ministry,” he said. “Whether it’s through the 1,500 reentry agencies we work with here in the United States or through business start-ups like Crossroad Catering Services in Singapore, CBI is firmly committed to equipping our students for reentry success.”