City Harvest Church hosted its very first Asia Conference from 19 to 23 November this year at the Singapore Expo. The conference was attended by 20,356 delegates from 68 different countries — making it the largest Christian conference worldwide in 2008.
The theme of the conference was the “Cultural Mandate”, a calling that City Harvest Church has undertaken in faith and through action since 2000. Asia Conference was helmed by six world-renowned Christian speakers: Kong Hee, senior pastor of City Harvest Church; Dr AR Bernard, senior pastor of Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York; Phil and Christine Pringle, founders of Christian City Church in Oxford Falls, Sydney; Ulf Ekman, senior pastor of Word of Life Church in Uppsala, Sweden; and healing evangelist Benny Hinn.
Though each speaker came prepared with a distinctly unique message, each speaker’s session built on the last as if a divine thread ran through all of them. Kong Hee’s edgy messages on what it means to redeem the world set the room on fire — paradigms changed as he explained how, not just every human, but every earthly thing, even what we know as symbols of worldly power, is to be consecrated to the Lord.
Ulf Ekman spoke on the importance of the Holy Spirit — it is only by walking in the Spirit that the endtime harvest can be reaped. Phil Pringle had come prepared with a word, but instead, moved in the Spirit to prophesy over the nations, calling out pastors from Asian nations over two sessions, and imparting spiritual gifts and faith to them.
The anticipation of Benny Hinn’s healing session was so great, crowds were at the door from early morning. Broken legs were healed and deaf ears opened. Hinn’s message on prosperity underscored the necessity for Christians to have money for endtime works.
Dr AR Bernard’s messages built on Kong’s: he mapped out a “survival guide” to how to engage the world for God. A Christian first has to insulate himself with spiritual disciplines so that he is not easily destroyed, then he is to penetrate the culture and be the salt and light to the world.
While these messages served to strengthen, encourage and empower the attendees to bring Christ into culture, the crowds were also suitably entertained with what seemed like an endless stream of colourful parades, competitions, celebrity guest appearances by the likes of JJ Lin, and praise and worship sessions with bands like the CHC Band, the CCC Band led by Joe Pringle, Eurovision star Carola Haggvist, and the legendary Don Moen.
Plus, in between the main sessions, delegates could choose six out of 29 available elective classes which were held to help delegates to improve in various areas of their personal lives and ministry. Topics included church growth (an exclusive for pastors), grooming, emotional health, even effective praise and worship.
The physical needs of the delegates were also seen to: 5,000 people were served a total of seven lunches and dinners over the five-day period; even the smallest detail was planned for — delegates guzzled 80,000 bottles of Care water, and 15,000 conference packs were given out, each containing a box of breath mints to help delegates stay fresh.
As the conference events were spread across 28 halls and rooms at the Singapore Expo, seven buses were deployed to shuttle delegates from one wing of the Expo to the other.
|PHOTOS: Michael Chan, Daniel Poh, Gary Sim, Alvin Lim|
The Asia Conference cost $4.8 million to run — a princely sum, but, to City Harvest Church, a worthwhile investment in the churches of Asia that have caught the vision of the cultural mandate and are ready to put it into action.
Plans are already underway for the second Asia Conference in May 2010.