Warmth and a homely atmosphere filled the City Harvest Education Centre auditorium in Bukit Merah on 13 February 2009 as 135 Filipinos from City Harvest Church and supporters from the JS zone congregated for a time of fellowship the night before Valentine’s Day.
There was a great sense of anticipation as there has never been an event like this for the Filipino community to come together not only to feed on spiritual truths but also have an opportunity to showcase their talents and culture. The Singaporeans who joined the event were astonished by the spontaneous fun that took place during the level-up ice breaker, People Bingo. Serah Yip commented, “Filipinos are very interesting and fun people. Through the meeting, I got to know more about their culture and for that, I am blessed.”
Yvonne Chia, a cell group leader in the zone, found it easy to lead them in praise and worship, thanks to the choir and band. “Their passion and enthusiasm can be felt in their exuberant praise.”
The highlight of the night was the screening of a short film starring famous Filipino Christian actor and actress, Tonton Gutierrez and Jean Garcia. They reprise the role of a husband and wife whose marriage was on the rocks until they found a new life in God. The motion picture is the Philippine version of ‘My Hope’ series — an outreach program in collaboration with Billy Graham ministries. Christians and non-Christians alike were moved by the story and many gave their hearts to God when Joanne Lim, a senior leader in the zone, invited them at the altar call.
The Filipino fellowship has come a long way since its inception in 2006. Due to the growing number of Filipinos attending CHC, Zone Supervisor Jimmy Sng backed the idea of assembling a dedicated cell group for them. Although informal gatherings were being held since 2005 for occasions like Christmas, it was only in March 2006 when the first Filipino cell group was officially formed.
Under the leadership of Hansen Sy and his wife Judy, the attendance has escalated from a handful of ten individuals to the now 100-strong membership in a span of two years. Presently averaging 25 each night, Filipino cell groups gather regularly on three weeknights in Tampines, Sengkang and Bishan, making room for more fellow Filipinos to be reached out to. Majority of the members are Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) and it is in this group in CHC where they found a family away from home.
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Thousands of Filipinos in Singapore are yet to be reached for the Lord and this outreach will continue to grow. With much prayer and diligence, the Filipino fellowship believes God for strong leaders to be raised while aiming to grow the group to 200 committed members by the end of 2009. The group continues to meet on alternate Friday nights at CHEC.