For a church that has enjoyed tremendous growth and gained glowing accolades for its accomplishments on a global scale, it is only fitting that at its 20th anniversary, City Harvest Church (CHC) held a prayer service to give thanks to the God who made it all possible.
On the morning of 2 August 2009, more than half an hour before the 9am service begun, queues were already snaking from the Singapore Indoor Stadium (SIS) entrances into the car parks. By 8.50am, the stadium was 95 per cent filled with over 10,000 people.
As always in the past 20 years, the Thanksgiving Service started on time, at 9am sharp, with a rousing praise song led by the full ensemble of worship leaders in CHC. From the praises sung in celebratory fervor to the worship songs lifted to God, the atmosphere in the stadium was electrifying, as everyone came with the same purpose to celebrate — 20 years of challenges overcame, 20 years of transformation, 20 years of impacting lives and loving God.
Founder and senior pastor of CHC, Kong Hee, addressed the congregation, expressing his belief that the next 20 years of CHC will be even more glorious, and for that to be achieved, Kong began to lead in a time of prayer for God to move in a greater and deeper way in the heart of every CHC member.
Following that, some of the pastors and key leaders of CHC took turns to pray for the church and its various zones. Prayers were prayed in English, Mandarin and Tamil; and covered several aspects of CHC, including growth, spiritual atmosphere and a new building as well as success and happiness in the lives of every CHC member. The 25-minute prayer session reflected the heart of the church’s founder and its leaders; echoed in agreement prayerfully and passionately by the congregation.
Rev Alex Abraham Tanuseputra, the senior pastor of Bethany Church Indonesia, one of the largest churches in Indonesia, was specially invited by Kong to speak at the Thanksgiving Service. Tanuseputra preached from Zechariah 2:1-5, about a young man who wanted to measure Jerusalem, but God did not allow him to. Tanuseputra explained to the congregation that the gospel will extend from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria, and the rest of the world, in accordance to the Word of God. Hence, its size cannot be measured by man. It can only be measured by the faith that comes from God.
Tanuseputra elaborated on when he first started his church with “small faith” — the faith to build 14 small churches. Then he developed “growing faith” — the faith to build a 4,000-seater church building. This graduated to “strong faith” — the faith to build a church with a capacity for 20,000 people in Nginden, Indonesia. Finally, he is now going on to “perfect faith” — which he explained, is required because we cannot overcome by our own faith; this is when God’s perfect faith will come upon us and enable us to “do greater works”.
Tanuseputra shared about his own faith journey in embarking upon the Jakarta Tower project. The tower, currently being built in central Jakarta, is to be one of the tallest structures in the world. This was a project he had refused when God first spoke to him to build it. At an estimated cost of US$350 million, Tanuseputra, at 62 years of age then, thought the project would be too difficult. This was reinforced by discouragement from his friends and family. But with faith, Tanuseputra overcame his doubt and took on the building project. The foundation for Jakarta Tower has since been laid over the past five years, and it will take many more years before the completion of this iconic building for God. As he does his part, Tanuseputra is confident that the Lord will accomplish the rest, because the faith of the Lord is unlimited.
Tanuseputra made his way down to stage toward Kong and prayed a prayer over the younger man of faith. He declared that Kong’s generation will replace his (Tanuseputra) generation, and God will bless Kong to build one of the biggest churches around. Tanuseputra continued to pray over Kong to “do greater works”, and he concluded by leading the entire congregation to shout “Amen!” seven times, bringing the spiritual atmosphere in the hall to a peak.
“I feel proud to know that (Pastor) Kong will someday be the leader of his generation, like many others such as, Dr Alex Tanuseputra and Dr Yonggi Cho,” said Jenny Lim, 37, an office manager who has been in CHC for 8 years.
“Looking back from the first day I attended CHC until today, my life has changed so much. I thank God for giving me wonderful leaders, for establishing CHC in the past twenty years, and for many more years ahead,” said Lim.
Indeed, thankfulness was evidently felt by many CHC members at the church’s 20th anniversary. Adrian Tang, 35, an engineer who joined CHC in 2007, had this to say, “Life used to be all about work, but in these two years of attending CHC, there have been blessings I never expected. My girlfriend and I got married, and both our families have said that they’ve seen a change in the way we live our lives. (Pastor) Kong’s love for God, our cell group’s love and friendship, and the church’s efforts to reach out to the community are heartfelt and inspiring. These are surely worth celebrating and thanking God for.”
More than just giving thanks, the service was also a reminder of the CHC journey thus far, and a conviction that God will bring the church forward to fulfill even greater visions.
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Lu Jiahui, 34, a church staff who has been attending CHC for 10 years, puts it best: “The service was really one that reminded all of us of God’s goodness and grace. I’m in awe of the sacrifices the pioneers have made, and what they had to stand up against. I’m so thankful for (Pastor) Kong and Sun, for their faith in God and perseverance to help steer this church to where it is! As a staff, I’m so privileged to be able to represent this church. ”