How City Harvest Christian Fellowship Sibu grew from 300 to 1,000 through prayer, praise and outreach.
|PHOTO COURTESY OF CITY HARVEST CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP SIBU|
On May 27 in 2001, a group of 300 believers gathered at the Sibu Kawan Hotel for their first ever Sunday worship. It was tough in the start for this congregation, as they had limited experience in many areas of church management, from conducting services to starting cell groups and reaching out to the community.
Undaunted, the church elders quickly assessed their manpower and resources, determined that their church would not only survive but thrive. By the grace of God, they found a building at Merdeka Barat Road to conduct their services, and with that, City Harvest Christian Fellowship Sibu was born.
As an affirmation that God always provides, CHCF Sibu received much needed help during the early years from City Harvest Church Singapore and its affiliate churches from East Malaysia, Taiwan and West Malaysia. For example, Peter Chu, the senior pastor of Taipei Truth Church and George Ong, the senior pastor of Skudai Harvest Church in Johor Bahru visited the church and taught the members on setting up the church structure, starting cell groups, conducting evangelistic meetings and organizing community outreach activities. Leaders from Harvest School of Ministry, led by Ong, also helped CHCF Sibu’s members settle down and strengthen their faith during the transition period.
“Many training courses were conducted by visiting pastors. These included praise and worship workshops, cell leaders training, marriage courses, healing and deliverance practice and the use of spiritual gifts like the word of wisdom. We also received different kinds of Bible teaching materials like the 10-lesson “Getting Started” workbook, which we used in our cell groups and during Bible study sessions,” says Dennis Ngu, CHCF Sibu’s sub-zone supervisor and executive director of Harvest Learning Centre, the church’s youth arm.
Grateful for the aid which CHCF Sibu received and the subsequent breakthroughs which the church has experienced, Ngu says, “Many church leaders came and helped us. All of them encouraged and strengthened our faith with the word of God. Numerous evangelistic meetings were held and thousands of souls were saved, followed by signs and wonders, like sicknesses healed and burdens lifted.
“We praise God and thank CHC Singapore for sending mission teams to our church. We were so blessed that many people, especially the youth, responded to the altar calls and rededicated their lives to God,” he adds.
In the years that followed, some of the church’s pastors and leaders went on to graduate from School of Theology, subsequently helping to bring CHC’s unique brand of high energy praise and worship sessions to their own services.
“We believe that God deserves our highest praise and worship so we jump, sing, shout and make as loud a noise as possible, so as to usher in the presence of the Holy Spirit during our services,” says Ngu.
In line with CHCF Sibu’s mission to build a “Spirit-filled, Christ-centered, purpose-driven healthy church”, the church has put in place several initiatives to ensure that members stay rooted in Christ and lead purposeful lives.
Besides worship services, every member is encouraged to join a cell group. “The cell group is the backbone of the church. We make sure that every member is connected in this big family, so that everyone can be planted in the church and equipped accordingly. This is the pre-requisite for a member to join a ministry,” Ngu explains.
CHCF Sibu also places much emphasis on prayer. The church conducts two morning prayer sessions (5 to 6 a.m. and 6:30 to 7:30 a.m.), as well as prayer meetings every Wednesday and Friday night. Members are encouraged to attend the prayer meetings in order to stay filled with the Holy Spirit. “We make sure each member lives and exists for a purpose, reminding them always that they can do all things through Christ who strengthens them.”
Members’ needs are not forgotten either. The church has in place a special committee that identifies members with practical needs such as food, clothing and transport, and ensures that their needs are adequately met.
|PHOTO COURTESY OF CITY HARVEST CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP SIBU|
Outside the four walls of the church, CHC Sibu is committed to making a difference in the lives of the community, in line with their strong belief of “loving God and loving people”. For example, church leaders actively minister to students in two local high schools by conducting leadership courses and praying for them before major exams. Recently, both schools co-organized an evangelistic event, where 60 out of 80 students gave their lives to God.
Last Christmas, the church members shared the love of Christ with children from Sibu General Hospital by giving them Christmas presents and sending them warm wishes. During Chinese New Year early this year, the church also gave away red packets to all the patients in the hospital.
Periodically, CHCF Sibu also ties up with hospitals to conduct blood donation drives held at the church’s premises. The event usually draws a good response, with hundreds of people turning up to donate blood.
“We praise God that we are able to share His love with everyone regardless of race, religion and status, and bring joy to all, from the medical staff to the patients. We believe that we need to give just like God has given us His Son,” says Ngu.
Leadership and training are important pillars in the continual growth and renewal of the church. The church conducts cell leaders’ training every Monday night, where a church elder trains cell leaders on the techniques of leading a cell group. In addition, the church invites external pastors to train its leaders, all of which help broaden the leaders’ horizons and increase their skill sets.
“Most of the time, we learn and grow by watching videos and sending our members to other churches. We also send a delegation to every Emerge Conference, Asia Conference, Harvest School of Ministry, Skudai conference, and other such events in Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan,” he adds.
Hungry for the Word of God and desiring that more souls be saved, CHCF Sibu has recently embarked on plans to construct a bigger church building to house its growing congregation.
“Within the next five years, we want to build our own church building. Our current worship venue is already packed with people, so the building committee is planning ahead. We have already started an Arise and Build campaign.”
Indeed, CHCF Sibu has come a long way since its humble beginnings. Today, the church has grown to more than 1,000 members with three weekend services. They also started another chapel at Permai a few years ago in order to cater to their expanding membership.
As a testament to their success, other churches in Sibu and other towns in Sarawak have invited CHCF Sibu to help build their churches.