In the midst of trials, church members are reminded to count their blessings.
It has been a month since the Church Growth International-Asia Conference 2010, possibly the biggest Christian convention in the region where representatives from over 2,000 churches and 25,000 delegates from 70 nations came together for a time of spiritual impartation.
The “secret” behind its phenomenal success lay not just in the programs, but in the thousands of volunteers and church workers who labored tirelessly before, during, and after the conference. The invisible labor of all the volunteers was the magic glue that held everything together, making the conference a huge success.
What followed was an abrupt turn of events just one day after the conference ended. Senior pastor, Kong Hee, together with 16 other church members, was approached by the Commercial Affairs Department to aid with investigations pertaining to an alleged misuse of church funds. Although the days that followed were intense, with the church making headlines almost every other day, members remain in full support of the senior pastor and the leadership.
It was in this vein, that CHC’s senior pastor and founder, Kong Hee, opened his address to the congregation on the last weekend of June, thanking the members for their hard work and effort during the conference. Kong stood on the stage amidst rapturous applause and cheers, punctuated with shouts of “We love you, Pastor Kong!” around the hall.
It was evident the congregation warmly welcomed Kong, as he delivered a message on seven things to thank God for, summing up the “DNA,” or the essence, of CHC. With this message, Kong brought across a strong truth, that in spite of adversity, there are still many things one can be thankful to God for. Kong thanked the church members:
The core values of CHC revolve around these two statements: loving God wholeheartedly, loving people fervently. Love is a trademark of CHC members, shown not just in words, but in deed.
Said Kong, “Love is more than just a smile or a warm handshake. It is very practical.” He spoke of the Church Without Walls movement launched by CHC in 1995, with the motto—find a hurt and heal it, find a need and meet it. Out of this movement, City Harvest Community Services Association was born.
Citing specific examples of how CHCSA volunteers and church members have made a difference in society, Kong told the congregation, “When I think about the great exploits of love you have done, I can only stand in amazement, and say, thank God for your love.”
2. For their flexibility.
Over the past 21 years, the church has changed locations and service timings to accommodate growth. The core values and mission of CHC have never changed. Kong affirmed that it was the flexibility of the members which has made progression and growth achievable.
“We have gone through so many changes, yet you have never complained. You adapted, rolled with the punches, put up with inconveniences, and have always been flexible, and continue to be,” said Kong.
3. For their sacrifices.
Kong thanked the congregation for their sacrifices in various different areas. Highlighting one of the milestones of CHC, Kong spoke about the construction of the Jurong West church building. Back then, the church had about 7,000 members, and they saved up and sowed over a seven-year period, sacrificing their money and comfort to build the church. Some members even moved their homes to the west, to be nearer to the church.
In 2002, when God was calling CHC to Asian missions, thousands of members volunteered to go. They braved unfamiliar territory and uncomfortable living conditions, with the passion to help build and strengthen the Asian churches. During the same period, the church moved on unexplored terrain in launching the Crossover project—an initiative where entertainment and culture are used to reach out to people who might otherwise never come to church. Over a period of seven months, 80 concerts were conducted, backed by 1,700 volunteers. The results were astounding as more than 100,000 people came to Jesus all throughout Asia through these concerts.
In 2005, tragedy struck when Aceh was hit by a tsunami. Many members volunteered to go, sacrificing their time, money and energy. Furthermore, CHC humanitarian teams extended a helping hand to many places such as Nias, Sri Lanka, Sichuan, and most recently Haiti, providing medical and logistical support to the people suffering from the effects of disaster.
4. For their faith.
Kong likened CHC to a verse in Romans 1:8 where the apostle Paul applauded the church for their great faith, which was known throughout the world. Kong stated that the tens of thousands who came for the recent CGI-Asia Conference came because they heard of CHC’s faith.
“In a world that is cynical and negative, we want CHC to be a place where dreams are achieved, and success is celebrated. We are a people with a different spirit,” said Kong.
|CN PHOTOS: Desmond Tan & Kristine Lam|
5. For their vision.
Kong thanked the members for their vision—the ability to see beyond themselves to the world and the next generation. Through the vision of the church and the members—the Great Commandment, Great Commission and the Cultural Mandate—CHC spearheaded many projects that became model tools for church growth. One such project is the Emerge youth conference. Its organization was so well executed in CHC that its model has been duplicated in many churches in Asia.
Quoting from Isaiah 43:18, Kong exhorted the people to continue to be forward-thinking. “We thank God for what has happened in the past, but I truly believe, both individually and corporately, our best days are yet ahead,” declared Kong.
6. For their love for the lost.
A strong love for people who have yet to receive Christ is another distinctive trait of CHC. Kong shared how, even in the midst of what has been happening, testimonies have come to him about the continual growth of many cell groups. In the last 21 years, CHC has reached many people for Christ, and this reach is expanding.
“There is nothing more important in life than to share the love of God with as many people as you can,” said Kong, encouraging the people to keep their passion for evangelism strong.
7. For their love for the House of God.
CHC members have weathered through many trials over the past 21 years with their great love and commitment to the spiritual family. Even in the recent challenge the church is facing, members have remained unfazed, steadfastly committed to the church.
Kong said, “One thing never changes—our love for the House of God! This is the gate of heaven, a house of prayer, where sinners find salvation and broken people find restoration. This is the time to love one another, to put aside all resentment and bitterness, stand shoulder to shoulder, and heart to heart.”
Summarizing his message, Kong said, “Let us not lose sight of our spiritual DNA. This is who we are in Christ.”