Thousands receive a fresh vision of hope through the Festival of Praise 2010.
The second night of the Festival of Praise 2010 commenced half an hour earlier with a special showcase of upbeat Tamil songs led by a local pastor, Jonathan Suppaya, and a team of backup vocalists and dancers. Thereafter, as the stadium lights dimmed, the Australian band Planetshakers took to the stage and belted out their adrenaline pumping hits “Free” and “Nothing is Impossible.” The teenagers and 20-plus in the capacity crowd were enthusiastic, jumping to the beat as the band’s multilayered guitar rock sound filled the stadium.
As they began to play “Beautiful Savior,” an atmosphere of worship descended, paving the way for acclaimed Christian singer, songwriter and producer Don Moen to take over. The crowd sang along to his trademark tunes such as “Praise Looks Good on You,” “Thank You Lord,” “He Never Sleeps” and “Still.”
Commenting on fact that the committee chose to combine two Christian artistes with totally different styles together, full time National Serviceman Chua Chee Ang, 20, said that, “Praise and worship can be of different forms and genres, so it’s really quite interesting when we can praise God in our own ways.”
During the service announcements, Suppaya made a surprise tribute to Canon James Wong, the founder and president of the Festival of Praise Fellowship; he thanked Wong for his contributions and presented him with a traditional golden Indian shawl.
Subsequently, Patrick Lau, Senior Pastor of Calvary Assembly of God and Dr. Lawrence Chia, Chairman of the Evangelical Fellowship of Singapore, prayed for the nation. Thanking God for the blessings that He has showered upon Singapore, they also interceded for a greater harvest among the people.
|CN PHOTOS: Alvin Loh, Bernard Yeo and Michael Chan|
Che Ahn, founder and president of Harvest International Ministry, then preached a message on the power of hope. Drawing from Jeremiah 29:11, the pastor elucidated the context of this often quoted, optimistic promise—the prophet himself was imprisoned and writing to Jews who were in captivity in Babylon. Hope was something that Jeremiah hung on to despite the bleak circumstances, and according to Che, is the anticipation of good from God in every area of a person’s life that impacts him in the present.
Hope is in a person. According to Che, hope is greater than faith, and he offered a simple reason to support his proposition. Firstly, God is love (1 John 4:8). God is also hope (Col. 1:27), but He is not faith. Christians are called to live by faith, but when it comes to the concept of hope, Christ Himself is called our blessed hope (Titus 2:13).
Hope is also in a promise. Che shared a personal story of a lady who urged him to pray for her 24-year-old son who was in a coma for six months. Seeing the lad on a life support system, Che himself did not feel inspired to pray for healing. “Whenever I’m in a situation like that, even when I don’t have much faith, at least I move in hope. Faith is for the now, but hope is a confident expectation of a better tomorrow, that God is a good God and He will come through,” he said. Quietly interceding at the bedside, he claimed the promise that “the sick shall recover” and within 24 hours, the lad woke up from the coma.
Che concluded his sermon with an altar call for salvation, to which many responded. As they made their way to the front through the aisles, Che corporately prayed for healing among the crowd. Moen returned to the piano to sing “Hiding Place,” “Mi Corazon,” “I Believe There is More,” and the classic “God is Good All the Time,” a blissful closing to the end of the entire event. Though the festival was over, hope was renewed in the hearts of those who came for a better tomorrow.