City Harvest Church celebrates its 21st anniversary bash with two packed-out services.
Twenty-one-year olds rejoice over freedom and maturity. For that and even more, City Harvest Church converged at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Aug. 1 to celebrate family and love in this year’s 21st anniversary bash.
Dark skies and rain showers on that early Sunday morning did not deter congregants from witnessing the glorious occasion. Benedict Ethan, a youth from the church, humorously Tweeted, “Another flood-possible rain. Could the indoor stadium be our Noah’s ark today?”
Queues at the West and East entrances began building up even before 7 a.m. By 7:30 a.m., the line at the East entrance had stretched across the corridors and the nearby overhead bridge.
Kong Hee, founder of City Harvest Church, said to the crowd, “The fact that many of you came despite the heavy rain and what we’re going through only speaks of one thing—that this is the work of the Holy Spirit in you.”
His words spelled out the theme of the anniversary: the love of God poured out upon His people is of one that never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance. This principle of love, taken from 1 Corinthians 13:7 in the Bible, is an exhortation to the church currently in a season of challenges.
REMEMBERING GOD’S FAITHFULNESS
For its members, the last 21 years of ministry is a testament of how CHC has been a place where “dreams are realized and success is celebrated.” It is also a place where love, in all its dimensions, whether toward God or people, is witnessed in action and has always been the driving force behind the ministry.
During the services, worship songs such as “God Of My Forever” and “Never Let You Go” resounded with a deep love and commitment as the people sang of God’s faithfulness. Nicole Ren, a Chinese national, remarked, “You can really feel the love of God in this place.”
The congregation watched video greetings from CHC’s “spiritual fathers” from across the globe: senior ministers Phil and Chris Pringle, Casey Treat, Mark Conner, Paul Scanlon, Ulf Ekman and A.R. Bernard. Most notable was a video clip of the prophecy given by senior pastor-emeritus of the world’s largest church, David Yonggi Cho, during the CGI-Asia Conference 2010 earlier this year. The congregation applauded in agreement with the vision of enlargement and greater influence of the church.
FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE
Kong addressed the church with a message on faith, hope and love, illustrating with real-life testimonies of ordinary people whom God has transformed and whose lives He has restored.
One of the stories he shared was about Fong Ah Lan, a 74-year-old lady who suffered from uterus cancer and was paralyzed from waist down. She was wheelchair-bound and needed regular assistance in order to attend church services every weekend. During a healing service in 2007, Fong exercised her faith in God and was miraculously healed. Since then, Fong no longer relies on her wheelchair and can walk to the nearby market all by herself. Today, Fong spends her time sharing her testimony of God’s healing and love to her neighbors and friends.
At the end of the sermon, Kong gave a call for those who wanted the salvation of Christ and hundreds made their way down the stage in response. Said Jocelyn Nunez, 54, a mother of three, “I am believing God for a long, healthy and prosperous life. If God can use Mdm. Fong to serve in His kingdom in her 70s, He can do the same for me.”
TOUCHING HEARTS THROUGH MUSIC
CHC’s singers, Alison Yap, Annabel Soh, Sendy Bolang, Mark Kwan and Calvin Ho, beautifully delivered a rendition of songs by Michael Jackson (“Man In The Mirror” medley), Natasha Bedingfield (“Pocketful Of Sunshine”) and Beyoncé (“Flaws And All”) which left the crowd in awe of their vocal prowess.
Adding on to the charged-up atmosphere was a stunning, body-pumping and heart-warming dance number by dancers from O School—a social enterprise performing arts center that seeks to promote the potential among the younger generation.
Accompanying the dance was a video of various individuals defining love and how they’ve experienced its true meaning in CHC. Spoken in various languages, the video captured the message that love encompasses all, irrespective of background and status.
Victor Gunadi, one of the international students at the School of Theology told City News, “God’s hands are at work in this church and through it, my life has changed.” He added, “I think CHC is one of the best role models for Indonesian churches today.”
The second half of the dance depicted the lives of three young individuals faced with darkness and hopelessness, until they met God. Daniel Yeow, one of the three, recalled, “My dance moves were like a replay of the past hatred and anger I experienced. The real message behind it is that God has given me hope, a new beginning and a new life—a miracle that is engraved in my heart forever.”
Another group of performers that surprised and delighted the congregation was the CHC drama team. The drama was a spoof of the actual filming process of the church’s video announcements, known as Harvest Highlights. The actors drew roars of laughter from all corners of the stadium with their anecdotes. Said an amused Yvonne Goh, “It’s my first time seeing a live video announcement and it’s rather interesting to see what actually goes on behind the scenes. [Their acting was] totally hilarious!”
The second service was especially significant for the parents of the 72 babies who were dedicated to God during the Baby Dedication segment.
STANDING TOGETHER IN FAITH
|CN PHOTOS: Elvis Chiu, Bernard Yeo, Gary Sim, Jason Lee , Koh Meng Kwang & Michael Chan|
Taking to the platform in the second service was Phil Pringle, senior minister of Christian City Church, Australia.
Speaking about the heritage of the righteous from Psalm 37, Pringle exhorted the church to trust in the Lord, delight in Him and continue to commit to God and the church. He assured the congregation that “God can turn situations around. City Harvest Church is emerging into the future with power and grace.”
Before Pringle prayed for the church, he proclaimed, “Jesus became really unpopular when conflicts arose, that even His own disciples left Him at that moment. To stand for Jesus is to stand for your leaders. In the marketplace, in the world, you will have tribulations and that’s the time to stand for this man [Kong Hee]. So be strong, be immovable, be unshakeable, be committed.”
With those words, the members of CHC were strengthened in their courage and faith, having all the reasons to stand together, united as a family.