City Harvest Church’s Staff Retreat capped the year with a renewed sense of unity and purpose.
Toward the end of a year that saw some of the highest and lowest points in the history of City Harvest Church, approximately 170 staff members with their spouses and children, took a break from their respective preparations for the upcoming Christmas celebration to fellowship and pray together as one body. Themed “UP,” which stands for “united” and “purposed,” the CHC Staff Retreat was held from Dec. 1 to 3 at Bintan Lagoon Resort on Bintan Island.
|CN PHOTOS: Jammy Chang|
Indeed, unity was the cord which bound the participants to each other, be they from the pastoral department, the creative, IT, finance, missions or information systems department, as all prayed in one spirit for healing for the sick and mighty deliverance into the new year. Kong Hee, senior pastor of CHC, who was present with his wife Sun Ho and 5-year-son Dayan, led two of the sharing sessions on the first and second day, during which he encouraged the participants to be hopeful in the promises of God. “Expectation is the atmosphere of miracles,” he said.
Speaking on the power of prophecy, Kong read from chapter 37 in the Book of Ezekiel about how the prophet Ezekiel, who was thrown into exile in Babylon, spoke forth the prophetic Word of God and gave life to the dry bones in the valley.
The team-building activities on the second day was not just an exercise in teamwork but out-of-the-box thinking, as the participants, divided into ten teams, worked around the rules laid out by the game masters to score points. Various game stations were spread out on a big patch of grass in front of the beach, and each group took turns completing the tasks before moving on to the next station—walking on eggs, three-legged races, underwater apple biting and the requisite face-in-flour games, all was done in the name of good (but not necessarily clean) fun.
Later that night, what was supposed to be a BBQ dinner by the beach gave way to a persistent drizzle. But even as the dinner was shifted indoors, the emcee for the evening, Bernard Loh, a recurring face in many of CHC’s drama productions, kept everyone in guffaws with a string of well-planned games which brought out a different, seldom seen side of many individuals.
With a picture of Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo on an LED projection on stage, each group was asked to “volunteer” their own Rambo, a male team member. The other members were then given a “costume kit” and asked to decorate their Rambo, after which they had to parade themselves on stage, in all their makeshift tough guy glory.
In a display of strength, one Rambo contender, Kelvin Tan, gestured for his wife of one month, Cynthia Chua, to the stage, and scooped her up in his arms. Another contender even went a step further and gamely lifted him up in turn. Much unabashed posing and flexing was undertaken among the others. Needless to say, it all made for one rib-tickling night.
On the final day, CHC’s advisory pastor Phil Pringle summed up all that had been said with another impactful session, charging all participants to lay claim on their position as God’s children and pray prophetically with their God-given authority. “Empathy moves you to pray for someone, but empathic prayer doesn’t heal—authoritative prayer does,” he said.
|CN PHOTOS: Michael Chan|
Says Cindy Ng from the School Of Theology department and one of the winners of the Longest Serving Award, “It was very meaningful because the last time we had a staff retreat was many years ago. It gave us the opportunity to get to know those from other departments with whom our paths don’t cross much, as the staff strength has grown the last few years. Although we are in challenging times, I feel that the morale and faith of not just myself but the entire staff has really been strengthened, as we prayed and believed for a breakthrough together. The sessions by Pastor Kong and Pastor Phil, the presence of God, crying buckets during the praise and worship … it was life-transforming.”