City News recounts how City Harvest Church celebrated the Christmas season.
Despite being the most globally celebrated holiday, the true significance of Christmas remains largely distant from the lives of many around the world.
That is why Christmas has always been a highly anticipated yearly affair for City Harvest Church, to share the story at the heart of Christmas: the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ.
This year, the CHC drama team put together a scintillating production entitled “Heroes Of Faith Academy.” This presented the familiar nativity tale from a different viewpoint which traces the longing of 16-year-old James (Veroy Chua), desperately searching for the true meaning and purpose of his life.
Being an abandoned infant, James spent his growing years under the tutelage of Professor Reuben (Nelson Tong) from the academy. But he never felt a sense of belonging or acceptance from his peers who, unlike him, knew their identities and anointing inherited from their family lineage—James had not a clue who he was and where he came from. This sparked his search for answers that eventually led him toward love and reconciliation with his family.
Just like James, many are searching for the true meaning and purpose of life, without knowing that the answer lies in the saving knowledge of embracing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. To the believer, He is family—Abba Father. In Him, destiny is found, and with it, a sense of belonging in His family called the church.
That is what 32-year-old, Mah Chin Heng, a senior officer in a bank finally discovered and concluded during the Christmas weekend, where he responded to receive Christ into his life at the altar call.
“I’m convinced that Jesus is the reason for the season, but more accurately for all seasons,” said Mah. “Knowing Jesus has brought more significance to Christmas and I’m looking forward to a deeper and enriching journey with Him in 2011.”
Including Mah, there were close to 5,000 decisions made during the Christmas season at CHC.
Using the nativity story as the backdrop of his message, senior pastor Kong Hee devoted attention on the biblical character of Joseph, husband to Mary and earthly father of Jesus.
He highlighted the three types of traumas—Shocking Discovery, Shattered Dreams, and Shameful Despair—that Joseph was confronted with upon learning about Mary’s pregnancy, and went on to substantiate with relevant and miraculous testimonies of how with God, these challenges could be overcome gloriously.
One of the remarkable testimonies told was that of Jane (not her real name). Before she received Christ into her life, she hid behind a painful and shameful past of being emotionally and physically abused, to the point of being in a state of depression and suicidal.
But with her newfound faith in God, she kept on believing in the Word of God and was eventually delivered from the demons of her past.
Jane has since graduated from the Singapore Institute of Management and even represented Singapore in an international competition for top students. She is also presently serving as a cell group leader of 30 members.
Hers is a story that inspires hope and attests to the amazing difference Jesus can make in one’s life.
|CN PHOTOS: Desmond Tan, Elvis Chiu and Ryan Ng|
Unknown to the thousands of people that attended the Christmas services over the last weekend, 24-year-old lead actor Chua was suffering from a bruised jaw after an unfortunate mishap that took place at the last rehearsal (a day before Christmas eve).
During the fist-fight scene where he confronted Sean (Edward Fan) upon discovering his treachery, one of the punches actually landed on his cheek which resulted in a chipped tooth and a sore jaw.
But Chua braved on and even joked that the pain helped him in portraying the angst and grief required for his character. His dedication and enduring efforts, alongside that of the whole drama team, paid off as he shared about his friend who visited one of the Christmas services and responded during the altar call.
“There’s no doubt that the drama production team sacrificed their personal Christmas celebrations with their family and friends because of the intense rehearsals required in putting up this play,” said Chua, “but it is all worth it in exchange for knowing that others are able to embrace and enjoy their Christmas meaningfully with Christ in their lives.”
Magic was in the air too, with some breath-taking magical tricks performed during the drama by King Herod’s wizard (Adrian Cheung) and HOF Academy student Eli (Bernard Loh). Both of them mesmerized the audience with their trickery of fire.
This year, Christmas was celebrated over five services that were held over three days on Dec. 24, 25 and 26, 2010 at Jurong West St. 91 and Singapore Expo. Carollers belted out Christmas classics such as “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Feliz Navidad” as visitors walked into the main hall.
Spotted among the audience was highly-acclaimed music veteran, Lee Wei Song, widely credited for grooming famous Mandopop song bird, Stefanie Sun.
But apart from all the fanfare, the occasion will always be a celebration of God’s love and the reconciliation of man —regardless of age, gender, background and social status—to God.
“Christmas is the season of giving because God gave His only begotten Son to save us. It is an occasion to remind me of who Jesus is in my life—my wonderful Counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father and Prince of Peace” said 39-year-old Kelvin Chew, a cell group leader in CHC.