CHC’s Indonesian and Filipino congregations meet again in their respective worship services.
Contributed by Kelly Tang & GJ Gonzales
After a five-month break, following its last service held at the Riverwalk in August 2010, the Indonesian and Filipino congregations of City Harvest Church reassembled for a back-to-back Sunday worship service on Jan. 23 at its new rented service venue in Orchard Hotel.
The Indonesian and Filipino cultures are well known for their gift in music, hospitality, warmth and strong family ties. With an aim to reach out to their countrymen here in Singapore, they find the weekly Sunday services a good platform to do so. The Grand Ballroom 2 can seat up to 350 people and hold a stage for a full band of singers and musicians.
The ballroom at Orchard Hotel, complete with ritzy crystal chandeliers and ballroom grandeur, was filled to its maximum capacity as the CHC Indonesian Service got back into the full swing of things for its first service of 2011 on Sunday, Jan. 23.
The Indonesian service started in 2002, under the leadership of Aries Zulkarnain, deputy executive pastor of CHC, and the pastor in charge of the fellowship, with around 40 attendees consisting of students and working adults. It now boasts an average attendance of 170 weekly, with a record attendance of up to 260 on special occasions. For a while, the congregation met regularly every Sunday at CHC’s Jurong West church premises before moving to the Riverwalk in January 2010.
The service at Orchard Hotel opened with a lively praise and worship session, filled with an atmosphere of celebration and happy reunion. Cheers and laughter were heard throughout the entire service as the congregation was greeted with a host of exciting programs, which included a performance by the “boy band” of the Indonesian Service.
During the five-month hiatus, the Indonesian Service band formed 3PM and traveled throughout Indonesia, ministering to Indonesian churches with their own brand of praise and worship. They garnered the Best Album of the Year in the Indonesian Gospel Music Awards 2010, for their debut album, Unto You.The Indonesian drama team also traveled with CHC’s senior pastor, Kong Hee, when he ministered to the church in Surabaya.
Zulkarnain shared a relevant message about relying on God and having the right attitudes in the midst of challenges and transition. It was no doubt a vision shared by the members even as mentions of the move to Suntec City brought about unreserved cheers of excitement.
Said Zulkarnain, “Our Indonesian service members work and live here in Singapore, some for a long time. Most of them are conversant in English; however, they feel a special connection to be able to worship and fellowship with other Indonesians in their native language.”
“It feels so good to be back in Indonesian Service. The atmosphere was great and I feel so excited and uplifted by the praise and worship and meeting all the people in our congregation again,” remarked Natalie Tjien.
Another member, Laura Kwan, who just returned to Singapore after a four-year stint in the U.S. shared, “I am happy to be back. This is my first Indonesian service since I came back to Singapore. There are many new faces but the people are so warm and friendly and I feel right at home.”
UNITED ONCE AGAIN
From its humble beginnings as a 10-member cell group in 2006, the Filipino Fellowship has branched out into five groups that meet each week in different locations: Tampines and Sengkang (Thursdays), Bishan and Jurong West (Fridays) and Jurong East (Saturdays). Attendee profile includes a majority of overseas Filipino workers and permanent residents in Singapore working in multi-industries.
That Sunday noon, 114 Filipino adults were reunited at the much-awaited event. Ministry members were at their posts serving as vocalists and musicians, ushers and greeters, security men, sound crew, and children’s church teachers. The people had the opportunity to serve—in their own warm and cheery Filipino style.
First-timers and newlyweds Merlin and Nina Marcos felt warmly welcomed and were impressed by the turnout of the gathering, “Having a Filipino service gives us room to be ourselves in a foreign land and be united in reaching our ‘kababayans’ who are still unbelievers.”
Jimmy Sng, one of CHC’s assistant pastors who oversees the Filipino Fellowship, knows how inherently passionate Filipinos are: he brought the people’s attention to two important traits that govern passionate, purposeful living—discipline and determination. “Filipinos are passionate by nature and that is a wonderful thing about this group of people. We need to harness this passion and direct it toward the accomplishment of God’s purpose. Once they put their mind and energy into it, it can really be done.”
Plans to send out mission teams to Philippines in the later half of this year are in place.
Indonesian services are held every Sunday at 10 a.m., followed by the Filipino service at 12 p.m. in Orchard Hotel. For more information, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.