City Harvest Church celebrates the end of five amazing years at the Singapore Expo.
Contributed By Dwayne Lum
Feb. 26 to 27 marked the finale to an extraordinary five years of worship services at the Singapore Expo for City Harvest Church. The weekend was a poignant moment, yet one peppered with light-heartedness and optimism for the future as the congregation and leadership celebrated the memories and milestones the past half a decade had afforded them.
It was on Dec. 7, 2005 that CHC began leasing the Singapore Expo Hall 8 as an additional worship venuefor its congregation. Over the past five years, the church has utilized the venue for over 500 worship services, with massive Christian conferences such as the Asia Conference and Emerge Conference being some of the highlights.
Even before the final service started, it was clear that Twitter and Facebook reports of the penultimate service the day before had gone some way to generate a buzz and excitement in the air. Wrote Sheryl Lim, 26, “Seeing the Tweets of those who attended the Saturday service just makes me feel so excited for the final service on Sunday.”
Celebrating God’s Goodness
That expectation paid off as right from the get-go it was evident that this would be one for the history books. With songs such as “God Of My Life,” “You Deserve” and “Sweetest Devotion,” the powerhouse trio of Teo Poh Heng, Annabel Soh and Alison Yap took turns leading the congregation in worship. Ending off with “Thank You For The Cross,” something from an earlier era of worship music in CHC, emphasized the sentimental atmosphere for the day. It was also a reminder for the church of how much God has blessed them for the past 22 years and the amount of history it has written.
The video presentation which followed highlighted this fact, showcasing the milestones CHC had accomplished whilst congregating at the Singapore Expo. In just five short years, Expo and CHC have played host to more than 50 guest ministers with world-renowned speakers such as David Yonggi Cho, evangelist Reinhard Bonnke, Joyce Meyer, A.R. Bernard and Phil Pringle. Notable international praise and worship acts such as Delirious?, True Worshipers and Don Moen have also graced the Expo stage with their presence and unique music styles.
Engaging The Marketplace
Apart from luminaries of the Christian world, CHC has also seen more than 70 celebrities visit or perform at their services in Singapore Expo. This was apt considering that it was at this venue that CHC’s senior pastor Kong Hee began teaching the Cultural Mandate, calling upon the church to engage culture via the realms of art and entertainment, a movement which has since spread throughout the Christian world. A Celebrity Weekend on Jun. 13 and 14, 2009 was held to depict that message, having stars such as Vanness Wu, Liu Geng Hong and Taiwan pop group F.I.R. perform whilst sharing testimonies of how being a Christian has helped them to shine in their industry.
Singapore Expo has also played home to notable large-scale Christian conferences. The inaugural Asia Conference held from Nov. 19 to 23, 2008 drew 20,356 delegates from 68 countries. Its follow-up in 2010 saw a joint effort with Church Growth International from South Korea. The CGI-AC 2010 saw over 25,000 attendees, with more than 7,200 international delegates from over 70 countries, representing 2,086 churches. Making full use of the facilities at the Singapore Expo, conference attendees were invited to attend a wide range of electives held in the multiple halls and conference rooms available at the Singapore Expo whilst Marketplace exhibitions and competitions were also on show.
A Changed Life
Perhaps even more significant than the events and activities were the lives which were changed and impacted at the Singapore Expo. During last Sunday’s finale service, Marc Wong, 25, shared with the congregation a moving testimony of how he experienced a radical life change these past five years in CHC at Singapore Expo.
Born with thalassemia major, a blood disease which requires him to undergo blood transfusion therapy every single day, doctors did not expect him to live past his teenage years. In spite of such a negative report, Wong found hope in God and courageously overcame feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem to transform his self-image into a healthy one. Setting his mind to prove the doctors and their report wrong, Wong was bent on having a full and long life ahead of him.
Graduating with First Class Honors in his Bachelor of Sciences degree, Wong secured a job at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Singapore even before finishing university. Meanwhile, his doctors were surprised to find that his condition had actually improved at an unexpected rate over the past few years. Still believing for his full and complete healing, Wong is living the dream having recently been accepted into the medical program at Duke-NUSS Graduate Medical School in Singapore.
Finding Strength In God
This dovetailed nicely with Kong’s message for the final weekend of services at the Singapore Expo on combating discouragement. Preaching out of the book of Haggai, Kong told of how the Israelites headed back to rebuild the House of God after Solomon’s temple had been destroyed but faced tremendous criticism and negative external circumstances. Emphasizing that “discouragement is an immobilizing force,” Kong explained that the bad situation resulted in the Israelites neglecting the very work they set out to do for 14 years.
Recounting well-known examples such as the Wright Brothers, Rembrandt, Einstein and the Beatles who faced discouragement and criticism at the start of their respective careers, it drove home the message that success comes through overcoming setbacks and not allowing them to have a hold in your life. “Discouragement is only as powerful as you allow it to have power over you,” said Kong.
Just as how God had sent Haggai the prophet to encourage the Israelites in the rebuilding of the temple, Kong echoed the very words of Haggai for the leadership and congregation to stay optimistic—“Be strong!” Strength, he taught, is the mental and emotional ability to bounce back when one is knocked down. With God as our strength, we know we can rely on Him to overcome for us when it seems that we are unable to.
Directing the congregation to look to the future, Kong repeated the words of the prophet Haggai that “the glory of the latter temple shall be greater than the former.” The rebuilt temple of God faced opposition but was greater and more glorious than even the grandeur of Solomon’s Temple before because Jesus, the Messiah and Son of God would personally come into this Temple. Drawing parallels, Kong explained that despite CHC’s setbacks in moving over to Suntec Singapore and the changes they have had to make as a result of the new URA guidelines, “if Jesus’ glory would go with us, it would be enough.”
A fitting end came right after the message, with Kong moving the congregation to set their hearts to worship and be thankful to God for all He has done in their lives these past five years. After refrains of “Great Is The Lord” and “Friend Of God,” it was clear that the congregation was prepped and ready to go for their move to Suntec. Praising way past the usual two-hour mark for service, hardly anyone left their seats whilst the worship team led them in the last song CHC would sing in Singapore Expo—“Happy Day.”
Said Kelvin Loh, 22, a medical sales representative who started attending CHC in Singapore Expo, “this will always be a place where my dreams were born and a place where I knew for sure that God loves me.”