Emerge—City Harvest Church’s youth movement which happens this weekend—has transformed the lives of scores of young people since it began eight years ago. City News meets two of them.
Contributed By Dawn Seow and Glynisia Yeo
In June 2003, several thousand young people crammed into the main auditorium of City Harvest Church’s Jurong West premises to attend the church’s inaugural youth event, Emerge. For nearly an entire week, these youth came to church early in the morning to hear the Word of God. In the afternoon, they participated in friendly competitions, and at night, they returned for a time of deep worship, prayer and the preaching of the Word by CHC’s senior pastor, Kong Hee.
The first Emerge proved to be a huge success, an event that inspired the young members to get grounded in the Word even as they showcased their creative and sporting talents. It was evident that God was stirring the hearts of the youth. By the end of that week, many lives had been transformed and each one went back to their cell groups, friends and families to testify of what God had done in their lives.
Among the youth eight years ago were two 16-year-old students, Veroy Chua and Krystle Liew, whose lives took an exciting turn as they stepped out of their comfort zones and attempted things they had never done before. Their simple faith in God was fueled by the magnitude of the whole experience—taking on new challenges and encountering God in a personal way.
A LIFE LESS ORDINARY
From Plan E to Plan A: this sums up Chua’s experience during Emerge 2003. That first year of Emerge, he joined the talent competition with four other friends to perform a spoof of Star Wars called SARwars (the SARS epidemic happened that year).
He recalled, “This drama included a rap segment about SARS and how to be free from it. Everyone else in the team tried it out but couldn’t do it. In the end, I just asked if I could try that part—and the rest is history. I believe that opened the way for me to lead the final closing song of the conference, which was a heart-pumping number called ‘Shake This Planet.’” From the confidence he displayed, others would never have guessed that he suffered chronically from stage fright.
As a young believer attending the conference, Chua was also inspired by the long praise and worship sessions, the endless energy from the youth at every session, and the sense of freedom in the place that everyone seemed to enjoy in expressing their passion for Jesus. But what touched him the most was one of Kong’s messages on raising up the next generation of youth in Asia.
He said, “I was really impacted when Pastor Kong talked about a new generation of youth. When he said that God was looking for that one boy or girl who would say ‘Yes’ to Him, I made a prayer to God and told Him, ‘God, I know I’m not much but if You can use anything, Lord, You can use me.’” It was a simple, heartfelt prayer that probably no one else heard, but God did.
At the end of the conference, Chua ended up leading the entire congregation in praise to God. “Everyone was so pumped up in the place that even after the song ended, the people stayed on and wanted more. I remembered Pastor Kong coming up to me and asking me to do the song again—which I did! This turned out to be my first song leading experience.”
Life changed after that first Emerge as doors opened for Chua to get involved in the Children’s Church ministry, and subsequently become a singer for J7, a children’s pop group. He was also a backup vocalist and later, became a song leader. He now oversees the singers in CCH. Chua helped to co-produce CCH’s (2010) praise and worship album, God Of My Universe, wrote songs, and helped to train the kids’ band.
Today, Chua, 25, is pursuing his degree in Communication Design—incidentally, he designed the Emerge brochures this year. And the gift God released eight years ago at Emerge has made him a main service worship leader and backup vocalist in CHC today.
Krystle Liew’s personal encounter with God took place during the first preaching session at the first Emerge. “I remember the moment as crystal clear as it happened eight years ago,” she said. “The night before Emerge, I made a very simple prayer to God that I would experience Him in such a tangible way so that for the rest of my life, it would be my spiritual bedrock. The next day during the altar call, I knelt for the first time in my life and heard a whisper, ‘Krystle, I love you.’ These were four simple words, but they became to me a lifetime of knowing I belonged to Jesus; they formed a relationship I have with God that I know the world can never replace. They are the altar which I always return to.”
After that encounter, Liew took part in competitions at Emerge in subsequent years, clinching a few top positions along the way. Her pursuit of excellence and unwavering dedication to the craft or skill she chose to compete in paved the way for her to become successful in both her academic and career achievements. “Emerge gave me the confidence to carry myself well in front of a large audience and to be confident in public speaking,” she said.
When she was in university, Liew and three other CHC members participated in the Chartered Financial Analyst Global Investment Research Competition and emerged champions during the final round held in London, beating 200 other university entries from around the world. The four of them believed that despite their youth, they could shine for God not just in their local campus but on a global level as well.
“As a result of our win, I was invited by Bloomberg to share our investment views on national television. Thereafter, the blessings kept pouring in. Before my graduation, I was offered my first job in a top investment bank, which also meant a six-figure annual salary. My other team mates also found jobs in investment banks and hedge funds after graduation, and we are all actively serving God today.”
Fast-forward to July 2011, Liew is now 24 years old and a trader in a commodities firm. She is a cell group leader in the church and is regularly involved in the church’s drama productions. “Emerge made me believe that young people can shine in the marketplace and still walk closely with God. It challenged me to constantly expand my capacity when I was a youth, and that was what set my lifestyle in my career and ministry. I learned to be able to manage relationships, cell groups, drama ministry—and still excel at my workplace.”
Excited for Emerge? Follow what’s happening on Twitter @chcemerge.
WHAT TO EXPECT THIS WEEKEND
Finalists from the Live Jam! competition will take the stage to lead the congregation in praise and worship. One team will emerge as the champion of this competition.
Finalists from the Center Stage! Competition will present their winning acts: Music In Motion (Goh Yock Kiang and Leila Tan’s zones) and City Noose (Wu Yuzhuang’s zone).
Four finalists from Your Best Shot! will be showcasing their creative talents this weekend. Get ready to be wowed by Amos Ang (music and vocals), Nathania Ong (vocals), John Christopher (dance) and Dawn Lin (music) as they vie for the top place in this competition.
A Walk Down Memory Lane
The first-ever Cut! Competition demonstrates the video editing skills of CHC’s young crowd. The entry that puts together the most creative and meaningful footages from the recent June youth camps wins!
Oh My Word! is a brand new Bible-based competition and the top three young finalists will compete on the four Gospels. Speed and accuracy count in this exciting tournament. Watch out for the Trump Card which either doubles the points of the team or wipes out their points completely.
The Emerge Years
2004 The first Parade of Schools was held to champion the cause of campus revivals in Singapore.
2005 Emerge welcomed overseas visitors from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, USA and Australia, mostly from CHC’s affiliate churches.
The Preaching Challenge was introduced. For the first time, non-Cell Group Leaders in CHC had a chance to preach in front of a crowd of about 100 people.
2006 The Emerge movement went to Taiwan and sparked off a revival among the youth there. In Singapore, Emerge saw performers like Singapore Idol Taufik Batisah, Project Superstar winners Kelly Poon and Hong Jun Yang, and MediaCorp artist Belinda Lee grace the occasion.
2007 The number of competitions doubled to 61, allowing the youth to showcase varied talents and gifts.
Emerge was broadcasted “live” for the first time on God TV to 122 million homes in more than 200 nations.