The Class of 2011 of City Harvest Church’s School Of Theology graduated last weekend with two special services.
Contributed By Dawn Seow
“Do not be afraid, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord,” are words spoken by Moses to the Israelites as they left Egypt. George Kuruvilla Naveen from India used those same words to encourage his fellow School Of Theology classmates on their last graduation service last Sunday, Aug. 21.
The short three-point sermon by Kuruvilla served not only as a summary of what the students had gone through in the six-month SOT course, it also served as an encouragement to his fellow classmates who were about to graduate and move into a new phase of life after Bible school. Kuruvilla’s message was a timely reminder of God’s goodness and faithfulness as he encouraged his friends and fellow students to trust God for their future.
For many of the SOT students, going to Bible school was a step of faith into the unknown. SOT became “home,” a place where individuals from diverse backgrounds made new friends, forged meaningful relationships, won personal battles and experienced life-transforming encounters with God.
The students’ six months of hard work finally culminated in two grand graduation ceremonies held on Aug. 20 and 21. The 517 graduates shared their spiritual journey and growth with the entire church, some through heartwarming testimonies and others through leading worship in the main service—truly a testament of their faith in God that had developed over the months.
SOT students ran several aspects of the main worship service. SOT musicians, choir members and song leaders were given the opportunity to lead the congregation in a time of praise and worship.
Song leaders, Joshua Lim and Chervelle Chua, motivated the crowd in a time of vibrant praise while Wendy Foo taught the congregation a new worship song “Taken,” written by CHC’s creative manager, Mark Kwan, for the graduation service. The atmosphere was that of gratitude as Foo sang the lyrics that professed a loving Savior’s desire to embrace His people under any circumstances. Dean of SOT and CHC’s missions pastor, Bobby Chaw, commented, “The song speaks of how God has taken His people through different periods of their lives because of His love. The song is particularly appropriate for the graduating SOT students who can testify of God’s hand over their lives the past six months.”
After the worship was a video presentation of three SOT students who shared their personal stories with the congregation: Catherine Lim, a cancer survivor, Kong Wee Wee, a hearing-impaired individual, and Kido Katsutoshi, who lost his mother to cancer in the midst of SOT. All three of them shared how God came through for them and gave them a renewed vision in life as they overcame physical and emotional limitations and experienced breakthrough in their lives. Not only did they receive strength from God to fight their battles, God also met their individual needs through His rhema word.
Thereafter, Dr. Alex Abraham, senior pastor of Gereja Bethany Church Surabaya, inspired the student body in his commencement address. He encouraged them to move progressively in the call of God and urged them not to be afraid to take risks in serving God. Using his own life experience as an example, he instilled faith and courage into the students, giving them a vision to continue serving God in every season of their life.
Following the short preaching of the Word, the official graduation ceremony began, ending with winners of six categories announced for Best Attendance, Courage Award, Best Academic Performance, Minister of the Year, Best SOT Team and the Best Overall Student. And in keeping to the tradition of previous year’s graduation ceremonies, CHC’s worship leader, Annabel Soh, led the church in the familiar song, “In Christ Alone.” It was a particularly meaningful moment as everyone sang the lyrics of the closing line of the chorus: “my source of strength, my source of hope, is Christ alone,” which aptly represented the core message of the Bible school to every student: to trust in Christ alone in every aspect of their lives.
Award Winners Of SOT 2011
Best Overall Performance Award:
Goh always believed in doing things one at a time. That became his key to success in balancing SOT school work, his career and ministry resulting in him winning the Best Overall Performance Award. “I have a vision to have excellence and go the extra mile in all I do. I’m determined to do the right things and do them well.”
Minister Of The Year Award:
Mao Chih Shang
“I love serving this house (City Harvest Church)! CHC is like a big family to me,” Mao tells City News. Having served in the sound and music ministries, as well as JAMs, Chinese and Dialect services, Mao’s motivation to serve came from his eagerness to learn from the ministry leaders. One of the most important lessons he gained is that even though he serves people, it is more important to be connected to God first.
Best Academic Performance Award:
Ng Yee Jan
Ng’s motivation for scoring over 80 marks for all her tests and assignments came from her interest in the topics she was studying. “When you have the passion, you will naturally have the motivation to study,” she says. Ng’s dream is to use the knowledge and experiences gathered in SOT to help people walk out of low self-esteem in her home church, CHC, KL.
Katsutoshi faced a major setback when his mother passed away in the middle of SOT. He found it difficult to return to Singapore to resume his studies but it was his mother’s life example of being a faithful Christian, and her personal wish for him to finish SOT, that brought Katsutoshi back to his feet to complete his studies. Katsutoshi dedicated his award to his mother.
Best Team Award:
Love and unity, plus a dose of creativity, made this group the winner for the category. “One team member was confined to a wheelchair. Team 21 went the extra mile to fetch her to and from SOT lessons and helped her move around during school hours,” noted Cindy Ng, SOT administrator. Team Leader Bernard Lim shared, “We cried and even fought together but at the end of the day, we decided to choose love.” Their love and unity resulted in a spontaneous show of creativity when they decorated the school’s reception area with a different theme when it was their turn to do physical arrangement duty.