C3 Church Hong Kong celebrates a year of God’s faithfulness and growth at its first anniversary service.
By Annabelle Low
“Thank You Lord for eight million reasons to love Hong Kong,” declared Wayne Simpson, executive pastor of C3 Church Hong Kong, as he opened the church’s first anniversary service with a prayer. By “eight million reasons”, he was referring to the eight million people who reside in Hong Kong.
It was the love for the people of Hong Kong and a burden for that city that brought the Sydney native Simpson and his wife Mary there last year. They started C3 Church Hong Kong under the C3 Church International–a global church-planting movement founded by Phil Pringle and his wife Christine. The Simpsons now serve as C3 Hong Kong’s executive pastors.
The church celebrated its first year anniversary on Feb. 19 this year.
(See https://www.citynews.sg/2011/04/planted-in-hong-kong/ to find out more)
Celebration of the Harvest
There was much to celebrate at the church’s first anniversary service. The young church has grown from 25 pioneering members to an average weekly attendance of 80. At its first anniversary service, it saw an outstanding attendance of 141.
Since the church began, it has blessed the members in many ways. Lee Nam, 24, a member of C3 Hong Kong, shared, “When I first came, my life was a mess. I was jobless and had just broken up with my boyfriend. In C3 Hong Kong, I found people who really cared for me and helped me through the tough times.”
Ren Ma, 28, and Michelle Hung, 25, are a couple who found a home in C3 Hong Kong. “This church is different from others,” they said. “We like how C3 teaches us to live our best life.”
The anniversary started with Linda Bax, a worship pastor from C3 Church Sydney, who led the members in a time of heart-felt worship. When the church started, Bax led worship at its first service and stayed a while in Hong Kong to train up C3 Hong Kong’s worship team.
The day’s celebration included baby dedication ceremony—the first time the church has held one. Before he dedicated six little children to God, Simpson explained the significance of dedicating little children to Christ using the example of Mary and Joseph, who brought Jesus as a young child to the temple to be dedicated to the Lord. Each C3 Hong Kong baby was presented a letter from the executive pastors, which is only to be opened on his or her 12th birthday.
The most significant moment of the service came when two young leaders, Cheung Ming Lai and Virlu Guapo, who had been serving C3 Hong Kong faithfully from the start, were ordained as youth pastors.
“It is necessary for Christians to go through trials in order to be used by God in ministry; to minister to a broken world, one must first go through pain yourself,” said Simpson during the ordination. “The pastors of C3 Hong Kong have watched [Ming and Guapo] go through testing and their character has been proven through tough times.”
Christine Pringle, wife of Phil Pringle and co-founder of C3 Church Sydney, took to the stage to share a word.
“I remember when Phil and I left New Zealand, we only had NZD1,700 in our pockets and a dream in our hearts,” she said. “We started a church with only 13 people but we had a 500-people-strong church in our hearts—you have to look at things through the eyes of faith.”
Affectionately known to the C3 family as Mama Chris, Pringle was excited to preach at C3 Hong Kong for the first time.
“Every time someone comes to the House of God, he should hear the good news and grow from strength to strength. It is impossible to live on your own strength; that is why the Holy Spirit is here to guide you,” she explained.
Quoting Psalm 144:12-15 from the Bible, Pringle shared with the congregation four pillars of growth to build a healthy house. These four pillars also relate to healthy spiritual growth in the life of a believer.
The first pillar of growth was that the sons must be like well-nurtured plants in their youth. And the daughters of the church constituted the second pillar. She encouraged the ladies in the congregation saying, “God has got something for you ladies to do in His House. His hand is on you now, but you have to start moving!”
Verse 13 from Psalm 144 shows that the third pillar was the barns that would be filled with every kind of provision. Pringle reminded the congregation of the Law of Sowing and Reaping, that giving releases provision. She urged the congregation to honor God with everything they have and to always give God the first and the best. She assured the congregation that their seeds are protected in the Land of the Lord because He would rebuke the devourer of the seed. Pringle then exhorted the congregation to get ready for increase and growth.
The same verse says that the sheep would increase by the thousands and tens of thousands in their fields–that is the fourth pillar. Sheep, in the Bible, represent the members in the church. Pringle encouraged the congregation that an increase in membership and growth in the life of the members is on its way.
“Many of you have prayed prayers for a loved one of another faith,” Pringle said. “Your prayers are coming back to bless you! Fight for their soul in private, and the power of prayer will overcome!” In closing, Pringle challenged the congregation to each bring a friend to church the following week.
Rebecca Chau, 42, is a nurse who has been attending C3 since May 2011 together with her children, who attend C3’s Sunday School. She said, “As soon as Mama Chris prayed and asked us to lift up our hands, I felt such a strong presence of the Spirit and tears started to flow.
C3 Hong Kong: The First Year
City News caught up with Mary Simpson to talk about the first year of C3 Church Hong Kong.
City News: What are some of the things you have done to build up your church over the past year?
Mary Simpson: We had always known that the first year would be the hardest. Cities are won through deep and consistent prayer, so Wayne and I wake up at 4am every morning to pray for three hours.
In Hong Kong, people are always busy, so we have started a daily devotion for busy people. We send it out at 4am so people can download the devotion when they wake up, and read it on the MTR on their way to work. These devotions share our values such as faith and spiritual discipline. We have had quite a good response to this.
We have also launched connect groups for the young adults, university students, married couples and business people; currently, we meet every fortnight.
Can you share with us some challenges you faced?
Hong Kong is quite different from Singapore in that most of the people speak Cantonese. We have tailored our messages to be simple and helpful to their daily lives.
People in Hong Kong are always busy. To them, attending church regularly means going to church once a month. We had to challenge them to change their mindset and get them to come to the House of God every week.
When we first started, we didn’t have a fixed venue and whenever we changed venues, it would get a bit confusing and some people wouldn’t come. But thank God we now have this venue (Cityview Hotel, Kowloon) for the entire year of 2012 and won’t have to switch around so much.
What is your 2012 vision for C3 Church Hong Kong?
God has shown us that this is a year of favor and growth in commitment. We will be building up the church a lot more this year. Pastor Phil said in his video greeting to the church that we would grow to 500 members, and we are going to work towards that.
We have been established for a year now, so we have traction. We want to raise up new leaders, and strengthen our connect groups. It’s been proven that for every new leader you raise, your ministry grows by 10 people.
We want (to start) more connect groups and we want to release people and teams to do God’s work. We will be holding an outreach to Chinese-speaking elderly people and their families. We also want to reach out to the Filipinos in Hong Kong.
And, we want Pastor Kong Hee to come to C3 Church Hong Kong!
C3 Church Hong Kong holds its service every Sunday at 10 a.m. in the Crystal Ballroom, 2/F, Cityview Hotel, 23 Waterloo Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Log on to http://www.c3church.hk to find out more.