A CHC mission team to Japan brought life-changing messages—and fun—to the youth of Kyushu, Japan.
By Dwayne Lum
From May 2 to 4, a group of City Harvest Church members, led by CHC’s executive pastor Tan Ye Peng, made the trip to Japan to speak in an annual youth conference called J-Impact. This was the 16th year of the conference, and it was organized by the churches in Kyushu island, which include CHC affiliate churches like Fukuoka Harvest Church and Kumamoto Harvest Church.
The three day and two night conference, held at Hinokuni Heights Hotel in Kumamoto, Japan, attracted 250 attendees, one of its highest turnouts to date. “Awake” was this year’s theme—as in awakening the youth to their destinies in God.
Over four sessions, Tan sought to strengthen and inspire the Japanese youth through God’s word. He focused on the importance of discipleship, encouraging the youth to live their lives being a blessing to others around them. Drawing from the story of Noah and his three sons in Genesis 9, Tan spoke about how Canaan was apparently “cursed” by Noah to become a “servant of servants”. He addressed the congregation on God’s perspective of servanthood and being a servant of servants, and whether serving others is truly a “curse” as it sometimes seems. Many of the young people were clearly inspired by Tan’s sharing of his personal discipleship experiences with two people who discipled him: CHC’s senior pastor Kong Hee and his wife Sun. The candid yet insightful stories told by Tan demonstrated how discipleship turned him into the pastor, preacher, social entrepreneur and successful father of four that he is today.
In another session Tan shared a message from the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25. He spoke passionately about how Jesus used this parable not just to teach us to multiply our finances, but rather to utilize our money and gifts to bless others. In doing so, Jesus stated that we would thus in turn be ministering to Him. After each session, Tan would ask for youths who wanted to be used by God to come forward to the front of the stage in an act of faith, and each time, hundreds of youth would step forward to make a commitment to be used by God. Said Akari Yamada, 16, “I learned [from Pastor Tan] that serving people with love is such a privilege. My new vision in life is to bring as many friends as possible to church!’
In addition, Tan taught at a seminar for pastors. Topics included the basic principles that CHC founder Kong built the church on, such as the Caring System and the Cultural Mandate. It was an educational experience for 30 pastors in attendance from various churches in Kyushu. Among the attendees was a couple from America, Pastors Leo and Phyllis Kaylor, who are originally from Oregon but have been pastoring in Japan for the past 60 years. Said Leo of the sessions with Tan, “The Caring System which comes from CHC has the potential to tremendously bless the Japanese churches. It is an entirely different approach from the authoritative and rigid approach that the Japanese churches are employing.” It is his wish that this “friendship evangelism” would lead to a mindset change amongst the churches in Japan.
The 15-strong mission team from Singapore was kept busy helping out with various aspects of the conference, such as by sharing testimonies or even aiding in English-to-Japanese language interpretation for the various sessions. In particular, two members Div Teng and Celest Foo were tasked with conducting creative workshops for the youth. Teng, 23, is the founder of Divaloons (a company which provides balloon decorations for parties). He conducted a Creative Balloon Workshop which was attended by an overwhelming number of youth. Attendees learned key techniques which equipped them with the ability to explore other types of balloon sculptures. Each attendee was able to walk away with his or her own creation, such as a balloon poodle, flower and butterfly.
The other well-received workshop, conducted by personal development trainer Foo, was entitled “Showing Beauty”. It focused on topics such as personal grooming, conversational skills and leaving a good first impression. In fact, the workshop content seemed so enticing that even a hotel receptionist from the conference venue attended the workshop after her curiosity was piqued from seeing the various posters put up around the hotel.
Foo said, “My purpose was to increase their confidence levels with practical exercises. In the end, seeing them walk out of the workshop feeling good about themselves was my biggest take-away from the entire mission trip.”
This year’s J-Impact Conference left a deep impact on its attendees, as evidenced by Sanha Sakamoto, 14, a junior high school student. “In one of the sessions, I had an encounter with God and my heart was changed from that one experience. I now believe that I have God and He is all I need. From this day onwards, I will give Him all the glory and put Him first in my life.’