Members make their love and support for the senior leaders of CHC public on social media.
By Dawn Seow
When news broke out on Jun. 26 that the senior leaders of City Harvest Church, senior pastor Kong Hee, deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, board member John Lam Leng Hung, former board member Chew Eng Han and finance director Sharon Tan were to attend court the next day to face charges from the Commercial Affairs Department and Commissioner of Charities, a social media storm ensued.
While many netizens took it upon themselves to pass their own verdicts on the case before charges were even read in court, it was heartening to see the members of the church rise up in boldness to tell the stories of how their lives were changed through the Crossover Project, which is at the core of the charges pressed.
Besides supporting the church’s leadership through encouraging posts on their blogs, Facebook pages and groups as well as Twitter hashtags were created on the same day with members sharing their love and support for the leadership.
Within an hour from the time the first news report was lived, the twitter hashtag #IBelieveInTheCHCCrossover was created and hundreds spoke of how their lives were changed by the Crossover project. Hashtags like #mytrustisnotbreached and #MyChurchMyLife were also trending on Singapore’s Twitter scene on the first two days as members voiced their support on social media.
Byron Lim (@byron_lim) commented that “my life was changed and I’m grateful” while Caleb Chan (@thisiscaleb) tweeted that “no one can tell me that the encounters I had are not real.”
Another member, Tan Kok Siang (@koksiang) tweeted “’We Choose Love’ and ‘Relationship & Discipleship’ are not mere slogans, but our lifestyle.”
Because the 140-limit on Twitter did not allow members to tell their full story, a member, Alexus Koo, and her friends started a group on Facebook named “Testimonies from the hearts of City Harvest Members.”
“The idea for the group originally started out as a petition. But we feel that instead of starting a petition, which may lead to negative impact, we should start a group where we can unite all the members at this difficult time. It became evident that the members are really united and I’m really touched by their support for our church,” explained Koo.
The other purpose of the group is to glorify God through the various testimonies and also to let the church leadership know how much the members appreciate them and their sacrifices. “We want to let Pastor Kong, Pastor Tan, the senior members who were charged, their family and the rest of the church staff and pastors know that, we (the church members) are not going anywhere; we are going be by their side, in good or bad.”
Overnight, over 2,000 members joined the group, producing overflowing content on its wall. At the time of writing, there are more than 12,000 members. Different ones posted testimonies, short poems, passages, photos and Scripture verses to encourage one another.
One of those who shared their story was Yeo Xue Ni, who grew up rebellious and depressed due to a troubled childhood. She attempted suicide many times and was eventually admitted into the Institute of Mental Health.
“At the IMH, I met Darryl, a counselor from City Harvest Community Services Association, who was different from all the previous unhelpful counselors that I had. She was like an angel to me (and stayed that way) until now. Her smiles are so sincere that it touched my heart and her hugs just melted away all the pains and hurts. I broke down in front of her immediately. After I was discharged, I told myself, I must meet her again!
“On one occasion, I happened to go to City Harvest Church and I saw her there! I WAS SO HAPPY! I decided to stay in the church then, partly with the intention to see her too. That happened when I was 14-year-old; since then, I still made many mistakes, and some were really big ones, yet Darryl did not give up on me. My friends from church would also seek me out from every corner of Singapore just to make sure I attend church with them and not get into more trouble. When I was 16, I was one of the top students at my secondary school and my story was featured in Lianhe Wanbao.
“In church, I got to know God and my heart found a hope. I learned forgiveness–I forgave my relatives and my dad–and I also learned to love. I am constantly involved in community services to help the needy, especially troubled youths like myself. As a tutor, I helped many students improve tremendously in their conduct and academic performance. I have greater capacity to touch a life now, and it is definitely because Pastor Kong, Sun and Pastor Tan had loved Darryl, and Darryl loved me. And now, I love.”
One of the posts which received the most number of “Likes” is that of Paul Foo Chay Yeow, once a member of the press who “joined in the defamation and emotional persecution (of the church) close to two years back.” A series of personal crises, followed by acquaintances made with some of his tuition students’ friends who were CHC members, led him to attend a church service one day.
Slowly but surely, God answered his prayers for confirmation, and he answered the altar call for salvation. “My parents’ divorce, which has seemed almost inevitable for a year or two already, suddenly made a sharp U-turn and my family is now back in full reconciliation. God blessed me with a woman in life whom I truly love and found my bliss in, and when it just appeared in my mind for a brief moment the thought that the best way I could contribute to the church was with my previous experience in the field of drama, Ministry Weekend happened and the doors to Drama Ministry opened up,” he testified.
For the full version of the testimony as well as others, log on to “Testimonies from the Hearts of City Harvest Members” Facebook page. You can also visit “Testimonies from the Hearts of City Harvest Members (Open)” Facebook page. Better yet, post your own story too!