The second night of Emerge 2012 saw thousands of youth consecrating their lives as they built their own altars before God.
By Annabelle Low
If there is a driving verse for the youth at the Emerge 2012 youth conference, it would be 1 Timothy 4:12, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
A celebration of youthful talent, Saturday’s service in City Harvest Church on July 28 was led by the Emerge band and worship team. The service also showcased a vocal performance by Your Best Shot finalist Abigail Yeo, 16, as well as the winning video from the Video Challenge by Wen Si Yang and Linus Quek.
Div Teng, a student entrepreneur, shared how the teachings of Business Breakthrough Group’s leader Chew Eng Han inspired him to become the president of Singapore Management University’s Balloon Blitz, a community service project to raise funds for children at risk through balloon sculpting. Project Ballooning Blitz utilized 45,000 balloons, raised S$48,000 and impacted 89,000 lives, generating widespread media attention. By God’s grace, Teng is also on the Dean’s list; he received a scholarship from SMU and opened his own business that allowed him to give back to the society.
Emerge alumni Abel Sim, 24, Cyril Toh, 20, HuiShan Sia, 21, and Chervelle Chua, 22, performed a new original song entitled “Hope of One Voice” as the LED screen showed a video montage of the various iSociety projects done by the youth of CHC. The projects are part of the competition in the “Salt And Light” category in Emerge 2012, which requires the youth to create and execute projects that make a difference in the community.
“Hope of One Voice”, written by long-time CHC member and social entrepreneur, Elim Chew, began as a vision from God. While in Japan for an APEC meeting, Chew was woken up at 4:30 a.m. by a vision of children pleading for their cry to be heard. God informed her that He had heard the voices crying out to Him in one voice, and He would heed their cries.
Building An Altar
Kong Hee, senior pastor of the church, shared a message on building an altar unto God, preaching from Genesis 35, where God commanded Jacob to return to Bethel to build an altar to the Lord.
In the Old Testament, the altar is a literal concept, but in the New Testament, the altar refers to the inner sanctuary of the heart. Citing Psalms 91:1, Matthew 6:6 and Exodus 25:8, Kong showed that God wants Christians to build their own altars. He emphasized that building an altar does not come naturally–one could have been a long-time church-goer and have many experiences with God but have never built their own altars unto Him. He then encouraged the congregation to build this altar by setting aside time in their lives to communicate with God.
He cautioned against falling in love with anything that would take over God’s place in our inner sanctuary. If anything but God was on that altar, it is easy to be shaken. “People are not perfect and will fail you. If they are the ones sitting on the altar of your heart, you will have nothing to lean on if they fail”, Kong warned.
What is an altar and what are the spiritual aspects it denotes?
- An altar is a place of sanctity, a space for pure worship and communication with God. The best worship he had ever experienced, Kong revealed, was in the privacy of his own room. There, he could be alone with God, worship without limitation, and linger in that state of worship.
- An altar is a place of surrender and sacrifice. In Genesis 35:2, God instructed His people to get rid of foreign gods. In the modern context, this refers to anything that takes God’s place on the altar. Kong gave the example of how Jesus surrendered His will to God at Gethsemane; similarly, He wants His people to sacrifice, withholding nothing back, in order that God can move them beyond success to significance.
- An altar is a place of service. Kong pointed out how Jesus built an altar wherever He went before He could serve. It is only out of this place of commitment and covenant to Christ that believers can receive the wisdom and revelation needed to navigate through life and serve for His glory.
- An altar is a place of shaping. The children of God are not defined by the world and its people, they are shaped and defined by God Himself. Jacob’s name meant trickster and heel-grabber, yet in Genesis 35:10, God renamed him at the altar–God called him Israel, which means a ruler, an overcomer in God. Jacob was not perfect, but His life was redefined when he built God an altar.
- An altar is a place of sight, where one can have a greater revelation of who God is. In Gen 35:11, God reveals Himself to Jacob as God Almighty. Similarly, God will reveal more of Himself as we build our own altars before Him.
At the end of the service, Kong gave an altar call to pray for the youth cell group leaders, connect group leaders and ministry leaders aged 25 and under. Thousands of youths charged to the front and filled the aisles. Two prophecies were given as the rest of the congregation prayed fervently in agreement withe the Word that was spoken forth.
“From a cell group leader’s perspective, there will always be times when the fire dies down. Emerge is that time every year when the fire is re-ignited”, said National Serviceman Jason Jiang, 20. “Besides reigniting passion, the atmosphere makes us bold and dares us to dream, not just any dream but a godly vision placed into your heart.”
“God removed a veil from my life and showed me what I needed to give up,” said Clarence Ng, 23. “We should have Emerge every three months!”
Although the service was youth-centric, the spirit of Emerge and message from Kong was relevant to the entire congregation. Darius Ng, 37, a property agent, affirmed, “It’s good to see youth doing great things for God. That energy will certainly rub off on some of us more mature ones!”
Yaovarat Tan, 49, a businesswoman, said “It’s encouraging to see how brave this younger generation is. Sometimes the elder generation can be unsure of how to help others, and may not dare to take action. I’ll definitely encourage my 14-year-old daughter to participate in Emerge activities.”
Read other Emerge 2012 reports on www.citynews.sg.