The youth of City Harvest Church prove they have leveled up at recent Emerge conference.
By Dawn Seow
“I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.” ~ 1 John 2:14
It was loud. It was lively. But most of all, this year’s Emerge—City Harvest Church’s youth conference—was all about love: loving God, loving others, even strangers.
What’s more significant about this year’s conference, which happened two weekends ago from July 27 to 29, was that the new generation of youth in the church demonstrated that they had “grown up”. The theme, aptly, was “Evolve”—not only were the young people involved in the usual Emerge fare, like preaching contests and talent quests, they also used their creativity to impact society.
District pastor Wu Yuzhuang said of Emerge 2012: “Our youths are evolving, growing into the next level, venturing outside the four walls of the church, moving from significance to greatness! I’m very proud of the things they have achieved.”
Since its inception in 2003, the aim of Emerge has been to inspire the youth of CHC—members aged 13 through 25—to get grounded in the Word and use their talents to make a difference in their campus and their marketplace.
Wayne Choong is a product of Emerge, having participated in the conference for many years. This year, as a zone supervisor in CHC, he served as an organizer of the conference.
“Every Emerge conference has been a hallmark in my walk with God as a youth, with each conference leaving me sold out for God, full on for Jesus!” he recalled. “Now, being able to play a part in organizing it, I see one thing that clearly runs in the DNA of Emerge—the young people in CHC want to change the world for Jesus Christ!”
Preparation for the conference began as early as April when the various competitions were announced. A total of 15 competitions, categorized into Spirit, Soul and Body, brought the young people face to face with needs in society. A new segment, Salt & Light, gave them an opportunity to create and execute projects that provided real solutions to a real social problem.
These inter-zone projects, under the name of iSociety, succeeded in impacting the community. Some youth chose to save the environment through recycling projects, while others raised funds for the needy through fun and creative means. Yet others embarked on public campaigns to bring good values to the community: one group went to a fast food restaurant and loudly declared their gratitude for the service staff.
Youth pastor Edmund Tay said, “This year’s Emerge was different because the emphasis was on being salt and light in the world. Everyone was actively going out to do (meaningful) things. Even the videos we saw in church of the youth camps and iSociety projects were produced by the youth themselves, from the shooting and the video editing.”
Lee Yilun, a youth zone supervisor in CHC, shared the same sentiment. “It is so heartwarming and encouraging to see our youths unleashing their potential, gifts and talents from within to love and serve the community. Their initiative, drive and passion to make a significant difference in the lives of others showed that they are now taking ownership of Emerge and laying hold of their destinies.”
Youth zone supervisor Catherine Lee was bowled over by how the young people in her zone showed initiative in the execution of their iSociety project. “The project was very special to us; through it we saw the willingness and initiative of the youth. Our zone had a desire to visit orphanages and bring books to help them build libraries. From researching and liaising with places to visit, coordination and execution, the youths took charge of it all. When we got to the orphanage, we were asked what our program was for the kids. We were totally unprepared; we had no plans at all! But the young people took the initiative to lead games; these were not even cell group leaders, they were regular members in the zone. Without being told, they also gathered into small groups with the children to build rapport with them!”
The iSociety project might have stolen some thunder, but the youth of CHC also shone in other events. Hundreds of them submitted creatively designed posters, photographs, and fashion designs representing a social cause they were passionate about. The sporty ones took part in competitions with a twist: to develop an understanding of what the physically-challenged go through, they participated in games like “Silent Basketball” and “Blind Crossfit”.
During the three-day conference, the youth were immersed in the tangible presence of God. Kong Hee, senior pastor of CHC, preached a message on how the children of Israel built altars before the Lord in the Old Testament, and how Jesus built an altar of worship in His heart in the New Testament. He challenged the members to live a life of consecration by building their own altar, one that is reserved exclusively for God.
“The spiritual highlight at Emerge was when Pastor Kong shared about building our own altar before God,” said Ee Zhen-ying, a youth zone supervisor. “Our young people were inspired and reminded that they need to have a place in their hearts that is exclusively reserved for the Lord. Only when we have a relationship with Jesus, can we launch our visions and dreams. As Pastor said, ‘Beyond success, go for significance in the Kingdom.’”
Emerge marked the beginning of a new chapter in their lives—lives dedicated to God, lived for a God-given purpose.
Youth zone supervisor Leila Tan summed it up: “Remembering the Emerge conferences of my youth, how I cried out for revival and for God to move mightily in this generation, it touches me to see that the heart of the youth is still for God to do something great. To see my heart’s desire come to pass is priceless.”