City Harvest Church celebrates Christmas with a fresh understanding of what really matters.
By Reuel Eugene Tay
The City Harvest family gathered on the weekend of Dec. 22 to 24 for a time of celebration and to watch Because It’s Christmas, 2012’s Christmas drama production.
A completely new approach to the beloved City Harvest Christmas production, Because It’s Christmas harnessed both the talents of the Drama Ministry members as well as the Backing Vocalists in a music-filled performance that told a touching family tale.
Set in The Grand Excelsior hotel, nine individuals are slated to spend their Christmas Eve there. Each faces his and her own problems and challenges, as the story took the audience through various dramatic vignettes that ultimately came together in a heartwarming climax.
Couple Serene (Sandy Yeo) and Lennard (Lim Wee Lee) are in the hotel for a stay-cation. They have been trying for a baby for over three years and after many failed attempts, their relationship suffers strain. Serene has planned for this getaway hoping a change of scenery would improve their next attempt.
In the presidential suite, an elderly Mr. Ong (Chiang Cheh Sim), checks in. With his wife deceased and his children all grown up, Mr. Ong prepares to spend Christmas alone this year. Unexpectedly, he makes a friend of the hotel’s Filipina chamber maid Rhea (Cristina Viacrucis), who misses her children during Christmas.
Meanwhile Megan (Jaslynn Khoo), a single mother, is tired of spending Christmas Eve the same way every year. But when she is told that she has to work on Christmas Eve, it means that that her son, Samuel (Paul Tan),would be alone and she would miss her family dinner.
Caleb (Aldrich Tjahjadi) is a singer at the hotel’s Somerset Bar. He meets and tries to score with Nicole (Sally Ng), who is in the hotel on a secret mission.
Tension escalates between Serene and Lennerd when he meets his old flame in the hotel bar—Serene storms off in a rage. Megan becomes frantic when Samuel goes missing—only to be found with his grandfather, who lay unconscious in the presidential suite of the very hotel she worked at.
It is revealed then that Megan, Lennard and Caleb are the children of Mr. Ong. Rhea had found Mr. Ong lying unconscious with pills on the floor, and assumed he had committed suicide. None of the children had known that Mr. Ong was staying in the hotel; they had previously told him they could not be home for Christmas. Nicole was also revealed a private investigator sent by Serene to tail Lennard to find evidence of his infidelity.
In the midst of chaos, Mr. Ong wakes up from his deep slumber, to the surprise of his children, leading them to share from their hearts their own issues and feelings. Megan voices out how she feels she has disappointed her dad by failing at her marriage. Lennard resolves his issues with Serene by coming clean about how inadequate he feels not being able to father a child. The story comes to a heartwarming end as the characters embrace each other’s faults and the entire family gathers round the table in the Grand Excelsior bar for a Christmas Eve dinner.
With fuzzy feelings of love still in the air, Kong Hee, the senior pastor of CHC, took to the stage to share a message on Jesus, also known as Immanuel, which means “God with us”. Kong established three truths: Jesus is with us to save us from our sins, Jesus is with us to mend our broken hearts and Jesus is with us to heal our sicknesses.
Using powerful testimonies to illustrate his points, Kong shares the story of how Robin Tay, a troubled youth who took part in stealing, fighting and other illegal activities, eventually met God in prison. Tay is now a graduate of CHC’s School of Theology, a certified behavioral consultant, a program manager and pastoral staff of The New Charis Mission. He was also a nominee of the Singapore Youth Award and was also appointed the Ambassador of Hope by the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association, traveling around the world to share his life testimony. Jesus came to bring humanity out of the bondage of sin and into His abundant life.
Kong also shared the story of how the father of an SOT graduate Adriel Tan was cured of cancer, to illustrate that healing is the foundation of Jesus’ ministry. In May 2012, doctors discovered that Tan’s father had Stage Four cancer, and it had spread to the brain. Doctors concluded that they could not save him but could only make his remaining days as comfortable and as painless as possible.
In order to seek treatment, the Tan family had to move from Bandung, Indonesia, to Singapore. There were no flights available and the Tans could not afford the medical cost. Tan turned to God and cried out for help. That same day, God made a way for them to travel to Singapore and even sent a friend to pay the medical bill.
The treatment, however, could not kill the cancer cells. “Sometimes before there can be physical healing, God wants to heal internally and emotionally in our lives first, and God wanted to bring peace and reconciliation and love and forgiveness to the entire family,” Kong explained. During the treatment, the Tan family reconciled with one other and resolved many past issues.
After a month of chemotherapy which was deemed unsuccessful, doctors decided to do a scan, and to their surprise, almost all the cancer cells were gone. Tan’s father had been miraculously healed by the power of God.
Towards the end of the service, an altar call for salvation and rededication was given; 606 people gave their hearts to Jesus that weekend. Kong and the pastoral team also prayed for those who were ill, and many received their healing. Indeed there can always be reconciliation, love, healing and hope–because it’s Christmas.