It was a presence-filled weekend as City Harvest Church returned to its home at Suntec Singapore.
After almost a year’s wait, CHC returned to Suntec Singapore for its worship services this past weekend (Jul. 6 and 7). Having gone through the Asset Enhancement Initiative that started in August 2012, the church returned to what felt like a brand new convention center.
Even before service, church members thronged the new halls on Level 6. There was excitement in the air as members toured the revamped reception area at hall 605, taking endless photos of the chic interior. With three halls split into six, the English services are now held in the main auditorium in Halls 601 to 604 while the Chinese services (and later, Filipino and Indonesian services) are held in the Theatre in Hall 606.
The highlight for many was clearly Hall 605, which houses the members’ lounge, now known as The Hangout, the visitors’ lounge aka The Hot Spot, and CityRadio’s new siren red “container studio”. In the centre of the hall sits the “Tree of Life”, a beautiful construct that serves as both centerpiece as well as a seating area for members. Plush couches line the sides of the hall, while “bar areas” around the center invite one and all to sit and chat. The whole hall bears wood accents, from the “crate tables” at the Hot-Spot to the display walls.
Part of the renovations includes an expanded KIDS@PLAY area at level 2, which will be open for an hour before and after service for children to have some playtime fun. This area is still a work in progress; City News is told there will be many exciting new developments in the coming months.
Members were thrilled to return to the church’s much-awaited “place in the marketplace”. Justina Phoon, 46, a secretary, said, “Coming back to the new Suntec Singapore is a new beginning for us! I feel so renewed in my spirit and soul.”
Toh Jiahe, 24, an undergraduate, said, “Suntec is beautiful! I first joined CHC when services were at Singapore Expo. Here, the acoustics are even more wonderful, the stage is extremely sleek, and the whole place just feels like home.”
To commemorate the new beginning for CHC in Suntec Convention Centre, a 15-minute video of the CHC story was screened after the services, bringing back fond memories of CHC’s 24 years of existence.
A House On Fire
Kong Hee, senior pastor of the church, shared a powerful word on having the fire of passion, purity and presence of God in one’s life. Reading from 2 Chronicles 7:1, Kong said, “All through the Bible, whenever you read about the church, you find the fire of God. When you read about the people of God, you find the fire of God—upon them, in them, flowing out of them.”
With this, he shared three things that he prayed would be a prophetic word of God for CHC:
He described passion as fire. “Fire is strong, intense, and it consumes and burns. Passion is like that,” he said. “The most powerful weapon in earth is a human soul on fire.”
Kong also linked passion to the core DNA of CHC. “Passion makes you fall in love, and passion makes you stay in love. That’s what our church and Christianity is about—loving God, loving people.”
Passion in Latin is he word pati, which means suffering. Jesus loved us so passionately that He laid down His life, sacrificing all.
“After being married for many years, the one most important thing to a husband, is whether the wife still loves him the same,” Kong said. “Similarly, Christ being the Husband of the Church, the most important thing to Jesus is whether His church has the passion to love Him even when it is going through suffering.”
The Fire of Purity
Having purity means to live a clean life as Jesus did. Believers can be in the world, but not of the world, and Jesus is the best role model because He was tempted in all areas but was without sin.
Isaiah 48:10 shows the only way to be purified in life is to be placed in “the furnace of affliction”. Kong expounded on this with the story of the three Hebrew men in Daniel 3: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. Because they refused to bow down to the image of gold as commended by King Nebuchadnezzar, they were thrown into a furnace of fire heated seven times hotter than usual. Despite that, they were not hurt “nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them” (Daniel 3:27).
Metaphorically, this meant that they were not physically hurt, and their authority and positions were not affected. “When we go through fire, our attitudes are exposed. The three Hebrew men had no smell of fire on them means they didn’t smell bad—their attitudes were right.”
King Nebuchadnezzar also saw a fourth Man in the fire that resembled Jesus; this proved the power and protection of God over His people was real. “How one emerges from difficult seasons can make or break us. God will turn our setbacks into our comebacks.” Kong’s words drew the congregation’s applause.
Using a historical story of how a fire that destroyed the city of London also killed all bacteria-carrying rats that were hidden in the underground sewage during the Black Death pandemic, Kong explained how God uses fire to purify and sanctify us from our hidden sins.
Reading from 2 Chronicles 7, Kong showed the congregation that whenever the presence of God came to His people in the Old Testament, thick fire would follow. Referencing Leviticus 6:12-13 and 2 Timothy 1:6, he urged the Church to keep on fanning the flames, keeping the presence of God thick, strong, and tangible.
“To ‘stir up’ in Greek means to keep the fire alive. We’ve got to keep the fire burning in CHC. Let’s take this church to the next level by stirring up the passion, the purity, the presence, our prayers, faith, praise, worship and love for God,” he urged.
At the end of the sermon, Kong returned to the three Hebrew men. “At the end of the story, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were promoted,” he said. He encouraged the congregants not to be discouraged when they go through fire, because God has prepared a promotion at the end.
Cassandra Cher, 22, an undergraduate, was deeply moved by the message. “Even in the midst of our most trying time in CHC’s history, I can sense God’s presence and favor resting upon us. Pastor Kong delivered a great word that set our hearts ablaze with fire and passion again for God. The life-giving Spirit from the Word of God, infused with pure faith and love for God and His people, is the greatest takeaway for me. I’m more stirred up than ever to guard my walk with God zealously and live a passionate life for Him!“
Benjamin Tan, 27, a real estate consultant, told City News, “I felt the presence of God very strongly at service, and it was encouraging to see the whole hall filled! I believe that we will soon be growing and the people coming for service will be overflowing. From today’s sermon, I am convinced that if we want to do something, we need to go all out with passion—a half-hearted attempt will be futile. This is applicable in our careers, relationships, and to our church ministry. “
Indeed, few things have been sweeter than coming home to Suntec Singapore, a location in the marketplace, for the marketplace, to serve the marketplace.