This Easter at CHC, the church was powerfully reminded—through the Easter drama and Kong Hee’s sermon—that the Christian faith is built on that Sunday morning when Christ rose from the dead.
City Harvest Church held four main Easter services over the weekend of Apr 18 to 20. The story of salvation and hope brought by Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday was illustrated by CHC’s Easter production, The Third Day.
Employing a creative, non-linear narrative, the drama depicted the ministry of Jesus through character flashbacks and dance sequences, playing out like a thrilling police procedural drama. The protagonist Reuben is a consulting detective tormented by the loss of his daughter seven years ago. He is hired by the Pharisees to find evidence dispelling the rumours of Jesus’ resurrection. In his quest for the truth, Reuben discovers the ministry of Jesus and His sacrifice for humanity. Ultimately, Reuben experiences the love and healing power of the risen Lord.
Opening with a fire-breathing performance, the drama opened with the Pharisees and chief priest celebrating the death and burial of Jesus. However, they were troubled by a rumor that Jesus would raise from the dead on the third day—they feared that the disciples might steal his body in order to stage the resurrection. Hence they hired Reuben to find evidence of this plot so that the disciples could be arrested. Reuben began his investigation with Mary Magdalene, the adulterous woman whom Jesus rescued from being stoned who told him of Jesus’ love and acceptance. Next, he discovered the many healing miracles of Jesus through Bartholomew, one of the 12 disciples. Reuben tricked Bartholomew to reveal the names of the disciples closest to Jesus.
Peter, James and John were subsequently interrogated by Reuben. In this dramatic scene, the seamless delivery of lines by the dramatists allowed the audience to feel the grief of the disciples as they recalled the betrayal of Judas and the pain of seeing their Master’s sacrifice on the Cross.
The interrogation led Reuben to Joseph of Arimathea, who embalmed Jesus’ body and laid it in his family tomb. Joseph recalled how Jesus had raised his daughter from the dead, causing Reuben to remember the loss of his own daughter Sarah. He had left her in a deserted area while tending to a call of duty, and her body was found by the river. Overwhelmed by grief, Reuben’s wife Leah committed suicide.
The evidence gathered had showed Reuben that the disciples had no reasons to stage a resurrection–he began to suspect that the Pharisees had an ulterior motive. The chief priest and Ananias began to fear they would not get the evidence they needed to put the disciples away. The evil Ananias revealed at this point that he had captured Reuben’s young daughter and sold her off as a slave. Sarah had by now lost her mind, and Ananias planned to use her as collateral to get what they needed from Reuben.
Reuben finally spoke to Judas Iscariot, a man tormented by his betrayal of Jesus. Judas relates the story of Jesus’ capture and crucifixion to Reuben, as the scene is played out on stage. Reuben realized that the Pharisees had paid Judas off to betray Jesus, just as they tried to pay him off to find the disciples guilty.
On the third day, the Pharisees received the report that Jesus’ body had disappeared from the tomb just as they feared. Desperate, they forced Reuben to sign a false report by threatening his daughter, then beat him and left him. Found by Mary, the injured Reuben and his daughter were brought to the disciples’ hideout, where Jesus appeared, and restored Sarah’s mental faculties. The drama ended on a high note with Jesus declaring He was here to heal the sick and set the captives free.
SUNDAY IS COMING!
Following the drama production, senior pastor of CHC, Kong Hee, took to the stage to deliver his Easter message. Reading from John 13:1-2, Kong said that the events leading to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection really started on Maundy (Latin for “mandate”) Thursday–so named because the new mandate Jesus gave was for His people to love one another as He had loved them. That day, Jesus and the disciples had Holy Communion for the first time and thereafter, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. That night, Jesus was arrested by the Roman soldiers in the Garden of Gethsemane.
“To be betrayed by your own is very painful,” said Kong. “Jesus was betrayed by Judas and denied by Simon Peter. He understands your betrayal and pain.”
Kong related two testimonies of betrayal and reconciliation to illustrate God’s love. The first was of a couple who had been married for 25 years. The man had an affair, and the marriage ended in divorce. Consumed by guilt, the man ended the affair and started to miss the family he had destroyed. Five years after the divorce, the man came to CHC and received Jesus. He reconciled with his family, also members of CHC, and the couple remarried on Valentine’s Day in 2011.
The second testimony was that of Evelyn, who grew up with a violent mother and an absentee father. She was caned almost daily for six years, and the physical and emotional abuse from her mother caused her to sink into depression and developed suicidal thought. After listening to Sun Ho’s testimony in her concert in 2002, Evelyn received salvation and healing of her depression. She soon reconciled with her family and is now serving as a staff member of CHC’s Chinese department.
Kong then talked about Good Friday, the day Jesus was tried before Pilate and crucified on the Cross. “Isaiah 53:5 assures that on the Cross, Jesus bore all our sicknesses and disease, and with every blow he took, we are healed!” Kong said, before sharing the testimony of He Weilin from Hsin Tien Covenant Church in Taiwan, a CHC affiliate church. She had a brain tumor the size of a golf ball behind her left eye, caused by an undeveloped eyeball from her unborn twin. There were only three such cases in the world, and two of them had already died. Furthermore, when a medical intern was drawing a fluid sample from the tumor, he accidentally poked the needle into her eyeball causing instant blindness. But with the encouragement of the church members and pastors, He continued to have faith and prayed steadfastly. Eventually, God completely healed her of blindness, and her tumor disappeared.
Black Saturday was the day Satan brought Jesus down to Hell. It was the greatest display of unconditional love as Jesus took upon Himself the sin and death of all humanity.
Kong related a testimony of Lim Meng Chin, a youth pastor at CHC. Lim’s family was steeped in witchcraft and occult practices, and as a youth, he suffered from constant nightmares. He was a chain-smoker and was part of a street gang. He came to CHC with his friends, received Jesus, and was totally delivered of evil spirits in the name of Jesus.
Finally, Kong spoke about Easter Sunday, the day Jesus conquered Satan, stripped him of his authority, and rose again. “You may be living in a Thursday of betrayal and broken hearts. You may be living in a Friday of sickness and disease. Maybe you are seated here in a Black Saturday of evil habits and demonic oppression. But I am here to tell you: Your Sunday is coming. Our Christian faith is built on that Sunday morning when Christ rose from the dead. Sunday is coming! He is alive today!” Kong proclaimed, drawing applause from the congregation.
As Kong gave the altar call for salvation, many streamed to the front to receive the gift of salvation bought by Jesus on the Cross. A total of 798 decisions were made over the four services, making this a glorious Easter celebration for the church. To welcome them back the following weekend, light refreshments will be served to all new friends before or after service this weekend (Apr 25-27), at both Jurong West and Suntec worship locations.
Church member Fedalis Yeo, 25, saw a new perspective of Jesus’ resurrection through the drama production. “The storyline was interesting, and also heart-warming. Though we do not see Jesus carrying the cross all the way down the aisles, it was still impactful even to me and I believe to all the new friends who joined us today.”
Paul Foo Chay Yeow, 25, a private tutor, who played the role of Bartholomew, told City News: “The role was a real challenge for me as I can’t really sing or dance well. To prepare for the role, a lot of work was put into improving my singing and dancing, and my more comical seniors in the ministry helped me improve as the comedian in the show. Sandy (Yeo) and Jaslynn (Khoo, drama directors) also gave clear directions about what they were looking for. I thank God, my leaders and fellow actors for never giving up on me and cheering me on. Choosing to step out of my comfort zone and all the hard work put in paid off when I saw the response of the people during the altar call.”