City Harvest Church’s School of Theology saw its 20th cohort—356 Bible school students—graduating from its seven-month course.
Over the weekend of Sep 20 and 21, emotions ran high for the graduating class of City Harvest Church’s School of Theology. Three hundred and fifty-six students were graduating from a gruelling but faith-building seven-month journey.
SOT, CHC’s full-time Bible school program, took in its first batch of students in 1994. The school was birthed out of a God-given vision to train church-workers to become effective ministers in their own cities and countries through practical ministry. In the past two decades, the school has graduated 6,663 students from 38 countries and produced numerous ministers who have impacted their cities. A special SOT Homecoming Service in celebration of the 20th anniversary held in August this year saw the first reunion gathering of SOT alumni.
On the SOT graduation weekend, the two-hour service was run entirely by the graduating cohort—a showcase of what the students had learned in the past seven months. Angela Tan, 21, from Singapore, Nagata Aika, 24 from Japan and Dai Jie, 24 from Hong Kong kick-started the service, leading the congregation in vibrant praise and worship. Next, past and current SOT students put up a light-hearted drama production depicting the journey of five SOT students, who grew from squabbling individuals who struggled to stay awake in class to a team that supported each other during difficult times. The drama production left many in stitches with its spot-on portrayal of events that all SOT graduates could identify with.
A married couple, Liu Zhong Qiao, 28, and Wang Hong Hong, 25 from Shanghai, China shared their testimony on how God provided for them financially and strengthened their marriage during SOT. In order to follow their calling to attend SOT, Wang, a training consultant, planned to leave her job while Liu, a co-owner of a building and interior design company, had to face the challenge of managing his business from overseas. The couple decided to enrol in SOT despite the uphill task of fulfilling their monthly mortgage payments during this period.
By the grace of God, Wang was given seven months of paid leave and monthly bonuses by her company—this made her the first employee to receive extended leave in the past 40 years of the company’s history. Meanwhile, Liu not only managed his company while studying in Singapore, he also saw a continuous flow of business coming in during the seven months. Liu shared with the congregation that although he was introverted by nature, the training at SOT had enlarged his capacity, giving him the confidence and the desire to preach the Word of God. Both Liu and Wang not only grew in their faith and love for God through spiritual encounters, they also rekindled their love for each other. SOT was “the best place for a honeymoon” and “the best seven months of their married life”, the couple said.
In the Saturday service, Benjamin Low, 24, a CHC member, delivered a seven-minute sermon about looking unto Jesus to navigate through life’s challenges. Low, who had no preaching experience prior to SOT, gave a spirited sermon, humorously describing the enrolment into SOT as “coming to the School Of Tribulation”. However, he said, the students pressed on and kept the faith regardless of their personal circumstances saw many breakthroughs, turning their “school of tribulation” experience into a “school of transformation” experience where their lives “were radically changed for the glory of God”.
Luo Shuai, 29, from Hong Kong shared his seven-minute sermon in the Sunday service. Luo preached on being a Nehemiah generation that builds God’s house. God inspired the early church Christians to divide the book of Ezra into two different books, Ezra and Nehemiah. This, he said, signifies that God honours Nehemiah for building His house. Luo encouraged the congregation that God’s blessing will surely come as they build the house of God.
Before presenting the certificates, senior pastor of CHC, Kong Hee addressed the graduating class, encouraging them to walk in the spirit, in faith, in love and in light. The senior pastor also encouraged the graduating class to continue walking towards the visions and dreams God had placed in their hearts during the past seven months. Kong reminded the graduates that the successful life of a believer is not just in knowing his position as king and priest, but also in the believer’s disposition, which is his daily walk with Jesus Christ and his willingness to walk with Him. Kong left the graduates with the advice to always walk in love.
“Faith can only work through love. Love keeps our faith working in the right direction for the right purpose,” Kong said. Drawing from his own experiences, he told the graduates that there will be many fearful moments during their ministry after their graduation, but “one touch from God is enough” and the God’s perfect love is able to cast out all fear, giving them the ability to do mighty exploits.
Each year, awards are given out to SOT teams. This year, Team 10 took the Best Team Award. Its team leader Kelvin Chew Wee Leng, 42, also won the award for Overall Best Performance of the Year, while another team member, Lim Qian Rong Matthew, 27, was the Minister of the Year. Edison Daniel Lim Jun Bin, 21, won the Best Academic Performance Award, Chue Wai Si Michelle, 39, won the Courage Award.
The graduation service ended with the graduates leading the congregation in the hymn “In Christ Alone”—a tradition practised every SOT graduation service since 1995.
SOT 2015 is currently open for registration. To find out more about SOT and the course curriculum, visit http://sot.chc.org.sg/.