In this season of remembrance, City News Weekly asks pastors of City Harvest Church’s affiliate and associate churches what they are thankful for in 2014.
In Nov 2013, the Lord gave our Church a clear vision to start doing more charity work—to reach the poor, the orphaned and the needy outside the four walls of the church. Hence, we set up Harvest Character Improvement Association and sent a memo to all the primary and secondary schools in Taipei, asking teachers to connect us with needy students from low-income, dysfunctional, single-parent families or students who had lost both parents. By God’s grace, many replies came in. We started doing home visits and the children started coming to church every Saturday for a full day of tuition, moral education at our Children’s Church and other enrichment classes.
We also provided them with free meals. In the beginning, because these children often went without food, they would stuff themselves with the free food, afraid that there will not be a next meal. In addition, because of their background, the children were not very well behaved. We shared with them the love of God and demonstrated it with our actions; we continually let the truth strengthen their hearts. We also saw the spirit of God ministering to them through inner healing sessions.
Praise God! The children were touched by the love of God and grew from being cold, spiteful and suspicious to being gentle, full of love and faith. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14). Through this program, which we call “Grow With Them”, we also shepherd the children’s family members with Bible study every Tuesday and Thursday. Many of the families also came to know God.
We also set up a film production company and made a film, by God’s grace. Through this, the Lord led us to share the Gospel in over 300 screenings at local schools—50,000 students gave their hearts to Jesus. The biggest challenge that our Church faces today is how to disciple the members quickly and to raise more funds so that we can continue sowing seeds into this charitable work.
I thank Pastor Kong and Sun for encouraging us through the Cultural Mandate and for their demonstration of faith in the face of challenges and adversity. I thank our Almighty God for being faithful in His provision for all the needs of the Church. In the path of following God, building the church and expanding the Kingdom of God, we must know that “We are His work. He has made us to belong to Christ Jesus so we can work for Him. He planned that we should do this.” (Eph 2:10. NLV)
The one thing I am thankful for this year is our Arise and Build Campaign. God gave me a vision where everyone of us is a part of a big picture. I took it literally, painted a 120-foot painting, divided it into 1,800 pieces and gave a piece to each of our church members who pledged to the building fund. The whole atmosphere on that day was electrifying. Seeing the whole church come together as one was truly beyond words. I am thankful.
We are thankful to God for His grace and opening doors for us to open an outreach center in the downtown area of our city. Dubbed “The Hub”, the outreach center is located in the city of Banqiao. Apart from weekly Bible study and prayer meetings, the center functions as a place for young people to hang out, meet new friends, learn to play musical instruments and study after school. This place enables us to reach out to new friends in the weekdays and better connect with our community.
We praise God that this year, the Lord Jesus enabled us to build a Charismatic Prayer Auditorium in spite of insurmountable opposition in a city totally given over to idol worship and witchcraft. The Hindus in the city had informed the police that they were concerned that we are subversives and our activities will cause civil riots. The local government had refused to give us permits to complete the construction and our leaders were constantly called up for interrogation. Even I was called by the special crimes branch of the police force. We prayed continually for one year until the church hall was completed. Now we are planning to have a Christmas Service in it this month!
I am thankful that in spite of all the obvious challenges, we still see Pastor Kong and Sun serving God wholeheartedly and loving people fervently. They are still making an impact in lives all across the globe. Because of their example, City Harvest Brunei is still seeing people say yes to Jesus despite the challenges we have gone through this year.
I am very thankful that this year our church became a church without walls. In these few months, we have had more than 300 volunteer groups go out to raise money for the poor and needy. We also met our target of holding more than 120 evangelistic meetings. I am thankful for having a church that does more than coming to church and passively listening.
We celebrated Thanksgiving a few weeks ago here in US and as I was preparing to encourage the Church along this topic, I began to internalize my own thoughts on the subject. There have been many challenges this year and as I look towards 2015, I can already see the some of the battles that lie ahead. In the midst of pursuing the vision and dreams that God has put in my heart, I tend to look towards the future. I tend not to celebrate or be thankful for the progress, but instead I tend to look at what is lacking and what needs to be done. However, as I began to come before the Lord, I was convicted of my need to encourage myself in God’s faithfulness in the past and present.
My list of things to be thankful for would include the major things: life, health, family, friends, and the nation I live in, despite all its flaws. Beyond that, I’m thankful for my salvation, for our church family throughout the world, for those who have sowed into my life, and for the mercy and grace that God showers upon me each day—with Jesus, there is so much to be thankful for!
One thing I can say is that God has been faithful and that we have the assurance that He will continue to be faithful!