As City Harvest Church celebrates its 27th birthday, founder Kong Hee shares with City News Weekly his thoughts about where the church is and where it is headed.
Every anniversary City Harvest Church crosses is a milestone. This year, the church has gained a second wind in its pursuit of God, fuelled by the many messages that its senior pastor Kong Hee has delivered on resting in God and meditating upon His word. This anniversary, Kong, with his wife and co-founder of the church, Sun, shares his heartfelt views on the church.
City News Weekly: Pastor Kong, what are your feelings as we celebrate 27 years of CHC’s official existence?
Kong Hee: The past 27 years have been an amazing adventure for me. Every single day is a miracle from the Lord as we witness His presence and power moving among us. Sun and I are just so grateful that God has chosen us to be the founders of this great church. When we started this journey as youths, we had absolutely no idea what Jesus had in store for us. Our pockets were empty but our hearts were full of His vision. Step by step, we trusted and obeyed the Lord and we have experienced revival in and through this church.
God works through willing vessels. Sun and I are forever thankful to the pioneers of CHC, who have stood by us, sacrificed with us, and who gave the best years of their youth to live this dream together. We were, and still are, convinced that God is raising up a generation that will take the nations by storm. CHC is where we are today because of the price they have paid in building God a great and mighty spiritual house, a house of prayer and evangelism for all nations.
This year, you have preached some of the most powerful and affirming message series in CHC’s history—entering into God’s rest, meditating in the Word, and your Emerge messages were truly powerful. What do you feel God is saying to you and to CHC through all these messages?
These series of messages were prepared with a mature body of believers in mind. I really sense in my spirit that CHC has come of age as a local church. We are no longer a bunch of kids merely fuelled by exciting programs and the latest spiritual trends. In 27 years as a congregation, we have seen a lot, heard a lot, and have been involved in many “spiritual moves” in the Body of Christ. As maturing Christians and seasoned spiritual warriors, I can sense the Lord bringing us into a greater depth in our ministry and missions. We have indeed witnessed the realities of the Book of Acts—God’s glory in signs, wonders and miracles, the multitudes coming to Christ through the gospel, and the resilience of the church in the face of sufferings and adversities. We are in a season when God is giving us room for thought, as we pause to count the cost of following Christ, to renew and affirm our consecration to Him, so that He could do even greater works among us and through us. This is the underlying message God is saying to us all.
While there is a certain level of uncertainty with the court appeal in September coming up, we hold on to the fact that God has a future and a hope for you, Sun and for CHC. At such a time as this, what do you personally keep your focus on?
More than ever before, God is so real to me, as my Heavenly Father. He is my “Abba”, whose love is so great and He feels very deeply for me, in all my challenges and sufferings. I believe in His absolute goodness and faithfulness toward my family and I, not just theologically or merely as textbook knowledge, but very personally. God loves us, and will always hold on to us. Nothing will ever change that no matter what happens in the world. So I believe in Jesus, I trust in Jesus, and I rest daily in Jesus. Every day, I try my best not to worry or be anxious about the future. Instead, I cast all my cares on the Lord and fix my eyes on Him. I choose to focus on the many promises He has given in His Word and I meditate on them daily. The Word of God is truly spirit and life.
You have also been working hard going to strengthen CHC’s affiliate churches and connect with churches in Japan and Indonesia, among others. You have also led two Chinese leadership conferences. What is on your heart regarding these countries?
I identify with our Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul in this regard. As Calvary approached, Jesus was very concerned for the spiritual well-being and future of His disciples. We can see that very clearly from His high priestly prayer of John 17. Similarly, in Acts 20, when Paul was leaving for Rome to appeal to Caesar, he was very concerned about the Ephesian church, and urged them to commit to sound doctrine, especially if he wasn’t going to be around.
In the same way, I am concerned about the many churches and Bible schools we have in Asia and around the world. We have worked very hard over the years to birth, strengthen and grow them. I want them to hold fast to the vision and teachings they have received from me. That is the reason why I have been busy strengthening our churches in Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, China, Japan and elsewhere. My heart for each one of them is that they will stay faithful to what God has called them to do, which is primarily to win the lost and raise up disciples for Christ through their own local congregations. My prayer is that they won’t be distracted from their mission by every religious fad that comes their way, or become lax in their devotion and consecration to Jesus.
Amazingly, in spite of my situation, God has opened many new doors for me, for instance, in Japan, South Korea and Africa. I have many invitations from other parts of the world like India, Europe and the Middle East to conduct evangelistic events and church-planting efforts. I am simply humbled by the fact that in the midst of a very dark and challenging season of my life, God’s presence and anointing is still upon us.
God has called us to the nations of the world. I know there are some who would like to “box” us in, by saying that God has called CHC only to China, or Southeast Asia, or the Far East, etc. Let me say that God has called us to the whole world—East and West. Wherever God opens a door, we must boldly enter in by faith and obedience. Of course, our primary task is to Asia, which is a huge continent encompassing many different peoples groups. My heart is that our disciple churches in every country must find a way to create an atmosphere of revival where lost people can find Christ as their Savior.
Pastor, would you like to share any other thoughts?
The reason why there is a request for Sun and I to do overseas missions is that there are many churches very much impacted by the message of the Great Commandment, Great Commission and the Cultural Mandate. They are very intrigued that an Asian church could be so contemporary and culturally relevant, and yet at the same time have a spiritual depth in the Word, prayer, evangelism, discipleship and world missions. Again and again, the cry from many church leaders around the world is this: “Pastor Kong, please teach us how CHC does it. Your worship style is so current, yet it is devotional and not performance-based. Your brand of Christianity is not ‘consumer-driven’ but you are raising people who are spiritual ‘producers’. How do you do it?”
I believe all that we have experienced as a people: the desire to build a strong local church, a “Church Without Walls”, a soul-winning people, a people who desire to be blessed to be a blessing, the Crossover Project, the marketplace ministry, the Cultural Mandate, a church that is resilient in the midst of sufferings, etc. All these are very attractive to many and are really the hallmarks of genuine Christianity.
I pray that CHC 2.0 will never take the easy route, so much so that what motivates our next generation of leaders is the desire for acceptance in the community, and what motivates our general congregation is their social standing in the city. Obedience and loyalty to Jesus and His Word is more important than sacrifice. While we should harness the best methods and innovations from the world to enhance our worship experience and church management, we are not “of” the world. Jesus came to take us out of the systems and values of this world to bring us into the Kingdom of God, a kingdom motivated by love, operated by faith, moved by divine revelation.
As long as CHC maintains a high standard of operational excellence coupled by a deep commitment to God’s Word and the Holy Spirit, we will be a blessing to the nations. The moment we start slipping in our consecration and devotion, our brand of Christianity may be very “safe,” but we will lose our impact for the kingdom of God.
Apart from this, when Sun and I started CHC 27 years ago, we had a very clear revelation. If we as a church can flow as one people, in absolute love and unity, we will become a mighty spiritual plow in God’s harvest field and nothing will be impossible to us. My prayer is that our congregation and the lay leaders in our church will keep praying and supporting the pastors that God has called and anointed to lead this church, and flow as one people—in one vision, one heart, and speak the same faith language. This is God’s way. We are not of this world. If we can do this, the future of CHC will be even greater than ever before, and His glory will be manifested in our midst.