This year at Emerge, City Harvest Church’s youth conference, senior pastor Kong Hee challenged the youths to consecrate their lives in order to serve their generation.
“God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.”
This one statement by City Harvest Church’s senior pastor Kong Hee resonated in the hearts and minds of the attendees over the weekend of Jul 8 to 10, a weekend dedicated to the young people under the age of 25 in City Harvest Church—a 13-year-old tradition known as Emerge.
Emerge began in 2003 and, throughout the years, has provided a platform for the church’s youth to realize their talents and be inspired to serve God. This year, the theme for Emerge was “Power”, with all activities serving a single purpose: to bring revival to CHC’s youth and their campuses.
Youth pastor Edmund Tay explained to City News Weekly: “The theme was set to remind the youth that power lies in the hands of every believer. Emerge is not about preachers, pastors or cell group leaders; it is about each youth rising up to make a difference. From daily school life, youth camps to the Testimony Movement, power is about the youth, testifying and shining for Jesus, in whatever season of life they are in. The power of God is upon them to make a difference.”
For fellow youth pastor Lee Yi Lun, “The power youth have comes from living a life in total surrender and obedience to God’s call.”
About five weeks prior to the Emerge weekend services, the church held a series of camps, events and competitions revolving around three major areas of a young person’s life: relationships, academics and church.
Some of the competitions included Brainiest Youth, where the sharpest brains in secondary and tertiary schools faced off on everything from general knowledge to mathematics; Battle of the Bands; Emerge Sports (basketball, Captain’s Ball and soccer); Preaching Challenge; Calligraphy Challenge, where young inkers and doodlers let their creative juices flow to produce Instagram-worthy pieces; and Social Media Sensation, where young people created original 60-second videos showing what Emerge means to them.
Emerge also challenged its youths to memorize Bible verses, an exercise that builds faith through the Word. The church witnessed the exciting Heroes of Faith finals during the weekend service, where three teams displayed amazing memory and precision. Emerge’s Got Talent gave youths a platform to showcase the gifts God has given them, through heartfelt renditions and energetic dances.
This year, Emerge also launched the Testimony Movement. Every member was taught how to share personal testimonies so they could touch the lives of those around them in their campuses, families or social circles. They were encouraged to share their testimonies with one person per week. From May to July, various pastoral zones held a total of 13 camps, each with its own theme and unique dynamics, allowing the youth to encounter God and have meaningful fun.
SERVING GOD IN THEIR GENERATION
The slew of youth camps and competitions culminated in a three-day youth conference held from Jul 8 to 10. Each of the four sessions was accompanied by electrifying praise and worship, performances and powerful testimonies. Youths were given the chance to shine on stage through a drama production and performances by the finalists of Emerge Got Talent. The winner and first runner-up of Battle of the Bands led praise and worship on Friday night and Saturday morning respectively.
Despite all the excitement and fun, the heart of Emerge remained the Word of God, preached by CHC’s senior pastor Kong Hee and head of the Emerge movement, pastor Wu Yuzhuang.
Kong set the tone on Friday night (Jul 8) with his sermon based on Exodus 3 and 4, in which Moses received the call of God upon his life. Like Moses, many young people struggle with self-doubt, a sense of intimidation, inadequacy, incompetence and a lack of spiritual intimacy with God. Kong affirmed the congregation: “If you have never felt smart enough, or talented enough, or good enough, or brave enough, let me encourage you tonight. You are the perfect candidate that God is looking for.”
Kong then declared that “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called,” which became the rallying cry throughout the weekend.
Reading from Mark 6:1-6, where Jesus could not perform miracles and He marveled at the Nazarenes’ unbelief. Kong challenged the youth: “Would Jesus marvel at your faith or your unbelief?”
During the second session on Saturday morning, pastor Wu Yuzhuang, who leads the Emerge movement, taught the youths three ways to unleash their God-given power: firstly, they had to renew their minds through the Word of God (Romans 12:12), then they had to step out in faith (Mark 4:36-41) and finally, to stay
connected to God. “You can only have power publicly when you are connected [to God] privately,” he said, encouraging the young people to seek God on their own.
On Saturday night, Kong told the youth that a response is required when God calls. In Matthew 4:18-22, the disciples immediately responded to Jesus by leaving their life behind to follow Him. “Giving us a calling is God’s part of the deal, but consecration is our part,” said Kong. The call of God should naturally lead His people to the decision of consecrating their lives, just as apostle Paul did.
“We cannot respond to God and still remain the same—His goodness should lead us to repentance,” he says. “God is not looking for golden or silver vessels. All He is looking for are yielded vessels.”
In his final session, Kong talked about the “Second Generation Syndrome”. In the Bible, the first generation touched by God was zealous and constantly growing in their walk with God, while the second generation was often religious and took God for granted. The third generation became godless, slipping in morality and growth. This “degeneration of generations” is seen in Judges 2:7-10, where the generation after Joshua’s did not know the Lord.
Kong shared three things about second-generation Christians that God is against: one, they drifted (Hebrews 2:1), they drew back from God (Heb 10:38) and they got carried away (Heb 13:9). The senior pastor urged the youth who have grown up in church to keep up their zeal for God and to show the world the reality of a powerful God who is alive. They were to preach the Word with power, with signs and wonders following.
“You are God’s answer to your generation,” he said to them. “We [the first generation] have served the purpose of God in our generation and you must now serve yours.”
Kong encouraged the congregation to not only be spiritual consumers, but also producers, lest everything that has been built up by the previous generation dries up. To be a carrier of revival, he emphasized, consecration is of utmost importance. “God gives power to the consecrated; for God to move in a generation, total surrender of everything unholy is required.”
The message spoke to the hearts of the youth. Daniel Ng, 18, a polytechnic student, said to City News Weekly, “This year’s Emerge made me realize how important my consecration to God is. I have learned to cherish His grace and mercy and not to take them lightly. After Emerge, I felt challenged to go on a seven-day fast; I also feel more motivated to serve His Kingdom by playing the guitar at cell group meetings. God’s presence renews me every day. Through constant prayer, I experienced how God’s grace made it easy for me to cruise through a particularly tough week at school. I’m so excited for what God has in store for me.”
Shining For Jesus
What some participants of the Emerge competitions had to say:
“At first when I got the 131 pages of readings, I felt so overwhelmed! But it was a good platform to gain more knowledge, and knowledge is rewarding—it empowers you.” ~ Phang Yu Zheng, 22, student
Battle of the Bands
“When I stand on stage, the adrenalin gives me energy and I want to give my best—not for myself, but because I want God’s people to enter into His presence.” ~ Roxanne Heng, 23, vocal coach
“I love playing sports and this allowed me to build a closer relationship with my friends. It was all worthwhile when we won and I saw my teammates’ smiles!” ~ Ong Jin Han, 17, student
“Through the competition, I was able to display my work on a wider platform. Also, knowing that I was seated among people passionate about the same art form made it a thrilling experience.” ~ Barnabas Chua Zhong Li, 21, student
“I grew closer to God as I sought Him during sermon preparation. I might not have been the best speaker, but we have the power to do greater things, beyond what we can think!” ~ Ho Cally, 16, student
Heroes of Faith
“I was encouraged by the Word as I memorized it. I was reminded that reading the Word, memorizing it and praying is really important. It stirred my heart up for prayer!” ~ Jonathan Steven Mulia, 22, student
Emerge’s Got Talent
“It taught us that we’re not performing for anyone else; it is making use of the talents He has blessed us with to glorify His name. Plus, we had the time of our lives!” ~ Naomi Sabrina, 22, marketing assistant, and Yeung Wai Shan Shawn, 22, student
Social Media Sensation
“To me, Emerge is about blessing others. I wanted to brighten up my viewers’ day through my video. We don’t need big gestures to add a little sunshine to people’s lives.” ~ Jolina Matic Fernandez, 19, student
“During the sessions, the presence of God was really strong and He started to move so strongly. I will never forget the promises and words He has spoken to me throughout camp.” ~
Jeanette Amanda Zee Wen Fang, 20, student