In August, almost 400 City Harvest Church members were baptized. City News talks to some of them about charting this milestone in their spiritual journey.
On the weekend of August 27 and 28, 382 City Harvest Church members were baptized by senior pastor Kong Hee in the pool on the rooftop of the church’s Jurong West building. One father baptized his daughter and mother, a pair of siblings were baptized together, while a youth cell group saw eight members experience baptism that day.
CHC zone pastor Edmund Tay, 44, assisted in the baptism of his 11-year-old daughter Nicole and his 72-year-old mother, Mdm Molly Tay. Mdm Tay had been regularly attending CHC for six months, and a remark from her granddaughter Nicole inspired her to consider getting water baptized.
Tay recalled, “On the way to a relative’s house, my mother mentioned moving to another place, to which Nicole said, ‘But that would make it harder for us to bring you to church!’. My mother saw it as a sign from God to make this commitment to church, and to Him. Nicole made the decision by herself to get water baptized—in fact, she was the one who brought it up to us!”
Recalling his personal baptism experience, Tay told City News, “I’m very happy and thankful. We came from a non-Christian family, and my older brother and I faced opposition back when we were younger. Today, my entire family, including my parents and my brother’s family, are believers, and both my parents have been baptized!”
More than 100 family members and friends gathered to support the 16 baptism candidates from the zone led by CHC pastor Tan Yah Lan. Two of these candidates were siblings Nadine Lim, 23, a marketing and communications manager, and Elliot Lim, 18, a student. They had decided to get baptized together after some encouragement from their mother, who also attends CHC.
“I’ve been in church for seven years, and always felt that water baptism was a commitment I did not want to take lightly or for granted,” said Nadine. “I didn’t want to see it as a Christian ‘rite of passage’ or ‘church tradition’. This time, however, it felt right and everything fell into place. I look forward to this beginning of a new creation in Christ, as I am continually moulded and yielded to total dependence and obedience unto the Lord.”
Elliott added, “Whenever there were announcements about water baptism, my mother would always ask whether I wanted to go with my sister. But I couldn’t answer her with certainty because I felt water baptism was a huge step in a Christian’s life. This time, on the night my sister had asked me if I wanted to go for it, I prayed and asked God whether this was the correct timing, and I felt the Holy Spirit told me to ‘go for it’. I feel like a refreshed young man after being baptized. The cross is before me and the world behind me, and it is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me!”
Water baptism is a significant milestone for all born-again believers to identify with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is also a public declaration of one’s faith in Jesus Christ.
It was heartwarming to witness parents and their children, siblings, and cell group members obeying the Great Commission and testifying of God’s faithfulness through the generations.
TRANSFORMATION OF A CELL GROUP
In December 2015, cell group W584 from CHC pastor Lee Yi Lun’s zone had just seven regular members. Lee decided to start leading this cell group herself, and the members rallied together and focused on a two-pronged approach to evangelism: getting irregulars to come back to church, and reaching out to the lost.
Lee told City News, “There was a culture change in the cell group and a significant change among the members. Those that used to come late for service were now coming for pre-service prayer meeting. During the Emerge youth conference [in July], one member brought nine friends. Another member invited two friends for our June youth camp, one of whom received Christ during the camp! After Emerge, the members were hungry for the Lord and consecrated themselves. Many of them began fasting—some fasted 12 hours daily for three days, some fasted for one week and one 15-year-old girl, Glenda Keila Tan, has been fasting since Emerge weekend.”
As of August 2016, W584 now has a regular service attendance of 20 members, eight of whom were water baptized on Aug 28. Half of these were the members who didn’t attend church regularly just eight months ago, but who are now very regular.
Polytechnic student Ian Josiah Lau, 17, a newcomer who received Christ during the June youth camp, shared his radical salvation experience with City News. “After getting saved on the last day of camp, I attended service and cell group meetings regularly, feeling more and more on fire for God every single time. I also signed up for mass Bible study classes. I decided to go for water baptism because I want to put my old life behind me. The act of immersing into the water represents the death of my old self, as I also identify with the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am declaring my new life as a Christian and I want to enter the pathway of something greater with Jesus, praying for the experience and encounter with God. The support from Pastor Yi Lun and my cell group encouraged me to take this step of faith!”
Another young Christian, Lee Jia Lun, 15, a student, who received Christ during Easter this year, said,“What motivated me to get baptized today was that it is a declaration of my love and commitment to Jesus. God sometimes takes us into troubled waters not to drown us but to cleanse us.”
He adds,“As a cell group, we are looking forward to love God more, have more power encounters, and continue to preach the Gospel. Even though most of the members are taking their ‘N’ and ‘O’ level examinations this year, we will not lose the fire of evangelism!”
A NEW GENERATION
City News talks to three CHC pastors who baptized their own children on the weekend of Aug 27 and 28.
Audrey Ng, CHC pastor, on the water baptism of her son, Nygel: From a baby to a teenager, I have watched him grow to know Jesus more each year. Water baptism is a significant experience for every Christian. It’s such a joy to see him make this personal decision for Jesus.
Nygel Wu, 13: I am very happy to be water baptized and I know I am a new creation in Christ now. I hope to know Jesus more.
Lim Jun Xian, CHC pastor, on the water baptism of his daughter, Denise: I was overjoyed because this was a personal decision by Denise. I know she has a genuine relationship with the Lord and now she understands the significance of going through the baptism of water. On my way to the water baptism service, I was reminiscing the moment I was water baptized 23 years ago … I felt the Lord encourage me that this was a ‘passing on of my faith in the Lord’ to my next generation.
Denise Lim, 12: My sins are washed away by God, I no longer live in the old life, but now live in the new life (in the Lord) by the power of God.
Tan Kim Hock, CHC pastor, on the water baptism of his son, Abel: As a parent, it was one of my proudest moments when my son decided on his own to follow Jesus and make a personal commitment to Christ. To inspire my children to love God is one of my greatest aims in parenting.
Abel Tan, 14: It was at the Emerge zone youth camp that I encountered the Lord personally. I want to obey Him and be a real Christian. Baptism is a demonstration of my faith in Christ. I felt joy when I came out of the water, knowing I have done the right thing.