He was a pastor with City Harvest Church for 16 years before he returned to the US and obeyed God to start up CHCUS, a church in Orange County, California. In this special video interview, City News (with help from Bernard Loh of City Radio) finds out what Pastor Derek Dunn’s best memories of CHC are and what he wishes CHC this anniversary.
On the day of the interview, I was waiting anxiously for Pastor Derek Dunn to walk through the doors of the church. He had texted me to say that he was getting coffee and I naturally thought he would be getting it from Starbucks, because it used to be that Pastor Derek always came with a Starbucks cup attached.
Pastor Derek was known to some as “that ang moh pastor” of City Harvest Church until he went home to the US in 2011 to look after his ailing mother. He subsequently started City Harvest Church US in Orange County in 2013.
When Dunn walked through the doors to Hall 605 this day, he was sipping from—surprise!—a Toast Box cup. He revealed that he really missed kopi—Singapore’s fragrant local coffee—when he moved back to the US.
In this video interview with him, Pastor Derek revealed many other things about his time in CHC that he has fond memories of.
The Mackenzie Stairs
Pastor Derek joined CHC as a full-time staff in 1996. The church’s senior pastor, Kong Hee had just shared the Church Without Walls vision with his staff and the campaign was about to start. On his first day of work, he was to shadow Kong’s wife, Sun Ho.
“Sun had this project where she wanted to re-design the whole lobby of Hollywood (the former CHC campus at Tanjong Katong Road that used to be a cinema called Hollywood Theatre) and put up pictures. Little did I know that would be a three day overnight project,” Pastor Derek recalled.
“We were so exhausted and Sun had worked so hard. We went back to (the former church office on) Mackenzie Road to settle some matters. Mackenzie had these flights of stairs. I was walking down in front of Sun, I knew she was very tired and I was just keeping an eye on her.
“All of a sudden, Sun tripped on her very high heels and I caught her. I was so traumatized by the incident.”
Pastor Derek has never looked at stairs the same way again. “Recently in America, when Sun came to visit, we went out and there was a point she was on the stairs. I was watching her and she said, ‘You’re thinking about the stairs right?’” he said, with a laugh.
Heeding The Call To Become A CHC Staff Member
Before Pastor Derek joined CHC full-time, he was doing missions in East Malaysia. He would travel with CHC’s senior pastor Kong Hee when he went to Malaysia for missions.
Pastor Kong wanted him to join CHC as a full-time church worker. Pastor Derek was not sure if he wanted to give up his freedom to travel, until God intervened. He recalled, “The Lord spoke to me very clearly that there is something this man [Kong] and woman [Sun] have that I need. He said, ‘This is Me, come and do this.'”
“So that was the beginning of the great process of discipleship. It wasn’t always easy but I became a son of the house. I would have missed out on the whole training and the whole revival that God birthed through the church. It was amazing how God turned things around.”
The Time The Car Ran Out Of Gas
It was one of the first meetings that Pastor Kong was invited to preach at in the US.
“I’m the American so I got to go with him to the conference,” recalled Pastor Derek. “We were driving on the highway and the low fuel light came on. Pastor said, ‘The lights came on, we need to get gas.’ So I said, ‘No problem Pastor, we’ve got reserve; we can probably drive for another 15, 20 minutes.”
The car died five minutes later.
“I panicked and my thought was I will never be invited on another trip again. But Pastor was very gracious.”
Thankfully, he found a gas station one traffic junction ahead of where they were. He bought gas to fill up the tank.
“So now when the light comes on,” he said, “I go and get gas.”
Pastor Phil Pringle’s Prophecy For The Dunns
“When Sun was doing the Crossover in America, God put it in Susan’s and my heart to go back to America.”
That was the first time Pastor Derek and his wife Susan heard God tell them that. Other than sharing it with Kong, Dunn simply kept the word close to his heart.
“Then Pastor Phil (Pringle) came to town and he pulled me and Susan out and began to prophesy to us. He said, ‘I see you on the West Coast and you’re traveling up the West Coast, preaching in Bible School. And God is going to give you the keys to open up the West Coast and bring revival to America,” he recalled.
“It was several years later when that happened. Those visions God put in our heart, He has a way of putting everything together. But it was so impactful to me that as we are faithful in serving Him, God doesn’t forget His plans; He always brings it around.”
Members Past & Present
“When we’re traveling and we go to different churches, God would move, but you don’t really have fruit. You go and preach a message, then a year later you go and preach another message—you don’t really get deep into the relationship and you don’t see the fruit of the ministry. That was the really the cry of my heart: I wanted to see the fruits,” said Pastor Derek.
“The thing I love about pastoring in CHC is that I get to see the fruit in people’s lives. People coming out of the army, finding a life partner, getting married, overcoming challenges, having children, and I get to see the legacy in the family which is amazing. We come back (to CHC), and [members’ and the staff’s] kids are growing older and starting to serve God. That is the blessing: not only seeing God move but seeing the growth of relationships. The power of the church and being part of that family, that support. We rejoice together, we grow together.”
Watch this video for more sharing from Pastor Derek, plus what two church staffers remember about him.