City Harvest School of Theology graduated its 25th batch of students on Sep 28 and 29. City News spoke with this year’s award winners on their SOT experience.
By Peh Zhen Jun
AWARD: Courage Award
WINNER: Aiden Ho Chee Yong (Malaysia)
Aiden suffered a cancer relapse while undergoing SOT 2019. Despite his treatments, Aiden continued to come for classes, complete assignments and he even went on three mission trips! Aiden attended SOT with his wife Angel.
What are your thoughts on winning this award?
I was shocked—I never expected to win this award. I am grateful to God and humbled by the recognition from SOT. I know it is only possible because of God. I thank God for His goodness, protection, love and grace towards my family and me. I’m grateful to my cell group W189 and I want to dedicate this award to my wife. She is the one who reached out to me and led me and the others in the family to Christ. Her determination, perseverance and unwavering faith in God brought a huge transformation to our family.
What kept you motivated amidst your adversity throughout your SOT journey?
I trusted God that His ways and thoughts will always be higher than any adversity we face in life. I kept praying that I would see His plan in my life. Our God is faithful and I have full conviction that He can and will heal me. I believe that someday, I will be able to share with others what I had been through in order to touch them. I have full confidence in God and His Word. He has nailed all infirmities and pain to the cross and in exchange, we can have good health, healing and the resurrection power of Christ to help us overcome any adversity that comes our way.
AWARD: Best Academic Performance
WINNER: Long Shixiong (Singapore)
If you were to use three words to describe your seven months in SOT, what would they be and why?
Grateful, fulfilling and divine. I had always wanted to attend SOT and should have done so many years ago, but after graduating from school, I went straight to work and kick-started my career. Now that I had the opportunity to attend SOT, it is something I am very grateful to God for. Through this journey, I forged new and meaningful friendships with like-minded people. In SOT, I felt that I was in the right place, at the right time, doing the right things, because I honestly couldn’t imagine myself doing something else with my life but SOT for those seven months!
What are your future plans now that you have graduated?
I quit my job to attend SOT. So I am going back to employment upon graduation. I am grateful to God that I have found a job and will be starting work in time to come.
AWARD: Best Team
Winner: Team 10 (represented by Luis Datinguinoo and Sheryl Caseres)
What do you think were the key things that kept the team closely knitted? Any unforgettable experience?
Sheryl: I think it’s a heart of generosity. Many of us are from diverse cultures and customs. The team members often opened up their homes for team-building and even hosted visiting families and friends. Besides organizing many bonding sessions over food, our team members were always there to attend to each other’s needs in time of difficult seasons–we visited them and constantly prayed and encouraged one another.
One unforgettable experience we had was during our mission trip to Cebu. We faced a lot of challenges but overcoming them together really bonded the team. It revealed the real us–how we handled things despite all the challenges faced. Our ideas clashed and we argued but managed to laugh and joke about it later on. It was just like the verse in Ephesians 4:2-3 “Bearing with one another in love. Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
What advice would you give to people who are considering SOT?
Sheryl: Pray about it, and when the Lord speaks to you, step out in faith and enroll! Just obey and the Lord will walk you through it, He will be with you always. Also, in SOT not only you will learn head knowledge, here you will be developing your spiritual life holistically. You’ll learn a lot just by looking at the lives of the lecturers and pastors and how they are living their lives.
AWARD: Best Overall Performance
WINNER: Ng Kah Hui Jessie (Singapore)
What are your key takeaways from SOT?
Living a life of giving; gratitude and to glorify God. Our God is incredibly generous and we ought to do the same for Him. We need to find ways to give consistently, be it in terms of our time, finances or serving one another. Every act of giving is an opportunity to touch someone’s life and a demonstration of God’s love to His people. People don’t care how much you know until you show them how much you care.
Another thing I learned is to always thank the Lord our God in all things. “In all things” means not only the good things in life, dancing at the mountain top but also during our walk through the valleys of difficulties. When we learn to live a life of gratitude, our heart will remain humble to God because we understand our blessings are not earned but received because of God’s grace upon us. And God opposed the proud but give grace to the humble!
God is honored when we do things the way He wants them to be done. This is called obedience living. We need to learn to put God in the center of every aspect of our lives–more of Him, less of us. Every day we need to learn to nail our flesh on the cross and let Christ live in us. He understands how tough it is for us to make this daily decision, battle with the temptation to sin so He sends the Holy Spirit to help us! Obedience living is how we can enter into His Kingdom of eternity.
What was your biggest challenge faced during your SOT journey? How did you overcome it?Family relationship. Quitting my job and enrolling in SOT was not something my parents–who are not yet believers–was able to comprehend, but they respected my decision.
As I got more involved in church activities, they started to feel that the church has taken their daughter away from them. We had some unpleasant moments and tension in our relationship during my SOT journey.
Whenever I felt stretched or troubled, I would go to a quiet place to be alone. Keeping away from the noise and busyness of life helps me to hear God better as He speaks. God also sends people to encourage me and gave me the advice I need. It’s just amazing how others could sense my concerns and worries. All these are made possible only through God.
Prayer really makes a big difference. I’ve learned that it is a two-way communication–it is not just what we say to God, but also what we hear from Him. He told me to honor my parents and I started to evaluate and reflect on myself before having a good talk with my parents to improve our relationship. It’s still in the progress but I know it’s in the good hands of the Father. Certainly I believe salvation will come in my household as I obey in Him. Amen!
AWARD: Minister of the Year
WINNER: John Michael Salazar (THE PHILIPPINES)
Read about JM’s SOT journey here.