In our darkest nights and most impossible situations, Jesus Christ never fails to come through for those who reach out to Him. This was Pastor Bobby Chaw’s main message in last weekend’s Candlelight Service.
The Candlelight Service at City Harvest Church is the most beautiful service of the year. As the flame passed from one candle to another, the glow of the candlelight spreads and lights up the entire hall—a reminder that Jesus is the Light that shines in the darkness (John 1:4-5).
This was the message Bobby Chaw, Executive Pastor of CHC, preached last weekend on December 14 and 15. He started his message saying that the season leading to Christmas is known as Advent, which means “coming” in Latin. It signifies a time of hope and eager expectations for the coming of Jesus Christ.
“Advent began in darkness, but ended in light on Christmas day,” he said.
In the beginning, the earth was without form, and void, but the Spirit of God came. He said, “Let there be light”, and there was light (Genesis 1:1-3).
Christmas tells of a similar story in Luke 2:8-11. The shepherds kept watch over their flocks at night in darkness, but suddenly, the angel of God appeared to them in shining bright light, announcing the birth of Jesus Christ.
“Darkness and depression is still prevalent in our world today. We cannot deny the existence (of these) and we cannot ignore our problems,” said Pastor Bobby. However, Christians can find hope in their Lord Jesus Christ, who first arrived 2,000 years ago to the people living in darkness (Matthew 4:16). Every Christmas is a reminder that no matter how dark the situation may be, God–the Light of the world–will always come to His people.
Pastor Bobby shared that the Bible is realistic, as it recognises the darkness which is still at work in today’s world. He also reminded the congregation that darkness is not equal in power to light, because God rules over darkness and the power of evil.
“Prophet Isaiah says that the deaf will hear, and the blind will see,” preached Pastor Bobby. “Because deafness, blindness, gloom and darkness are no equal in power to light, for Jesus has come to open the eyes of the blind, to free captives from prison, to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness,” he continued.
The reality of life can be very cruel. A sudden sickness, financial failure, or a broken relationship, can send people spiraling down into a black hole of darkness. Believers can find hope in Jesus Christ, who is the light of the world. Whoever follows Him shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life (John 8:12).
“Our job is to follow Jesus, His job is to dispel the darkness,” said Pastor Bobby. “We do our part, and He will do His part.”
This season of Advent, Jesus is here to dispel three kinds of darkness.
DARKNESS OF SIN AND SHAME
Romans 7:19 reads, “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” In verse 24, Apostle Paul said, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
“The Bible tells us that walking in sin is walking in darkness, and the wages of sin is death. And we are all trapped by our sinful nature,” said Pastor Bobby. “And the sad thing is that we cannot escape this darkness.”
The congregation was asked if they had similar experiences, when the good they wish for does not happen, but the bad keeps occurring.
He told the story of May Woon, who grew up in a family of gangsters. When she was only three years old, her mother, who was then 17, left the family. Three years later, her father was imprisoned for involvement in prostitution, gambling and smuggling of cigarettes.
As a result, May grew up like an orphan, under the care of her bad-tempered grandmother who abused her with vulgarities, and beat her up for no reason. In primary school, May could only afford cup noodles for her three meals and even when she was sick, she could not afford to see a doctor.
“Growing up in a family of vice, poverty, and darkness affected May deeply,” said Pastor Bobby. “She started struggling in school and had low self-esteem, and saw no hope of any future.”
May came to church was she was 13, and accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. The same year, her father was released from prison. She was hoping that with Jesus, life would turn around for the better.
However, her father was soon caught with drugs again, upon which he escaped to Malaysia. One year later, he was found dead in a mental hospital. May was devastated, and asked herself, ‘Is there hope for my life? Is there any way out of this evil?’
“No matter how dark your situation may be, God will always come to us,” declared Pastor Bobby.
May came back to church in 2011. That Christmas service, she kept crying and the love of God filled her heart. She felt God telling her that no matter how terrible her life may be, or how sinful or unclean, He is with her and will never leave nor forsake her.
“That day, the light of Christ came into her heart and dispelled every sin and shame,” said Pastor Bobby.
May found hope and encouragement to study again, eventually graduating with a degree in accountancy. She was also able to forgive and reconcile with her grandmother, and is now the sole provider and caretaker of her grandmother and the entire family.
DARKNESS OF SICKNESS AND DISEASE
Psalm 91:5-6 (NLT) says, “Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday.”
“A sudden sickness can cut off every hope of a future, throwing people into deep darkness and hopelessness,” the pastor said. “But Jesus took our infirmities and bore our sickness, and by His stripes on the cross, we are healed.”
He went on to share the miracle healing testimony of Elder Ji Lin, one of the leaders at City Harvest’s affiliate church in Taichung.
Two months ago, Elder Ji suffered a stroke. The CT scan revealed that he had a severe brain hemorrhage, and he was in such a critical condition that the doctors were hesitant to operate on him, as the survival rate was deemed to be low.
Pastor Guo Xiong gathered the church to pray, and also informed Pastor Bobby, who quickly recorded a prayer on WhatsApp, declaring that the name of Jesus is more powerful than every sickness or disease. The family played the recording repeatedly in the ICU, crying out to God for a miracle.
As the hours went by, healing began to take place and Elder Ji’s condition improved. Within 48 hours, without any operation, he was out of ICU and transferred to a normal ward. The doctors and nurses were amazed by his speedy recovery.
Elder Ji shared that when he was in the ICU, he saw a vision of someone pushing him into a crematorium furnace to be burnt. He then started to cry out to Jesus, and as he was shouting, he woke up so abruptly that he startled the nurse in the ICU.
In less than two weeks, Elder Ji was discharged from the hospital. The first weekend he was out, he went back to church and started dancing and praising God.
“Christmas is about giving our hearts to Jesus,” said Pastor Bobby. “With men it may be impossible, but with God, all things are possible.”
DARKNESS OF SATAN’S OPPRESSION
The Bible states that Satan is here to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10), and he seeks to oppress, and drive people into bondage, despair and darkness.
However, God had appointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and power, healing all who were oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:28).
One Chinese church member, Serene, was told that she was cursed from young. Her parents would dedicate her to all sorts of mediums and idols. At age 27, someone put a curse on her using witchcraft, and since then, she was tormented by demonic spirits.
Once, when she was in the toilet, a demon suddenly appeared, causing Serene to be so overwhelmed with fear, that she trembled and her legs gave way. This occurred so many times, that eventually she gave in and built an alliance with the demonic spirits.
Her first two marriages ended in divorce, and both her daughters suffered nightmares. The family lived in perpetual oppression. Two years ago, Serene fell very sick and was hospitalised. Despite taking many types of medication, nothing worked, and in her sorrow and despair, she thought, “I need to find Jesus.” It turned out that her youngest daughter had been attending City Harvest Church, and had shared Jesus with her. Church members came to her house to pray for her, and for the first time, Serene felt the love and peace of God.
Serene received Jesus into her heart, and renounced every evil spirit. In the following weeks, she kept going back to church, and over time was delivered from tormenting spirits and completely healed of sickness.
Today, Serene is so filled with the joy of God that her friends and family have commented that she is like a brand new person. Indeed, as the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
Last year, her entire family was saved and water-baptised. When her husband was warded in hospital, she preached boldly the gospel of Jesus to a curious on-looker, a patient in the neighboring bed. He subsequently received Christ as well—and was even in attendance during Sunday service.
“God is the same yesterday, today and forever,” Pastor Bobby declared. “Let Jesus come, let Him set you free. He is truly the light of the world.” In closing, Pastor Bobby led an altar call for salvations and rededications, and hundreds gave their hearts to Jesus Christ. And this is the ultimate reason for the season—that the Son of Man came to seek and save those who were lost. (Luke 19:10)