For some staffers and members of City Harvest Church, taking a trip to Skudai, Malaysia to serve at the annual the Harvest School of Ministry (HSOM) conference is a yearly affair. This time, they were joined once again by Kong Hee, senior pastor of CHC.
The Harvest School of Ministry is a school that aims to train and equip church workers in the Chinese churches in Malaysia. It was started by CHC’s senior pastor, Kong Hee and the late George Ong, founder of Harvest Christian Fellowship (JB) in 2001, with a vision to strengthen the Chinese churches in Malaysia.
Since 2004, HSOM has been organizing an annual conference for the workers of the Chinese churches. Held on the premises of the Harvest Christian Fellowship (JB) in Skudai, Malaysia, the conference has a focus to strengthen the vision of the local churches, and at the same time renew the passion of the church workers and to unite their hearts to fulfil the mission of God for their church.
Every year, CHC sends a team consisting of worship leaders, technical support, events, and Harvest Kidz teachers. From 3 to 6 December 2019, 62 staff members and volunteers served at the four-day-three-night conference. Eighty-seven members from CHC’s Chinese Service also made their way to Johor Baru for the conference.
CHC member Lynne Lee, 36, has attended the conference the last three years. “I want to come to experience a touch from God,” she explained. “I think it’s great when all the Malaysian church workers come together to praise and worship God. It’s a kind of refreshing, recharging, and restoration at the end of the year.”
Susan Seng, 56 and Susan Tan, 62 are part of the team that do a Praise Dance exercise demonstration on the opening night each year for the last three years.
“We want to motivate others to praise God together with us,” said Susan Seng. “Listening to the preaching, I learned that we need to obey and submit to God.”
“The first time I came to HSOM, I saw how they managed to rise up from their darkest valley–that was when their pastor passed away. This is my third year attending the conference and I feel that they have a very different spirit this year–they have the spirit of revival,” Susan Tan said. “The word preached by the pastors in this conference taught us that we must know Who this Jesus is that we are following and how to really follow Him. These are things that inspire me. We are all the children of God so we thank God.”
Susan Tan also brought along her husband who is attending the conference for the first time. “Even though it’s my first time here, I can see that this church is really different. Because in CHC, we are all very comfortable. I can see that the people here are very united in building the church together. I think it’s not easy for the team to build the church after their pastor passed on, but they’re doing very well,” said Wang Yoon Meng, 65.
“I’ve always wanted to come because my wife has been coming for many years and she has been telling me about it,” he continued. “The others who had come also shared about their experience here and I was very curious. But because I’m a taxi-driver and I need to pay the rent for my taxi regardless of whether I’m actually working or not, so it was hard for me to arrange a time. This year, I decided to take a break to come down and attend the conference. I’m very grateful to God for opening up a way for me.”
TEACHING THE LITTLE ONES
While the adults were enjoying the conference, their little ones were learning about God too. Lynn Tan, Harvest Kidz’s pastor, brought a team of 14 teachers to HSOM to serve the children. They conducted five services, catering to 60 children each service.
“The children’s services we do here is very similar to what we do in Singapore,” said Joy Phua, one of the teachers on the trip. “We play games, do crafts and teach the Word of God.” Because the conference catered to Chinese churches, the teachers had to translate all the materials to Mandarin. They took a month to make all the preparations.
Not only is Joy in her third trimester of pregnancy, but she also brought along her 4-year-old daughter. “This was decided in January when Pastor asked us to sign up for this mission trip. It has been a while since I really served in the ministry, so I thought this would be a good time to start. I wanted to bring Trixie along because it’s also a short mission trip. Thank God she is so easy to take care of.”
When she made the decision to serve God, Joy found the presence of God. “As I water others, God is also watering me, bringing me back to the place of peace and stillness. Even though I had a lot to do while serving, I could feel that the presence of God is so strong in every segment,” she shared.
All the children’s services were conducted in Mandarin, and it was not easy for the teachers. “It’s different because when we teach, it’s natural for us to want to go back to English because that’s what we are used to. But it’s a stretch and it’s good to dig out the Mandarin,” she smiled.
Alycia Leong is a keyboardist for the children’s services. “I was personally blessed when I saw how the teachers took time to think of fun, meaningful activities and exciting games,” she said of the Skudai sessions. “They had to translate and deliver impactful Bible lessons in Mandarin throughout all the sessions. I was also so amazed at how different ministries in the church could come together to serve at this conference. Everyone carried a piece of home to release all that the Lord has deposited in them to be a blessing to our friends in Malaysia. This year’s conference is significant for me personally as the Lord reminded me of how much I’ve broken through spiritually since last year when I joined the ministry. He taught me the importance of serving from a place of rest, where I can fully rely on Him and let Him take over the ministering, and not rely on my own strength.”
Some of the children that attended the children’s services in 2018 even recognized the team, something that brought Alycia great joy. “I also saw a breakthrough in some of the children who had attended the children’s services in 2018. The Lord truly did a work in their hearts as Pastor Lynn closed the final session by praying for the children. As I was watching them getting prayed for, the Lord led me to play a particular melody. As I played the melody, the presence of God came mightily and supernatural peace came upon all the children. I am very grateful or the opportunity to serve, and to be able to be a broken vessel that he can use on the mission field.”
SOWING INTO THE KINGDOM
For the past few years, the conference would consist of preaching sessions where executive pastors, Sun Ho and Bobby Chaw would share a word. Other pastoral staff would also conduct different workshops on worship-leading, parenting or even running an event.
This year, Pastor Bobby shared two messages on the Holy Spirit while Pastor Kong returned with four messages on following Jesus. Pastors Lynn Tan and Choong Tsih-Ming taught in the parenting workshops while pastors Lee Yi Lun and Tan Kim Hock taught on holy sexuality and evangelism. Pastor Kong also met with the church leaders.
For the church leaders in Malaysia, the HSOM conference is a time to renew their passion for God.
“The messages in the annual HSOM conference serves to recharge the church workers–it reignites the fire within us and nourish those who are feeling dry spiritually,” said Helen Ong, the wife of the late Pastor George Ong. “Besides Pastor Kong’s preaching, we also thank God for the messages and worship Pastor Sun brings. Pastor Bobby never fails to teach us the deep things of God in a simple and humorous way. We thank God every time we remember your (CHC’s) love for us and your faith in us.”
David Saw, senior pastor of CHC, Prai echoed Helen’s thoughts. “We gain a lot from the conference every year–our vision for the harvest is renewed every time we come. The messages never fail to stir up our passion for God. In recent years, God has been leading us to reach the marketplace and school campuses. We learned from HSOM and CHC how to reach out to the youths,” he said.
“We also learned many things from the CHC worship team—the way they lead the people into worshipping God, the new songs they bring. It’s always good to observe how others do things and we learn from them. Our own worship team experienced many breakthroughs in their techniques and the bonding of the team. Their level of anointing increased as they start to seek the Lord.”