The inaugural THN Regional Summit held early March in Bandung, Indonesia was a time for pastors in The Harvest Network to build relationships and share each other’s burdens.
The first-ever regional summit for The Harvest Network was “a resounding success”, declared Kong Hee, the senior pastor of City Harvest Church. The summit was held in Bandung, Indonesia from Mar 4 to 5.
THN is a network of churches and ministries affiliated or connected to CHC. The regional summit brought together 36 pastors and their spouses and church leaders from 25 churches across different parts of Indonesia, as well as the Philippines, Taiwan and Malaysia. There were a total of 98 delegates.
In view of the COVID-19 situation, the organizers were careful to take necessary precautionary measures like taking the temperature of everyone who enters the church premise. Each delegate was also given a care pack, consisting of a small bottle of hand sanitizer and three surgical masks, to help them keep the virus at bay.
The summit was hosted by network church Elshaddai Creative Community Church. “We’ve had a great THN summit here in Bandung city,” said Pastor Kong. “[I’m] very grateful to the Indonesian pastors and the pastors in the region coming. And especially to Pastor Nala Widya from ECC church for hosting this great event.
Pastor Kong told City News that it was a “time that we could all come together—it doesn’t matter the size of the churches we have, whether you’re big or small, they come on an equal platform—to be vulnerable, to be authentic, to share our struggles and our weaknesses, and to provoke each other to good works. The summit has been a resounding success. All the pastors here are very encouraged, and they are edified, strengthened. We believe that greater days are ahead of us, that the glory of the latter house will be stronger and greater than the former house.”
He added that the pastors had a good time fellowshipping with one another, sharing heart to heart. He believes that THN is a great blessing to many of them.
“As the host this year, we learned a lot,” said Nala Widya, the senior pastor of ECC. “We learned how to prepare an event, on how to do things according to the procedure and we learned to see every detail of the work done.
“Secondly, we are grateful for this event this year because we gained a lot of experience. A lot of people involved came from different cities and we are blessed to get to know them and to work together with them. So as a host, we are blessed by the trust given to us. There are many blessings we received as the host of the THN Summit this year.”
A PLACE TO SHARE THEIR HEARTS
One of the things that THN sets out to do is to be an environment for communication and connection. The regional summit is a platform where senior pastors in the network gather, share their burdens and find solutions from each other’s experience.
“I think one of the best things about THN is the relationships,” said Garrick Li, senior pastor of Christ Harvest Church, Taiwan. “ Of course, when we meet, we talk about ministry and all that. But for me, the best part is coming back to see the family, to have a good catch-up with different ones—our partners, brothers, and sisters in different countries.”
The summit was organized with this very intention of building relationships. With just three main preaching sessions, three forum sessions and one marriage workshop over two days, it left the delegates with ample time to mingle and share ideas.
Mang Thang, the senior pastor of Myanmar Harvest Church, is a relatively new inclusion to CHC’s network of affiliated churches. He was particularly blessed by the friends he made on this trip: “I had a chance to fellowship with many different pastors, and I also have a chance to fellowship with Pastor Kong and Pastor Bobby (Chaw, CHC’s executive pastor).”
The message that resonated in the hearts of the pastors was that church is family. “We are not just a church, we are a family,” emphasized Aries Zulkarnian, CHC’s executive pastor, as he opened the first of three forums that happened. “We are here to support each other.”
The three forums, hosted by Pastor Aries, provided a platform for pastors to share and learn from each other. At each session, four pastors took the stage and candidly shared their struggles and how they overcame each situation.
Pastors Andre and Liz Mengko from GPdI Maranatha-Malang told of how they struggled financially to construct their church building. Inspired by CHC’s building fund campaign, Arise and Build, they too started a building fund with their church. They managed to raise more than what they needed for the building in one year. “God is Jehovah Jireh,” Pastor Andre declared. “Even when we are not confident, God will provide.”
Elisheba Soetopo, a pastor at Alfa Omega Church, shared how she struggled when she first started her ministry. Because she was inexperienced, despite putting in a lot of effort in planning, the church did not see much results.
“For example, we would prepare for an outreach event, but we had no plans for retention after the event,” she explained. “We didn’t realize that our events need more than excitement to be effective.”
After seeking counsel from the pastors at CHC, Pastor Elisheba realized that discipleship is very important. “Now we spend time teaching the members Biblical principles and practical steps to apply to their daily lives. We also set more logical goals for what we need to do every year. We set a goal of 20 percent growth and we have managed to achieve it for the past three years.”
One major lesson she learned was, “Not every growth is explosive. Growth is not only quantity but the quality [of the members], which will bring quantity in the end.”
KONG HEE: FOLLOWING JESUS
Pastor Kong preached at two sessions, teaching the church leaders to follow Jesus and pray the way He did.
On Wednesday, March 4, Pastor Kong taught that in the Gospels, Jesus was always calling people to follow Him. “To follow a person means to pursue, imitate, shadow and stay close behind the person,” Pastor Kong said, “To conform to Him (Jesus), to be like Him in character, behavior, affection, and attitudes.”
The character profile of Jesus Christ is the fruit of the Spirit, Pastor Kong taught. Galatians 5:22-23 reads, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
“As Christians, Jesus lives in us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit,” he said. When Christians allow the Holy Spirit to work in them, He will transform him daily to become more like Jesus.
He reminded the congregation that the Kingdom of God takes on the character of the King. That means that the atmosphere is filled with who Jesus is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. “You must develop a taste for the fruit of the Spirit,” he concluded.
On Thursday night (Mar 5), Pastor Kong spoke about the five aspects of Jesus’ prayer life. “The secret to prayer is Bible meditation, which will bring us into a conversation with God,” he said as he began his sermon.
When His disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, He gave them the Lord’s Prayer. “The Lord’s Prayer is really a collection of Jesus’ own meditations of the Bible,” Pastor Kong pointed out. “Ninety percent of prayer is a meditation of Scripture. If you don’t understand this, you can never learn how to pray for a long time, or enjoy a fulfilling prayer life.”
The pastor likened meditation to a cow grazing in the field. Cows have four separate stomachs and the food is passed from one stomach to the next after chewing. Cows regularly regurgitate food from the stomach and continue chewing it all day long. This process allows it to squeeze all the nutrients out of the food. The whole slow process of digestion—called ruminating—takes up to three days.
When someone is ruminating on something, it means that he is chewing and regurgitating his thoughts. This person ponders, memorizes, recites and prays the words of Scripture, again and again.
Pastor Kong taught the network four aspects of prayer, which he had been teaching at CHC.
Prayer is a conversation with God. “Prayer is a fellowship with God,” the pastor went on to say. “Only when there is a conversation is there a full encounter.”
Prayer is also confession. Pastor Kong told the congregation that he often uses the Ten Commandments as a “spiritual MRI” for his heart, to show him where he has sinned so he can bring it before God.
Prayer is petition. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught His disciples to boldly ask God to “give us this day our daily bread” (Matt 6:11) Pastor Kong taught that it is important to ask in prayer, and not assume that God should know what one needs.
Prayer is adoration. To adore a person is to deeply love the person for who he or she is. Similarly, adoring Jesus is to see how beautiful He is in Himself. It is to be in awe of His beauty and not for what He has done or can offer.
NALA WIDYA: BUILDING LEADERS
In his message on Thursday morning (March 5), Pastor Nala preached on the importance of raising “spiritual children.”
“There are many people out there but they’re not our children. But those in our house are our family,” he said. “We need to pass on our DNA to this family, and that only works if the relationship is that of a father and son.”
He gave the example of Elijah and Elisha, as well as Paul and Timothy. In both cases, the relationship between the mentor and mentee was that of a spiritual father and his son. Both Elisha and Timothy went on to do greater works than their spiritual fathers.
However, giving birth to spiritual children is as painful and as costly as giving birth to natural children, the pastor admitted. When the spiritual children turn their backs on their leaders, it’s painful. It costs both time and money to raise up leaders in the house.
“This is the process of childbirth; there is no running away,” Pastor Nala said plainly. “We invest in them, send them to SOT and conferences. And sometimes, they leave you. But do we stop sending them to SOT? No, we keep sending.”
Pastor Nala went on to share five things a father would do for his children. Firstly, a father is there during a crisis. He recalled a time when Pastor Kong was in Bandung and he wanted to bring him for a meal. But Pastor Kong said he needed to sleep because the night before, he had stayed up with a leader whose kid had a heart problem.
“I thought to myself, ‘He is a pastor of 10,000 people and he does that for his leader. I don’t even do that,'” said Pastor Nala. “Our moments with our members are important.”
Secondly, he lays a good foundation by teaching them. “We cannot complain that our members are not doing this and that if we don’t teach them,” he said.
Pastor Nala used to be very proud of their church finances. “Because we walk on water every month,” he said jokingly. “But Dr John Avanzini (who preaches on Biblical economics) told me that even Jesus only walked on water once in His life, so how can our church be walking on water every month?”
Since then, Pastor Nala learned how to budget and manage the church’s finances and he now knows the importance of balancing accounts.
Thirdly, a father recognizes the potential in his children; and fourthly, a father lets his children dream big dreams.
“Fathers always give their children dreams,” the pastor said. “Pastor Kong always said I will have a world-class team even when I only had a small team. He said there’s no reason you can’t grow. He planted a vision in me. How many people are there in Bandung? he asked me. Even if your church has 10,000 members, it’s too small for this city. So I do the same thing for my leaders. If you travel aboard, bring your next-in-line along,” he advised.
Lastly, the father always showed grace. When the children make mistakes, a father will still be able to accept them. And the grace shown to them will make them better people.
“Look inside your house: how much potential are there?” said Pastor Nala in closing. “Don’t look outside, look inside your house. When you become a father to them, they will become a warrior who fights together with you.”
BOBBY AND CINDY CHAW: COMMUNICATION IN A MARRIAGE
“We did a survey with the leaders asking them what they would like us to teach on,” said Pastor Bobby at the beginning of the marriage workshop. “Marriage turned out to be a hot topic.”
Together with his wife Cindy, Pastor Bobby shared the importance of communication in a marriage and took some questions in relation to that.
They began by establishing that the foundation of a marriage is friendship. Pastor Bobby and Cindy have been friends for 31 years and they have been married for 21 years.
“Theologically, the whole world starts with communication,” Pastor Bobby said. “In our world, God turned darkness into light by speaking: that is communication. God turned chaos to order with His words: communication.”
But the problem with the modern education system is that children are taught many subjects in school, but they are not taught to communicate effectively. “Communication builds intimacy. We build intimacy with God through praying, communicating with Him.”
They urged the church leaders to teach married couples in their church to learn to communicate with their spouse effectively. Firstly to teach them to tell the truth, and also to teach them to communicate the way the other party can understand. This can be done by understanding their personality profile through different tests.
On the final night of the regional summit, Pastor Kong gathered the church leaders for a time of sharing and fellowship.
Amber Tan, a leader at GPdI Bukit Hermon summed up the spirit of the regional summit well. “We all serve God. Some of us are called as pastors, others serve in different ways. But we serve God and we are a family. There are times when we are strong and there are times when we are weak—we need to support one another.
“I think THN is a very good support system for pastors, ministers, and leaders,” she added. “We are all together because we believe in what THN stands for and we believe in the vision of Pastor Kong. It’s not how big or small our achievements are in life, but how much we grow to love God together.”