Recently, City Harvest’s traditional Baby Dedication services became an intimate affair online that is totally different but no less special. One couple share their experience.
On the weekend of October 24 and 25, 72 babies were dedicated to the Lord. CHC’s Baby Dedication service traditionally takes place twice a year—parents bring their young ones to be dedicated to the Lord, witnessed by the congregation.
But with the world in a pandemic, this event was brought online in two special private ceremonies conducted via Zoom, on Saturday before the weekend service, and on Sunday after service.
The Saturday service opened with a time of worship with CHC worship leader Teo Poh Heng, followed by senior pastor Kong Hee sharing a short, but powerful word. He pointed out that the act of dedicating one’s child is Biblical—Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to Jerusalem to be dedicated to the Lord, and He was likely 40 days old.
The pastor encouraged the parents with Psalm 127:3 (NLT)—“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” And Psalm 103:7 (NKJV) “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting On those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children.”
“The fact that you are bringing your babies to be dedicated means that you love God, you honor Him,” Pastor Kong told the parents. “So He’s going to bring His righteousness and pour it on your baby and your children’s children.”
He closed with a prayer for all 39 babies, that they would grow up in the fear of the Lord, and experience divine protection. That from a young age they would know Jesus and experience His saving grace, and be filled with the Holy Spirit from a young age. He prayed that they would do well in school, and that the Lord would give them a healthy body so they can serve him; that the Shalom peace of the Lord would be upon every dimension of the child’s life, and that he or she would always walk in the light, as Jesus is in the light.
Thereafter, all the attendees and pastor took a group shot on Zoom, before the parents entered into breakout rooms to await their individual prayer sessions with a pastor.
ASHER’S SPECIAL DAY
“When I first heard that Baby Dedication was going to be online, I thought ‘Wow, is it possible to conduct it on Zoom?’” said Lenco Tan, 37, a financial consultant who, with his wife Kate, was dedicating their firstborn son Asher on Saturday.
Though Kate initially had reservations, Lenco looked forward to the Baby Dedication. “It was about the dedicating Asher to God, not about the process,” he explained. “To us, being able to dedicate Asher to God was the most meaningful part, and we were able to do it online, even with the COVID measures. Dedicating Asher to God is significant—it is our wish for him to find God one day, to truly know Jesus as his Lord and Savior and to experience Him.”
Lenco and Kate met with their cell group leader in her home, where they logged on to Zoom for the dedication service. They enjoyed the praise and worship, and were happy to be able to take part in the proceedings in a comfortable environment.
“I think it was really efficient, and more focused than on stage during service,” said Lenco of the way the service was conducted. “Instructions were clear, and everyone was able to follow easily. We even had time, during the dedication, to praise and worship with Baby as well.”
Each couple and their baby waited in their respective breakout rooms until a pastoral staffer entered to pray for them. Baby Asher had the privilege of being prayed for by Bobby Chaw, executive pastor of CHC, their zone pastor who is also the Principal of the School of Theology, which Lenco had attended.
“Pastor prayed for Asher to come to know God,” recalled Lenco. “I really do hope Asher will come to know God at the right time—that is our wish, and I know that God hears our prayer. Pastor prayed over Asher with Psalm 121, that the Lord that watches over Asher, neither sleeps nor slumbers, that God will continue to protect and watch Asher in his growing up life and into adulthood.”
Initially Kate had some reservations about signing up for the online dedication service, but “after attending the Zoom Baby Dedication, she felt that it was, in fact, even better than going on stage, because the process was smooth, baby was in a more comfortable environment, he wasn’t overstimulated, and, of course, we didn’t have to prepare as much as we would have, if we were going on stage.”
Pastor Bobby shared that although they could not all be in church service and have the whole congregation—the family of God—pray for the babies, the online Baby Dedication opened many different new opportunities.
“What was good was that we were able to have the breakout rooms and speak to parents individually, to ask how they are coping with baby, to understand or ask them what God is speaking into their hearts concerning their child, so that we can pray specifically for their babies and dedicate them to the Lord. To believe together with them for their aspirations, and to sense what is God’s will for them. This was something we would not have been able to do on stage, because of the sheer numbers of parents and babies and because of time constraints,” explained Pastor Bobby.
What made him happiest was that he could pray for a couple who are long-time members of the church, who were forced to remain in Melbourne. “They work there, but they were planning to come back, but COVID came. But we were able to dedicate their baby even while they’re in Melbourne! So I am grateful that this online arrangement allowed us to reach out to our members residing overseas, to bless them, to pray for them and for their babies.”