Preaching out of the Book of Mark, Pastor Kong Hee taught about what the marks of an authentic disciple of God are.
On the weekend of Jul 31 and Aug 1, Kong Hee, the senior pastor of City Harvest Church, delivered his seventh instalment of his series of the Kingdom of God, continuing on the topic of serving the poor from the previous weekend.
He started by reading Exodus 20:2, where God reminded the Israelites that He had saved them when they were poor and defenceless. “When you are blessed, successful and comfortable, don’t forget to help the poor and needy,” Pastor Kong reminded the church.
Deuteronomy 24:17 shows that God cares for the foreigner, the fatherless, the widow, the slaves. “How we treat the weakest and the neediest in our society is not separated from our worship of God,” Pastor Kong added. “Worship and good works are two sides of the same coin.”
BECOMING SALT AND LIGHT
“Jesus teaches that God measures greatness by our loving actions towards the poor, the sick, the disabled, the unclean and outcast, the marginalised, the outsiders and especially the little children,” Pastor Kong taught.
The first words that Jesus spoke in Mark proclaimed the coming of the Kingdom of God (Mk 1:15). The Jews had been waiting for the coming of the Messiah, expecting Him to put right every wrong and free them from their oppressors. When Jesus came working miracles and casting out demons, they were filled with joy. But instead of dealing with the Romans, Jesus gave all His attention to the outcasts and the little children.
Seeing that even His own disciples were confused, Jesus taught His disciples the cost of discipleship. Pastor Kong paraphrased: “If you want to be great in the Kingdom of God, you must take up the cross and follow Jesus Christ in the life of suffering and service especially towards the poor.”
The Book of Mark shows how the attitude and behaviour of an authentic disciple should be. Mark 8:34 reveals the “upside-down” Kingdom of God. “(The Kingdom of God is) totally upside down,” the senior pastor described, “you save your life by losing it, you become first by being the last. And then you are the leader by serving others, especially the poorest and the neediest.”
When John got upset with a group of people casting out demons in Jesus’ name without their permission (Mk 9:38), Jesus taught him that greatness in the Kingdom of God is not measured by position and power, but by how much one loves others and serves them.
When the rich young man walked away disappointed because he was too attached to his wealth (Mk 10:17-29), Jesus taught the disciples that greatness was not measured by worldly wealth or popularity. Yet when Jesus predicted His death a third time, James and John were still concerned with possession and position (Mk 10:35-45). Jesus urged them to not follow the values of the world.
Pastor Kong noted two things in Mark 10:44—firstly, greatness is measured by how much one is willing to suffer for God. Secondly, greatness is measured by how much the church serves others, in particular the poor and the needy.
“This is why it’s so important for us to revive Church Without Walls,” he said, referring to CHC’s movement in 1996 that saw the church go into the highways and byways to serve the needy.
TO FIND A NEED AND MEET IT, TO FIND A HURT AND HEAL IT
CWW began in 1996. By 2008, the church has helped more than 15,000 people a year. Lily Yong, the pastor that oversees CHC’s ministry for the intellectually disabled, Jesus for All Minds (JAMs), is one of those who had been serving in CWW since the beginning. Together with her team, she has gone from touching the lives of 32 people in 1996 to 1,238 people by 2008.
“There is an unspoken stigma when it comes to people with special needs,” she noted in a recorded interview with Pastor Kong. “However, as we get to know them more, we were actually realise that they are very friendly and they are very helpful as well.”
The church watched a video testimony of JAMs member Lynn Kok who has been in the JAMs congregation since she was a teenager. She shared how JAMs brought a hope and a future to her: she continues to look forward to the church services every weekend and being able to learn the Word of God. When she was young, visits from and outings with the JAMs teachers were a highlight in her life. Through JAMs, Lynn even had the opportunity to star in a musical Special. Today, in her 30s, Lynn works in an elderly nursing home as a therapeutic assistant.
Another outreach of CWW was to youth at risk. Lim Meng Chin, better known as MJ, is a former staffer of City Harvest Community Service Association and former pastoral staffer in CHC. He reached out to 3,288 youths at risk by 2008. In a recorded interview, he explained that these young people were vulnerable to substance abuse, dropping out of school and getting involved in gangs and fights. To reach out to this group of youths, MJ and his team organised programs such as sports outreaches and church camps.
Lai Pei Shi was one whose life was transformed through MJ’s outreaches. She shared that her relationship with her family was strained, and she did not trust anyone, choosing to hang out with gangs. While still in secondary school, she slipped into depression, started harming herself and had suicidal thoughts. Soon, she got involved in spiritism, calling out spirits, which worsened her mental state.
Because of an incident in school, Pei Shi’s teacher discovered her self-harm wounds. She was then sent to the youth-at-risk programme organised by CHCSA where she met a volunteer, Jessica. Jessica reached out to her and showed her the love of Jesus through practical acts of kindness. Pei Shi received Christ and her life turned around.
Today, Pei Shi is the head of corporate social responsibility for a multi-national company. She has represented Singapore in Amsterdam as an ambassador to discuss world major issues such as climate change, sustainability, gender equality and human rights.
Both JAMs and the outreach to youth at risk need volunteers to support their efforts to serve these communities from now to December.
In closing, Pastor Kong urged the members to sign up as a volunteer to serve in the CWW. “This is the reason why God is blessing you, why God is making you so successful in life—so that you can be a blessing to others,” he said.
If you wish to be part of Church Without Walls in CHC’s outreach to the needy, you may contact your cell group leader or sign up via www.chc.org.sg/cww.