In the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused nations to close their doors to travellers. This did not stop CHC from finding new ways to bring the gospel to the nations. With the help of technology, missions work can be done online.
In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus spoke to His disciples, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
This is the Great Commission—and also a part of City Harvest Church’s Mission Statement. Sharing the gospel and making disciples “of all nations” has always been the heartbeat of the church.
Besides being actively involved in overseas missions work, the church trains up church workers from all over the world who want to equip themselves for effective ministry and establish the work of the kingdom in their own homeland. City Harvest Bible Training Centre (today known as the School of Theology) was founded in 1994 with the purpose of equipping both local church members, as well as leaders of overseas churches, with sound biblical doctrine and practical ministry skills.
BRINGING MISSIONS WORK ONLINE
For the last 27 years, SOT centred its activities around the students with on-site classes, ministry activities and overseas mission trips. However, when COVID-19 cases started increasing in 2020 and cities started closing their borders to travellers, the school pivoted to continue the same people-centric work through different means.
The first measure it took was to bring its lessons online in 2020. One and a half years into the pandemic SOT decided to stop its on-site lessons for 2021. However, the school did not stop in its mission to train up church workers. It simply turned its attention to the alumni.
“The SOT team has also been catching up with small groups of alumni over Zoom, each meeting segmented according to their cohort year and their home country. To date, we have connected with those from the 2017-2019 cohorts from Bhutan, Cambodia, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam,” Cindy Ng, SOT’s manager tells City News.
“Alumni teams from these countries requested to have monthly or bi-monthly meetings with Pastor Bobby,” continued Cindy, referring to Pastor Bobby Chaw, her husband and also SOT’s principal.
She gave the example of one particular meeting. “Some Japanese alumni had questions on the biblical views of marriage, so we held Q&A Zoom sessions with Pastor Bobby to address them,” she shares.
The advantage of having these online meetings with the alumni was that the school could gather feedback in real-time, so as to tailor teachings, preaching and devotional topics accordingly.
Evangelyn Sim, an administrator in SOT, started a book club to encourage single ladies who are looking for a life partner. Every month, a group of graduates from Singapore and the Philippines would gather online to discuss the book Ladies in Waiting: Becoming God’s Best While Waiting for Mr Right.
A participant testified that the discussion has directed her focus to God, and it reminded her of the fact that there is more to life than focusing on her marital status. “The community of ladies helps me to feel less alone in this season. It encourages me to live well, despite the circumstances,” she said.
As the school focuses on supporting the alumni in this season, the alumni, in turn, can focus on bringing God’s love through them to the churches overseas. “Before the pandemic, we have alumni that would organise yearly mission trips for their Cell Groups. Now, they continue their mission work through Zoom,” explains Cindy.
Stanley Yew, a cell group leader and SOT alumni, shares how his Cell Group ministers to churches in the Philippines, and the Middle East on the SOT Alumni Portal. “In July 2020, we held our first online mission trip with the church in Laguna and Batangas. Our members, especially those trained in SOT, taught Bible study, preached the Word, shared testimonies, gave offering messages and led praise and worship,” he shared.
“We have more online mission trips planned for 2021 and our members are excited to serve God again. The SOT graduates will once again take turns to lead the teams for the various online missions.”
CONNECTING WITH THE SOT ALUMNI
“In June and July this year, we held early morning prayer meetings for the alumni in both English and Mandarin,” Cindy recounted. “In September, we launched our SOT Alumni Portal to connect with our alumni from all around the world.”
Abby Shai, a local SOT alumni, testified about how God moved in an impossible work situation after the early morning prayer meeting.
“God gave me strength, wisdom and understanding to manage the entire meeting. There were many last-minute hiccups, but my team worked together, and in the end, the meeting was a huge success,” Abby said. “I was rewarded with a good bonus and my boss bought meals for my team for three days to encourage us. All these will not be possible without the favour of God and man.”
On the SOT Alumni site, users can leave a prayer request to have Pastor Bobby and the SOT team intercede on their behalf. The SOT team added a sweet touch to the replies by recording a voice message of the prayer and sending it to the user.
“They were pleasantly surprised when they were greeted with a video-recorded prayer, as they might have been expecting a standardised reply. Some of them even wrote back to say that they were very encouraged by the prayer video and it really encouraged them during their difficult time,” shared Cindy.
The SOT team has continued to reach out to the “highways and byways” through digital means to reconnect with the SOT alumni, to encourage them, provide guidance where needed and to stay connected.
More is planned for the alumni, including an online devotional session in December, and classes in 2022.
REACHING CHILDREN OVERSEAS
Another ministry that has found creative ways to do missions work is Harvest Kidz, CHC’s children ministry. Because of the travel restrictions, we cannot go overseas for missions,” Eileen Toh, Harvest Kidz’s pastor told the church during the weekend of Oct 16 and 17. “We have Harvest Kidz lessons online and by the grace of God, we managed to translate them to Hindi.”
Since September this year, Harvest Kidz has been sharing its videos on YouTube, reaching Hindi-speaking children in India.
During Children’s Day this year, Harvest Kidz collaborated with pastors in four different slum areas in India to hold a celebration for the children. The pastors made banners and laid a ground sheet for the little children to gather and participate in the special Children’s Day programme online.
After the service, the children received packets of food sponsored by Harvest Kidz. “The pastor was telling me that the children were so happy because they were so hungry. They were very thankful to have food so readily available for them,” Pastor Eileen shared.
Besides India, the Children’s Day special programme also reached children in Myanmar, Indonesia, the Philippines, as well as Singapore. In total, 641 children gave their hearts to Jesus that weekend.
Harvest Kidz also has plans to start another YouTube channel, with their lessons translated to Telegu, another language spoken in India.
People need the Lord. That is the reason why members in CHC continues to embark on their missionary works even when they cannot cross borders. When there is a will, there will always be a way.