To stay connected with the pastors in its overseas network, CHC’s senior pastor, Kong Hee and missions director, Bobby Chaw started Bible study lessons online.
In City Harvest Church, doing missions is more than sending members on short-term mission trips. It is also connecting with its network of affiliated churches and associates in different cities around the world.
The Harvest Network (THN) is a community of churches and ministry leaders connected to City Harvest Church in Singapore, through the leadership of the church’s senior pastor Kong Hee. By providing discipleship, training, and consistent spiritual guidance to pastors and key leaders of churches affiliated with CHC, THN aims to help these pastors to understand and live out the fullness of God’s plan for their lives and ministries.
At its launch in 2018, Bobby Chaw, CHC’s missions director explained that THN aims do three things: one, to be an environment for communication and connection. Two, to be a channel to communicate key church policies and provide resources. And three, to be a platform to preserve God’s grace and mandate.
For this reason, the church is committed to connecting with the churches even in the midst of the pandemic. Since April this year, Pastor Kong and Pastor Bobby had been studying the Bible with the THN church leaders from different regions. They studied topics on revival, Protestantism, the importance of spending time with God in silence and solitude, as well as life lessons from Bible characters such as Gideon, Abraham and Sarah.
REVISITING BIBLICAL TRUTHS
The senior pastor of Quezon City Dwelling Place Global City Church in the Philippines, Tumaque Reynaldo Trinidad, better known as Pastor Bong, is a student in Pastor Bobby’s Bible study class.
“As a pastor, it’s a great blessing to be a part of THN, to be able to learn from Pastor Kong and Pastor Bobby. Pastor Bobby shares the Bible study in a different way and it’s so fun. I didn’t even notice the time passing until Pastor Bobby says, ‘That’s all for now,’” he shared. “We want to learn more.”
Jonathan Chen, senior pastor of Life Harvest Church, located in Yilan, Taiwan also found Pastor Bobby’s lessons engaging and captivating. “From Pastor Bobby’s lessons, I saw that Bible study lessons can be lively and Interesting,” he says in Mandarin. “The experience is very different,” he shares in Mandarin
He adds that prior to observing the way Pastor Bobby taught, his own lessons were dry and “could get a little boring for my members. I think they don’t really look forward to my lessons. From Pastor Bobby’s lessons, I learned that the way I teach should be captivating my members.”
Pastor Jonathan looks forward to every lesson of the Bible study. “As pastors, we are giving most of the time. In the Bible study, I’m a student and can simply learn and receive in those 90 minutes.”
Lin Bo Xiong, senior pastor of Fire Harvest Church in Taichung, Taiwan attends the Bible study class taught by Pastor Kong. “Every lesson was impactful to me,” the pastor shares in Mandarin. “From the start, Pastor Kong taught us how to build our church and shared some of his experiences with us, cautioning us not to go down the wrong path. He taught the doctrines in detail—what is purity, how not to waver in our passion for God, supernatural works of God, unity of the church, worship, the Holy Spirit among others.”
THE REVELATIONS THAT CHANGED OUR LIVES
Each pastor took away their own revelation from the many topics that were taught. For Pastor Bo Xiong, it was the lesson on spending time with God that spoke to him the most.
“There was this lesson where Pastor taught us to rest in God and not be overly busy. For me, I have a full-time job in the day and ministry starts after work hours. Every day, I’ll be in church for prayer meetings, Bible studies and other meetings. There was a point in time where I was constantly very busy. In the Bible study lesson, I was reminded to slow down,” the pastor shares.
“I used to think that serving God means that I have to pack my schedule with many activities. But I realised eventually that I was burning myself out. I was also very strict with my staff. I felt that if I can come to church to serve God after a long day at work, they too should do more. After the Bible study lessons, I realise it’s getting too much for everyone and I needed to slow things down.”
Pastor Bo Xiong stopped many of the Bible studies to give his staff members time to rest, and to seek God. “Even for myself, I start to free up my time so that I can spend more time with God, to draw closer to Him. This lesson has impacted me greatly and caused me to make many adjustments in my life. Unknowingly, I had become too anxious in doing many things and hurt my staff along the way. I had a meal with them and apologised. I feel more relaxed now, I hope they feel the same!”
The lesson that encouraged Pastor Jonathan the most is from the story of Gideon. Pastor Bobby used Gideon to teach about leadership. “Maybe it was because COVID-19 only became a concern for us in Taiwan only around May this year, even though the rest of the world had felt its impact since last year. The Taiwanese churches have been going through a challenging time in this half a year,” he shares.
When Taiwan went into lockdown, the churches had to stop their on-site services and go online. Recently, the churches had opened their doors to the members again but not all their members had returned. Even for those who had returned, many of their hearts had grown cold.
The Taiwanese churches were going through that tough period when Pastor Bobby taught the story of Gideon. What encouraged him most was that while the army of Gideon started with 32,000 soldiers, God only needed 300 of them to fight the Midianites in the end.
“As I began to meditate on Gideon’s story after the lesson, I received a rhema word from God encouraging me that God can use an imperfect leader to revive a whole generation—if only he is willing to obey God.”
For Pastor Bong, it was the story of Abraham that touched his heart. “I remember that I almost cried when Pastor Bobby was sharing on Abraham. It’s not easy to obey—especially if you have good job offers (but God wants you to serve Him instead) but Abraham teaches us to believe and let God do the rest,” the pastor says.
“These past months had been very hard for me as a pastor because a member’s mum died. One week later, her sister died. As a pastor, I don’t have any right words to say and I cannot visit them because of the movement restriction,” Pastor Bong recalls.
“In the Bible study, I learned about how Abraham obeyed God even when it was not easy emotionally. I shared that with them. I told them that I know it’s not easy for them, but the most important thing is that God still sits on the throne. Abraham didn’t understand why God is asking for Isaac at that time, but he chose to obey. I told my member’s family that sometimes even when we don’t understand, we must learn to trust God. Then, I cried with them and prayed for the peace that surpasses all understanding to come upon them.”
ENCOURAGEMENT DURING THE PANDEMIC
Besides gaining Bible knowledge, the Bible study lessons had also become a time of rest and fellowship among the pastors. “Usually, we will have a time of fellowship before and after the Bible study, so we get to hear about what is happening in the other cities. It allows us to hear about what other pastors are going through and it gives us an opportunity to build relationships with other pastors,” Pastor Jonathan says.
Pastor Bong shares the same sentiment. “Hearing from the other pastors, their report or testimony, I know that we are all experiencing a different type of change when it comes to COVID-19. Sometimes I think that people in Singapore or Malaysia are very blessed but hearing about how they fight COVID-19 and how the churches were also closed, I feel in my spirit that I’m not alone. I’m blessed when I hear how their faith and prayers had worked for them—it is a great encouragement to me” he says.
“I feel very blessed and accepted in the fellowship,” Pastor Bo Xiong says. “Pastor Kong gives us a chance to share our own opinions and perspective in an atmosphere of love. He never criticises us; he will accept our opinions and guide us towards the right path.”
He adds, “These lessons not only gave us a better understanding of the word of God, but it also drew the pastors closer together. Before the lesson, Pastor Kong will always ask about us. He will remember our birthdays, our needs, our church anniversaries, who is giving birth and so on. I feel that we are more connected now and it causes us to realise that we are not serving God alone, we have a whole network supporting us.”
To connect with the members in CHC’s THN churches, the church is organizing its first Virtual Missions on Nov 30 and Dec 1. Over 5,000 members from 54 churches in 13 countries have signed up for the full-day event. Besides prayer meetings, there will also be over 100 workshops covering topics from different aspects of building a church to excelling in the marketplace.
“It really isn’t easy for us during the pandemic. In the past, we would visit Singapore and CHC frequently to rest and also to enjoy the friendship there and feel the connection. Through the Bible study, I can sense the love CHC has for us. Even in the midst of the pandemic, CHC reaches out to connect with us,” Pastor Jonathan says. “It makes us feel very loved.”