Candlelight services hold a special place in the hearts of CHC members. Pastor Kong Hee preached a message of faith, encouraging the church to believe, trust and surrender to God in tough times.
City Harvest Church held its Candlelight Service last weekend (on Dec 18 and 19). The church had just moved its on-site services into the main Hall at Suntec Singapore just a week ago, and for the first time since Covid hit, the on-site service could accommodate up to 1,000 congregants.
CityWorship kicked off the service with a familiar Christmas tune “Rejoice” by LIFE Worship and this was accompanied by a beautiful graphics display—holly-themed wreath and glitter—on the large LED screen. The atmosphere was filled with warmth and goodwill.
City Harvest’s Church’s senior pastor, Kong Hee started his message with a video showing The Harvest Network’s Church Without Walls initiatives in different countries. This project involved the members of the THN churches giving out groceries, as well as visiting and befriending the poor and needy—some of whom lived in slums and shelters.
Pastor Kong shared that the churches were able to reach many homeless who go cold and hungry in the winter season. He thanked the CHC congregation for their contributions—as a result of their tithes and giving, more than 21,000 lives were blessed by this project.
THE PURPOSE OF GOING THROUGH DARK SEASONS
Pastor Kong started his sermon by reminding the church of how Jesus came to the earth as a baby during the Winter Solstice, the longest and darkest time of the year.
“God uses Christmas to remind us that when we go through dark times, He is always near and working for our good,” Pastor Kong preached. “The truth is, all of us go through dark seasons.”
The good news is, God uses these dark seasons to transform a believer’s life. In John 12, Jesus likens a person’s life to a seed—it has great potential, but it cannot germinate in the light.
“As long as the seed stays on the shelf, it can never become what it was created to be,” Pastor Kong noted. “You must plant the seed in the soil, in a dark place, so that what is on the inside will come to life.”
Isaiah 45:3 reads, “I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places.” It is only in times of darkness or affliction that a believer can develop his spiritual fruits. Pastor Kong gave some examples—only in delays can one learn forbearance, patience and how to wait on the Lord. In this way, affliction is like a spiritual gym where one grows spiritually fit.
Adversities teach one to reevaluate priorities and have a new appreciation of the people around. “And when you have gone through enough dark seasons, you won’t complain as much about the little things in life,” the pastor added.
Last year, Pastor Kong found that he had a tumour in his throat. A biopsy was done to determine if the tumour was malign or benign. Needless to say, his loved ones were concerned. However, Pastor Kong felt at peace with the Lord. The tumour turned out to be benign.
The incident reminded Pastor Kong that the trials he had gone through in the last decade had strengthened his faith in God. While he did not like going through the dark times, that period had made him more broken, more spiritual and closer to God.
WHAT TO DO WHILE GOING THROUGH A DARK SEASON
When in a dark place, there are three things one should do and this could be summed up in the acronym “B.T.S.”. Firstly, B stands for Believe. Isaiah 9:6 reads, “And He will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Jesus is wonderful in that that He will surprise His believers with good things in their darkest times. He is the Counsellor, who will lead His children into their breakthroughs. Pastor Kong reminded the church that people and situations do not determine their destinies—only God does. “A bad season does not define your life, God always has the final say,” Pastor Kong asserted.
Next, T is for Trust. “This means you learn to be patient. You wait, you persevere, you trust that God knows what He is doing,” Pastor Kong taught.
He noted that King David asked God to enlarge his heart when he was distressed. “Learn to trust in God’s timing, He has a perfect timing for everything,” the pastor added. “Tell the Lord, ‘I’m in a dark place, even though I may not see it, I believe You’re working everything for my good.”
Finally, S is for surrender. “Having done all—praying, believing, confessing and trusting—you must learn to surrender the outcome to Him,” Pastor Kong taught.
Abraham was a good role model in this aspect. God had promised him that his descendants would be as many as the stars in the sky and gave him a vision for the new Jerusalem. Yet in his lifetime, only the promise of receiving a son was fulfilled and Abraham did not get to see the rest of God’s promises come to pass. The heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11:6 died without receiving their promises. Yet, they never once doubted God or lost the vision and the Bible said they died in faith.
Pastor Kong warned against having the mindset that God would guarantee a believer’s success just because he has faith and end up getting disappointed when things do not work out the way he expected. “When you believe and trust someone, it’s always for better or for worse,” he elaborated. “You stay in faith every day and whatever the outcome, you joyfully surrender to Him.”
In conclusion, Pastor Kong shared a beautiful testimony of how God restored his family through a dark season. In 1995, Pastor Kong’s mother suffered a massive stroke that took away her ability to speak. God brought her back from certain death but did not heal her completely.
However, the silver lining was that the relationship between her and her husband changed after the stroke. Pastor Kong said that his parents had been estranged for 25 years, yet because of this crisis, their love for each other was rekindled. Their marriage was healed and restored for the last 26 years. They also received salvation and with that came reconciliation in the whole family.
“God used something very bad and turned it around for our good,” the pastor said in conclusion. He encouraged the church to continue trusting in God even when bad things happen and over time, something beautiful will bloom.
The service ended with the lighting of candles, creating a beautiful cathedral of lights throughout the hall. It was a marvel to see flames kindling one by one, filling up the darkness with light—to the familiar tunes of “O Holy Night” and “Silent Night”.
Christmas is indeed a time of rekindling, not just with physical lights or decorations on the outside but more importantly, with the light of Christ within. Sun Ho, CHC’s executive pastor, encouraged the church saying that 2022 will be better.