As part of the Church Without Walls initiatives, groups of City Harvest Church members spent this Christmas blessing the poor and needy.
Christmas is a season of spreading joy and laughter. This Christmas, many City Harvest Church members understood the meaning of “it is more blessed to give than to receive” more deeply. Under the Church Without Walls initiative, Harvest Kidz, JAMs Service, Dialect Service and Chinese Service all sought to bring cheer to families in need with gifts and special surprises.
CHINESE SERVICE: “GOD REMEMBERS THEM”
CHC’s Chinese Service launched its Visitation Ministry back in 2018. When CHC’s senior pastor, Kong Hee shared about the various CWW initiatives that the church was embarking on, 319 volunteers from the Chinese congregation decided to commit themselves to visit 114 homes, deliver gift packs and share the love of Jesus.
On the weekend of Dec 11 and 12, Pastor Kong invited Sun Aizhen, a pastor in the Chinese Service, onstage to share about the Visitation Ministry. At the end of her sharing, she appealed to CHC members to write in if they wanted the Chinese congregation to visit their Chinese-speaking parents, who have yet to receive Christ, to visit them, pray for their needs, and share the gospel with them.
The response was overwhelming. Requests started pouring in over the week and they had over 80 families on their list at the time this article was written. A total of 104 volunteers were mobilised to visit these families. Among these were 20 members from Pastor Bobby Chaw’s English-speaking cell groups.
Jeremy Sim, 37, was one of them. “My team of four members was assigned to visit three individuals,” he shared in Mandarin. Jeremy shared that they had a few objectives for each visit. The first was to bring Christmas cheer in the form of a large bag of gifts. “We brought a big bag of food prepared by the church. There was a pack of Milo, dried goods, canned food, snacks and two bottles of bird nests,” Jeremy listed.
The next thing the team wanted to do was to connect with the person they were visiting and pray for their needs. They would then invite them to the Christmas services.
Through the visitation, Jeremy was reminded of God’s goodness. “I got to know Christ when I was in university. In the past, I was against Christians as I found them to be very aggressive. Back then, I was very bad-tempered. I also had a gambling problem which almost cost me my degree,” he recounted.
“Thankfully, I received Christ in my last semester and my life turned around. God sent different ones to share the gospel with me and bring me to the church. After receiving Christ, I managed to kick my bad habits,” he added.
“When I saw the names of those we were going to visit, I was very touched. Because Jesus remembers these people; just like how He remembered me all in those days when my life was a mess. Even though I had a lot of problems—I was even against His people—God remembered me,” he said. “I know that God remembers them and is reaching them through their family members and through volunteers like us.”
DIALECT SERVICE ADOPTED THE ELDERLY’S WISHES
Championed by Maria Tok, the pastor who oversees CHC’s Dialect Service, the Adopt-A-Wish project’s objective was to show the elderly that they are loved, cared for and appreciated.
Pastor Maria shared, “Through Adopt-a-Wish, we hope to tell them they are valued for the role they play in our lives and that they are very precious to God.”
This year, 42 cell groups were involved in blessing 100 elderly, by adopting their unique wishes and fulfilling them over the holiday season.
Adrian Tang and Jane Ty, 46 and 45, from N149, together with 17 others from their cell group signed up to volunteer in this project when Pastor Maria shared about it during one of the weekend services. The elderly woman they were assigned to bless was Madam Poh, 72 years old, and her wish was to have a new microwave—hers had stopped working five months ago and she had no means to remove or replace it.
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, not all 17 members could visit the elderly woman. While the five visitation slots were quickly snapped up, the remaining we members continued to contribute ideas as well as finances.
On the day the volunteers visited her, Madam Poh was all smiles seeing that her wish was granted. She was also blessed by the additional surprise prepared by the cell group—groceries and even two sets of brand-new clothes.
Jane noted that Madam Poh was “full of joy” and “singing praises” of the church, especially of all that the Dialect service staff and volunteers had done for her. Having been in church since its Jurong West days, she was thankful to Jesus and the church for being a great blessing in her life.
Speaking on the significance of the Adopt-a-Wish project, Jane shared that it was meaningful to “bring hope and joy to someone who is feeling low or lonely, or someone who might be feeling hopeless about a situation. In a way, it is bringing the love of God to them.”
HARVEST KIDZ GAVE OUT BOXES OF LOVE
For the Box of Love project, organised by Harvest Kidz, CHC members delivered boxes of Christmas gifts to low income and needy families. The boxes contained cookies, snacks, Christmas cards and wooden toys. By delivering these personally, Harvest Kidz hopes that the personal touch and physical presence would bring cheer over the Christmas season.
Lynn Tan, a pastor in Harvest Kidz shared that many of the children had a tough time over these two years as the world grappled with COVID-19. A number of parents experienced a job loss or drastic reduction in income. She hoped that through this initiative, the church can bring love, cheer and smiles to their faces this Christmas season. She is also especially thankful to all the volunteers from 42 cell groups who went out of their way to deliver the Box of Love goodies to 342 children.
Nine cell group members from E481 volunteered for the Box of Love initiative. Among them were three young children aged 6 to 7-years-old. Altogether, they blessed 13 families with the Box of Love delivery. Every cell group member had a different role—Ruth Ong, in her 40s, coordinated the scheduling while James Tan, in his 40s, was the driver. Their children acted as Santa’s little helpers! The parents found it heartening to see their own children excited about blessing the families.
Cell group leader, Jack Chen, in his 30s, felt it was important to set a good example to children, and ensure that the Church Without Walls legacy carries on to the next generation. His cell group member, Jacinta Tan, in her 40s, was part of the original CWW movement in the 1980s, “We could take a step back and ignore the needs saying that we have other commitments or that other organisations are also doing it. But instead, we should do whatever we can, within our means,” she reflected.
Ruth shared that her inspiration was always from God’s Word. 1 Corinthians 13 reads, “If I have not love, I am nothing”. In this CWW project, she recounted, “We have been given an opportunity to serve and to fulfil what the Word of God says about loving people. Why not? Instead of spending another hour at home watching Netflix.”
12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS WITH JAMS
CHC’s JAMs Service (Jesus for All Minds), led by Pastor Lily Yong and her team of dedicated volunteers, organised a 12 Days of Christmas project to bless the intellectually disabled members who come from single-parent families. Knowing that it is hard for single parents to care for intellectually disabled children over the holidays, Pastor Lily wanted to do something nice for them.
For the 12 Days of Christmas project, each cell group was involved in bringing a member and his or her parent or caregiver for an outing to show the whole family that they are loved and not forgotten. The family was given a choice of a Christmas meal or visiting a place of interest.
A total of nine cell groups were involved in blessing 15 families over the Christmas season. One of the members who took part in the project was Jenevieve Lee, 39, from W189. Jenevieve is a long-time volunteer in the JAMs ministry. This year, she roped in her cell group to serve in the 12 Days of Christmas project. Due to the safe distancing measures, some of the JAMs members have been unable to attend church service. With this project, it was all about bringing a piece of Christmas to them.
Jenevieve shared that every year, her cell group would organise a gift exchange among themselves. This year, they wanted to make Christmas more meaningful—instead of exchanging gifts with one another, they decided to pool together their resources and bless families in need.
W189 was involved in blessing two families. The first family belonged to a JAMs member who was unable to leave home. The cell group brought his grandmother out for a cable car ride; and prepared a football jersey from his favourite football club as a Christmas gift for him. The cable car ride was especially significant to the grandmother as she had not been on a cable car for over 10 years. “Grandma also shared that the last time she took the cable car, she took it with her grandson (the JAMs member), so it was extra special for her,” Jenevieve shared.
The cell group organized a Christmas party for the JAMs member. The member’s caregiver said that she did not expect such a celebration with decorations, food, log cake and gifts. Nobody had done this for them before and it was such a memorable day for her and her child. It was the best Christmas celebration since the pandemic started.
Jenevieve noted that these small gestures, even though just a few hours, was able to bring much joy to the families. “Jesus is love”, she says. “Of course, we should show love always, but Christmas is really the season of giving. We should not be self-centred but look out beyond the church and see the needs out there.”
True enough, through this project, many of the cell group members were themselves blessed and impacted.
Eileen See, 39, Jenevieve’s cell group member said, “It was really an enjoyable celebration. We were there to bless but ended up experiencing so much joy ourselves. The JAMs member even said a short prayer to bless all of us after we prayed for him and his father. We came to love him, but he was the one who poured us his love on us with his hugs.”