On Christmas weekend in 2021, 465 members in City Harvest Church got water baptised—the largest batch of baptism candidates to date.
Water baptism is a significant milestone in every Christian’s journey with God—identifying with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was made extra special for 465 City Harvest Church members in 2021 for a few reasons: it was held over the Christmas weekend, it was the first-ever water baptism service in Suntec Singapore, and the number of water baptism candidates was the highest in the church’s church history.
Sharing about this special baptism in an interview with City News, CHC’s senior pastor, Kong Hee said that he was happy to see that “we are all obeying Jesus. After conversion, the first instruction Jesus gives us is to be baptised.”
Romans 6:4 reads, “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
Pastor Kong continued, “I am very excited because this is the great commission and I am thankful that I can fulfil it—what a privilege it is to be able to play a part in somebody’s salvation journey. It’s a tremendous honour!”
BEHIND THE SCENES
Due to COVID-19, the quarterly baptism services, commonly held at the church’s Jurong West premises with the baptism pool, were affected. Having a special water baptism service during the Christmas season was a way to encourage members to take this next and important step in their faith journey.
The water baptism service started with the candidates, together with their friends and families, gathering in Hall 606, for a time of worship to God. The water baptism candidates were then led in a series of faith declarations. Thereafter, they made their way in groups to Hall 605 where they entered the pool one by one to be water baptised by Pastor Kong in one of three massive pools. Those waiting in Hall 606 were able to view the baptism happening in Hall 605 via a live broadcast on the LED screen.
The whole water baptism service took no longer than an hour, but the preparations began months before. The first thing on the operations team’s list was to source for the huge temporary pools which had to be durable enough to contain water over a long period. They also had to find ways to change out the water after each baptism session.
The solution was to set up three massive inflatable pools in Hall 605. The three pools were filled via water pipes connected to a water truck in the loading bay to change out the water in the pool after each water baptism session. The three pools were used in rotation so that the operations team had time to refresh the water in the pool efficiently after each session.
The step ladder that led candidates in and out of the pool was also specially made to ensure the safety of the water baptism candidates.
Finalising the set-up was only the beginning—many laborious steps followed, such as ensuring the pool held up, fine-tuning the order of service, and other small details that went into making the process a smooth one. Bringing a water tank into Suntec added to the list of challenges.
Lim Wee Lee, 43, CHC’s facilities manager shared that in spite of all these “unexpected” and “complicated” steps, he was “very happy that over 400 members had a wonderful Christmas memory of being water baptised in the hall.”
He added, “I was in the first batch of water baptism candidates to get baptised in our Jurong building, and I remember it for life. We’ve been unable to gather regularly in Suntec Singapore these two years because of COVID-19, and I know that being baptised here holds a special significance.”
The entire process required a great team of willing workers with excellent problem-solving skills. Woo Zhi Shen, 31, CHC’s events executive, reflected that “indeed every joint supplies”. He noted that since the whole process was “something new, minor hiccups were inevitable. We needed everyone to be on the ball in coming up with solutions.”
Adrian Chueng, 42, CHC’s senior facilities management executive agreed that it was all hands on deck when it came to organising the first water baptism service in Suntec. “It was amazing how everything came together in the end. It’s really God’s grace,” he shared, adding a shout-out to CHC’s creative and graphics department who added the festive decorations to the pool area. “Without their special magic, it wouldn’t be so beautiful.”
Ushers and security were also key in the whole process—104 ushers and 39 security personnel served in the three days, managing the efficient flow of the 13 water baptism services over the three days.
FAMILIES GET WATER BAPTISED TOGETHER
This water baptism saw married couples and family members getting water baptised together.
Celeste Lim, Zelda Lim and Celine Lim—three sisters from the pastoral zone led by Ee Zhenying, shared how this day meant a lot to them because their mother, who is not a believer, was there to support them. For many years, she had not been keen on them getting baptized; however, they wanted her to be present on this special day. To their pleasant surprise, she agreed to be there.
For another Lim family, the baptism was a special occasion as both grandfather, Richard Lim Kay Teck, 73, and granddaughter Alexia Bella Lim, 10, were water baptised.
Alexia’s mother, Priscilla Lim, 41, shared, “When Pastor Kong announced that there was going to be water baptism on this significant and meaningful date, we asked my daughter and my father-in-law if they wanted to get baptized. It’s even more meaningful because my mother-in-law just passed away. So going through that grief just a few weeks ago, and now, being baptised and fully identifying with Christ is really significant for the family.”
Benjamin Poh, 31 and Eunice Tan, 30 from the pastoral zone led by Catherine Lee, also shared their experience being water baptised together as a married couple.
Eunice Tan shared, “I feel that to us, it’s like embarking on a new life together and bringing God into our marriage, being much closer to God. We got married because of God and now we are, in a way, married to God.”
This Christmas baptism was also heartwarming for many CHC staff who saw their own children getting water baptised.
Sandra Tan, 42, CHC’s policy manager said, “I am so proud of my three kids—Zoie is 8, Xavier 10 and Jayvon 13—they were all water baptised during the Christmas weekend. It is made extra special because they all decided to go for it together. Because of their baptism, we had 14 other family members join us for church service that day, many of whom aren’t believers yet.”
Klessis Lee, 43, CHC’s procurement executive shared, “I feel really proud of my girls for taking that step of faith to get water baptised and to continue to stay committed to the Lord on this journey. It is my greatest desire to see them experience the love, joy and satisfaction in the Lord all the days of their lives!”
Her daughters Joey Aiko Kuan, 16, and Jayne Arabelle Kuan, 13, both shared that the water baptism was very meaningful and it was a day they would not forget.
Tan Kim Hock, School of Theology’s academic dean summed it up well, “One of the greatest joys of a Christian parent is to see their children making a personal commitment to Jesus Christ, not out of obligation, rather a personal encounter with God. May the Lord guide our children in their journey of faith.”
Aries Zulkarnain, CHC’s Executive Pastor, shared that “Coby decided on his own to get water baptism. We know that it is the beginning of the process of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. My prayer is that Coby will continue to grow more and more like Jesus.”
Pauline Kong, 41, a pastoral supervisor shared, “My husband and I are extremely proud of my children going for water baptism. They were initially shy to do this in front of so many people. After they prayed, both of them said God spoke to them to go for it. They said the experience was much better than they thought.”
Francis Lim, 48, Pastor Aries’ personal assistant, shared, “Christmas has taken on another whole new meaning. This day, my two kids have decided to identify with Christ with His birth, death and resurrection.
To be honest, I was more excited than I was for my own water baptism!”
Water Baptism For The Dialect Service
Meanwhile, over in the church’s Jurong West premises, the Dialect Service also held a water baptism service for five elderly members of their congregation. It was a joyous occasion for them and their families as their children have been praying for them for more than 10 years to be baptised.
Dialect Service pastor, Maria Tok noted, “God’s timing is perfect. Two of the baptism candidates are wheelchair-bound, and one of them was Uncle Thomas, who suffered from a stroke. Their family was so touched when they witnessed how the volunteers carried them into the water.”
She added, “Another baptism candidate was Auntie Jane. Even though she is undergoing chemotherapy due to her cancer and even has a feeding tube, she was so full of excitement and thanksgiving when it was her turn to be water baptised! What a glorious day.”