If 2021 felt like an extension of 2020, we don’t blame you. But as the Bible tells us, in every thing, give thanks, City News takes a look back at the best things that happened last year.
It was an eventful 2021—and not in a good way, mostly. Last year the world continued to battle COVID-19 and its myriad effects on the global economy, countries and individuals’ minds and hearts. However, as Christians, we hold on to God’s promises of deliverance and salvation, and as we enter into 2022, we look back at the best of 2021 for City Harvest Church.
Senior pastor Kong Hee launched the new year with his 2021 vision for CHC: to be intentional in cultivating Christlikeness, unconditional love and in marketplace discipleship.
In March, he—together with his wife Sun, executive pastors Bobby Chaw and Aries Zulkarnain and Pastor Wu Yuzhuang—strengthened the vision by giving the church the “blueprint for CHC” in a special Coffee With Kong edition of the weekend service.
Pastor Kong taught that every church needs to focus on doctrine, experience and practice; he reminded the church a Christian has a responsibility to grow in knowledge, spirituality and ethics. Knowledge is the study of God—theology— while spirituality is how a Christian lives his life with God every single day.
He also emphasised the importance of sound doctrine, which guides a Christian in navigating issues that arise in modern society. With that, he clarified that CHC is a Protestant, Evangelical and Pentecostal church, which defines its set of beliefs.
Following a month-long silent retreat with Sun, Pastor Kong conducted four similar spiritual retreats for CHC leaders over March and April. Each gadget-free, safety-measure-compliant retreat was held at YWCA Fort Canning and spanned four days.
In May, the pastor launched Bible study sessions with various leadership groups in the church, focusing on the importance of spending time with God. This yielded good results, with many other leaders and members of the church catching the vision and embarking on their own silence and solitude retreats.
Easter 2021 welcomed CHC’s beloved drama ministry back on stage. Given COVID, these two years had made things hard for DM to stage their highly anticipated productions. But drama directors Jaslynn Khoo and Sandy Yeo took up the challenge to work within safety management measures and were proud to present last year’s Easter drama production, The One.
“We felt that the congregation missed watching the dramas on stage,” said Jaslynn. “We knew they would appreciate the live performance. [Additionally] We wanted our ministry members to feel more involved as artists; we also wanted to create and hone our craft. So, a live production was important for the church and our ministry members.”
They decided to keep the cast small—only six live actors—and the drama short. In spite of it all, the result was a heartfelt intimate drama that touched the hearts of churchgoers both present at church and watching on webcast.
In April, Pastor Kong and Sun led the church in an early morning prayer meeting through the CHC App. The chat room held 1,000 participants on video, while some 400 members joined the meeting daily through the live audio feed.
Each morning, Pastor Kong and Sun began with a time of worship, with Pastor strumming on his guitar. The setup was simple, but the presence of God was powerful. As the members lingered in His presence, the Lord showed up to many in their own rooms.
Pastor Kong and Sun then conducted a short devotion, sharing their personal encounters with God. Following that was a time of intercession: the pastors prayed for prayer requests—for healing, restoration of finances and businesses, family salvations—that poured in. Those who attended the prayer meetings shared that they were refreshed by the time spent in prayer, while many also received answers to their prayers shortly after the EMPM.
For the youths of CHC, June is traditionally the most exciting time of the year as it is Emerge season, with the highlight being the youth camps. However, in this COVID era, Emerge youths have been confined to the boundaries of their own homes the last two years.
In 2021, instead of gathering for camps physically, “camps” were held over Zoom. While it was completely different from a physical camp, there was still much anticipation since there were no camps—actual or virtual—held in 2020.
As the year progressed, Emerge resumed its on-site activities gradually. Oct 24 marked the day Emerge held its first on-site meeting last year. The youths were eager to immerse in the vibrant atmosphere at the Emerge Prayer Meeting once again—nothing beats encountering God in His sanctuary.
The two-and-a-half-hour prayer meeting ended all too quickly for many. They had arrived hungry for God and they left spiritually nourished and blessed by His presence. Many young people who had lost their fire for God because of isolation during the pandemic were stirred in their spirit again. Some of them are now eager to restart campus prayer meetings in their schools.
In August 2021, Pastor Kong shared with the church the importance of reaching the poor and needy beyond its four walls—a call that he and Sun first heard in the 90s that led to the launch of Church Without Walls and the start of what are key ministries today at CHC.
Out of this clarion call, 11 initiatives sprouted, starting with the four inceptive Church Without Wall ministries—Harvest Kidz, the ministry to the elderly, JAMs (the ministry to the intellectually challenged) and youths at risk.
The new initiatives take Church Without Walls out to even more different corners of society—from single moms and low-income children who have never celebrated their birthdays, to sex workers and foreign workers.
Catching this fire, CHC’s overseas churches in The Harvest Network also embarked on CWW projects to bless their own communities. The initiatives will continue in 2022, with the hope of reaching even more people in need.
“For a while now, we have been thinking about intentionally connecting the alumni, to know what’s happening with one another, and to support each other, both locally and on an international scale,” explains Pastor Bobby Chaw, the Principal of SOT.
“The purpose of the portal is for SOT to connect with its graduates,” he adds, “To stay connected to one another in Christ, to enjoy mutual communication and encouragement. Together we form a community, and eventually, we can serve the Lord together.”
The SOT Alumni portal, launched in September 2021, is bilingual—English and Mandarin—and it features devotions by pastors, stories and testimonies from the alumni, as well as a section providing tips from both SOT staff and alumni that will encourage readers. Members can share their stories or submit a prayer request on the site as well. SOT alumni are encouraged to register and sign in to the SOT Alumni Portal and stay connected and in the know.
The Harvest Network held its inaugural Virtual Missions 2021 conference on 30 Nov and 1 Dec 2021, drawing 4,586 participants from 54 churches across the world. Pastor Kong kickstarted the conference with an online early morning prayer meeting at 6 am. The prayer meeting started with a time of worship and Pastor Kong invited the participants to submit their prayer requests on the Zoom chat function.
During the Encounter Night sessions, CHC’s worship team, CityWorship led the THN churches in a time of seeking God. Both nights, the presence of God transcended the Internet and reached the worshipers across the countries. CHC pastors encouraged the THN churches with prophecies, urging them to get ready for the next wave of revival.
After the Encounter Night, two workshops followed before ending with a late night prayer meeting each night, led by Pastor Kong and Sun.
One of the most exciting things that happened in 2021 was the return of on-site services that could seat 1,000 churchgoers, starting 11 Dec 2021. Since the end of 2020, CHC had been holding on-site weekend services at the smaller Hall 606 for a maximum of 250 churchgoers, but this meant that members could not be physically in church for most of the year.
When Singapore entered Phase 3 of the reopening in March, Harvest Kidz, JAMs and Dialect services resumed in-person services. It was momentous as these more vulnerable members of society, many of whom had limited access to online platforms, could finally attend church in person. It was a lot of work for the ministry workers but seeing the smiles of their members physically, made all the effort worthwhile.
The act of being baptised was made extra special for 465 CHC members in 2021. Not only did they get to be water baptised over the Christmas weekend, it was also the first-ever water baptism service held at Suntec Singapore. Little wonder CHC saw the largest group of water baptism candidates in the history of the church that weekend.