April 2022 marks 20 years since the first Crossover Project concert took place in Taipei, Taiwan. City News talks to four people who were there at the start about how the Crossover changed their lives and the lives around them. Photos by Michael Chan.
“I saw hundreds of young people running to the stage, responding to the altar call. I had never seen such a scene—young people responding to God. That moment impacted me until today.”
These are the words of Pastor Garrick Li, senior pastor of Christ Harvest Church in Taipei, Taiwan. Pastor Garrick was just a university student when he attended the Crossover concert in Taipei in 2002, and what he saw totally changed his perception of evangelism.
“Back then, the churches in Taiwan were very traditional,” he recalls. “The young people were not going to church. In my church at the time, I was the only university student; I was the youngest in the church.”
He had felt that pastors in Taiwan wanted to reach out to youth, but no one knew how to go about doing so. Until the Crossover concert happened.
“The concert was mind-blowing,” says Pastor Garrick, “because for the first time, we saw how a church could put up a production that was so professional. The songs were not gospel but secular. It shocked us and shifted our mentality. At that time, young people were not interested in anything that had to do with God, but the concert could draw so many of them.”
What happened in Taiwan was replicated across Asia that year—in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, and even Perth, Australia. Over the 100 concerts that were held, more than 140,000 people gave their hearts to Jesus.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CROSSOVER PROJECT
The genesis of the Crossover Project was in 1999 when, on a trip to preach in Taiwan, senior pastor of City Harvest Church, Kong Hee, discovered that there were nearly no young people in churches there. There, the Lord told Pastor Kong to bring a revival to Taiwan, and He would use it to touch the Chinese-speaking world.
In 2000, when Pastor Kong returned to Taiwan to minister, this time bringing his wife Sun to lead praise and worship, he discovered that despite a typhoon, many young people showed up just to watch Sun sing—apart from praise and worship, she also sang pop songs that were familiar to them.
It was a novel and certainly frightening idea: to use secular pop music to communicate the love of God to unchurched youth. God confirmed this four times through different events and people, before Pastor Kong and Sun embarked on this groundbreaking mission—the same word from Mark 4:35 was given to three of their mentors: “Come, let’s cross over to the other side.”
Doors opened miraculously for the Crossover: Sun received the offer of a music contract from someone working for Decca Records who had turned up at CHC one day and was moved by the praise and worship. In 2002, Sun recorded and released her first album, Sun With Love and followed that up with a concert tour.
The first Crossover concert was held at the National Taipei University Sports Complex, which was packed with more than 4,000 young people, most of whom had never stepped into a church. When Sun ended her set, she shared a personal story of the abuse she endured in her childhood and how Jesus saved her from her years of depression and brokenness. Pastor Kong then gave a simple altar call, and thousands upon thousands responded. It was an overwhelming outcome that nobody could have predicted.
This scene repeated itself in cities from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur, Medan to Perth. In Singapore, Sun’s multiple concerts over two days drew 30,700, with 10,140 people making a decision for Christ.
In the 25 months of the Crossover tour in Asia, more than half a million individuals were reached and over 140,000 salvations were recorded.
After that, the door to the US entertainment industry was open, and Sun achieved a string of Number One hits on the Billboard dance charts. Being successful in the US provided an opportunity to reach out to China, and to that end, the Crossover Project saw success: Sun’s participation in the 2007 Special Olympics Summer Games in Shanghai led to her being named as “Music Ambassador” for the 2008 Beijing Olympics Songfest. Her presence and influence allowed CHC to conduct a number of humanitarian projects in China, bringing support and the love of Christ to orphanages, schools, children’s hospitals, women’s shelters and earthquake disaster areas.
The Crossover Project was not without challenges. In every country the Crossover team entered, they were faced with resistance, both human and supernatural: demonic attacks, near-death encounters, severe health issues, media backlash against Sun’s pop star image since she was the wife of a pastor. The trial that Pastor Kong and five other members of the church went through in the 2010s was centred on the Crossover Project. But the fact remains that, despite it all, what God sent CHC out to do had been done.
Two decades have passed since that first concert in Taipei. The world, including the church world and evangelism, is vastly different. John 15:16 says, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain”.
One of the most powerful fruits of the Crossover was the transformation and subsequent ministry of the late Teddy Hung. Teddy had been a feared triad leader of the infamous 14K gang in Hong Kong since the ’80s. Any attempt to share the gospel with him would be mercilessly rebuffed. But in 2002, when he was invited to the Crossover concert in Hong Kong, Teddy found himself standing at the front of the stage during the altar call. The insomnia he had battled for years ended that night. His conversion took a number of years to take root—he struggled with giving up his old lifestyle—but one day, as he sat down to write his will, he had a dramatic encounter with God that took him to hell and to heaven. At the age of 64, Teddy turned his life around, cut off ties to his past life, went to Bible school, and spent the rest of his days in a powerful outreach to triad members like himself. He passed away in 2016 at the age of 70. (Read our 2012 interview with him)
To read more about the Crossover Project, click here
THE CROSSOVER SENT TAIWAN INTO REVIVAL
To this day, Pastor Garrick can still recall vividly how packed the stadium was that night in April 2002. At the end of the concert, Sun shared her testimony and Pastor Kong gave a short altar call, and the young university student witnessed the harvest of hundreds of souls that night.
That was also the moment God spoke to Pastor Garrick and called him to invest his life into the next generation, to raise up the next generation of young people. “God said that the obedience of a girl—Sun—resulted in such massive salvation in that generation,” he recalls. “I stood there thinking, ‘I too want to be found obedient to the calling of God.’”
What he saw in the stadium injected faith and hope into him, as well as a burden for the youth. “I felt that one day, I would do the same for our young people in Taiwan,” he says.
Standing in that stadium, Pastor Garrick felt that he was not the only one seeing with fresh eyes what outreach to youth could be; many pastors and church workers present at the same concert received a new revelation too.
“I think that they saw that church could actually be hip and cool, and at the same time spiritual, too—that was the first thing. The second thing was that they started to believe again that the church can grow,” he says.
“There was a shift in the spiritual realm of the Taiwan churches—we started to see that if one concert can bring so much salvation, we can do it. The faith to bring in miracles, revival, reaching out to the youth—the concert opened up a door for us to move out of our traditional ways.”
Since the Taiwan concerts, the youth ministry in Taiwan was never the same again—young people started coming to church. “Before that, when young people heard about becoming a follower of Jesus, they would feel that it’s boring. Who would want to be a Christian? But the revival started, and it became quite cool and hip to be a Christian,” recalls Pastor Garrick. “The other thing was, the young people started to realise that they had their own gifts and that talents and they start to desire to shine for Jesus in the world.”
Eight years ago, Pastor Garrick founded Christ Harvest Church, and today, 80 percent of its congregation are youth. “A lot of pastors and church workers in the youth ministry today were like me—just a university student, impacted by the Crossover concert. We are the fruits of that. Today, we see a lot of churches that have really strong youth ministry in Taiwan.”
Twenty years ago, The Crossover concert showed young people like Pastor Garrick a new way of life. Twenty years later, those young people became church workers who now teach the youth of today the same thing they experienced in that revival.
“We’re telling our young people that they are followers of Christ, they don’t have to live a boring life. They are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath; they can shine for Jesus in their school and campuses,” Pastor Garrick declares. “We tell them that they can be on fire, and they can use the gifts and talents that the Holy Spirit imparted into their lives to build the Kingdom of God.”
THE FIELDS ARE WHITE WITH HARVEST
Before the Crossover Project officially began, CHC had already been conducting revival conferences in Taiwan. Lulu Glenn was in one of these conferences when she learned about CHC’s School of Theology in Singapore and felt a leading to attend.
With the recommendation of her senior pastor, she came to Singapore in January 2002 as an SOT student and concurrently, working on staff in CHC. Effectively bilingual, Lulu began interpreting for Pastor Kong at SOT, and later, became part of the Crossover team in Taiwan, where she was a first-hand witness of all that God was doing through CHC there.
What most people saw and knew about the Crossover Project was the Crossover concerts, but there was hard work going on behind the scenes to ensure the success of the project. The Crossover Project had a two-pronged approach: in the night time, Sun and the team would put up a concert with songs, dance and testimonies, and this was the method used to attract young people and draw them to the Lord. In the day, Pastor Kong would conduct training sessions for the Taiwanese churches, teaching them how to do youth ministry, disciple new converts and retain the harvest. Lulu would serve as Pastor Kong’s interpreter during all these training sessions, and at night, she would interpret for the altar calls that Pastor gave during the concerts.
She vividly recalls the first concert in Taipei. “It was our first time organising a concert like that and we did not know what to expect. My senior pastor in Taiwan was one of the co-organisers—we had publicised the best we could, but it was mainly through the churches, so we were concerned whether or not the people would come.”
But what happened that night completely blew their minds. The people came, not just by the hundreds but the thousands. The whole stadium in National Taiwan University was jam-packed with people. The organisers had not prepared for an overflow scenario, and in the end the team had to set up projector screens outside the stadium for people to watch the concert outdoors.
Growing up in a Christian family, Lulu had always been lukewarm about her faith, and she was at best a “big day” Christian. Her family used to hop from church to church, and eventually she only went to church on important days. Every time a salvation altar call was given, there would only be a handful of people who would respond. She had this impression that evangelism was hard and people did not want to come to the Lord.
After the first Crossover concert, while everyone was caught up in the euphoria of the event, Lulu went backstage and wept. “I repented because I read God’s word and yet I did not believe. That night, I saw for myself how people needed the Lord and the gospel. I started feeling an urgency for the lost. For the first time, I saw hundreds of people not walking to the altar, but running to receive Jesus… It was absolutely chaotic because nobody expected so many people to respond and all of us did not know what to do.”
This overwhelming response happened not only in Taipei, but in almost every city and county in Taiwan that the Crossover concert played. “The Lord showed me that the fields are truly white unto harvest but the labourers are few. To gather in the harvest is a lot of hard work. We need people who are willing to pay the price. For me, it was a great honour to witness the heart of the Lord in this. I was totally shaken by the work of God, and at the same time in awe of what He can do. I feel very privileged to have played a part in the Crossover.”
That was also the season that CHC started teaching and preaching about the cultural mandate. “We did not have the full picture in the beginning, but as we travelled with Pastor and he began to share what God had revealed to him from His word, we saw the mind of God unravelling before us. We slowly understood the heart of God in this and how He wanted to use us in our culture.”
Personally, the teaching of cultural mandate had also impacted Lulu’s life significantly. “I had lousy self-esteem in the past. I did not deem myself beautiful, and could not care less about how I looked. But as Pastor Kong shared about the cultural mandate and how we are the image of God, the Lord began to heal me of all my inner hurts and I learnt to love myself and see myself the way God sees me. I started to dress and groom myself well so that I could reflect the image of God in my life.”
Lulu served in CHC Singapore until 2012, when she returned to Taiwan to care for her family. Statistics show that Christianity in Taiwan grew significantly from 2000 to 2010—Lulu credits it to the work of CHC and the Crossover Project in Taiwan. Before 2000, she says, the Christian population in Taiwan was declining and churches did not have strong youth and campus ministries.
She points out, “Pastor Kong and Sun were truly the pioneers for this youth revival in Taiwan. They were daring and innovative, using a method that no one had used before to preach the gospel. Even though they were heavily criticised, but they pressed on and broke through. Through the Crossover, God had shown us that Taiwan can be saved, and young people can come to the Lord. Subsequently, this sparked off a great youth revival—many churches also started building up their own youth ministries.
Lulu adds, “As I looked back at the Crossover Project, I felt the Lord reminding me that when Jesus crossed over to the land of the Gadarenes, it sparked off the revival of 10 cities in Decapolis. There must be someone stupid enough, crazy enough, courageous enough to cross over, to calm the storm, and we will see the next wave of revival.”
TRANSFORMING LIVES ON HOME GROUND
Cynthia Chua experienced a transformation when she attended the Crossover concert in Singapore in 2002.
“When the Crossover started in 2002, I was in School of Theology year 1—it was called City Harvest Bible Training Centre then. I had been battling with severely depressed moods since 2000 and I had gone to Bible school with the hope of finding meaning in life. I wanted to get out of those struggles with depressed moods and a perpetually heavy heart,” she shares.
“God-incidentally that year, Sun held her Sun With Love concert in Singapore,” she remembers. As part of the SOT curriculum, the students were involved in serving during the concert. I was at that concert when she sang her song, ‘Sun With Love’: ‘I can see the sun, I can see the sun with love. 我祈祷每一个今天会有一个梦想实现’.
“Suddenly, I felt a strong sense of hope filling my heart, hope that my tomorrow will be brighter. It was quite a moment. God sovereignly used Sun’s first album of songs to fill me with hope, and that same year, I walked out of my depression! Today, I’m living a life of purpose I couldn’t have dreamed of or imagined was possible 20 years ago.”
Cynthia joined the church staff in 2005, where she has served to this day, now as a research associate. She is married to pastoral supervisor Kelvin Tan and they have a baby girl, Mireille.
Ryan Tan’s experience with the Crossover 20 years ago was quite different. Like Lulu, he was on stage with Sun and Pastor Kong and not in the audience, but the power of God touched him just as deeply as it did Cynthia.
Ryan’s testimony has been heard many times. He was hired to be the choreographer for the Crossover concerts, working with Sun and a team of volunteer dancers. Having worked on musicals, concerts and large-scale productions such as the National Day Parade, Ryan was surprised that there were people who would take leave from their day jobs to participate in this tour without pay.
“I knew that this was a group of Christians because they would often pray together, and of course, Pastor Kong would give an altar call at the end of every concert. As a non-believer then, all this was a bit unusual for me,” he said in a testimony given to CHC for its Crossover anniversary publication. “So I started off very wary and cynical towards Sun, the CHC team and the Christian work they were doing through the concerts.”
But nine months on the road on tour, Ryan found himself becoming friends with Sun and members of the team. He witnessed for himself how Sun would still be counselling on the phone during the most inconvenient moments, such as just before she took the stage. “It seemed to me that she found greater joy in helping people compared to just performing on stage,” he said.
At the end of the final concert of the tour, in Perth, Ryan surprised the whole team by responding to the altar call that Pastor Kong gave. “In spite of all my accolades, experience and expertise, I had a void inside me that could only be filled by God,” he shared, adding that it was then that he realised the whole team had been praying for his salvation for the last nine months.
Ryan’s conversion during the Crossover sparked off a series of mighty exploits for the Lord. Together with Kenny Low, who was his roommate during the Crossover concerts, he founded O School, which is today one of Singapore’s premier dance schools that had its roots in outreach to street kids. O School created Super 24, the leading dance showcase competition in Singapore and around the region. He was also the chief judge in the Singapore dance competition TV series The Dance Floor. Ryan’s artistry and creativity continues to find expression in projects that in one way or another, glorify God.
“Even since I was saved during the Crossover concert, many dancers in the arts scene got saved too through my sharing of the word of God,” says Ryan. “The Crossover was about bringing Christ into our culture—in the classes I have taught and the shows I have directed and produced, I have been able to insert God’s values and spirit of excellence.
“It may have been two decades since the Crossover Project started, but God’s spirit and words never expire. I am still constantly sharing God’s goodness through the work that I do. Christ is not present only in church, but everywhere in our lives. No matter where we are , what we do, God is always with us one way or another.”