Every member is a minister in City Harvest Church. This has been in the church’s mission statement since its inception, and many members are long-time volunteers in their ministry. However, the busyness of life can make it difficult to serve sometimes, but the doors are always open for one to come back. Tan Sihui shares why and how she returned to serving in the ministry again after a decade.
I came to church in 1999 when the church was located at Hollywood Theatre along Tanjong Katong Road. I was 18, and on my first visit, I rebelliously walked out halfway through the service. But God did not give up on me, and neither did my friend, Angie. She continued to reach out to me after that day, and boy, am I grateful to her for doing that!
On my next visit, I felt the tangible presence of God and found myself weeping even before the service began. During the altar call, I gave my heart to Jesus—I knew I could no longer run from Him.
Shortly after that, I joined a cell group and started attending Bible study classes to understand God more. When my cell group leader felt it was time for me to join a ministry, she encouraged me to join the Chorus Board Ministry (now the Visual Communications ministry). I wanted to join Children’s Church (now Harvest Kidz), but my cell group leader felt that since I was good with computers, I should put my skills to good use.
CHORUS BOARD MINISTRY
The Chorus Board ministry started out putting up announcements and the lyrics for the church during Praise and Worship. I started serving in 2000 and gave it my all. Back then, we were using DOS software and displaying lyrics using an overhead projector. We slowly upgraded our equipment and began using a digital chorus board, which allowed us to show up to eight lines of lyrics at one go.
Initially, I had to serve once a week for the main service. That commitment was already high for me, but as I became more involved in the ministry, I served twice a week, the second day being either Bible study classes or leaders’ meetings that took place during the week.
Serving in the ministry gave me the opportunity to work directly with song leaders; eventually when we needed to put up sermon points we had to work with the pastors too. Before service, we would discuss the overall service flow and the sermon with the pastors. It was quite stressful for me as a newcomer, but those encounters taught me to handle stress.
Once, we had a technical issue and a pastor asked me how much longer before we can start the service rehearsal. I replied, “A while more.” The pastor repeated his question, a bit more firmly this time, “I asked how much longer?” At that point, I realised I wasn’t answering his question, so I quickly replied, “Five more minutes.”
This experience taught me to be sharp in my thoughts and clear in my reply. I was probably around 21 back then. Today, I’m 41 and I still remember that lesson well.
I’m grateful to have had the privilege of serving in the first Emerge Service and the first Asia Conference. I also served at inter-church events like the Festival of Praise. It was held in the Singapore Indoor Stadium and participants came from all around the world. You would never have imagined that such a large-scale service was run by a team in their 20s! When Sun (Ho, CHC’s executive pastor) was in Taiwan during the Crossover Project, I went on mission trips and served at the concerts as well.
When I became a team leader in the ministry, I was given many more responsibilities. Besides meeting and calling volunteers, and scheduling them to serve, I also had to train the new volunteers and help them understand our workflow. Those days were hectic but very fun!
The love for God, for His house and for His people are really the reasons why I served. Plus, I really enjoyed what I was doing and learning. But of course, the friendships I gained in the ministry played a big part too! Serving in a tech ministry is really quite stressful, especially when it comes to high-key events. But those stressful times also produced strong friendships—we forged strong bonds fighting “wars” every weekend. Our computer password used to be “ITSWARTIME” (laughs). You can imagine how close we all grew.
We also had lots of time to fellowship back in the day, and eating was a big part of that. A few of us liked to hang out at Rochor Original Beancurd at Selegie Road and we called ourselves “Tau Huey Club”.
The technical skills that I gained through ministry helped me eventually in my work: operating the advanced software using both Windows and Mac, being trained on the then-new computer graphic machine, which we no longer use today, even mastering the shortcut keys on the keyboard.
REIGNITING THE FIRE TO SERVE AGAIN
As I grew into another season of my life, it became harder and harder for me to serve. I got married in 2012. That same year, God spoke to me to serve in the Bookstore Ministry and I left the VC ministry. In 2013, I joined CHC as a full-time staffer in The Ink Room until 2015. Subsequently, I had my first child in 2014 and my second in 2017. At that point, I decided to take a break from serving in a ministry for a season.
I had to care for two young children while working a full-time job. My son was diagnosed to have learning difficulties, and I found myself needing more time and space to focus on my family.
Earlier this year, I heard from God specifically about serving in a ministry again, during a service where Pastor Derek Dunn was preaching, I felt God speak to me to step out again and return to serve in VC. God told me to trust in Him; He said that He will take care of my family, that He knows this is my main concern. He also said it will be a good testimony to my kids when I serve Him.
On the first day of my return to the VC room in May 2022, a ministry friend came up to me, laughing and said, “Must be God asked you to come back (to serve) right?” I was amazed and surprised at his comment because he was absolutely right! Only God could make me take that step to serve Him again.
My friend’s comment also proved how deep our friendships went in the ministry, forged through “war times”. He still knew me well after all these years.
It has been three months since I started serving again. I’m happy to see many of the volunteers that I trained have grown into the leaders they are today, contributing to God’s house in their own ways. I hope that there are still things I can offer—maybe my experiences, the stability and commitment I now have. Or perhaps I’m already making a difference by simply showing up and being around.
So far, I’m just happy doing whatever task is given to me. I’ve learned some new things, such as the new computer system and workflow. But it’s the simple joy of serving God once again that keeps me serving. For me, just knowing that I’m being obedient to God is good.
I’m thankful that I have a supportive husband—Timothy plays a crucial role in my being able to serve again. On the weeks that I need to serve, he will bring our kids to Harvest Kidz before service and pick them up after service ends.
They usually eat dinner early so I try to rush off after serving to join them. Serving God is rarely convenient; it always requires some kind of sacrifice. Yet, I truly believe that when we place our lives on the altar of God, He will use us according to His will and allow us to live out our purpose in life. This is how we live a meaningful life in Christ Jesus.
Whether it’s your first time or you’re thinking of returning to serving, check out CHC’s ministries and join one today!