The Harvest Network’s recent Malaysia Conference was a time of seeking God wholeheartedly and reconnecting with one another fervently.
The Harvest Network held its first Malaysia Conference in Penang, Malaysia from 1 to 4 May. A total of 360 participants from nine churches gathered in the city for a time of worship and fellowship.
The conference was hosted by City Harvest Church, Prai, one of the churches under THN, a network of churches and ministries affiliated or connected to City Harvest Church. Because of the pandemic, it has been a few years since the churches could come together in a conference like this. The excitement was palpable as the members and leaders gathered for the Welcome Dinner on Monday evening. The participants were clearly delighted to see their brothers and sisters-in-Christ from another city, greeting them with hugs and wide smiles.
Among the participants were over 100 members from CHC’s Chinese Service. A team from CHC consisting of worship leaders, musicians and technical support were also there to serve.
ONE IN THE BOND OF LOVE
The atmosphere of love and unity was evident throughout the conference. “We have the same DNA, so we worship the same way even when we come from different cities,” CHC’s senior pastor Kong Hee commented as he took the stage after the first worship session on the second day.
A cell group leader from CHC’s Chinese Service felt the same way. Liu Hai Bin, 42 was surprised when he heard that the worship band was made up of singers and musicians from both CHC and CHC Prai. “They flowed together so well as if they had been working together for a long time. I think this is the spirit behind THN,” he observed.
In a way, the conference felt more like a large family reunion. Over the three days, participants heard testimonies from members and messages from pastors of the different churches represented at the conference. They also laughed together during games, encountered God together during worship, and even fed each other bread during holy communion.
At the opening dinner, Leng Chin Fai from CHC’s Chinese Service shared how God took him out of debt and led him to serve the community. He started Fei Yue Community Services 34 years ago, with no dreams or visions. But God led him every step of the way and today, it runs over 200 programmes serving the elderly, youths, inmates and many more.
His statement, “I went on a hazy path, but was following God’s very clear plan” resonated in the hearts of many. That statement was heard repeatedly over the next few days as different members went onstage to share their own testimonies of God’s amazing work in their lives.
“Listening to the testimonies, I realised that it’s not just the pastors that are doing amazing things for God, non-clergy brothers and sisters-in-Christ are also serving God in their own ways,” shares a member of CHC Prai, Gavin Lim, 33. “It encourages me to know that we can all do mighty exploits for God.”
THE WORD THAT TOUCHED HEARTS
The highlight of the conference was the preaching sessions where the senior pastors of the Malaysia churches as well as Pastor Kong, Pastor Bobby Chaw and Pastor Sun Aizhen from CHC, shared the Word of God. In the last session, Pastor Kong also did a Q&A segment, answering questions on the origin of THN and the doctrine of Pentecostalism.
In her sermon, Pastor Aizhen shared that God has called her to build a ministry that’s filled with God’s glory. The key to doing that is to have the spirit of unity in the church.
She shared that unity is something that the devil wants to steal from the church. Therefore, every member must guard their hearts and not take that unity among them for granted.
Wong Yun Chin, 53, a member of CHC’s Chinese Service resonated with the word. “Pastor Aizhen said to have unity, we need to have zero gossips. Pastor Kong also talked about that—zero gossip, zero anger. I realised that gossip and anger break relationships up so easily—that is no way to build lasting relationships,” she shares.
“We have around 10 people from our cell group on this trip, and there’s bound to be conflicts. It is really a time when we had to put what the pastors preached into action. We would remind one another to love the other person, to stay united and not allow our differences to pull us apart.”
Yun Chin and her husband Victor Tan, 57 are on their maiden mission trip. They enjoyed themselves so much that they are planning to attend the Malaysian Conference slated to take place in Kuching next year. Victor shared that the word that impacted him most was the sermon Pastor Lian Choon Wah, senior pastor of Kuala Lumpur Harvest Church and City Harvest Church Ipoh preached on the Potter’s Hand. “I was reminded to not compare (myself with others) because everyone is different. We are God’s creation so there are no duplicates—as long as we trust in God completely and walk in the path He wants us to walk, He will bless us.”
Terence Sie, 38, a board member of CHC Kuching, shared that his greatest takeaway from the conference is Pastor Bobby’s message on encountering God. “Jeremiah 29:13-14 says that we will find God when we seek him wholeheartedly. Very often when I’m praying, I have a lot of worries at the back of my mind, and I’m not focused on seeking God. Many times, I find that I don’t receive answers to my prayers. Listening to the sermon made me realise that the keyword is focus. When we focus on seeking God, we will find Him,” he says.
A member from CHC Prai, Serene Ong, 30 was also impacted by the same sermon. “Pastor Bobby shared that encountering God is experiencing His divine love. When we’re serving God, we get so busy that we forget God is love, and the Bible says the greatest is love. I’m very encouraged by the message as it reminded me that the most important thing is to experience God’s love.”
For Serene, her favourite moment at the conference was praise and worship. “When we lifted our hands together, our only purpose was Jesus. At that moment, God’s presence was so strong among us.”
Pastor Benjamin Loo of CHC Prai echoed her thoughts. He is one of the three full-time staff in CHC Prai and oversees the media production. “I’ve been quite busy during the conference, but when we started singing ‘Saturate’ during worship, I started to tear up. The presence of God was so strong. Honestly, I didn’t think I would receive much from this conference because I knew I would be busy. But I’m thankful to God that I was able to encounter Him in that moment. He spoke to me, and answered some of my questions.”
THE UNSUNG HEROES
Pastor Benjamin shared that it was the first time that CHC Prai was hosting an event of this scale. Preparations began in February and by the grace of God, it was not as challenging as they imagined it to be. “When we first heard that our church was hosting the conference, we wondered if we had the ability to do it. The task seemed daunting at first, but by the grace of God, we found that we could do it.”
The one challenge was to arrange lodgings for many of the participants. He credited his colleague Pastor Esther Lim for working hard to make all the arrangements.
With a church of slightly above 100 people, CHC Prai had over 60 volunteers availing themselves to serve in the conference. Many of them had to take leave of absence from their work and took up multiple roles. Some even stayed in church past midnight to clean up after the conference. “They are truly the unsung heroes,” Pastor Benjamin says.
All in all, the conference had been a treat for the participants. Grace Chua, 24, from CHC Ipoh has been doing an internship in Penang for the past two months and had missed her home church terribly. This conference gave her a chance to worship God together with her cell group members who travelled to Penang for the conference.
“Coming here, I’m very hungry for God’s presence and love. It reminded me that God loves me so much. I’ve been very busy in the past few months and sometimes, I forget about God, forget to do my devotion and read the Bible. But I still felt His love at the conference. He touched me in a powerful way and told me that He has never forsaken me,” she shares.
“I’m very impacted by Pastor Kong’s sermon on Slow-down Christianity. In our lives, we’re very busy and I tell myself that I must keep up the pace. Most pastors will also tell us to charge ahead and spread the gospel—only Pastor Kong tells us to slow down our pace. It’s very impactful and it caused me to reflect on my own life. At times, I wonder why I don’t have the motivation to go full steam, but Pastor Kong told us that we need to slow down to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, and to spend time alone with God. In fact, that would give us even more inspiration.”
Isaac Ng, 21, from Faith Harvest Church, loved the pre-service games—especially the one where all the pastors went on stage to play “Super Mario”. “Often, we would see members going onstage to play games, but we don’t usually see the pastors doing that. It’s a refreshing change and extra memorable because our pastor won!” he says.
THN will be holding the next Malaysia Conference in Kuching, Malaysia next year in April.