In last weekend’s service, Pastor Kong Hee shared about his recent trip to the Philippines and his vision for City Harvest Church’s outreach. He also paid tribute to the late Pastor Tan Kim Hock, CHC’s pastor for missions.
This past weekend of 30 Sept and 1 Oct, Kong Hee, senior pastor of City Harvest Church, opened his sermon with Acts 11:27-28.
He told the congregation about the event-packed month of September. At the start of the month, he led a mission team of seven to the Anambas Islands, an Indonesian archipelago located in the middle of the South China Sea. Most of those 200 islands have no Christians or churches. During their trip, the team preached the gospel, prayed for the sick and explored to possibility of building churches there.
Two weeks ago, the fifth Philippines School of Theology Alumni Conference was held in Manila, spanning four days. A total of 120 graduates from CHC’s Bible school congregated there—many of whom are now senior pastors and key ministers in their respective cities and provinces. Pastor Kong, together with Pastor Bobby Chaw and Pastor Kenneth Sim, were there to speak to and strengthen the pastors and leaders of the Philippines.
VISITING THE ATA TRIBE IN THE PHILIPPINES
Following the conference, the team made its way to Negros Occidental, a large island in the central part of the Philippines. Following a 90-minute flight, they arrived at Bacolod, a city Pastor Kong last visited in 1994. They visited Pastor Elizabeth Pescadero’s church for worship and prayer before setting off on a two-hour ride to the mountains.
The team’s aim was to reach out to the Ata tribe, which until four years ago, had hardly any churches or Christians among them, due to its inaccessibility. They were an Unreached People Group scattered among the many mountains of Negros. Owing to the new roads being built in the last four years, contact with these groups of people was finally possible.
Their first stop was Don Salvatore Benedicto where they visited a seven-month-old church. Their pastor is a farmer, and his home is a humble one with neither bed, flooring nor electricity. The church premises were the area outside his home. On Sundays, 30 people would gather to worship Jesus together. However, this was only if the weather permitted it, due to the lack of adequate infrastructure to withstand heavy rains.
From there, the group continued their journey to Humayan. The church there was planted four years ago and currently sees a weekly attendance of 120. Each week, their church hall would be overflowing with congregants. The pastor’s vision is to have a bigger hall to accommodate 300 people, and for the hall to double up as a school during the week. The Ata children do not receive formal education, but the church found a Christian volunteer to teach the children reading and writing. While the pastor was willing to donate his family land for this purpose, they lacked the funds of 200,000 Pesos (SGD5000) to build a church building.
The next stop was a church at Carapali, located at the foot of the mountain. Some of the church members have relatives living on the mountaintop and requested the team to visit them. The team then made their ascent there.
Along the way, they visited a church in the woods with over 100 members. The team conducted a service among the trees and continued even when it started to drizzle. They prayed over the sick and many received healing on the spot. Before they left, the team gave out bags of rice to the families and drawing books and toys for the children. Pastor Kong described the joy on the faces of the people when they received their gifts.
There was a woman suffering from depression who remained in her home despite knowing that there was a gathering outside. When Pastor Kong first tried to speak with her, she refused to even make eye contact. However, as he shared the love of Jesus with her, she was moved to tears and allowed Pastor Bobby to pray over her husband’s stomach condition.
Despite what seemed to be an impending thunderstorm, the team continued their journey up the mountain. With a combination of a bumpy lorry ride and a three three-kilometre hike up the mountain on foot, they finally reached the Manara Ata Tribe. “The chief came to welcome us and I realised we were the first foreigners to ever visit them,” the pastor said.
Pastor Elizabeth, a SOT graduate, had been reaching out to this tribe in recent years. They had a church building with a signage that surprised Pastor Kong. On it was written “City Harvest Church”. Even more of a shock to the team was that this building was erected with a donation from Yvonne Chua, the wife of Victor Wong, CHC’s missions manager, Victor Wong who was on this trip. She had gifted the money to Pastor Elizabeth three years ago, not knowing what the funds would go to. The team—including Victor—was pleasantly surprised to find that the fruit of her giving was this church building on the mountaintop.
The church was packed inside and outside as people gathered to hear Pastor Kong’s stories about Jesus. During the altar call, many raised their hands to receive salvation. The team also prayed for the sick and many who received healing testified of their miracles. One woman was healed of an infection and injury to the internal organs and muscles. Pastor Bobby prayed for a man with tumours in his ear blocking his hearing. The tumours shrunk when he prayed, and the man could hear again.
After the church meeting, the team went to visit the homes of the villagers. When they reached the home of the witch doctor of the tribe, he allowed them to pray for him. Pastor Kong and the team made friends with the tribal people, sharing with them the love of God.
As they concluded the day with a discussion on the three potential churches that could be planted, one of the team members, Julie Goh came bearing good news that the prayer for the church at Humayan had been answered—two church members had donated 350,000 pesos without even knowing about the need for the building.
THE QUEST TO REACH THE UNREACHED
“God has opened a big door for us—in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and India,” Pastor Kong declared. “Since 2020, the Holy Spirit has placed in the hearts of Sun and I, a love for the unreached people, those with less than two percent Christians, and with no church among them.” In Southeast Asia alone, there are 686 UPGs. “Some 360 million people have yet to know Christ. Most of them have never heard the name of Jesus,” he added.
Pastor Kong shared a three-pronged approach to outreach: to build a church, a school and a medical clinic. This would help to feed the people’s souls, educate their minds and heal their bodies. He gave a clarion call to the teachers and medical workers in the church, asking them to avail themselves to serve in these places a few days a year.
Reading from Mark 9:36-37, Pastor Kong reminded the church that Jesus loves children because they are weak and defenceless. “Jesus says how you care for the little ones is a mark of grace,” he taught. “To Jesus, how you welcome them, is how you welcome Him.”
Going back to Acts 11:27-28, the pastor preached that the church of Antioch was a young church, but they were on fire for God. They had spiritual discernment and were generous, giving “as each one was able” (Acts 11:29-30). “There was no pressure—each gave their best,” he said.
V29 recorded that when they heard of an impending famine, the church gave generously to their fellow believers in Judah, even though the Jerusalem church did not ask for help. The Antioch church was known for its generous spirit. Because of that, they became the centre of world missions and the base of Apostle Paul’s ministry even though it was a young church.
“The more generous they were, the more dynamic they became. There was so much life and presence and power,” Pastor Kong said. He challenged the congregation to look beyond blessings for themselves and to follow the model of the Antioch Church and give sacrificially. “The people who give sacrificially to strengthen the local church to care for the needy, especially the little children, will become the most dynamic and alive people,” he stated.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF PASTOR TAN KIM HOCK
This message was particularly poignant as the church saw the passing of Pastor Tan Kim Hock on 26 September 2023. He had served as the pastor of missions as well as the Academic Dean at SOT, helping to support churches in The Harvest Network.
Pastor Kim Hock joined the church as a teenager and was one of its founding members. Pastor Kong spoke fondly of Pastor Kim Hock as an unyielding pillar of the church over the years. His heart for missions was always evident, being a part of mission teams preaching the word in many countries and being part of the Banda Aceh tsunami relief team. Even while he was in ICU in his last days, he continued to pray unceasingly for those who he knew were on overseas missions.
Pastor Kong shared, that even as Pastor Kim Hock was suffering and in pain, he uttered these words: “Whatever God gives, will always be the best.” Such was the faith and love for God that Pastor Kim Hock showed, and he will continue to be remembered. Together, the congregation observed a minute of silence in remembrance of Pastor Kim Hock and the life he had led in service of the church and God.