On 10 October 2023, City Harvest Church held its second Marketplace Dinner since relaunching this initiative in 2022. Guest preacher Pastor Jeffrey Rachmat from Jakarta Praise Community Church brought a fresh view of God’s ordinations and the way of His Kingdom.
It was an evening where business owners, corporate leaders and workers set time aside to gather for a meal with like-minded marketplace believers and to feed on the word of the Lord. This second Marketplace Dinner of the year, held at City Harvest Church’s worship premises at Suntec Convention Level 6, was attended by 620.
As the evening began, queues quickly formed all over Halls 603 and 604, as attendees helped themselves to a spread of hot food and desserts. Stomachs were filled and conversations flowed freely for over an hour before the evening’s programme began with a time of praise and worship. Following that, one couple shared their testimony of how God worked through their lives and business.
A JOURNEY MARKED BY GOD’S PRESENCE
Roger Lin, 33, and Ariel Lin, 31, are directors and founder of IT firm Flex-Solver. Being partners at home and at work is not easy, but the Lins told the room of God’s goodness and constant presence in their personal lives and through the rollercoaster journey in their business.
Ariel bared her heart as she talked about her difficult childhood, during which her father’s violence and extra-marital affairs forced the family to move out of Taiwan. In Singapore, her mother had to pawn all her valuables just to put Ariel and her brother through school. While juggling both studies and part-time work, she came to attend City Harvest Church and was immediately overwhelmed by the love of God.
She was in her second year of Junior College when her mother was diagnosed with Stage 2 cancer, and as the only available care-giver, Ariel took a leave of absence from school to care for her. When her mother had to be hospitalised due to serious chemotherapy complications, Ariel prayed for her mother. Despite her mother’s initial disapproval of her daughter’s faith, she accepted the Lord that day.
God eventually healed her mother, and began to work on her father’s heart. Ariel’s father eventually asked his family for forgiveness and the family’s finances got better subsequently. He received salvation and began to attend Chinese services.
Ariel returned to school to complete her ‘A’ Levels. God crowned her efforts with success: she graduated as the valedictorian of her junior college and was accepted into NUS Business School.
Ariel’s husband, Roger struggled with his studies in his youth. He came to know Christ through Pastor Sun Aizhen, his first cell group leader and a fellow Taiwanese. When Roger became a Christian, he became more hardworking and emerged within the top three percent in his cohort. With this he gained direct admissions to NUS to study Computer Science.
Roger always had a desire to start a business. When he and Ariel were in their second year at NUS, in an act of faith, they allocated $10,000 meant for their school fees to incorporate a company.
The company managed to attract its first investor quickly, and broke even within three months. They were blessed with an office space and operating funds. In their third year of business, the Lins raised funds that put their company’s valuation at $4 million.
God continued to open doors for them with another round of mergers and acquisitions, so much that by 2019, Flex-Solver had branched out to Wuhan in China and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. The company grew rapidly from just two to 50 staff in four years.
Despite the fact her career was going well, Ariel recognised that God was still doing a work in her life. Her father had borrowed money from loan sharks while her mother’s cancer relapsed. Her mother passed away before Ariel graduated, leaving her with a six-digit medical bill. Ariel felt angry and did not know if she could forgive her father.
Through it all, God reminded her not to hold unforgiveness in her heart. Ariel listened to God’s still, small voice, knowing in her heart that her faith is most precious to her.
Over a span of three years, the Holy Spirit gave her the grace to reconcile with her father shortly before he passed away unexpectedly.
On the business front, the Covid19 pandemic caused a product launch delay, resulting in an $800,000 loss for the company. They had to lay off 10 members of their staff in Singapore, while facing a $160,000 lawsuit that arose due to mistakes incurred during a project. The husband and wife team was very heavy-hearted, fighting for survival in the marketplace.
Nevertheless, Ariel and Roger continued to love God and believe in His goodness. They kept coming to church because they loved His house. They kept serving and giving to the Lord, trusting that He is their ultimate provider.
By God’s grace, their client was willing to settle out of court and they found new funds within the same year to cover the $800,000 loss. They have also experienced divine restoration as the value of contracts they won in the first quarter of 2023 exceeded their total revenue for 2022. God provided for their families, and now, after almost two decades of renting, they finally have their own home.
Roger and Ariel were married in 2017, but after six years of trying to conceive with various means, they still could not conceive. They tried and failed two rounds of IUI, and were discouraged. Their pastor Wu Yuzhuang and their cell group members covered them in prayer, proclaiming God’s promises over them.
The Lins decided to give IVF a try in 2022, and God blessed them with a healthy baby girl.
As they ended their testimony, Roger and Ariel declared that they have witnessed God’s faithfulness at all key junctures in their life, and that through it all, God’s love is their greatest gain.
PRACTISING THE KINGDOM PRINCIPLE
Senior pastor of CHC Kong Hee welcomed to the stage Jeffrey Rachmat, the senior pastor of Jakarta Praise Community Church, the largest church in Indonesia. Pastor Jeffrey was a successful banker in the marketplace before entering ministry, and he currently runs eight companies and two foundations.
Pastor Jeffrey shared a principle that he has been practising in his personal life and in the church: the Kingdom Principle, or the way of the Kingdom. This principle is based on Matthew 13 where Jesus said believers have been given insight into God’s Kingdom.
By observing this principle, his church has never collected offerings during service the last 25 years since JPCC was started. Instead, they facilitate giving unto the Lord by placing boxes, point-of-sale machines and, more recently, QR codes around the building.
Pastor Jeffrey testified that in practising the Kingdom Principle, by the grace of God, he and the church have never experienced financial lack.
Pastor Jeffrey brought to the crowd’s attention the natural ordinations of God—natural occurrences familiar to every believer. He then drew parallels between the natural and the spiritual, referencing 1 Corinthians 15:46, “The spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the spiritual.” Hence, the natural gives insight to what believers experience in the spiritual.
Reading from Genesis 1: 16-19, Pastor Jeffrey stated that God was the One who made the two great lights: the sun which ruled the day, and the moon which ruled the night. He made this separation that gave the earth daytime and night time, and called it good.
He continued to read from Genesis 8:22, where it is written that on the earth, there is seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night. He highlighted that this is how God created the earth to function.
Believers have to accept these realities and adapt to the order that God has given. Some problems stem from a refusal to accept and adapt to this reality.
He illustrated his point with an example. A spouse who is not willing to accept the reality that men and women are different will encounter problems in his or her marriage. He or she will try to change the other party, instead of learning about each other’s differences, accepting those differences and making some adjustments.
Circling back to Genesis 8:22, Pastor Jeffrey shared that the cycles of seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer are also applicable to relationships and work.
He revealed that it will not always be “hot” in a marriage; sometimes, it may go through a cold season. Business owners will know that it is not always “summer” in business, “winter” times will come as well.
“In the natural, we understand that day time is when we wake up and get ready for our daily activities, to work, or to go to school. The greater light is shining, and everything can be seen clearly,” Pastor Jeffrey said.
He added, “Conversely, when the lesser light takes over, it becomes dark. We are expected to stop working, to go home, to spend time with our loved ones and to rest. We rest to regain our strength for the next day.”
Recognising what season one is in in the spirit is essential. “Similarly, in the spirit, when it is day time, the vision and direction is clear. The wisdom and favour of God is working in you. We hear from God clearly and sow seeds when it is day time. The business is doing well, ministry is flourishing – life is just wonderful,” described the pastor.
But day time leads into the night. “Any mature Christian knows that there are times when light goes out, and darkness starts creeping in,” said Pastor Jeffrey. “But while we accept this in the natural, many of us panic when it is night-time spiritually. Oftentimes, the believer thinks it is because of sin or that God is angry with them.”
He continued, “When it is night, we cannot see far ahead, the future seems uncertain. We pray continuously, but it seems as though God is not listening. We begin to worry and we don’t enjoy the night the same way we do in the natural.”
FAITH IN WORK & REST
Pastor Jeffrey assured the audience that believers should be able to enjoy the night both in the natural and spiritual. To do this, they have to first understand God’s intention for man in Genesis. God created Adam and put him in the Garden of Eden, and in turn, he worked to keep the garden.
He drew parallels between God’s trust in Adam’s work and His trust in the abilities of believers today. Adam was working to name all the animals and God did not interfere in Adam’s work. God trusted fully in Adam’s ability and the potential He placed in him.
The pastor then highlighted that God was the one who introduced sleep to Adam. While he was in deep slumber, God was working. God did what Adam could never do while he was asleep—He created a woman for Adam.
Pastor Jeffrey observed, “From the beginning of time, God had a deal with Adam: He provides light, so that Man is able to do what he can and must do. When it gets dark, while man is asleep, God will do His part for him—He will do what man cannot do.”
In Mark 4, Jesus shared the way of the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground and should sleep at night and rise by day. The seed should sprout and grow – he himself does not know how.
Hence growth is a mystery to man. However, in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, it is revealed that it is God that gives the increase.
“When pastor friends of mine ask about the key to church growth, I have to be honest with them,” said Pastor Jeffrey. “I say I don’t know! Growth is not our responsibility. Growth is God’s responsibility. Our responsibility is to scatter seeds, plant it in the right soil, and water it over time.”
He reminded the attendees, “Be faithful in the little things, take good care and be an expert at them – that’s how you become excellent. Excellence is the passport for growth and to your promotion.”
The good news, he said, is that the key to open a door is always small. Similarly, the key to growth and breakthrough in business is small ideas. Everyone can do it because it is small. Seeds can be in the form of words—praise, encouragement, prayer, money.
“Your seed requires good soil to sow in, and good land is expensive,” he continued. “We should be grateful if we can find good soil for us to sow our seeds into. You are contributing to something greater than yourself when you sow your seed into the Kingdom of God and the Church of Jesus Christ.”
In closing, Pastor Jeffrey exhorted the marketplace believers. “After scattering seeds, the most spiritual thing you can do is rest. It is a time to surrender, to let go, and let God work on what you have done.”
The Marketplace Dinner was a time to be fed physically and spiritually, and also a chance for believers in the marketplace to connect. “Tonight’s dinner was a chance for me to step out of my comfort zone and get to know other church members,” said Angeline Har, 35, who works in the alcohol distribution industry. “It was wonderful to befriend and encourage other members who are new to the church community.”
Business owner Sarah Ong said, “I was blessed by the word Pastor Jeffrey shared. A key, though small, can open and lock large doors. It resonated with situations I was facing. Truly, every small effort is important and it can solve bigger problems. Also, when we rest, God starts working on the seeds we planted. Although it was my first time attending such an event, I made new friends and we shared about how we can conduct ourselves in marketplace to shine for the Lord.”
Torance Cheong, a realtor in his mid-30s, loved Pastor Jeffrey’s sharing, especially on 1 Corinthians 3:6—“Regardless whether it is day time or night time, our responsibility is to trust God and be faithful in whatever He has placed in our hands. He is the one who will give the increase.”
“I found Pastor Jeffrey’s message to be the most enjoyable,” said Kenneth Lim, a director. “It served as a valuable reminder for me to prioritise what aligns with Biblical principles. His message was not only relevant to my professional life but also applicable to my every day life.”