Over the two services on the weekend of the Global Pentecostal Summit (4-5 Nov), Professors Doug Petersen and Byron Klaus each shared a deep message on the love of God for the little ones and those who have lost hope in life.
SATURDAY 4 NOVEMBER
It is not every day that you get to see children leading the church in a highly energetic session of praise. But the weekend of 4 and 5 November was no ordinary weekend—it was part of the Global Pentecostal Summit held at City Harvest Church from 3 to 6 November.
Since Friday, 23 scholars from different nations and have been presenting papers on key issues faced by the global Christian community now and in the foreseeable future. The common thread: what and how the Holy Spirit is moving in the world, particularly in the Global South.
CHC’s services this past weekend were filled with testimonies and performances to welcome the scholars and the attendees of the summit.
On Saturday, the HarvestKidz song leaders and choir opened the service, leading the congregation in a time of worship. The attendees were later treated to a song performance by the members with special needs from the church’s Jesus For All Minds ministry. CHC’s dance ministry, The Disciples, also presented a dance that introduced the guests to the different cultures in Singapore.
This was followed by praise reports from CHC pastor Audrey Ng, who told the church that the recent Emerge service saw its highest attendance to date: 1,126 young people attended the service and 146 of them gave their hearts to Jesus.
Eileen Toh, the pastor overseeing HarvestKidz, gave a good report about the recent Children’s Day party in October. The children’s service pulled out all the stops to invite children into the house of God and saw over 3,000 of them in the service.
Apart from children in Singapore, Pastor Eileen and her team also held celebrations over Zoom for children in Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar and India. She said that many of these children were from slums and did not know their own birth dates. The HarvestKidz team provided food and birthday cakes, so that the children could be celebrated. Over 5,800 children were blessed in those celebrations.
There were few dry eyes when Elizabeth Pescadero, pastor of His Dwelling Christian Church in Bacolod shared her testimony of how God called her to plant churches among the tribes in Negros Occidental, a large island in the central part of the Philippines. The congregation heard how she met with difficulties in the three years after she started her church and her vision was refreshed at CHC’s School of Theology. She went back to the Philippines with renewed faith.
Together with her team, Pastor Elizabeth started to reach out to the tribal people in the mountains and teach them about God. The Lord saw her through many dangerous situations and today, she has planted 24 City Harvest churches—two in Negros Occidental, 10 among the Unreached People Groups, and 12 other tribal churches.
STORIES OF CHILDREN IN THE GOSPEL OF MARK
Professor Doug Petersen, co-director of graduate studies at Vanguard University and one of the organisers of the Global Pentecostal Summit took to the stage to share a message from the book of Mark.
Before he began, Prof Doug, as he is popularly known in CHC, acknowledged a few people who made the summit possible, and introduced a few scholars to the church. He told the story of how he started ChildHope, a ministry to children in Latin America and introduced Dr Mary Mahon, the current executive director and president of ChildHope.
He also introduced Professor Byron Klaus, formerly the president of the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, and told the church about Professor Murray Dempster, who was not able to be at the Summit. It was the three of them that launched the Global Pentecostal Summit.
In his sermon, Prof Doug used five stories of children from the Gospel of Mark to explain what Mark was trying to tell his readers about Jesus.
Mark 5:21-43 records the account of Jairus, a leader in the synagogue, coming to Jesus and asking Him to heal his daughter. As they were heading to Jairus’ house, a woman with the issue of blood came behind Jesus and touched His robe, thinking she would be healed.
While these things were happening, news came to Jairus and Jesus that the little girl had died. The story ended with Jesus resurrecting Jairus’ daughter.
At this point, Prof Doug pointed out a few things about the way Mark writes the Gospel. Firstly, Mark used words that run through the stories with the expectation that readers would make the connection themselves. Secondly, he often wrote in present tense, using dialogue because he wanted the readers to be in that story.
In the second story in Mark 7:24-30, a Syrophoenician woman with a demon-possessed daughter begged Jesus to help her daughter and, moved by her faith, Jesus did.
Prof Doug explained that in the first seven chapters of his book, Mark put together a series of spectacular miracles and showed to the readers that Jesus has power over everything. “There wasn’t anything Jesus couldn’t do,” Prof Doug noted.
However, by the eighth chapter, the disciples were confused because Jesus was doing nothing about establishing His Kingdom.
THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP
Mark 8 marks the dividing point in his gospel. The first half shows Jesus’ power and authority and the second shows what it costs to follow Jesus. He told His disciples that they must lose their life to gain it (Mk 8:34-36), to be the first, they must first be last (Mk 9:35-37; 10:13-16), and he asked them, “Can you drink the cup?” (Mk 10:32-34; 10:38-39).
The disciples however, found it hard to fully grasp what Jesus meant.
In Mark 9:14-29, a father brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus’ disciples, but they could not cast out the demon. The father then went to Jesus, who promptly rebuked the demon and healed the boy.
In Mark 9:31-37, Jesus noticed His disciples arguing about who was the greatest (Mk 9:34) and taught them a lesson through a child. He told them that if they wanted to be great, they had to be less. How they received a child was how they received Him.
The professor explained that the child is not a symbol. “It is a child; this is a new measurement for what it means to follow Jesus,” he said. A child is defenceless and has absolutely no standing—yet he is to be given priority. How a Christian serves a child shows how much he loves Jesus.
When it came to Mark 10:13-16, the disciples still had not learnt their lesson. The crowds were bringing their sick children to Jesus so He could touch them, yet the disciples were pushing them away.
Jesus was incensed by their actions—His disciples failed to understand that power was not about controlling who could approach Jesus or who was in charge, but about who would reach out to a child and make a difference.
“I’ve been involved in a lot of things in my ministry over more than 50 years,” Prof Doug said. “This is what I know: when I touch the life of a child, I touch the heart of my heavenly Father.”
In Mark 10:32-39, Jesus prophesied about His death and described how He would be mocked and flogged. He asked His disciples “Can you drink the cup?”.
The professor noted that Mark’s story is not only about the past, but also about the present. He admitted that he identified with the disciples’ confusion and struggled with the issues they did.
“Jesus’ rules are still a complete reversal of the order of things,” he said. “I recognise that I have no chance to imitate Jesus without the power of the Holy Spirit.”
At the end of the service, he reminded the congregation that how much they love the little children reflects how much they love God. He held an altar call for those who wanted to receive a love for the children and to serve them, and hundreds went up for an impartation.
SUNDAY, 5 NOVEMBER
Sunday morning opened with a powerful time of praise, which ended with a colourful parade of nations and corporate prayer for these nations.
Three initiatives under CHC’s Church Without Walls programme shared the fruits of their labour. Pastor Lynn Tan told the church about the overwhelming response to City Angels’ call to support young babies and children who are separated from their parents for various reasons. The ministry needed 15 cell groups to help but 56 signed up. Next, Pastor Maria Tok who oversees CHC’s Dialect Service gave praise for the success of their recent Oldies Concert, which saw 556 in attendance, half of which were newcomers to church. Thirty-three people received salvation that day.
Johann Sim and Ee Zhenying, both pastoral supervisors, told the church about the evangelistic carnival under My Fellow Workers that they were going to conduct that afternoon for foreign workers in Singapore—many of them from India and Bangladesh—in a continuing effort to share the love of Jesus with those who labour far away from home. Dr Ivan Satyavrata, the Chairman of World Vision International and a speaker at the Summit, was invited to pray over Our Fellow Workers and the carnival.
Co-founder and executive pastor Sun Ho took the stage to lead worship before introducing a special segment: a dance by Gin Lam capturing a battle she fought with depression before being set free by Holy Spirit. Her performance touched many hearts in the congregation and unexpectedly paved the way for the main message by Prof Byron Klaus.
LOST HOPE, TRANSFORMING WORDS
Prof Byron, as the church refers to him, is a co-organiser of the Global Pentecostal Summit alongside Prof Doug. Formerly the President of the Assemblies Of God Theological Seminary, Prof Byron is a pastor, president, consultant, mentor, governance coach and also the vice-president of ChildHope.
He opened by sharing that he has been following CHC’s weekend services online for the past year every Saturday evening and sensed that there was a great expectation of Jesus in the hearts of thousands, that His presence will change their lives.
His message, “Lost Hope, Transforming Words” centred on the story in John 5 about the man by the pool of Bethesda, who had been there 38 years without receiving healing. He exhorted the congregation to stand as he read John 5:1-9 (ESV) and respond with “This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.”
Bethesda was a place of “last resort”. It was the last and lowest point for anyone seeking a breakthrough. The pool of Bethesda represented dashed hopes, yet for this sick man, it was his own secure place in life; it was his prison of pain. His reply to Jesus that he had been there for 38 years revealed his fear of being disappointed yet again.
“There are so many people in this position today,” the preacher noted, drawing the congregation’s attention to what Jesus did next. “Jesus doesn’t get cross. He doesn’t dig deep into his pain. Jesus just says, ‘Get up, take up your bed and walk.’”
Jesus knew this man was stuck in his mind, Pro Byron pointed out. “He had no possibility of seeing hope, but in that moment that Jesus speaks to him, the prison breaks.” The man who had not got up for 38 years stood up in an instant.
Likewise, many people are imprisoned by their own stories. When God walks in and asks if we want to be healed, in many cases there are layers of healing that need to take place, said Prof Byron. But if Jesus could seek out a man who was invalid for 38 years, He will come and meet us where we are.
The preacher went on to note that after the man had got up, taken his bed and left, he was stopped by the Pharisees for doing the “unlawful” act of carrying his bed on the Sabbath. “When Jesus has changed your mind, don’t go back to that place,” Prof Byron cautioned the church to hold on to their freedom.
Prof Byron read out John 5:17, “But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” He told the church, “It is the same Jesus Who is doing the transforming work [in our lives today]. That is the guarantee of Pentecost. It still happens today.”
To underscore his point, he shared the story of Kelly, the little daughter of two of his church members who was deathly ill. The family was new to the Lord, and while the child’s mother believed for a miracle, the father turned to drink and became angry with Prof Byron. “It was a case of ‘your god is stealing my daughter’,” he explained. Nevertheless, Prof Byron went to the hospital and praying a perfunctory prayer in that tough moment. He left, but returned the next day with a college intern. Upon seeing the girl, the intern fell to the floor and prayed loudly, and Prof Byron also joined him kneeling and praying. The next day, Prof Byron received a call. “The mom was screaming, ‘My daughter is healed!’” he said.
“I have prayed and believed in healing all my life,” he continued. “This time it was a moment the Lord came to me and asked, ‘Do you believe I am Who I say I am? Do you believe I am the Healer for Kelly today?’ And I said, ‘Lord, help my unbelief!’”
When Kelly awoke and began to improve, the doctors gave her three months to walk again. “She left the hospital in three days,” Prof Byron said.
In closing, the professor declared, “Jesus is still in the business of walking into Bethesda. Jesus is still doing exactly the same things he did 2000 years ago.” He delivered an altar call with a prayer for the Holy Spirit to come and speak a word of transformation and deliverance to those who needed to hear that word, and hundreds surged to the altar for prayers from the visiting scholars and church leaders.