Monday, May 12, 2014

Are You Listening To God?


This week, I want to take a look at an amazing blessing God gave to Abraham, and what it means for you and I today. In Galatians 3:13-14, we read:

“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

This blessing came to Abraham in Genesis 13 after God had greatly prospered him over many years. On the road, he met a king and high priest called Melchizedek. In Hebrews 7, we read that this Melchizedek was a Great High Priest like Jesus. He is described as being “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God.”

Melchizedek met Abram in the middle of the road, stopped him, and invited him to his tent to have communion. At this point, when Abram was already wealthy and generally satisfied with his life, he could have ignored this opportunity to hear God's Word. But he didn't. He recognized God's messenger and went inside to listen to him.

Tomorrow, I will explore in more detail what Melchizedek said to Abram, but for now I want to ask you: Are you ready to listen to God? Or are you so distracted by the world that you have forgotten to tune into His voice? Today, tomorrow and into the future, remember this—even when life seems busy and there is much to do, always take the time to stop and listen to God. I know without any doubt that you will be blessed if you do!


Prayer for the day: 

Heavenly Father, I pray that I will never be too preoccupied with my own life that I forget to listen to Your Word. Please help me to always be ready to listen when You speak! 

Friday, May 9, 2014

You Are Highly Favored By God!


Abraham wasn’t the only man who received God’s favor. Joseph was highly favored by God as well. In Genesis 39:3-4, we read:

“And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority.”

Joseph had the presence of God and he prospered in all he did. He “found favor” with his boss. What was the result? He was promoted to be the chief of staff and given all authority! And Joseph used that power not for His own gain, but so that others could be blessed.

This is what I pray for you—Presence, Prosperity and Promotion. To be the head and not the tail, so that you can help others come to know the blessings of God found in Jesus Christ.

Friend, I pray that this year you will find favor with God and with others. In God’s strength, show each of those around you how they too can become a forgiven sinner and a highly-favored child of God through Jesus!

Prayer for the day: 

Thank God that you are His highly-favored child. Ask Him to help you trust His plans for your life, and pray that you can find favor with others too, so that you can share with them the love and goodness of Jesus Christ!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Gratitude

Greek philosopher Aristotle once mused, "Misfortune shows those who are not really friends." However, the inverse is also true: "Misfortune shows those who are truly friends."
The Holy Spirit inspired these words in the Holy Scripture: "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity" (Prov. 17:17).
Through the last few difficult months, I have never felt more alone in my life. Yet, I am always reminded that although I may feel alone, in truth I am far from. So it is with utmost gratitude that I would like to appreciate each and every one of you that have stood by me in spirit, in action and in words. Together with the promises of the Word and the presence of God, your support has been the rod and staff that I lean on during these "valley moments" ... the arms that hold me up when the pressure of the situation threatens to break me down.
To the little boy who asks Jesus to protect me each night before he sleeps ...
To the doctor who cares for my family and believes in us unreservedly ...
To the staffs who serve tirelessly for the church through it all ...
To the zone leaders who pray and confess God's goodness for my life unceasingly ...
To the members who cheer up my darkest days with a smile and a note of encouragement ...
To members of the Internet community worldwide for their kind words on Facebook and Twitter that bless and uplift me daily ...
To the local pastors who stand with me unwavering ...
To the overseas ministries, missionaries, disciples, and Bible school graduates who choose to love me, believe in me, and pray for me constantly ...
To my parents, in-laws, siblings, cousins, nephews and nieces who have shown so much strength and grace in the midst of our tough times ...
To my little boy Dayan who is the joy of my life ...
And to my darling wife Sun who has been my pillar of strength ...
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
I count it my greatest privilege to serve you in and through City Harvest Church, and to be called a friend.

"Thank you for giving to the Lord,

I am a life that was changed.

Thank you for giving to the Lord,

I am so glad you gave."

~ Ray Boltz

Friday, June 18, 2010

Reflections

Barely less than three weeks ago, the entire City Harvest congregation was basking in the immense success of the Asia Conference 2010. It wasn’t merely a climactic finale to all the hard work and dedication that had been put in by the staff and ministry volunteers of the church; it was a culminating representation of all that the church has achieved in its 20 years of existence through the goodness of God and the sacrifices of its members. In a short span of five days in May, the CHC congregation aptly displayed its unique DNA to the 25,245 delegates coming from 70 countries representing 2,086 churches.
What is the City Harvest DNA? In essence, it is the message of the Cross — “loving God wholeheartedly and loving people fervently” (Matt. 22:37-40) — while simultaneously crossing over and engaging the culture of our societies so that the message can be communicated in a fashion that is both relevant and attractive to the generation of our times (Matt. 5:14-16). Let me take this opportunity to thank both the CHC congregation as well as our visiting friends for making the conference one of the most groundbreaking Christian conferences in recent history. :)
But what a difference a day makes ...
The morning after the Asia Conference concluded, certain members of the church, including myself, were called to assist local authorities in an investigation into the management of church funds.
The page had turned. The celebration had abruptly ended.
Because we’re in the midst of the investigation, I am unable to provide any details about the progress besides what already has been released by the Singapore Police in their statement to the press. But I would like to assure everyone that I, together with the Management Board of the church, am fully cooperative in providing the necessary information needed for the investigation.
On a more personal note, I would also like to assure everyone that my family and I are doing well. I am awed by the concern that so many have shown during this time. I am also deeply grateful for the support and advice that has been so generously given. Thanks to all of your love and support, I’ve realized that this is the most opportune moment in my life to reflect on what matters most to me in my life: Faith, Family and Friends.
FAITH. My relationship with God is and always has been at the centre of my life. During times of adversity, I have always taken comfort in one thing that I know to be true: I have honestly served God and shepherded His people to the best of my abilities. It matters most to me that my account to God is absolute and I can say without hesitation that I have done my best to glorify His name and build His church. Loving God is my deepest passion and it is my greatest privilege to serve Him with all I have.
FAMILY. Other than my relationship with God, my family represents the portion of my life for which I am most undeserving of and thankful for. If the fruit of my faith is the legacy I leave in this world from my existence, then my family is the legacy that I have gained in return. What a profitable exchange! Without my wife and son, I would be a poor man indeed.
FRIENDS. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Prov. 17:17). How true. In this time of trial, I see who my friends are and appreciate the confidence they have in me. Confidence given not because I’m a “pastor,” but because I have in some way or another proven myself worthy to be called a “friend.” Their kind words and thoughtful insights have kept my spirits up during this time. Trust is such a precious commodity. To my friends both within and out of CHC who have chosen to trust in the intent of my heart, I can only say “Thank You.”
It has been a glorious 20 years of church building filled with tears and triumph, brokenness as well as breakthroughs. What can we hope for the years to come? Well, we know from the Holy Bible that God’s thoughts toward us are thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give us a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11). I believe that the City Harvest story will continue to unfold. There is not a hint of doubt in my heart that my Lord Jesus Christ is not only the author of our faith, but also its finisher (Heb. 12:2). So it is on that promise we should stand, trusting that His Word is true, His heart is for us, and His love will never fail.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Did Jesus Resurrect from the Dead?

The last few weeks have been quite the rollercoaster ride—ups and downs aplenty! I promise that in my next blog post, I will address all the concerns that some of you have raised recently. But for now, I hope that we can all focus on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as we celebrate His sacrifice and victory for us this Easter weekend.
The period from Palm Sunday to Good Friday and Easter Sunday is traditionally known as the Passion Week. It is the holiest week in the Christian Church calendar. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ have been documented extensively in the Holy Scripture. If Jesus is indeed the Son of God, death would never overpower Him. As such, we read of the resurrection in the following passages:
  • Four Gospels (Matt. 27:62-63; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22; John 2:19, 21).
  • Book of Acts (Acts 1:3, 22; 2:31-32; 3:14-15; 4:33; 13:30-31; 17:18).
  • Paul’s writings (Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 15:4-8).
  • Peter’s words (Acts 10:40).
Most importantly, Jesus Himself personally testifies that “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (Rev. 1:18). In that resurrection, Jesus’ soul and spirit were reunited with His body, which was made alive by the Holy Spirit. He physically rose from the grave, never to die again. Jesus was the first to experience that because while others were restored to physical life, they didn’t have a new body. Jarius’ daughter (Mark 5:35-43) and Lazarus (John 11:38-44) were raised from the dead, but they would ultimately die again. These people would die because Satan, who had the power of death, had not yet been conquered (Heb. 2:14). Christ became the firstfruits (example) of those whose souls would be redeemed from sin (1 Cor. 15:21-23).
Why is the resurrection important? Because Christianity stands or falls with it. Paul says, “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty . . . And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Cor. 15:14, 17). In the landmark book Evidence that Demands a Verdict: Vol. 1, author Josh McDowell writes that “the resurrection of Jesus Christ is either one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless, hoaxes ever foisted on the minds of human beings, or it is the most remarkable fact of history.”
Throughout the centuries, there have been many theories to explain away the possibility of a resurrection. The Theory of Substitution claims that Jesus was never crucified in the first place. Someone else who looked like Him was forced to take His place. If that is true, then Jesus is guilty of deceit, dishonesty and heartlessness. He cared little for the death of an innocent bystander, or for the grief of His closest disciples.
Another theory is the Swoon Theory that states that Jesus never really died on the cross. After hanging for six hours, unknown to the public, He managed to come down in a “swoon.” He was then laid in a cool cave and was later revived by the application of healing ointment and strongly-scented spices. The Swoon Theory suggests that Jesus didn’t want to die, which is evident by Him “hiding” in Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal. His prayer for God to pass the cup from Him also showed His reluctance to die (cf. Matt. 26:39). Besides, there were no witnesses to actually see the crucifixion. The fact that Mary mistakenly took Jesus to be a gardener confirms that He was in disguise to hide from the authorities!
Is the resurrection a hoax or an actual historical event? Josh McDowell, a lawyer by training, puts forth the following ten evidences:
1. Jesus was not afraid to die. In fact, He predicted His own death (Matt. 17:22-23; 20:18-19).
2. Jesus was willing to die. When the Roman soldiers came to arrest Him, He didn’t cower in fear, instead He boldly “went forward” to talk to them (John 18:4).
3. Jesus was definitely sentenced to death. To be sure He remained dead and buried, He was put through six trials to prove His “guilt.” He first appeared before Annas and Caiaphas the high priest, who felt that Jesus was worthy of death (John 18:13-14). He then stood before the highest religious court in the land, the Sanhedrin, who sought charges against Him to put Him to death (Matt. 26:57-59). He was then taken to Pilate and Herod, and the former sentenced Him to death by crucifixion (Luke 23:1-25).
4. There were political motives for His death. To the Romans, Jesus was a rebel by affirming that He was “the King of the Jews” (Luke 23:3). Pilate could face the wrath of Tiberius Caesar for not dealing with a potential menace to the empire. To the Jews, failure to bring a radical troublemaker to the authority could lead to reprisals and stricter oversights from the Romans in the long run.
5. There were economical motives for His death. Jesus upset the commercialization inside the temple (Matt. 21:12-16). Temple service required provision to be made for getting what was needed for the sacrifices—animals, wood, oil, etc.—especially for pilgrims from afar. The great feasts provided opportunities for extortion to abound. Jesus drove the lot out. The chief priest and the temple elders were upset.
6. There were religious motives for His death. Jesus was getting more popular than the established religious leaders. The Pharisees were saying among themselves, “You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!” (John 12:19).
7. Crucifixion ensured the certainty of death. The Persians used it. Alexander the Great used it. In Israel, crucifixion was usually reserved for idolaters and blasphemers. It was the most degrading and cruel form of death sentence. And it was the surest way to guarantee a criminal dies. For Jesus, the pre-crucifixion torture included the whipping using long leather strips with sharp jagged pieces of bones and lead. Most people would have simply died by the end of the whipping. Jesus was then made to wear a crown of thorns and carry the cross up Calvary hill. A seven inch spike was then driven through His wrist nailing Him onto the cross. It was a custom to speed up the death of a criminal on the cross by breaking his legs. But in the case of Jesus, it wasn’t necessary because He had already died (John 19:33). To ensure His death, “one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out” (v. 34). Medically speaking, this implies that Jesus died of a heart failure due to exhaustion and shock. The Romans would never allow the body of a criminal to be taken down from a cross unless they are absolutely sure he is dead. The death must be certified by four executioners. When Jesus was taken down, there was no question that He had truly died.
8. The solid rock tomb made certain there was no possibility of getting the body out. As a Jew, Jesus was buried according to Jewish custom, which will never allow a dead body to be left overnight without embalming. The body of Jesus was covered with 100 pounds of spices and then wrapped in embalming cloth that was sewn by women using three separate garments (John 19:39-40). There was absolutely no possibility of Jesus waking up naturally and freeing Himself from the cloth and the spices. The very large stone against the door of the tomb (Matt. 27:60) weighed 1.5 to 2 tons. Twenty men couldn’t have moved it. To further secure the tomb, the authorities put a Roman seal on the stone to ensure that the tombstone was not tampered with (Matt. 27:66). The Roman seal came with a warning sign that grave robbers would be severely punished. Finally, there was a Roman guard unit of four to 16 men watching over the tomb to make certain that no one stole Jesus’ body away (Matt. 28:11).
9. Yet, the tomb was empty. This could only mean one of two things: (a) the dead body of Jesus was stolen. This by itself would be a miracle considering all the precautions already taken by the Roman and Jewish authorities to prevent anyone from doing that. Besides His dead body was never produced. (b) Jesus Christ really did resurrect from the grave!
10. The immediate psychological and social impact attest to a resurrection. On Easter Sunday, Jesus Christ made at least 15 appearances after His crucifixion and burial:
  • Mary Magdalene (John 20:14; Mark 16:9)
  • Women returning from tomb (Matt. 28:9-10)
  • Simon Peter, later that day (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5)
  • Emmaus disciples (Luke 24:13-33)
  • Disciples with Thomas absent (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-24)
  • Disciples with Thomas present (John 20:26-29)
  • Seven by the Lake of Tiberias (John 21:1-23)
  • 500-over believers in Galilee (1 Cor. 15:6)
  • James the brother of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:7)
  • Eleven disciples (Matt. 28:16-20; Mark 16:14-20; Luke 24:33-52)
  • Ascension day (Acts 1:3-12)
  • Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:3-6; 1 Cor. 15:8)
  • Stephen the Martyr (Acts 7:55)
  • Paul in the temple (Acts 22:17-21; 23:11)
  • John on the island of Patmos (Rev. 1:10-19)
The enemies could have easily disproved the resurrection with a corpse from the grave, but no body was ever produced. Instead the religious leaders resorted to bribery to concoct a story that Jesus’ disciples had stolen the body by night (Matt. 28:12-13). Yet, there is no historical record of a search for Jesus’ body because too many people at that time had witnessed the resurrection.
The psychological impact among Jesus’ followers was so tangible that they moved from disillusionment, fear and unbelief into courageous faith. What could have precipitated such transformation? Only one thing—an actual resurrection appearance by Jesus Christ! More than just the early apostles, millions of Christians over the last 2,000 years were willing to suffer persecution and death for their faith in a resurrected Savior.
Josh McDowell is right: the resurrection of Jesus Christ is either a terrible hoax or indisputable history. McDowell says that the promise of the resurrection is this: what happened to Christ can happen for us. Like Him, we will die, but His resurrection is a promise that death is not the end. His resurrection is the prototype for our own.
Jesus is our example: if we follow Him, He can make a way when there seems to be no way.
He can raise our dreams when they seem to have died.
He can resurrect marriages that seem to have failed.
He can bring divine health to our broken bodies.
He can lift you up when you feel like you’ve fallen.
This Easter, let’s put our trust and hope in the One who died and rose again. Because through His sacrifice, we can all do the same.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

CHC’s New Home: Suntec Convention Centre

This is an article about CHC’s new church building that was printed in City News Weekly, March 7, 2010. CNW is a newspaper reporting news from a Christian perspective. With CNW’s permission, I have reproduced the whole article in full below. Enjoy!
The news is out: City Harvest will be moving to its new premises at Suntec Singapore International Exhibition and Convention Centre by 2011.
By Theresa Tan

PHOTO COURTESY OF SUNTEC SINGAPORE
This has probably been City Harvest Church’s best-kept secret in its 21-year-history. The exact location of the church’s new site has been a hot topic that has kept Christians within and outside the church guessing, since it was confirmed on Jan. 16 that a space had finally been procured after a five-year search.
Bound by a non-disclosure agreement, the management could not say a word until yesterday afternoon, at the first service of the weekend at the Jurong West church.
The revelation of Suntec Singapore International Exhibition and Convention Centre met with great excitement from the church congregation. This location would put all the services of the church under one roof.
“When we were looking for a property, there were three major considerations,” said senior pastor Kong Hee.
1.Size. “It had to be as big as we can go in our small city-state with limited land. Suntec Convention Centre has a total usable area of more than 1 million sq ft—that is 20 times our Jurong West property and 10 times Expo Hall 8. Suntec has the size we need and can accommodate our traffic.”
2.Location. “We wanted a place that was central and easy to get to by MRT and bus. CHC members come from all over the island. Suntec is centrally located with three major MRT stations nearby: City Hall MRT is a 10-minute walk; Esplanade MRT and Promenade MRT open this April and are even closer by.”
3.Facilities. “A church is not just a main sanctuary and nothing else. Having extra facilities is critical to the operations of the church. We need areas for children, rooms for Bible study, car park space and eating places. Suntec Convention Centre has more than 30 meeting rooms, and we will have access to over 8,680 car park lots in the Suntec-Marina area. Between Suntec City and the Convention Centre, there are 283 stalls/restaurants for our members to eat at, and 622 retail stores for our members to shop in.”
Through this agreement, CHC becomes a co-owner of Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre, and has a share in the annual revenues of all its facilities. The two floors CHC will primarily use are the sixth and seventh floors and include the CHC Auditorium which is column-free and can accommodate up to 12,000 seats. Early plans for this space reveal a stadium-style layout with a sizeable play area for children, and 10 meeting rooms. “All our morning prayer meetings, seminars and conferences will be held here in the future,” explained Kong.
The other parts of the Convention Centre will be open to the public, and will continue to be rented by third parties for exhibitions, fairs and performances as is currently the case.
Tan Ye Peng, deputy senior pastor, explains to City News what co-ownership of Suntec Singapore means. “Last year, ARA Asset Management Limited announced that its ARA Harmony Fund had acquired the Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre. Harmony Fund’s investors comprise Suntec REIT, which holds 20 percent, and a consortium that holds 80 percent. CHC has bought a significant stake into the consortium.”
City Harvest is looking to raise S$310 million, but this sum is not the value of the property, says Tan. “This amount consists of cost of shares; rental; renovation and equipment; professional building, management logistic and maintenance fees; refundable deposits and moving costs.”
One of the key considerations for this site is the business model that CHC can and will adopt for Suntec Singapore. “For Singapore Expo, we are in a lease-only business model. As such, what is being paid out does not have any returns or profit-sharing for CHC. The Board and the Building Committee discussed and concluded that with an ‘ownership-and-license’ business model, the rent we pay out will be recovered by CHC in the form of profits and dividends.”
“It’s perfect for our church,” says Tan. “This place has everything we need. It’s been around, it’s an established place. It has been the venue for some of the most important events that ever took place in Singapore, like the APEC CEO Summit last November, and the International Monetary Fund-World Bank meeting in 2006. This August it will be the venue for the 2010 Youth Olympic Games. It’s got all the facilities, and it’s super convenient. There is no other place that allows us this space size in this part of Singapore.”
In the event that there are such key events on the same scale as the IMF-World Bank meetings, Tan says City Harvest will exercise flexibility and vacate the space for such clients. “We are now part-owners,” he explains. “It benefits us too.” Tan points out that although City Harvest will use the space for its services, the building is still a commercial entity, and technically not a “church building”. “The church will lease the space to use for our services,” explains Tan. “The difference is that we are also co-owners of this building.”
For Chew Eng Han, who was tasked in 2005 to be the key person on the ground to find out what was available, and to speak to consultants and banks, the success of this partnership with Suntec Singapore is a triumph. “I feel fulfilled,” he declares.
The search was far from an easy one. “It required a lot of wisdom,” says Chew. “We needed the right location, central yet big enough, yet it could not be too costly, and it had to earn income, too. At the time we were looking, between 2005 and 2008, construction costs were escalating. When the crash came, property prices came down, but finding a partner became a challenge.”
Suntec Singapore was negotiated at the right time, and agreed upon at the right price, says Chew.
“It’s the best location because it’s already in existence. Although it may have been around for a number of years, the building is continually being refurbished and in good shape. Since we are not buying a new plot of land, we don’t have the risk of escalating costs—building costs fluctuate. The space is great: it totals over 1 million square feet, the hall is big enough, there are more than 30 meeting rooms and we have access to the Gallery space, and also the 600-seat Theatre on weekends.”
“It’s an ideal location for City Harvest, really—but at a much lower price than its original cost.” Suntec Singapore was originally built for a price of S$650 million in the early 1990s.
The best news for the burgeoning congregation may be the fact that with the space already built and available, CHC targets to move in by the end of the first quarter of 2011, once its lease at the Singapore Expo expires.

CN PHOTO: MICHAEL CHAN
For some, the announcement brought tears of joy. For others, the location was a complete surprise (See box story: What The Members Say).
Kong’s wife, singer Sun Ho, flew back to celebrate the announcement together with the church. Moments after the announcement, she tells City News: “I’m standing in a historical moment when miracles have just happened. God has done it again. My heart is overwhelmed, because this is something in which not just Kong and I, but the whole church have sown, labored, prayed, believed and claimed for, for so long. This is the time, this is the moment—we sowed in tears, and now we are really reaping in joy. Above the location, my heart is just so full of gratitude that we are able to build this house for God, for His glory. I’m grateful I can be a part of it.”
The church will fund the S$310 million through freewill donations from churchgoers. The church building fund, Arise & Build, is into its fifth round, with a target of S$17.3 million. There are eight more Arise & Build campaigns planned.
Further information on the design and details of the Suntec Singapore location will be released in the coming weeks.

What The Members Say
“I live in the Northeast, so I’m very happy especially since the Circle Line is opening. Everybody knows where Suntec is. It’s a very exciting move for the church!”
Khoo Lili, banker, in her 30s
“I never thought it could be such an awesome place. It’s at the center of Singapore—Formula One, Youth Olympic Games are all held there.”
Jason Jiang, pre-enlistee, 18
“I didn’t expect it, I thought it would be Marina Barrage. It’s exciting for the usher ministry—but greater challenges will come because of the bigger crowd. We’ll need more ushers to rise up for leadership and more members to join usher ministry.”
Ng Yoong Tian, engineer and usher team leader, 27
“The location is great as it brings in revenue for the church without the opportunity time cost. It really is a God-given idea.”
Kenneth Lee, IT director, 40
“Very excited to see such a big place and looking forward to having more quality and longer fellowship with my cell group members.”
Ang Xin Yee, secondary school student, 13
“I came specially for Service 1 though I was supposed to go back to JB. I teared when I heard the news and I can’t wait to worship at our new location.”
Lin Yilan, retiree, 60
“Mind-blowing! Totally unexpected! I believe this is the start of greater things with God bringing us to the next level. It is truly an honor and privilege to be part of history in the making.”
Ee Jia Ying, NUS undergraduate, 21
“I think God is amazing. All these years we’ve been giving and we didn’t even know where it would be! Upon hearing the news, all I can say is that God is indeed faithful!”
Rachel Lim, AIA financial services consultant, 26

Saturday, February 27, 2010

New Building

In the Holy Scripture, Jacob encountered the Lord in a dream. When he awoke, he proclaimed, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” (Gen. 28:17) He called the name of that place Bethel, which means “the house of God.” What a beautiful description of the church—an awesome place, the gate of heaven. Jesus Christ Himself says, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).
After five years of seemingly endless property searches, City Harvest Church has finally purchased a new property to serve our next phase of growth and development. Our members have been giving faithfully and sacrificially, seeking to own a venue where God’s people can gather to worship, pray and serve His kingdom purpose. Next weekend, we will make that location known.
While CHC members (and I suspect, some in the public) sit on the edge of their seats in suspense, awaiting the release of this vital piece of information, I too, am anticipating the various reactions that may arise after the location is known. As such, I have generated a list of Frequently Asked Questions for those whom may have some queries weighing in their minds.
Whatever the case, I hope that we will share the same conviction as King David that the house “for the LORD must be exceedingly magnificent, famous and glorious throughout all the lands” (1 Chr. 22:5).
1.Why is there a need for CHC to secure such a huge facility?
We need a facility that will be able to accommodate the congregations from our English Services, Children’s Church, Chinese Church, Dialect Church, JAMs (Jesus for All Minds) Church, Indonesian Service, Tamil Service, and Filipino Service. By God’s grace, we have been growing steadily and our database name list currently stands at 32,731.

At the same time, the cost of hall rentals in Singapore has been increasing. It therefore makes financial sense to have our own facility in the long run. What’s more, our ability to rent halls for worship depends on their availability and other contractual terms. Having our own property means we will no longer subject our congregations to the risk of not being able to rent a facility for use, or having to move from time to time to different venues.
2.Why does the project cost S$310 million?
There are three factors to consider regarding the cost of a project:
a.The size of the property: the land size of the property is large enough to contain a 12,000-seater auditorium to accommodate the needs of our growing congregation.
b.The location of the property: CHC has members coming from all over the island. Centrality and ease of access via public transportation is important to us.
c.The facilities of the property: The building will have many meeting rooms and restaurants, with sufficient car parking space for our congregants and the general public.
3.What type of building will the facility be housed in? Integrated mall? Or purely a place of worship?
It is not purely a place of worship. This property has a 12,000-seater auditorium, and many other meeting rooms and F&B outlets.
4.Why does the church need to be in the CBD area?
We already have an existing church building at Jurong West. But our members come from all over the island. Proximity and accessibility by public transportation is the key factor behind our decision to find another facility that is in the central district of Singapore.

5.How does CHC plan to finance the project?
We will finance the project from the free-will contributions of our members.
6.CHC is planning to spend S$310 million on their building, shouldn’t CHC take care of the poor and needy instead?
CHC spends 20 percent of its annual budget on local community and overseas humanitarian work to help the poor and needy. This work has been ongoing since the church began in 1989. For example, in the aftermath of the Aceh tsunami and Haiti earthquake, CHC volunteered teams of doctors and disaster relief workers with medical supplies, tents and water filters to help the victims. In addition, CHC has been actively giving to missions work and supporting its network of churches all over Asia. With a facility to house the church’s growing congregation and multifaceted ministries, we can serve the needs of the community in an even greater way.
7.Economically, wouldn’t the church save more money if its facility is outside of CBD or in the suburbs of Singapore?
Properties are scarce and property prices are generally high throughout Singapore. The key consideration behind our choice of location is proximity and accessibility for our members.
8.What does CHC plan to achieve in undertaking this massive project?
The facility is meant to meet the needs of our growing congregation for a place of worship. It also allows CHC to move from its present expensive rental model to a more financially sustainable ownership model for the long term.
9.Since majority of the activities of the church are on weekends, how will the building be used during the weekdays? Isn’t it a waste of space?
The facilities of the property and F&B outlets are open to the public daily. During the weekdays, the auditorium will be used from time-to-time as a venue for seminars, conferences, arts and cultural performances.
10.According to the laws of Singapore, can worship services be held within the Central Business District?
There is no legal restriction against conducting worship services in the CBD area, provided zoning and other legal requirements are met. Currently there are more than 30 places of worship in downtown Singapore. These include churches, temples and mosques such as St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Wesley Methodist Church, Orchard Road Presbyterian Church, Sri Mariamman Temple, Masjid Jamae Chulia, Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple, Maghain Aboth Synagogue; just to name a few. We will ensure that use of our new facility does not breach zoning restrictions or other legal restrictions applicable to the facility.
11.Since CHC already owns a property in Jurong West, why does it need another facility?
CHC has long outgrown the facility at Jurong West as its capacity is limited to 2,300 people. Our present congregation is more than 14 times the maximum capacity of our Jurong West building. Since 2005 we have had to rent premises at Singapore Expo to accommodate our congregations.
It should also be noted that the new facility does not mean the Jurong West church building will be redundant. Activities such as outreach to the elderly and children living in the Jurong area will continue. The property in Jurong West will still be utilized for training, counseling, prayers, etc.
12.Should CHC elect to have its facility in the downtown area, would there be a potential for crowds and traffic jams in the already crowded CBD?
This is an important consideration which we factored into our planning for the new facility. There is ample car parking space, and the roads surrounding the property are wide enough to ensure smooth traffic.