I just came back (it’s now 2am Sunday morning) from Easter service at City Harvest Church and a night out with my friend’s CHC cell group. As I write I’m still full of awe and praise towards God for what has happened in the past 9 hours or so! A bit of background first…
As some of you know, I’ve been teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) for just under a month at a private Business School. I got into this field for basically one reason. I hope to do missions in future and teaching English as a foreign or second language is in great demand throughout the world – especially in the mission field where I hope to use this skill to earn a living and reach out to the lost.
When I was in Perth last year, I saw the amazing potential that teaching ESL had in reaching out to the lost in the developed world. And I knew that I wanted to do that in Singapore. The context in Australia and Singapore is different. In Australia, there’s a lot of opportunities to reach out to those on Working Holiday visas. Many churches give free English classes to these people and reach out to them through that. The English classes aren’t just a source of free English lessons but also a place to meet other foreigners and get any help from the teachers there.
In Singapore, you don’t have foreigners coming here on one-year Working Holiday visas. Rather, you have a lot of people from Asia who come here to study in schools. For those who come here to study in Primary or Secondary school, they would be able to integrate into Singapore society. However, many also come here for their University education and go to private schools that offer degrees from Western Universities. Before they are able to start their University studies, however, they normally have to go through English lessons to get their English level up to standard. A lot of these students are of course from China, but there are many also from Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam. And I think most of of them do not integrate that well into Singapore society. This is because their English is not very good. And a lot of private schools have students which consist mainly of foreigners. The places these foreigners live (especially the hostels) are also filled with foreign students. The result is that these foreigners tend to mix around with other foreigners – and thus most likely will not come into contact with Singaporean Christians.
There is thus a great need to reach out to these foreign students. And of course, the ideal person to reach out to such students are ESL teachers. And so this is what I wanted to do while being an ESL teacher in Singapore. I loved teaching. And I loved interacting with youth. I think I can relate to them well and am able to build up a good rapport with them. And I put a lot of effort in my teaching because I want to be the best teacher I can to help my students.
I invited my students to City Harvest for its 5:30pm Saturday Easter service. I didn’t invite them to New Creation because it didn’t have any special service and I knew that New Creation didn’t have the community to be able to reach out to them. I wanted a community of people that would be able to befriend them, make them feel welcome, reach out to them and follow up with them. I had a good friend in City Harvest and had visited his cell before. I knew that they would be a community that would be able to reach out to them. One thing I love about City Harvest is their strong cell community. New Creation sorely lacks this.
On Thursday, about 12 students said they would meet me for the service. I didn’t expect all 12 to come because something always crops up! But somehow as I prayed, I prayed for 11 to come. I thought that was perhaps a bit unrealistic, but I wanted to believe God for that. In the end, 11 of my students came and 1 of them brought a hostel mate of hers. In all, 9 mainland Chinese students and 3 Vietnamese attended the service.
The Easter drama was moving at times. I didn’t watch the beginning because I was waiting for some friends who came late. But the part where Christ was crucified was very good. I was glad for my Chinese students that the drama and the sermon by Pastor Kong were in both English and Chinese so they would understand what’s going on. However, I wasn’t too happy with the sermon as I thought the gospel presentation was extremely unclear. In fact, I thought that was probably the worst Easter service message I’ve ever heard. But I won’t get into that here :)
What excited me was the response from my students. Before the service, I was praying for 3 salvations. In the end, God surprised me when 10 of the 12 students actually responded to the alter call and went to the front!! I don’t know if every one of them understood the significance of it all as I thought the message was very unclear and also the alter call. However, I also know that most people don’t understand the gospel clearly when they first accept Christ. Whatever the case, I am full of joy that they did take the step they did. I’m reminded once again that this is the reason why I’m teaching. Yes, I want them to improve their English. But more than that, I want them to know Jesus and find true meaning for their lives.
After the service, my students ate together and got to know my friend’s cell members. This is the reason I brought them to City Harvest. Responding to the gospel is one thing. But it’s so important to be part of a community. And I don’t know any other Church in Singapore that can provide such a community like City Harvest can. Nor do I know any other Church in Singapore which is as passionate for evangelism and missions as City Harvest. While I don’t think City Harvest’s teaching is as good as New Creation’s, I’m quite happy to see my students get involved in the City Harvest community.
God is a faithful God. I’ve already seen answers to some of the prayers I’ve been praying since the beginning of the year. Not just regarding the above, but also in other areas. The teachings of New Creation have challenged me in my faith – especially as it relates to believing God for what we ask for.
Now I’m actually thinking and praying about two things. Firstly, on whether I should continue on teaching in my school. I have to make that decision pretty soon. I’ve already mentioned here that the English department is a big joke. And I kind of decided to stop working there once I finish with my present class next month. However, after what happened yesterday, I am praying about it. I know there’s a great opportunity to reach out to more students in the school. That’s what’s making me think twice about quitting. Yet, I don’t like short changing my students – something I’ll have to do if I continue teaching there.
The second thing is whether to continue to stay on in New Creation. This is not something new I’ve been thinking about. Rather, I’ve been praying about it for a while. I know I’ll never be able to get as good teachings in other churches as I would get in New Creation. On the other hand, my view of Christianity as a community is just so different from the community (or lack of) I find in New Creation. I don’t want to always reach out to people and get them to settle in another church! I want to be able to bring them to my church and I want them to find a loving community there. If I were to commit myself to another church, I could still buy and listen to New Creation’s CDs (or even attend their Sunday afternoon services), but you can’t buy community…
I really feel your joy and God is great! Doing exceedingly and abundantly above what we think! I’m heartened to hear so many of your students responding to God’s call. I believe God is using you mightily to impact the lives of these students and help them to know what they are created for and lead an abundant life!
As for New Creation, I understand what you mean. I’d share with you a recent experience. Because there was no good friday service, I sorely wanted to be in touch with a Christian community where I could interact on this special day. I joined a friend for her mentor’s caregroup from Covenant Church in Bukit Panjang, and that was just a breath of fresh air! We watched a very touching video of a young boy, 2 cell group members shared their testimonies and the gospel as shared thereafter. After the session ended, we just got together to share stories of God’s goodness and just talked about Jesus and what He has done for us.
It was then that I realized I really missed community, and I agree with you to a certain extent it is missing in NCC.
Personally, I’m not ready to leave NCC because I view it fundamental to building my spiritual foundations. Until today, the old messages of Grace and Favor, God’s Love, Jesus Finished work and the New Covenant still refreshes me all the time.
I do have similar thoughts of planting myself in another communal based church after a few years though.
Also, whenever I have friends who are “burnt out” from ministry or church or “works”, my first choice is always NCC to bring them back to the fundamentals. And it never fails in bringing life back into their lives.
In a way I do consider NCC as a very important “rehab” centre (using it reverently) and the building of important fundamentals of grace within the Christian before he proceed to become a disciple of Christ.
hi, i chanced upon your blog and was intrigued by what you wrote. what is this “community” (or lack of) that you speak about New Creation Church? Do they not have cell groups?
Yes, indeed I recommend NCC to a lot of my friends. It’s the first I would recommend, especially if the person is in need of a lot of healing or has had a bad experience with churches in the past.
I invited one of my friends to NCC yesterday. I also said I’ll go with her to City Harvest if she wants. However, she mentioned to me that she’s heard a lot of scary things about CHC. Ha… Same old story – very pressurizing and all. So I guess it depends on the situation. But like you, I think eventually it’s important to have a community to be part of.
Hi Jolene, NCC does have cell groups but it would be very different from say City Harvest where everyone has to attend a cell group. I believe most people who attend NCC are not part of a cell and they go there alone or with a friend (partner) or two. When service ends, most people disperse and go their separate ways. In CHC, cell group is a huge thing. After service, you will hang around with your cell group and do things together. You get to know a lot of people and you definitely get involved in a community. Also, there is a lot of follow-up with new believers.
Both churches are at opposite ends of the spectrum.
I have an opportunity to see in person both Rev Hee knong & Pastor Prince. When they were invited to Canada to preach in different times by one of the local Churches I respect both of them!!!!
Well, I entertain a thought (necessarily not true) that the average Christian in Asia is better than some Pastors in North America ( exceptionally Mexico)
In the part the world we live in we can’t find both what they call it “Community based Church with “Sound doctrine” teachings if they have sound doctrine kind of teachings, their nose is up on the air snob & “I know it all” kind of attitudes that you have deal with.
If the the Church is a kind of Church provides fellowship & great relationships they have the tendency to control & spiritually abuse the flock. at least in Singapore you can balance it out between City Harvest & New Creation Church.
Hi Donkey of Christ,
Firstly, why you called yourself with this name. He paid an unmeasurable price at the cross for you but you chose to be a donkey of Christ? I am highly favored and beloved of Christ! I am the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus! I am a joint heir with Christ!
I understand that you find NCC lacks Christian community but may I ask if you have “tried” being a member of the Care Group? If no, then I believe you should know what’s my next question. If yes, please share it with the leader of the care group because it is no point keeping the unhappiness within yourself and developing it into bickering and murmuring. All these is pretty simple to resolve.
Praise God that you find NCC is a place to develop and maintain your spiritual foundation and so have many others. However do let your motive and focus be Jesus only. Though God has greatly used Ps Prince to winning and strengthening many souls in NCC, he and NCC is still vulnerable to imperfection. I am a member of a care group in NCC and am preparing myself to serve as a leader in NCC one day. I am pretty in touch with the community in NCC. I am in touch what are the weaknesses in NCC and how the pastors react to such concerns. I can assured you, the team of pastors that Ps Prince has, is a very capable bunch of people. They are willing to listen, learn and improve things for God in this church. Be not ignorant, there are a lot more community work done that is still very transparent to its members or attendees. Only those truly involved in the church, will only feel the heartbeat of the church. Those who are not, should not sit there and bicker or murmur over it. Let the love of Christ compels you to offer an inch of your effort to serve God in NCC.