This Sunday marks a significant milestone for Hermon. We can officially come together as One Hermon@Henderson at last. The approval from our regulators on 2 Sep was timely, as the safe management measures of the pandemic have also eased, with no mask wearing or safe distancing needed. We are now back to the physical conditions prior to April 2020. This physical journey to Henderson began with a symbolic walk by nearly 80 of us from CCKBC on 11 Dec 2021. We walked mainly along the rail corridor and we braved the sun, rain and many kilometres to get to Henderson. At that time, little did we know that the transition would take another eight more months to be fully completed.
I would like to thank everyone who has been part of the Renovation Project Committee (led by Mr Chua Keng Chay), Project Execution Team (led by Eld Peter Seah), the DOH Directors and Shareholders, and the Worship Ministry (led by Lenard Cheng). The sacrificial efforts of everyone to work as an elaborate team made this extended and challenging journey possible.
Don’t waste a good crisis
Sir Winston Churchill is credited with saying, “Never let a good crisis go to waste” in the mid-1940s as the world approached the end of WWll. People have explained that “what is inspiring about Churchill’s quote is that it causes you to look for a silver lining during a crisis and to seek opportunities where they might not have been before.”
If you had told me in 2019 that we would face the delays of transiting to Henderson during a pandemic, I think we would have held back any transition plans. It would have been too scary to contemplate the challenge. Yet, we can testify today that God has been our Ebenezer. He did not show us the future; instead, He took us by the hand and walked with us each step of the way.
And, reflecting today, I think we can say God has enabled us to make good use of the crisis in the following areas:
Video recording of Sunday Services – prior to 2020, the only ‘high tech’ stuff we did was to audio record our sermons and upload them to our podcast site. Little did we know that the pandemic would force us to learn how to video our services and have them hosted on YouTube. Our audio sermons received fewer than 20 hits each, but now, on YouTube, we are getting over 300 unique views each week. Praise God that He has enabled us to use technology to bless others.
Live broadcast services – if we had gone from pre-COVID-19 in-person services to live streaming at Henderson for eight months, I think the stress level would have been unbearable for all of us. The change would have been too drastic and we would not have had sufficient experience to transit. But 2020/21 was a good preparation. We learnt step by step how to do live broadcasts – moving from broadcasting via a mobile phone to using the Yolobox, and now the ATEM system. Thank God that the crisis helped us to be ready and accustomed to the live streaming of Sunday services.
Online Zoom meetings – prior to 2020, I had never heard of Zoom. But COVID-19 changed that. It was quite a learning curve firstly to use it on our mobile phones and then on our laptops. Initially, just connecting online with everyone took at least 15 minutes. I remember many could not figure out how to turn on their video or mute themselves if they had to go to the kitchen. We have now graduated to being able to hold our ACMs, prayer meetings, CG meetings and even EDM sessions online. It has helped those who otherwise would not have been able to participate. Some CG members have even attended meetings in their hospital scrubs due 1. to duty clashes. Others have rushed to join prayer meetings while riding home late from work on the MRT. Thank God that we have been able to use such online platforms for greater connectivity.
Electronic giving – prior to 2020, there were about five members who gave their tithes and offerings online. Today, we have 100% of us doing so. The advantage is that it saves time for our counters, who in the past had to stay behind every Sunday for at least 30 mins to record the offertory. It has also taken away the security concerns of storing and transporting the offerings to the bank. We thank God that we have positively transited to this online mode as a church.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain.
COVID-19 has reminded us that mankind is not in control. We may have been able to fly to the moon and back, go to the deepest depth of the ocean and build practically anything, anywhere. Yet, it took a virus like COVID-19 to show us how vulnerable we are. It took COVID-19 to remind everyone (especially the young) that death and dying are inevitable.
These eight months of waiting for the regulatory approval has reminded me of Psalm 127:1 in the following ways:
Prayerfulness as a community – in what we could control of the application process, we did our utmost. But how the regulators responded was totally outside of our control. We were totally helpless in influencing the outcome. There was a call from the leaders for much perseverance in prayer. We had Project Ebenezer updates weekly in the prayer page of the Herald, and prayed over them every Sunday during the Pastoral Prayer. It was also a constant item in the fortnightly Prayer Meeting. I felt a sense of community in prayer when we all paused at 3pm on 31 Aug to seek God’s favour on the regulators’ visit to Henderson. At that time, too, the BPCIS committee was also having their monthly online prayer meeting, and Hermon was lifted before the Lord. May our increase in prayerfulness continue, for it will remind us to always depend fully on Him.
The Lord has His timing – Hermon had many email interactions with our regulators over the past eight months. Their responsiveness varied between 24 hours to many weeks. I am sure God in His sovereignty could have enabled things to be sped up, but I was reminded by many that the Lord has His timing. I had many a sleepless night wrestling in prayer with God about this delay. I had to always go back to review how the Lord had led us to acquire Henderson (especially losing the opportunity to purchase the unit on Level 7) to remind myself that He has been leading step by step. It has been a learning lesson in trusting not just in His leading but in His timing as well. Could it be that God wanted to time the approval with the mask-free safety measures for the benefit of our HCYM classes?
Nardis, a blessing from God – the business partner of Dew of Hermon, as you read in last week’s Herald. This partnership came out of the blue. We were actually looking at another direction, but God was the one who brought everything together. Nardis’ aims and ours complement one another well. Nardis has been instrumental in coordinating projects that helped to address the business side of the regulators’ checklist. God in His gracious providence has provided us the appropriate business partner.
This Sunday, on this significant milestone in Hermon’s journey, would you join me in re-affirming that God is our Ebenezer. May this journey be our testimony for future generations, so that it may encourage their hearts and edify their faith.
- Ps Daniel Tan