By: K. Wei Ze
Disclaimer: No pyrotechnics or fireworks involved.
A week after celebrating our 20th Anniversary with the entire church, we paused church operations and cancelled services for the weekend.
What did we do instead? Hold an Appreciation Lunch and Dinner for our faithful church builders.
Why Cancel Weekend Services?
Well, that was answered in the opening address by Pastor Charleston and Pastor Garrett. Our senior pastors and pastors wanted us to enjoy the celebration and ‘play’ in peace. Knowing our volunteers serve week in and week out… for this week, they wanted to release us from weekday rehearsals and service run-throughs.
To be honest, it felt quite odd to be chilling and celebrating on a Sunday afternoon. I realised on any other Sunday we’d be busy preparing for rehearsals and soundchecks for the services. That moment, 1 pm on a Sunday afternoon, would be when the adrenaline of running the weekend service would kick in. But not this Sunday. This Sunday was special.
The atmosphere was light and chirpy. People were gathered in groups from ministry-mates, zone buddies or just random friends. Everyone was having a good time, taking photos, or recreating pictures from years ago.
Bloopers, Blunders and Boo-boos
Then, we took a hilarious walk down memory lane as ministry leaders shared memorable anecdotes accumulated over the past 20 years. The stories were funny, captivating and certainly brought back a whole lot of nostalgia for all of us.
Here’s one of them. When our church was in a smaller, the auditorium could only fit 300 people. It was common to catch a whiff of the faint odour that often accompanied a densely-packed room. So, the ushers kept canisters of air fresheners stealthily in their pockets. To conceal the spray sounds, every moment of applause, they’d whip it out for a quick spray to keep the room smelling fresh!
Honouring our heroes
A sense of awe fell over the room. Crafted with great care, every element of the medals held a special meaning. Each of them came with a personalised, heartfelt citation aptly describing and honouring these awardees that have given years and decades to build God’s Kingdom. Many of them have been serving faithfully through the different phases of their lives; from secondary school students to undergraduates and now as working adults.
As the names were read out, the auditorium erupted in applause. Among them were Children’s Church teachers that have been serving since I was a kid. Growing up in HeartKidz, I saw them pouring out their lives and tirelessly building the next generation year after year.
One of the award recipients was Li Xing. He has been serving in church since we were a small church in Henderson Industrial Park almost 2 decades ago! He was dubbed an ‘Obed Edom’—always available to serve and support in any way possible. Today, he’s a Sound Monitor Engineer, a drummer in our Children’s Church Services and a trainer in our HOGC School of Music, training young drummers behind the scenes. He’s simply a representation of the over 200 individuals we recognised that weekend.
We also honoured another extraordinary group in our midst— our family zones adults. These older, mature leaders have been giving their best to build a church for young people. Their contributions are as remarkable as they are unique. In serving, they go beyond the normal operations of the church; bringing wisdom, experience, professional competency and stability. To them, cheering from the sidelines simply won’t do. They build on the frontlines.
As some of these church builder’s stories were shared, it struck me that these people spent a great deal of time serving faithfully in the background, away from the limelight or attention. If not for these awards, they would have gone unnoticed. But not here in HOGC; those faithful in the background are honoured!
As the awards were given out, Pastor How and Pastor Lia were on their feet for a standing ovation before going around shaking hands with the awardees, congratulating each hero.
All gave some, some gave all
To end the night, the last award went to the full-time staff. They go above and beyond the call of duty to fulfil the call of God. Their full-time jobs have never been just a career, contract or technicality. To them, it is a special calling to be at the frontlines of what God is doing in and through our church. The staff put their heart, mind and soul on the line every week to build God a great church for the Generations.
Sitting there, I was reminded of a quote:
What we celebrate becomes our culture.
What we honour becomes our values.
Pastor How also shared that “If we fail to honour heroes, soon we will find there are no heroes left to honour. Because whatever we honour becomes our values and vision. We are already living in a world full of superstars but few heroes.” Read more HERE.
This celebration showed me that HOGC celebrates and rewards faithfulness, excellence, camaraderie, courage and conviction. HOGC honours the unseen, unnoticed and unsung heroes that serve quietly under the radar of recognition or limelight.
To me, HOGC has never been about the big crowds or the glamorous stage.
In fact, quite the opposite.
We are about The Few.
The Few that chose to walk the straight and narrow.
The Few that carry a heart of flame towards our God.
The Few that gave all to put others first.
I’m so so so proud to be a HOGC member and to live among heroes I get to call teammates and friends.