The Celebration of Hope (COH) was a nation-wide endeavour calling on all churches to unite to pray and proclaim the life-transforming name of Jesus, bringing the message of hope to Singapore and beyond.
Six rallies—individually titled “The Freedom of Hope”, “The Colours of Hope”, “The Power of Hope”, “The Abundance of Hope”, “The Joy of Hope” and “The Reality of Hope”—were held at the National Stadium and the OCBC Arena from 17 to 19 May 2019. Two rallies were conducted in English while there was one each in Chinese, Tagalog and Tamil, as well as one specially for children and their families. At some rallies, simultaneous sign-language translation was projected on screens positioned around the stadium. The full-house events were also live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube, drawing tens of thousands of viewers across geographical boundaries, some even from Mongolia.
As the Right Reverend Rennis Ponniah, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Singapore, said before his opening prayer at the final rally: “Hope is the certainty and assurance that something good is coming your way, no matter how final death may seem to be in the end. The hope is in the one name of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for you and me, who was raised to life and never to die again.”
Taiwanese pastor the Rev Kou Shao-en and British writer and speaker the Rev Canon J. John brought messages of love and hope in Chinese and English respectively.
At the final event on May 19, the Rev Canon J. John encouraged those present to “look up [to God]”, “look in [at ourselves]”, “look back [to what Christ did for us]”, “look around [at other Christians]” and “look forward [to Christ’s return]. He read from Philippians 12:13–14 (NLT): Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. “Life without Christ is a hopeless end, but life with Christ is an endless hope,” he said.
The search for hope is not confined to the person on the street. Testimonies from those we might consider celebrities—both local figures (such as Darren Lim, Evelyn Tan, Noah Ong and Li Nanxing), and also famous names from overseas—reiterated during the rallies that even if we are well-known, we all still face adversities. If we try to find hope in the things of this world, we will ultimately fail.
COH was organised by the National Council of Churches Singapore and Evangelical Fellowship of Singapore. It involved 227 churches and 18,000 volunteers, and was a rally two-and-a-half years in the making—2017 was the Year of Preparation, 2018 the Year of Prayer, and 2019 the Year of Proclamation. 2020 will be the Year of Discipleship, particularly for the nearly 5500 inquirers who will be followed up after the rally.
Let the celebration continue.
Sheri Goh is the editor of Methodist Message, the mother of a tween and a preschooler, and the willing slave to a cat.
Photos courtesy of Celebration of Hope