25 May 2013 by Adeline Lum CM-
Senior Pastor, Rev Kenneth Chin of Acts Church is a dynamic and creative leader who rode a life of adventure with God.
At 42 years old, Rev Kenneth has accomplished much to the glory of God. He founded the Asian Youth Ambassadors (AYA) that is a non-profit youth development NGO, opened a café called The Embassy that doubled as a Christian music store in partnership with Kingdom Rock, organized the ROCK 2000 conference and the various Get Into God (GIG) youth evangelistic concerts preceding it, spearheaded the 'Christmas @ the Park' events in Subang Jaya to name a few. On top of that, he has also been featured on various newspapers and other media like BFM radio and NTV7's breakfast show for the various nation-building initiatives that he has been involved in.
But at the core of it all, Pastor Kenneth Chin is a person unabashedly consumed by passion for youth ministry. So what actually sparked his desire to reach out to young people? And how did God lead him to start Acts Church?
Sealing his Heart for Youths
Coming from a religious family background, Kenneth's grandfather was a key leader at St. John's Church in KL where his father, entertainment impresario Mike Bernie Chin also served as an altar boy.
Although Chin's father, famous for having discovered and managed the late entertainment legend, Sudirman, was notable in pulling off many successful large-scaled concerts and events, his personal life on the contrary was falling apart due to drug addiction and divorce. Growing up in a broken and at time abusive family, Chin and his older sister Lynette clung on to each other for emotional support and even grew to become best friends.
“My father's life changed one night when after a bitter argument that almost ended in another divorce, he stormed out of the house with me in tow. Driving around town in break-neck speeds with suicide in his mind, my father suddenly remembered that a friend had earlier invited him to a Christian Rally at a stadium nearby.”
“He ended up at the stadium where the famous Indian evangelist, the late Dr Dhinakaran happened to be preaching. The presence of God touched him and I saw my father, a tough ‘army’ man cry for the first time. He accepted Christ that night.”
“After that he turned to me and asked, how about you? Scared and confused, I immediately said yes and lifted both my hands in surrender,” jested Chin.
“But when I saw the power of God at work consistently in my dad's life after that, how he quit drugs, apologized to my step-mom and gave up smoking, I was convinced that God was real and accepted Jesus into my life personally,” he added.
However, while Chin adjusted well to his father's gradual change, his sister found it challenging. Known as a talented, energetic and popular girl in school, Chin was shocked when his dear sister committed suicide. A little girl in her daddy’s eyes, Lynette’s heart was broken when her father remarried. She found love in her boyfriend instead but was disapproved by her protective father. So, she took her own life.
“When my sister died, I remember looking at the ceiling with tears rolling down, I told God: I don’t want to see another life wasted away like that.” Lynette was just two months shy of turning 21 years-old.
It was a prayer of conviction, one that sealed his heart for youths and, though he didn't know it at the time, God heard it.
Tell The Youths: I Love You
Completing his law degree externally with the University of London, Kenneth worked as a corporate legal officer for three years while serving actively as a youth leader in church before God's calling knocked on his door.
“The Lord asked if I was ready. He asked me: Do you remember dedicating your life to serve me when you were 17 years old at a missions event in FGA? Do you remember the prayer you made by your sister’s bed? I said yes.” shared Chin.
And God said to him, “Give up your law and I will send you to the young people. Tell them that I love them and that I have a plan for them.”
Hence, Chin's journey started into full-time ministry in FGA's missions department. Initially he was on his way to obtain a Master’s in Missiology to further equip himself for the task ahead but unfortunately he could not complete it because he had to return to Malaysia due to an emergency in the family. By then, he only had 15 months to go to graduate from Bethany School of Missions in Singapore.
“I felt really inadequate because despite my lack of training, God still wanted me to go out and start a ministry. Worse still, He wanted me to start a para-church organization called ‘AYA’ (which sounded like ‘Aiyah’),”.
But Chin said that God insisted he be obedient. “You are now without a bible degree. That means you can only depend on me. I will teach you through the “practical school” of the Holy Spirit, so that if the place you minister at is packed with people, you know that it’s because of Me, not you.”
Worship Me in Music
From 1995 to 2000, Chin organised evangelical concerts named “Get Into God” all across Malaysia to reach out to youths. Youths at that time were losing interest in church, due to the misconception that gospel music was boring and the gospel even more so. Chin's powerful life-story coupled with his natural gift for humor made him an instant hit with the young.
The first concert he organized was at a 350-seated auditorium, which saw 400 people coming. And as he held evangelical concerts across Malaysia, his efforts were slowly recognized and he was invited with his team of musicians to perform in churches and schools, including a concert in Kuantan which saw 1200 youths attending.
Another particularly memorable concert was one held in Kluang, Johor. A youth church leader invited Chin to minister there, with word of mouth as the only publicity in that small town, the church believed that God would fill the booked 600-seated auditorium in a hotel.
“I was wondering if there were that many youths in Kluang. Sitting in front, I turned my back when the concert was about to start, and I saw only 40 people sitting in the 600-seated auditorium. So, I promised myself to not look back again lest I turned into a pillar of salt,” joked Kenneth.
15 minutes after that, an announcement was made to ask the Christians who were already seated to give up their seats for the incoming youths. People kept streaming in during the whole concert. And at the end of the concert, a total of 900 people came. Apparently, the taxi drivers would send the youths to this concert when they asked to be sent to ‘the most happening place' that evening.
“On that night, I saw one of my dreams brought to life. The clubs and pubs were empty of young people but the church was filled! I saw a glimpse of revival,” said Chin.
From Preacher to Pastor
In those five years, about 3000 people – mostly young people – made decisions for Christ.
Chin was enjoying being a successful and sought after youth evangelist, until one day when God told him clearly that what He wanted were disciples, not just decisions.
“At the altar call during our concerts, many people would be saved and ministered to by the Holy Spirit. Many youths looked at me like I was some kind of hero.”
“But the real heroes are the pastors who have to disciple and care for them after our events. Walking them through their journey of growth for the next three to five years, they are there by hook or crook, not only weekends but weekdays too” said Chin.
Being an evangelist was something Chin had gotten comfortable with, so when he heard from God that he was to plant his own church, he continued praying earnestly and upon confirmation by his wife Sandra, both of them knew they had to obey. And Acts Church was started.
“At that time I had a respectable following among young people all over the nation but I did not want to betray the trust of the various churches that I had worked with so I kept my desire to start a church rather low-key. I didn't want to be accused of sheep-stealing.”
“So, I started my church service on the third floor of a shop-lot with two other people. I would lead in worship using a guitar and the only three chords I knew, I played the same three songs every week for three months.”
“It definitely didn't have the hype of my previous events. It was plain obedience. Three people on the third floor with three chords and three songs for three months…but then God reminded me that as long as I had the Trinity, it will be okay,” he added.
Thirteen years after the first service, not only has God grown Acts Church into a healthy church of over 1,500 people, with 70 per cent of them under the age of 25, it also managed to raise up many young disciples as per God's instruction.
His Vision for Acts
As for the future of Acts church, Chin shared that Acts would be a church planting church, with a target of 1,000 churches with 1,000 members. In fact, they are planting churches at an incredible rate. So far Acts has started churches in 8 nations with 18 services happening around the globe on any given Sunday, with six worship centers in the Klang Valley alone and one in Miri. Acts Myanmar, Thailand and Japan are also in the pipelines for 2013, God willing.
“If I just focus on building a big church, I would be the only leader. But if more churches are planted, we will have to train up more church leaders, which means more pastors, more elders, more deacons and more people finding their destiny,” said Chin.
To facilitate this, Chin and his team started the “Acts Pioneers Preparation School” (APPS). The ‘APPS’ program trains would-be-church-planters (most of them under 25) and arms them with practical skills in ministry that Chin has accumulated over the years, thanks to his own practical training and experience with the Holy Spirit.
“APPS” is currently only open to Acts Church members but Chin has plans to one day open it up as an alternative to the traditional theory-based bible seminaries – with specific focus on planting churches that plant churches and transforms communities or in other words planting community transforming churches that plant community transforming churches.
“Acts Church is only one part in God's great Kingdom. Even as Acts grows bigger, I am only still one part of the big picture. We must be faithful to the calling, but we must also not forget the Kingdom. I am constantly reminded that though I may be a pastor of a big church, and no matter how big my church grows, even into the millions, I am still and will always be but just one small piece of the puzzle…needing to work with others both great and small to complete the grand picture and plan of God, lest we forget and become proud,” said Chin.
Never forgetting where we came from yet always focused on where we're going. Big Church, Big Heart, Big Influence.. That is Rev Kenneth Chin’s dogma for Acts Church.
Note: Catch Rev Kenneth Chin's upcoming M4J Kingdom Conference with Rev Philip Mantofa, Rev Ewen Chow, Rev Moro, Rev Jonathan Loh and Rev Wong Chee Meng! Register for event in the following website link:
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