Celebration of Hope: Looking up on a night full of stars
We knew the last night of the Celebration of Hope would be special, but we hadn’t expected it to be quite so astounding.
Filled with fun, songs and laughter, the final rally was a star-studded affair with local celebrities like Li Nanxing, Isaac Ong, Annette Lee, Noah Yap, Charlie Goh and Olivia Ong.
Tens of thousands flowed into the National Stadium for a night of performances, songs and stories in an atmosphere which simply made one feel like smiling.
Spirits were high as the crowd grew and waited to hear their favourite celebrities’ stories of hope.
And as evening fell, the stars came out. Local celebrities Annette Lee (centre) Noah Yap (left) and Charlie Goh (right) stepped onto the stage to raucous cheers from fans.
Taking on Annette’s quiz, Noah and Charlie faced off against each other in a bid to escape the dunk machine.
As you can tell, Noah did not come out on top. He is pictured here beneath the dunk machine, moments before an absolute deluge of water is unleashed over his head.
Somebody had to be dunked, and it wasn’t Charlie Goh on the night. In his sharing segment later, Noah would claim that “the contest was rigged”.
The dynamic father-and-daughter duo, Lawrence and Priscilla Khong, then mesmerised thousands with a series of illusions. Their message centred on the illusory nature of things in the world — one should chase what is real.
Their final trick of the segment produced a familiar face out of a box, local singer Isaac Ong of The Voice fame, who shared about his struggles with failure over 13 years before his big break.
“There is something way more persistent than pain. There is something way more persistent than depression. There is something way more persistent than rejection. That is hope,” the popular singer shared.
Isaac Ong then sang Don’t Stop Believing, a song which reflected his own journey to stardom.
Then came the moment many had anticipated: Local legend Li Nanxing stepped into the spotlight of the National Stadium. He was greeted by the loudest cheers of the night as he began to share his life story.
Li Nanxing shared that he was “lucky” and hugely successful in the first 10 years of his career. But everything soon began to fall apart when he ran into money troubles and became bogged down by his vices.
“I was hounded by loan-sharks for years. I lived in fear. But with God in my life — He restored my life. Hope can be a very powerful motivator. Hope is the invisible hand of God that lifted me up, and showed me that the impossible can be possible,” he declared.
As the veteran actor left the stage to resounding applause, Isaac Ong and Annette Lee began their moving duet of the song Peace Be Still.
Then it was time for Noah Yap to share his moving life story: “I’m here today to share my story of how God saw me through one of the darkest times in my life.”
Caught for drugs and sentenced to 9 months in the detention barracks, Noah shared how his status as a public figure made his sentence even harder to serve. Beyond the verbal condemnation he endured from strangers, and the hurt he caused to his family, Noah found that no one in the industry wanted to “use” him anymore after they found out about his history.
He met rejection and failure until he came to a turning point: “My pastors got us together to pray get me out of this situation. A few weeks later, I got a call from Jack Neo. He wanted to use me for Ah Boys to Men 4. God used him to give me a chance again!”
“A few weeks after I was released, I received a letter. It read: “Your experience is your testimony. This is proof of God’s love. If God can help a sinner like me, and give me hope in the most hopeless of situations, he can do the same for you,” declared the visibly moved comedian.
Noah Yap’s message of redemption and hope was affirmed by Pastor Khong’s own: “Where there is hope, there is life.”
Great cheers then filled the stadium as local singer Olivia Ong serenaded the Stadium with a stirring rendition of Starlight.
Many in the bleachers were in tears listening to her version of Broken Vessels, as J.John got ready to deliver his message on the reality of hope.
“If you’re looking for hope, you’re in the right place,” began the international speaker.
Look up, look in, look back, look around, look forwards. Those were the five anchors of J.John’s message. “I look at Jesus, who came into the world not to condemn, but to die on a cross. It was as if He was cashing a cheque to purchase all of our breakages on the cross so that we could be forgiven,” he declared.
“Look forwards: Jesus is coming back. You might be asking why He hasn’t come back yet. He hasn’t come back, because He wants you to look up, look in, look back, look around and look forward. Because when He comes back — it’s too late. He’s giving you an opportunity to get right with Him,” explained J.John.
“Life without Christ is a hopeless end. Life with Christ is an endless hope,” proclaimed J.John in the salvation call to the rally’s guests. Thousands responded as they came down the Stadium’s steps to accept the free offer of eternal life in Jesus Christ.
The rally has already ended, but it’s still not too late: Will you accept the offer?