Many may know Jaime Wong as one of Singapore’s national tennis champions, or as the co-founder and head coach of Ignite Tennis Academy. What’s new though is her vision for City on a Hill, a non-profit inter-generational community hub with a focus on young people and seeing lives transformed through sports, arts, media and missions.
Jaime has a humble determination about her, probably the very quality that has allowed her to achieve all these things. But I would soon learn in our interview that her journey of knowing and walking out the dreams God has placed in her heart wasn’t all smooth sailing.
“I wanted to be a healing evangelist,” Jaime began, which took me by surprise, seeing how large of a turn that was from being a tennis coach. She explained that she was healed supernaturally and the inspiration came after going for a healing missions trip in October 2014.
She said: “I didn’t want to run a tennis school anymore, and I even felt like teaching tennis was a stumbling block to my ‘true calling’.
“For a whole year I wanted to be a healing evangelist but nothing on the ministry front happened. Instead, Ignite Tennis Academy relocated to a new venue and our student intake increased five-fold. I was unhappy.”
A conversation with Ignite’s co-founder and fellow board member of City on a Hill, Lisa Theng, proved to be illuminating.
“Something Lisa told me helped steer me back onto the path God had set for me. She said, ‘Jaime, life is not all about you. God has a purpose for Ignite. You need to learn to embrace His call on your life.’ I realised my self-centredness and decided to lay down my personal desires and honour God.’
“Since then, I began focusing more on what God had already entrusted me with, which was my ministry at Ignite Tennis Academy. I began to preach Christ and prayed for healing of injuries. And in time, I began to see God work His miracles among our students and coaches.”
ON A MISSION FOR TRANSFORMATION
Jaime’s personal relationship with her students helped her relate to them on a more personal level, where she saw students eventually come to know and accept Jesus Christ into their lives. Ignite Faith Ministries was soon birthed in 2016 as the community outreach arm of Ignite Tennis Academy.
Initiated at first by Lisa, who grew up loving sports, art and media, Ignite Faith Ministries reached out to the community in those three ways by offering pro bono tennis lessons and organising camps for youths-at-risks, persons with special needs and the underprivileged.
At the end of 2018, during a conference, God began to stir Jaime’s heart to also start thinking about sports, art, media and missions. At first, she was confused as to why God would put that in her heart because she had always thought these were already things Lisa had birthed and pioneered through Ignite Faith Ministries.
“I’m just a tennis coach!” Jaime would joke.
But at the conference, Jaime asked God for a clear sign of whether these were areas He wanted her to pursue and to confirm whether this burden was really from Him. Later on, when a prophetic artist came up on stage and presented his artwork, Jaime was shocked.
The painting was of a group of hands coming together with four differently coloured party poppers – blue, purple, orange and green – releasing sparks of joy that would transform hearts, shift culture and change the spiritual atmosphere over nations. These were also the exact four colours of Ignite Faith Ministries.
Jaime shared with a laugh: “So that was a clear sign that made me think, okay, this is the path God wants me to be in. But now what?”
Thanks to Ignite Faith Ministries, Jaime and Lisa already had a rough idea for the community hub they envisioned, but the actual concrete steps to take were beyond them.
Prior to the conference, they had set out to place a bid on a property that Jaime initially wanted to turn into a healing home. The bid was eventually rejected, but this seeming setback led them to a new and clearer vision God had given.
One day, while driving, Jaime and Lisa chanced upon a larger property. It had all the facilities needed – tennis courts and other sports facilities, several buildings with large halls, classrooms, art and new media facilities, and lots of open space – and it seemed like the perfect place to establish what they imagined for City on a Hill.
But they later found out that the property may take a few years to secure.
ENCOUNTERING DIVINE PROVISION
Over the next few months, despite not being able to secure a location, God reconfirmed the vision for City on a Hill on at least two other occasions.
In April 2019, a friend discussed with Jaime about the possibility of hosting ad hoc events held outside King Albert Park (KAP) Mall. Jaime suggested to check out the basement space instead, just in case of bad weather, but it didn’t cross her mind then that the basement could also be a potential space to house City on a Hill – until another friend unexpectedly asked to meet her two days later.
During that meeting, he shared about a dream that concerned her. In the dream, he met two individuals who each offered him a piece of land. Both pieces of land looked promising, yet upon shaking hands with the two landlords, he noticed there were many strings attached.
In the following scene, he saw a third piece of land and felt led to place a bid for it. He told the Lord it was too expensive and no one had even taken notice of this plot. But the Lord told him to go ahead and place a bid, which was when he woke up.
A look of wonder still lingered on Jaime’s face while recounting the incident. She continued: “My friend released this dream to Lisa and me on two separate occasions, not knowing that we were both working on City on a Hill together and not knowing how we had already looked at two properties.
“What’s more, his message came right after I suggested that my friend use the KAP basement – a place which no one knew about, no one had taken notice of and had not been rented for years because it was too expensive. So when my friend shared his dream with me, I thought to myself, ‘God, is the third plot of land you’re referring to this basement?'”
Jaime decided to test the water by seeing if the rental could be negotiated with the landlord.
He eventually did lower the price, but Jaime recalled: “In the dream, God said to place a bid, not negotiate.” So they put in a bid that was significantly lower than the original asking price and to their surprise, the landlord agreed.
By August 2019, City on a Hill was officially incorporated.
THE DREAM THAT COULDN’T BE HIDDEN
Through Jaime’s journey of seeing the dream placed in her heart brought to life, she saw that all God needed from her was her obedience while He took care of the outcome. Jaime mused: “God has really shown Himself to be the author and builder of City on a Hill – building it in His time and His way.”
Despite being located in the basement of KAP mall, with its entrance accessible only via the carpark, she believes that just as Matthew 5:14 says “a city on a hill cannot be hidden”, there is really no burying this vision.
From a divine meeting with Anita Fam, President of the National Council of Social Services, to sending designers and architects to help them set up the space at a considerably lower price, God’s hand has undeniably been at work in bringing this vision to fruition.
Fam eventually became City on a Hill’s third board member, bringing with her years of experience in the social service sector and the know-how of running a charity.
Much like how City on a Hill started out with a dream, Jaime hopes for all people, but especially young people who come into the space to be equipped and empowered to achieve their own God-given dreams. The hub aims to offer courses in wellness and fitness, film and drama, dance, music, arts and crafts, e-sports and even workshops in video production, digital media, barista training and computer coding.
As part of its mission to serve the wider community, including those with special needs and from less well-off financial backgrounds, free sessions will also be offered for those who don’t have the opportunity or means to pursue their dreams and interests. These programmes come under one of its three arms called S.O.A.R.
The other two are City Revival and Fireplace, catering to believers.
City Revival is a Christian ministry training school for youth and young adults aged 13-21. Combining practical hands-on training with Bible teaching, students will be able to grow in their gifts and talents, especially in the areas of sports, arts and the media, as well as their knowledge of God. Fireplace consists of more informal events that focus on worship and fellowship with one another.
Jaime says: “We really hope City on a Hill can be a place where everyone can come together and feel like they belong.”
City on a Hill will be opening its doors to the public on December 14 with a special event, Colours of Christmas, an indoor carnival that features live performances, pop-up stores, games and food.
Those looking to tap into their creative gifts and use them for God can also check out the City Revival Intergenerational Creative Arts Camp, held on December 11-14, 2019. The camp features speakers and trainers such as FOPx’s Isaac Ong, Ps Norman Ng of 3:16 Church, street dancer Justis Tan and art therapist Karen Tan and others. For the full City Revival Programme, commencing on January 6, 2020, get more information here.