What do Liang Po Po, I Not Stupid and Ah Boys To Men have in common? Answer: Jack Neo.

Most known for his heartwarming hyperlocal film productions, homegrown director Jack Neo has a knack for telling stories that speak straight into Singaporeans’ hearts. Us 90’s kids practically grew up watching his shows.

And this Christmas, the household name is back with a new short film titled The Promise (八点钟的约定).

First launched as an exclusive short film for City Harvest Church (CHC)’s Mandarin Christmas service in 2019, CHC has recently released it for the season on their YouTube channel.


Based on a real life story, The Promise (八点钟的约定) features the challenges of a single mum who moved from Malaysia to Singapore after her husband’s passing to singlehandedly raise her autistic son.

But the stressors of life eventually push her to contemplate suicide at the film’s climax, as she bemoans the lack of divine intervention.

“Don’t read the Bible anymore,” she weeps, holding on to a bottle of pills as her son begs her to read the Scripture. “He has already forsaken us.”

When you eventually look back, you’ll realise that God has always been with you.

Though The Promise is significantly shorter than his usual productions, Neo was still able to do what he does best – convey a touching message filled with tear-jerking and comedic moments.

And the message he hopes to share this time? The faithfulness of God.

Referencing the famous allegorical poem, Footprints in the Sand, Neo shared in an interview: “A lot of times we think that God is absent when we need Him. Perhaps at that moment we weren’t able to connect to God.

“But in reality, He has never left us. When you eventually look back, you’ll realise that God has always been with you.”

In fact, the message of The Promise is reflective of his journey as a filmmaker.

“When you look back at my old films, they are all quite heartwarming and positive,” he says. “Some of my Christian friends even told me that those movies have a gospel message just that I didn’t explicitly mention God or Jesus.”

“It was then I suddenly realised it’s true,” he continues. “Back then I didn’t think too much when writing the scripts. I just wanted to bring about positive energy through my movies.

“But God has been guiding me ever since I started in the filmmaking industry. He taught me how to create movies that are a current reflection of our lives and yet be able to create a sense of hope in people.”

Perhaps God is giving you a chance to experience Him.

Neo’s message couldn’t have been a more timely one. With 2020 being one of the worst years in a generation, things might look bleak for many of us.

And perhaps, like the single mother in The Promise, we might also feel hopeless and abandoned by society, life or even God. 

But such struggles are what makes Neo’s short film resonate with our hearts. At the lowest point of the single mother’s life, God reminded her of His promise in Isaiah 41:10.

That was a moment of hope which stopped her from carrying out her suicidal plans.

Zhang Meizhen, the lady whom the story was based on, describes in an interview at the end of the short film: “At that time, I thought I was giving God another chance to believe in Him again,” 

“But after coming through that season, I now understand that it was God who gave me another chance to experience Him.”

Affirming her conclusion, CHC Pastor Bobby Chaw wraps up the video by addressing the audience: “Like Meizhen, each and every one of us may have to walk through our own valley of the shadow of death.

“Today, you might be living in loneliness and darkness. But Jesus wants to help you. He wants to forgive you of your sins, cleanse you from unrighteousness. Jesus wants to give you a new life and a new beginning,” he says.

Are you searching for hope? Or do you know someone who needs a touch from Jesus? Perhaps God is giving you a chance to experience Him.

He has always been with you. He will always will be with you.

The Promise is just a click away.

Main photo: Screengrab from “The Promise”

  1. What does hope mean to you in life?
  2. Can your hope be taken away?
  3. What does the Bible say about hope?