I am not going to waste any time blogging about whether Kong Hee and the ‘gang of four’ had indeed committed criminal breach of trust. That matter is now clearly before the court. If they are innocent, let them be cleared. If they are guilty, let them be punished. At this stage, without any indication of the extent of evidence at the Prosecution’s disposal, it is hard to make any rational assessment of the strength of the Prosecution case.
There is something about this saga that I find rather amusing: the Pastor’s wife and the “Crossover Project”. I know that sex sells and most marketing agencies will vouch for the effectiveness of sex appeal in advertising. However, there is a certain incongruity when the conceptual underpinning in the “crossover project” is to appeal to baser instincts in man in order to spread the message of God. The claim being made by apologists of the Crossover Project is that the music career of Sun Ho is intended to reach out to a broader audience on behalf of the Church so that more could hear the message of Christ.
I was totally amused by two articles that I read. The first one appeared in New Nation (the self-proclaimed fake news site) and was presented as a letter from a member of the City Harvest Church. The second is an article on The Online Citizen. Although it is clear that the article in New Nation is meant to be a satire, it is both amusing and shocking to see how some comments from the faithful within the CHC appear to mirror the satirical piece. I am, therefore, not suprised that some readers couldn’t make out the fact that the New Nation piece is a satire. Apologists sound just like satirists.
The New Nation article:
I am deeply saddened by the reactions of netizens to the arrest of my dearest pastor Kong Hee. As a long time member of City Harvest Church, the public clearly does not understand the sacrifices he had to make in the name of God.
When I first received Sun Ho’s Chinese pop CD in 2003, I thought to myself: “what kind of devil’s music is this?” But as I listened more, it began to dawn on me that I was being overly prudish and she was actually spreading the word of God in the form of Satan-worshipping music to beat the devil at his own game.
Indeed, the more involved I became at the Church, the more I began to understand that I could not even begin to comprehend God’s plan and the plans pastor Kong had for me, and the church. You see, I am but mortal. Pastor Kong was the chosen one.
Without his light shining like a beacon of conscience, the gays, prostitutes, and the opposition would start to take over Singapore. Satan would then have a hub to take over the world.
So it was with deep love that I decided to dedicate 30% of my husband’s salary each month to help fund Sun Ho’s music career as part of the Crossover project.
As a good christian, I have an obligation to The Lord to spread his message: from Singapore to Malaysia, to Taiwan, China and even the town of sin, Hollywood.
It must have been extremely difficult for pastor Kong to see his wife in such disgusting states of undress in public, and for her to live in the heart of the most unholy places on earth, Beverly Hills. I’ve watched the TV series 90210 when I was younger. These people have no morals but like lepers, the Man and Woman of God must go to the sick to heal the sick.
People outside the church don’t understand us and are so quick to condemn when they haven’t experienced God through His music, sung to thumping beats and a negro man saying something intelligible at the beginning.
I do not understand how “China wine” or being a Geisha is related to God’s work, but as I said, I’m only mortal. God has a plan, even when I don’t understand. Even when it involves S$23 million. If pastor Kong was using that money, it must be God’s will.
Jesus preaches forgiveness, and therefore we must forgive even if we don’t want to.
So I forgive the government, and the public for misunderstanding and maligning the Church.
There’s a special place in hell for people who say nasty things about Kong Hee and an even worse one for those that framed God’s chosen workers.
I pray that it will be like Sodom and Gonorrhea.
The following is from TOC’s site:
Mr Aries Zulkarnain, the Executive Pastor and a Founding Member of City Harvest Church (CHC) since its start 23 years ago says that the church stands with the members involved.
“The people currently in the news are pastors, trusted staff and leaders who have always put God and CHC first. As a church, we stand with them and I believe fully in their integrity. Pastor Kong is still our Senior Pastor.”
Mr Zulkarnain says that the Commissioner of Charities (CoC) has confirmed that Mr Kong Hee, the Senior Pastor, and Mr Tan Ye Peng, the Deputy Senior Pastor will continue to preach at the church.
He emphasises that church activities are not affected by the case. “CHC will continue to do its work. Our services and cell group meetings will carry on as usual. As a church we will continue to take care of our members and our community. We will not stop doing God’s work.”
With regard to the allegations, Mr Zulkarnain says, “It has been suggested that the church has been cheated of $50 million. This is not accurate. The $24 million, which went to investment bonds, was returned to the church in full, with interest. We didn’t lose $24 million, nor did we lose ‘another $26 million’ as alleged. The church did not lose any funds in the relevant transactions, and no personal profit was gained by the individuals concerned.”
Speaking on behalf of the Board, Bobby Chaw, the pastor in charge of missions at CHC, says that actions had been taken over the past two years in accordance with the MCYS’s code of governance.
“We replaced 50% of our Board with new members. We engaged RSM Chio Lim to do a full internal audit and we have been putting their recommendations into action, and will continue to do so,” says Mr Chaw. “We appreciate the need to maintain good corporate governance, and we are continuously working with MCYS to do so.”
However, Mr Chaw expressed his disappointment with some of the media’s coverage so far, particularly in relation to the CoC enquiry.
“In some instances, they seem to have pre-judged us. We will be dealing with this in due course,” he says.
He adds that the church was also surprised that CoC chose to implement the suspensions of the members involved without prior notice. “We have been co-operating with CoC for two years since the start of the case, so these sudden suspensions came as a surprise to us.”
CHC’s Advisory Pastor, Rev Dr Phil Pringle is in Singapore to stand by CHC. He is the Senior Pastor of C3 Church, Sydney, and the C3 Global Network of Churches. Dr Pringle expresses his support for the leadership.
“I have known CHC, Kong, Sun and Ye Peng for a long time. CHC is not just a local church in Singapore. It has 49 affiliated churches and 6 Bible Schools all across Asia. It has impact on international ground, and it has proven through many years that it serves the global community, both spiritually and practically through humanitarian works.”
Dr Pringle says he, along with CHC’s Advisory Chairman Dr A R Bernard, who is the Senior Pastor of Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York, fully believes in and endorses CHC’s Crossover Project as a mission to reach the world.
CHC states that the Crossover Project is not about one person’s singing career; it is a mission that is fundamental to the congregation of CHC. The Crossover Project is an outreach that uses Sun Ho’s singing and music to engage people and places that would never otherwise hear the Gospel. As a result of the Crossover Project, many churches have grown worldwide and the faith of many have been strengthened. Impact has been made on the needy in Haiti, disaster victims in China, the depressed and suicidal in Taiwan, and the sick children in Honduras, among others.
Dr Pringle says, “The Gospel is the Good News and Christians are meant to share it. CHC has done this through the Crossover Project, which lies at the very heart of our religious beliefs.”