|Pastor Kong saga - A cross over to the World|
Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
The charges against Pastor Kong and 4 other church leaders of financial irregularity of at least 23 million has sparked a defence of their dignity outside the court house trying to defend Kong and wife from the hordes of happy clicking photo journalist. It was a news sensation, the church in Singapore known to be very conservative and anti-gay having its main leaders being charged. But I wonder why the angst by those not part of the church. Surely they have no right to comment! unless they were wronged in some manner.
The accused facing charges (with possible fines and maximum life sentences) are Kong Hee, Tan Ye Peng, Lam Leng Hung, Chew Eng Han, Tan Shao Yuen Sharon. It is my prayer that they do get off lightly since they were not cheating the public but eating the sheep. The Gentle lamb chops can get quite juicy.
When told that Brother Teo Meng How was also implicated in the avoidance of disclosure and is now banned from the Board, I was surprised for he was a good person. Maybe they were all fall guys.
We were so afraid of the secular versus religious purity and faith, yet we were so secular.
A Christopher Pang (if he was indeed genuine) even wrote to the Minister for MCYS claiming that its statement on CHC was defamatory because the funds were not from the public but from church members. His claim that the accounts are further audited and put on the church web site for "transparency and accountability" is rather amusing since the high level disclosures were rather vague. Alas, the audit of the financial statements were to check for compliance to accounting practices and not proper financial governance.
When we are transcending boundaries into the secular, the boundaries between the secular and the sacred is also breached and what was meant for the Kingdom of God become the extension of one's own Kingdom. Our humanistic instincts took over.
For many years, the term "audited accounts" was continuously proclaimed by Pastor Kong and the church leaders as proof of integrity. At CHC, one has to apparently disclosed everything, your IC, address, how much you earn and how much you tithe. If one doesn't tithe enough, there would be regular warning reminders and hounding from the CG leaders.
In the taxi this morning, the taxi driver asked me whether I was a Christian when I asked him to stop at the Methodist church near my place. I said I was and he begin to ask me about "the church in Jurong" ie City Harvest Church. I used the standard "Christopher Pang" answer that the money was given by the church members so the church members should decide on his fate conveniently ignoring that CHC is a registered charity. Nevertheless, all our donations did not seem to give us any tax deduction benefits for religious bodies!
The entire church is under judgement, and not just Kong Hee. We are part of the prosperity theology and the push for the market place ministry. We too must prepare a good answer.
Our judgement is made pertinent and sure when we used the strictest letter of the law to judge gays as sinners. We are judged four fold in how we have condemned gays as the vilest sinners but look and behold they were saints compared to many of us.
When justice comes moving down from the mountain top, it overflows and breaks the barriers that the church has put up. The church is under judgement of being immoral, self righteous and hypocritical. The rivers of justice, took away the headstone and reveal all the skeletons within.
When we demand gays to be punished and put in jails and even denied employment, our own fall is near. When we live by the letter of the law, we shall also die by it. We must prepare a good answer to the detractors after all we have made it a good sport to condemn gays for their innate sexual orientation.
I would like to remember Pastor Sun and Kong Hee singing "Jesus is the answer for the World today", the days of innocence at Hollywood threatre at Payar Lebar. Pastor Sun was a good singer and they didn't need to "crossover" to the market place ministry or be a Hollywood singing sensation.
When I saw their saddened disposition coming out of the courthouse, it was so disconcerting. Here was one of the greatest preachers in Singapore, known throughout Asia and worshiped as an idol by tens of thousands.
Lord have mercy upon City Harvest Church. Teach us to pray and break bread together on our knees. Forgive Sun and Kong Hee. Have mercy on them.
Nothing will and can never replace the thousands of youths who came to know the saving grace of God through the ministry of Pastor Kong and Sun.
Some of my best friends and my partner I came to know at City Harvest. It has been a blessing in my life. I owe City Harvest alot, even beyond what I gave.
Kong is facing the maximum of life inprisonment (20 years?) and penalty if found guilty. I wish so much that it would be a penalty fine and no jail term be faced.
Our spirituality is often found when we are at the end of our strength. I had to leave CHC to find myself, to be reconciled with my faith and sexual orientation. It was a life in closet faced with shame, rejection, loss, and sadness too hard to bear.
The charges against Kong and company may put an end to the market place ministry, to crossover to influence society. The three pillars of CHC were:-
1. The Great Commandment (Mat 22:36-40)
2. The Great Commission (Mat 28:18-19)
3. Cultural Mandate (Mat 5:13-16)
In the cultural mandate, they had good intentions, but the ways were wrong just as the AWARE saga has shown us. The need for integrity and Righteousness far exceeds the end result. The End never justifies the means.
We are all part of the body of Christ. We are the body, the body broken. When Pastor Kong and Sun is broken, we feel their pain and agony. When the bread is broken at the Communion table, it talks about our common brokenness in the Lord Jesus.
We need to pray like never before, not only for Kong Hee, but for the hundred of thousands who are connected to City Harvest one way or another that they will not loose faith, for our faith is in Jesus Christ and not men and women.
Pastor Kong and team owe the members and former members of City Harvest Church an apology and I am sure they will forgive him for all of us are sinners one way or another needing God's grace and mercy. This will bring closure to those truly affected and gave to the building fund and to the church and who had trusted Pastor Kong and Pastor Sun.
God have mercy on us.