|CHC New "Advisory" Board - Does it matter ?|
(1 Cor 6:8 NKJV) No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat,
and you do these things to your brethren!
On the Sunday Services on 02 and 03 Oct 2010, Singapore's largest mega church City Harvest announced the appointment of AR Bernard as the Chairman and Phil Pringle as the Advisory Pastor of the "Independent" Advisory Board. Both have been closely related with City Harvest Church being regular preachers there. Kong Hee remains as President and Chairman of the City Harvest Board despite the ongoing investigation by the Commissioner of Charities, and the Commercial Affairs Department.
The Advisory Board was intended to improve accountability and governance in its operations. "If there's anything I've learned through the process of this investigation, it's the need for a greater level of accountability and governance in the operations of CHC." said Pastor Kong. However, with the close relationship with Pst Kong, the Advisory Board could not be said to be independent. Without independence, there may be conflict of interest.
The new responsibilities for Rev Bernard and Pringle at CHC was motivated by the deep friendship with Pst Kong, to support him in this time of crisis. “We place CHC as a priority – it takes priority in our schedules and resources,” said Pst Pringle. “I believe in the work and ministry of Pastor Kong and City Harvest. And our loyalty is tested in times of crisis" said Rev Bernard in affirming his support and loyalty for Kong Hee. Perhaps if anything was to happen to Pst Kong, the Rev AR Bernard could step in to fill any leadership void. Nothing would change much as Rev AR Bernard is a champion of the Prosperity theology being preached at CHC.
Is the problem of CHC, a lack of accountability? It may only be a symptom of a much deeper root of Prosperity Theology. There was so much accountability demanded of the congregation to give, yet so little on how the money was spent. We were giving to "god" they said, for they have made themselves "gods" deserving of the funds given to them, to use as they wish. There appear to be little separation between church funds and the proxy companies created. God's name was used repeatedly to encourage donations, when much of donations strictly did not go to the church but to the linked companies. Perhaps, the name of God was used in vain.
(Mark 12:15 NKJV) "Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?" But He, knowing
their hypocrisy, said to them, "Why do you test Me? Bring Me a denarius
that I may see it."
The solution for CHC may not be a new advisory board, but to give away some of their vast wealth like the tax collector did after he met up with Jesus for dinner. Money was the stumbling block, the great success as the largest mega churches and co-owners of Suntec. Yet, they did not pay the "taxes" due. The church was not supposed to be in the money making business which belongs to Caesar. Being involved in Business was their downfall rather than keeping to the religious sphere. As Jesus said " Render .... to God the things that are God's", the worship and honor due and not to take away the glory from God.
Suntec is CHC's tower of Babel where God came down and saw the determination of what they can do united in one voice and determination. God had to send confusion and to disperse the people around the nations for Babel ultimately represents a worship of self, of our capabilities rather than a worship of God and a dependency on Him, on His love and grace for our well being and our existence. In Babel we thought we can reach to the heavens, yet heaven came down and brought us to our knees.
In being co-owners of Suntec, CHC had reach heavenly heights of Business and Goverment. It is not accountability and governance that CHC needs, but a separation between Faith and the secular world. We should not mix what is rendered to God as being rendered to Caesar.
The disciples wanted Jesus to stand up to Caeser by not paying taxes - for these taxes were high and unreasonable. Paying taxes was acknowledging the Roman rule and authority and perpetuating the injustice against the Jewish people by the foreign occupiers. Jesus could have started a revolution gaining control by resisting the Romans, yet money, wealth and business was not God's ways. The attention on money would be the driving factor rather than a love for God and a recognition of our sins and need for redemption.
The way of Christ, was the way of emptiness, rejection and suffering at the Cross, having nothing whatsover that we may receive the gift of eternal life that money cannot buy. Jesus wanted His disciples to see an eternal message, and eternal redemption rather than being caught up in the struggle for wordly wealth and power that rust away and be corrupted. We may have gained the Suntecs of this world and have a fleet of BMW 7 series, yet we cannot bring this to heaven. It may even weigh us down when we are raptured and we can't reach heaven.
When I last visited CHC in March 2010 during pre-crisis stage when they had their building pledge, I remembered how much I had given many years ago and perhaps felt that I have been cheated. A small still voice reminded me that I have not been short changed, for truly I have received a hundred fold in return over the last 10 years. God is no man's debtor. I gave previously out of faith and what I believe God had asked me to give, that is all that matters. Its obedience to God that counts (not to a church!).
It's our character that will last, how we respond when the trials of life buffers us all around, yet having faith that God will see us through. I had wish to return to CHC hoping that they will accept me including my same sex orientation, yet I now no longer seek man's acceptance but Christ accepting me as a beloved child of God. I may not have much - no house, no car, but all I had wanted was to dwell in presence of God, to behold His beauty - His love, Grace and mercy.
(Mat 6:31 NKJV) "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What
shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'