The City Harvest Trial is heading for a conclusion after more than 140 trial days, and the twists and turns more than the China Wine video MTV. During this period of 5 years, we have the background music of Love Singapore/FCBC wear white group being the moral defenders of Singapore but keeping very quiet when it is one of their own.It is a reminder of Kim Davies in the US who refused to authorise gay marriage as a government servant even though she herself is a repeated divorsee, Which is more right? to get married or to be in divorce. When we see the splinter in the eyes of others, surely one day someone will point out the log in out eyes.
The prosecutions summary portrayal of the Christian leaders standing on trial best sums it up:-
a) Senior Pastor Kong Hee – “A well practiced liar”
b) Deputy Senior Pastor -Tan ye peng – “Lies of a man without credit”
How could a key Christian leader in Singapore, a mega church of 20,000 strong, the former excutive director of the Festival of Praise, the ex-committee member of the National Council of Churches be called not a once off liar but a well practiced one? But that is what the evidence laid out before the court in 140 days have shown notwithstanding the mitigation and the state of mind defence.
Their greatest sin was that the teaching of the law, the 10 commandments so widely emphasised in City Harvest Church has made them without conscience. When we seek our morality from religious laws, we practised to the letter of the law rather than the Spirit of the law. They thought they were clear because the lawyers and the auditors “approved” it, and it was what appears on the outside a legal bond investment. It was all mahjong playing with money moved by seemingly professionals and not amateurs. After all, these were leaders who had changed the face of Christianity in Singapore for the last 20 years.
No one can conclude the judgement although the evidence is abudantly clear, and the gains and the benefits also very clear. They could no longer travel first class to the US, buyback tens of thousands of CDs to make it seem a legitimate success, nor entertain the rich and famous in Hollywood using building fund. They were all using church funds to pay for sums owned to the church. The Hollywood theatre in Payar Lebar where City Harvest was more innocent and pure in the 1990s became the corrupted Hollywood in the US.
The ex-CHC pastor, Nathan Avidan claimed that the elders of the churches in Singapore were also be blamed for letting these young pastors go on with the Cross Over too far. He said correctly that there was a spirit of perfection ie Kong was very detailed and controlling of all aspects of the church coupled with excessive drivessness to be the best. But Kong Hee was not young, he is 51 years old and not a kid. He had the best leaders around the world to speak into his ministry including Hillsongs. Secondly, he had the oversight by the Anglican Pastor Cannon James Wong. But what can one say when the excuse used was “All accounts are properly audited”.
We know that the leaders in Singapore must have voiced out their concern leading to Kong Hee releasing a strong condemnation in 2009 via the blog entry “Wholesome Shalowness”, where he again repeated that the ministry of Sun Ho in Hollywood had nothing to do with the church and therefore Sun Ho was a free agent and was very “successful” on her own accord without help from the church for her secular “achievements” outside the church. We now realised that these were at best manufactured results with limited secular success. Did anyone repented and turned to Jesus after seeing China Wine? Kong Hee even indirectly equated Sun Ho’s detractors to “tax collectors”, and “prostitutes”.
So to the religious and conservatives who have used nasty, derogatory and expletive terms to describe Sun, my parting shot are the words of Jesus Christ from Matthew 21:31, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.” ….. Wholesome Shallowness by Kong Hee
Kong Hee was defending Sun ho, and essentially the Cross Over to the US became centered on Sun Ho and less on Jesus Christ nor evangelism to the lost. Sometimes what is seemingly good may not be in God’s timing. Paul had to chose between going the Europe and Asia. If Sun Ho were to stay in Asia and her concerts being partnership with churches with an altar call at the end, perhaps it could be said to be a legitimate Christian ministry for a secular outreach.
Jesus came the fulfill the demands of the Law. He became our sin at the Cross of Calvary. For many years, Pastor Kong Hee thought against the grace of God, claiming that it would lead to lawlessness. Ironically, it is the Law, the 10 comandments that leads to lawlessness because we are sinners by nature, by the first Adam. It is in receiving grace that makes us righteous and not by our obedience to the law.
The CHC leaders are no more greater sinners than many inclusive churchers. Some churchers and leaders that I know are simply metaphorical and do not believe that Jesus is God nor rose from the death, nor is there a salvation in heaven to come. Yet, by God’s grace, City Harvest and many of the inclusive churches God has used to speak into my life for God can use even donkeys. We are only vessels of God’s grace, mercy, love through Jesus Christ.
The verdict will be out on 21 Oct 15. It will be a verdict also of the church in Singapore who has for the last 20 years been so strongly anti-gay whose condemnation has resulted in many friends leaving church and many deaths. They wear white and their clothing properly audited and they don’t see gay people as people beyond their sexual orientation. We are also no less or greater sinner whether we are gay or straight. But being gay is already a life time sentence in virtual prisons and a condemnation which kills the spirit and soul.
A conclusion is in sight, but my prayer is that God continues to bless City Harvest and may this time of testing and trials be a stepping stone for real grace to be experienced so that truly they can be the Antioch church of Asia. May God bless City Harvest and her pastors with abundant life.