Kong Hee did it. He finally said sorry. He stood before thousands yesterday and said: "Pastor is sorry." He then bowed deep and long in all three directions. He apologized for the "pain and turmoil" members of the church had to endure. He then said that "the church's future is secure, because of you and the new leadership (led by his wife) that has been put in place."
He added: "Out of the ashes, we will rise." For his apology, thousands gave him a standing ovation which lasted for quite some time.
Lesson? I really don't know. Do you? His apology cannot be faulted for sincerity. He is really sorry. You can hear it in his voice, see it in his eyes, and feel it in his long, full bow; thrice mind you and in all directions. I am not here to judge his heart. I am struggling with mine. We are all flawed.
But Kong Hee must have felt really bad about how the past 5 years of investigation and trial have taken its toll - emotionally and spiritually - on his members. It is clearly distilled remorse for what has happened and how the good name of Christianity got entangled in the prosecutorial dragnet.
Still, having said all that, how does one perform a post-mortem on Kong Hee's apology on stage? Should one read too much into it? Or maybe it is reading too little into it that's the issue. You see, I can take it at face-value and consider it a done deal. The man has admitted "wrong" full stop. And I can then be sold - heart and soul - to it (with a standing ovation) and let dead dogs lie. Or I can reflect a little more, deeper that is, maybe dissect it without splitting hair in the hope of unraveling what that apology comprises of and what it seeks to achieve.
If I am tasked to do an "autopsy" on his apology, I will start with these three questions:-
1) Did it go directly into the heart of the matter? This is difficult to say. I believe that an apology has to deal with the issue. The issue here is not wrongful gain but wrongful loss (to the church). The millions misappropriated has opportunity costs and for years it got funneled dubiously into a musical merry-go-round that bore rotten fruits. The church could have done better with the money (even if the same had been returned with interests). The notional loss with the aid of the corporate cover-ups, fabrication, and at best, leadership slipshod-ness, are the real issues and I don't think the three deep bows addressed them or at all. I stand corrected though.
2) Did it go directly to the change of heart? Again, I am not too sure. Was Kong Hee and his leaders truly remorseful? If asked, "Have you done anything wrong personally apart from putting members through pain and turmoil all these years?", I wonder what would be his earnest reply? Would it be a qualified sorry? Would it be an apology with caveats, conditions and contradictions? I believe the reply to that question - however couched - would determine whether it goes directly to the change of heart. It would determine whether the road to repentance is set afoot or the road of denial is set aloft.
3) Did it go directly into the heart for change? One need not go any further if point 2 above is a flat "no". For how can there be a heart for change if there isn't a corresponding change of heart? Here I am befuddled. I am befuddled by the ordination of Sun Ho as the leading pastor of CHC 2.0. Is Kong Hee trying to keep it all within the family? Is appointing his wife a step forward towards real, deep and enduring change, or a step back?
Now, I am not saying that Sun Ho will be an ineffective leader - but is she (being the one who is somehow embroiled in it all) suitable for the appointment? Where will she lead the church in respect of the Crossover Project? More worldly immersion? More secular music and suggestive dancing with the aim of worldwide evangelism? Will her worldly gyration bring about a godly conversion or a confusing suspicion? Is it even remotely effective since the world now knows about their agenda and would be weary about their motive? Will the sold-out congregation give of their time, trust and money to allow Sun Ho to do basically more of the same but this time minus the sham bonds, sham companies and sham assurances?
Or, by virtue of a road-to-Damascus experience, she might just surprise all the naysayers and critics by doing what Jesus did with the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus did not crossover to chat up and gossip about her improper associations and husbands. He stood firm. He told her in no uncertain term that he is the living water (not dark or worldly waters). Jesus did no song and dance about it. He didn't need to patronize her. He didn't need to join her to change her. Jesus just needed to present the love of God - unplugged - to her without the worldly glee, glam and glitz. Jesus used God's light to drive out darkness and not "darkness" to drive out darkness or to crossover into the world to bring the world out of the world.
Let's just hope that Sun Ho surprises us all then. If not, I am afraid that the only thing that will rise out of the ashes is more of the world and less of His light. Cheerz.