Sunday, 31 July 2016

The Last Supper: A loaded meal.

"When Jesus himself wanted to explain to his disciples what his forthcoming death was all about, he didn’t give them a theory, he invited them to a meal." (N.T. Wright).

Indeed, nothing fills the soul more than a good meal. It is said that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach and Jesus got that spot on. The last supper was about relationship, remembrance and servanthood.  It was about the joy of contemplation of the meaning and beauty of Jesus’ final acts and hours on earth.

While dinner in Latin means "to break one's fast", supper in French means an "evening meal". It was meant to be light, informal and relaxing. In modern lingo, it had that chill-pill effect of cool, ambient and personal touch.

I can therefore expect a modest buffet spread of barley, wheat, figs and olive oil on the table. Nothing heavy like lamb or fish. And nothing fancy like sporting a Michelin-star chef waiting by the side cooking up a storm. Maybe just some pomegranates, honey and apricot to spice up the evening as Jesus spends his last night with his loved ones on earth.

In the last supper, Jesus turned the casual occasion into a simple ritual of remembrance. He led the evening with the unleavened bread and wine. He broke the bread and shared it with his disciples. He then invited them to a drink of grape divine and told them to mark the day, to remember him, that is, what he had taught them, and what lies ahead (including a veiled betrayal and denial). It was the beginning of a sacred commemoration, a bond of renewed community and hope.

The last supper took placed on a Thursday. Maundy Thursday. It was the day before Jesus was to be arrested. It was the eve of his final reckoning on our behalf. Jesus knew the cost, the cross and Calvary. He was born into it. His 33 years on earth culminated to those last few days. His accusers had already carved his name onto the Calvary’s head post. His fate was sealed. His full plan was soon to be revealed.

It was therefore both an ominous and portentous day, that is, a celebration of grief and relief, sorrow and joy, death and life. It was no doubt a night of raw nerves and expected jitters for what awaited Jesus, but nothing was going to stop him from having a light meal with those he loved. The anxiety, the feeling of abandonment, the pain, the uncertainty, the cold sweat and travailing tears, they can all wait till their time comes. 

It is in fact encouraging to know that scriptures described it as the last supper, and not the last debate or the last dispute or the last conference. Like N.T. Wright said, Jesus did not spend his last days expounding or dissecting his teachings. He did not form a study group or a research team to explain the complex theories of his pending death and resurrection. In other words, they did not gather to brainstorm, but to warm hearts.

For Jesus, it was a time of relationship – intimate bonding. For him, it was a time beyond theology. For him, all classroom teachings ended that evening to usher in the next phrase of the lesson, that is, the practical part, the living-it-out part. And this phrase can be distilled from the gospel of John into three demonstrative instructions.

First, Jesus commanded his disciples to love one another. Love was a no-compromise for him, and he was leaving nothing to chance. It is no excuse for one to proclaim that he loves God, but shun His people or view them with disdain. Self-righteousness would have unraveled all of Jesus’ teachings. For Jesus did not faithfully call his disciples out of their own world just so that they may return to it unchanged, unredeemed.

So, he preempted his disciples on that and issued the second instruction by setting the example. He washed their feet. Each of them got a personal pedicure from Jesus, so to speak. If love came down to give of himself without reservation, then grace stooped low to serve all without condition.

That was the message all along. For he stands tallest when on his knees and that night, Jesus exemplified servanthood with his towel and basin ministry. The act disarmed their hearts, and I believe, transformed it forever.

With that came his third and final instruction. It was an instruction of empowerment. You see, Jesus had showed them unceasing love in his walk with them. He had demonstrated servanthood by washing their feet. He imparted the grace of love, unity and fellowship with his last two instructions. Now it is time to impart the grace of resilience and strength.

The final instruction came in these words: "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

That was it. The last supper ended on that somewhat foreboding note. The words that lingered with the disciples were “trouble” and “overcome”. Alas, Jesus did not mention anything about the coming wealth and prosperity they were to inherit. He did not entice or bait them with false hope and vain promises. It was not about what they wanted to hear, but what they needed to hear. And he never said that following him was going to be easy, smooth sailing or a slam dunk. On the contrary, Jesus specifically told them to count the cost. Alas, today’s prosperity preachers would rather we count only the benefits.

In fact, his parting words were a foretaste of what is to come, and each of his disciples experienced the full brunt of it in their own time. Almost all of them gave their life unconditionally in faith and hope. They followed their Savior to the ends of the earth. And they never looked back.

That was how transforming an evening meal became. The last supper was the last rite of passage before the disciples fully mature in their faith. The last supper was the final bonding session with their savior before the real work began. It was the last meal they had together before the true test of devotion to the great commission commenced.

Yet, they all passed with flying colors. They all held high the banner of their love, faith and hope – even to their grave. The joy of the Lord was indeed their strength.

In the end, the last supper was Jesus’ final postcard of love personally autographed to his disciples. It was therefore more than just a gastronomical delight. It was a meal well worth the partaking. It was a meal the partakers could not forget. And as N.T. Wright implied in the above quote that started it all, the last supper was much more than an invitation to a simple evening meal. It was a loaded meal. It was in fact an invitation to change the world. Cheerz.


Everybody makes mistakes. Lawyers, doctors or pastors, we all wear our pants one leg at a time. To err is human; to forgive is divine. Yet, for some, to admit it is almost mission impossible. That's how the news rolled today.

Dr Wong, an orthopaedic, fronted the Straits Times last Thursday, 28 July 2016. The Court of 3 judges comprising the CJ and two other appeal judges enhanced Dr Wong's suspension period from 3 months to 6 months and ordered him to pay the cost of the inquiry. He was also censured and required "to furnish an undertaking not to repeat such professional misconduct."

Alas, it could have been a case that is blown in the wind and forgotten at first instance had Dr Wong admitted to his mistakes, apologized and moved on. But he didn't.

The long and short of it is that he gave only 2-day medical leave to a foreign worker, Mr Fan, after he fell and hurt his right (master) hand.

This is what the 2 days covered. On 3 Sept 2011, Fan was admitted. First thing at 1 am (in the early hours of dawn of 4 Sept), Dr Wong performed surgery on Fan "involving the immediate closed reduction" and "K-wire" fixation".

So, after the surgery, Fan technically rested only for one day, before Dr Wong issued not further MC for him, but certified him fit for light duties for one whole month. That was it. One day rest after operation and thereafter light duties, that is, immediate work assignment though measured and less intense.

This is where the Hippocratic Oath becomes an oral bargain between conflicting interests of Mr Fan as his patient and Mr Fan as someone's employee.

The Court wrote that Dr Wong "demonstrated a wilful disregard for the patient's welfare and interests, and in particular, his need for proper rest and rehabilitation." In fact, the Court agreed with SMC that "Dr Wong's main concern was not the patient's welfare and interest - he was, instead, advancing the interests of the employer and wanted the Patient to return to work as soon as possible."

Now, this is the part where I (and the Court) went "gobsmacked" (literally) when Dr Wong showed no remorse and even defended his actions almost self-righteously.

He was asked why he didn't issue a 1-week MC after surgery as is the norm and accepted practice. He argued that it only applies to govt. restructured hospital. Dr Wong said the govt. hospital have to give one week because they did not have "the luxury of seeing (a patient) in two or three days" for follow up - unlike him.

To this, the Court enquired why Dr Wong did not extend Mr Fan's MC from 4 Sept to 7 Sept when Dr Wong next see him. It's just a short three days, that is, 5 to 7 Sept. Why certified him light duties immediately after 4 Sept then (and not issue further MC until next visit on 7 Sept)?

In the judgment, this is what was recorded concerning Dr Wong's reply to that: "Dr Wong suggested (incredibly, in our view) that this was because he wanted to give the Patient the chance to try whether there was anything he could do at work and not give the Patient the impression that his condition is serious."

Ladies and gentlemen, that's gobsmacked! No. 1. Strap up, here comes gobsmacked! No. 2.

Here's the real reason why Dr Wong gave one-month light duties immediately after the surgery. He called it "supervised rest". Here's how the good doctor explained supervised rest, or otherwise known as light duties, in his own words:-

"...The crux of the matter is he does not really need to go and rest at home. So he can do something. What's the difference of him going to office and him hanging around Geylang which he obviously has gone several times...If when (sic) you put the Patient in the dormitory there is no supervised rest, right...And probably he will be doing something with his hands, maybe play mahjong or something like that, I don't know. I cannot supervise him, you see. So when you go to a company place, it is supervised rest. I would still emphasise that it's supervised rest and not actual work."

The court's rejoinder? Here it is in full: "We pause to highlight that (as we expressed in the hearing before us), in our judgment, this is an illegitimate and outrageous submission that should never have been made before this court."

Ladies and gentlemen, that's gobsmacked! No. 2.

Lesson? Just one for you to chew on, and it is captured in this Richard Feynman's timeless observation: "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool...It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment (or reason), it's wrong." Cheerz.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

What if radical grace met the crossover?

This meet up did not happen. It did not. I can assure you. And it most likely will not, or will never, happen (at least not in the way I have imagined it where two adored leaders close ranks and share a candid moment together). But if it did happen, if Kong Hee (KH) were to meet up with Joseph Prince (Prince), and they had a heart-to-heart chat (or a tête-à-tête) over a cuppa under the spell of an evening fiesta, I imagine the engagement will flow along these lines:-

Prince : Hey Kong, how are you doing?

KH      : Praise God, he gives me strength. I am fine. 

Prince : (pauses) I know it's been tough on you...Sun and Dayan.

KH      : Thanks bro, appreciate your concern. We are fine as a family. His grace is sufficient for us.

Prince : Amen to that! Amen, Kong. 

KH    : (smiles) How ya' doing my friend? Heard you now have the largest church in Singapore, maybe the whole of Southeast Asia...(chuckles and whispers). Heard also...some of my sheep left for your church. Hey Joe, you do know it's a temporary loan right..?

(Both laugh out loud and then…awkward silence).

Prince : Kong, seriously...what is God telling you about the coming appeal? You know we’re all praying for you.

KH     : Thanks again. Mm... (lowers his head) I don't really know. I've left it in his hands since the verdict and sentence in November. Like I told the church, I live my life one day at a time. Just 24 hours a day. You can't rush that right? 

Prince : Yes, you can’t. I understand what you mean. 

KH     : I mean, what can I do? I answered the call and obeyed it. Sun and I have to follow it through. It's either that, or pretend that the guy up there was wrong, right? 
It can’t be right, right? I mean... wrong, right?

Prince: (smiles) Kong, you mean the crossover?

KH      : (nods pensively) 
Yes, yes.

Prince : you said, you heard his voice as clear as blue sky, correct?

KH      : Yes, it was him Joe...hands-down. I'm 100% sure. Still 100% sure. We had three independent confirmations at different divinely appointed intervals. I swear...I mean, sorry...I mean we heard it in our hearts, Sun and I. It was clearer than blue sky in fact.

Prince : I see...I see...I hear you Kong, loud and clear.

KH     : Joe, you do know what I mean right? When God talks, you listen. It's mostly a monologue when it comes to such thing. It came as swift and sudden as it went like the wind. But the message lingered on. You can't ignore it, dismiss it, put it aside bro,...or pop two aspirins and sleep over it. We must be faithful to the call. He's the creator of heaven and earth singling you out for heaven's sake. 

Prince : Well, I've been there too. 

KH     : Yes, you have...and you of all people should understand. I heard yours was when you were holidaying in the Swiss Alps. 

Prince : (nods) Mine was a shock to me Kong. I even argued with him while driving. He actually told me off. He said I was not preaching true grace by mixing it with the law. He was quite strict about it. 
It was unmistakably him. That voice in my spirit. In fact, my whole church was built on that day. We were practically transformed after that day…in numbers and spirit.

KH    : Me too. We had our signature divine experiences about the same time Joe…just before Y2K. Yours, radical grace and mine, crossover. Yours was to revolutionize the relationship, and mine was to revolutionize evangelism. My church too was built on that calling. I mean...where will the tens of thousands of our flock be if not for that voice, that revelation, that fateful day?

Prince : Amen.

KH      : Yes….amen.

(Both men pause and silence ensues…).

KH     : (sigh) ...but look at where we are now Joe.  Today, you’re leading the biggest megachurch in this little red dot and I am the little red dot that people out there would love to take out for target practice (shakes head). Bro, same God, yet totally unexpected outcome...I got the short end of the divine stick I guess…

Prince : Don't say that Kong. I am sure God is faithful. He will make a way for you and Sun. He is not like David who left Uriah alone in the front line when the troops pulled back. God shall be your deliverer. Have faith. Press on.

KH     : Thanks Joe. I guess I will have to take up this cross. It's mine to bear. It has my name on it.

Prince : Amen. It's your cross to over...come…your crossover (squirms as KH throws Prince a sidelong glance) Sorry, you know what I mean. We bear our own crosses.

KH     : Well, (hesitates)…it’s just that your cross seems now so much easier to bear than mine…Our fate is so different from where I stand. Here I am facing possible imprisonment and here you are enjoying quite an achievement! Sorry, (fumbles) I don’t mean it that way bro. Forget it. I was not thinking straight…

Prince : No issue Kong. I understand. Like I said, we carry our own cross. Mine is to fend off those who accuse me of sprouting heresy. Most time, I ignore them. I stand by the growth in my church. The miracles, the transformed lives. That’s his sign to me. His endorsement of my ministry.

KH     : I fully concur. Before all these investigation and persecution, my church was growing too….in the thousands! I took that as his sign too. No one can resist the truth right? The numbers and transformed lives speak for themselves.

Prince : Preach it Kong. Amen! Numbers don’t lie. It follows quality as like the dawn follows the light.

(Both reflecting as silence descended…).

KH      : Bro, can I be honest? Speak my mind that is?

Prince : Go ahead Kong. Please…

KH     : Erm...I can’t say that I totally agree with you actually. Sorry. We have different views about the works of the spirit.

Prince : (smiles) It’s alright Kong…as long as the body of Christ is expanding. We labor in our own ways. We fight our own fight. And to be honest back, I can’t bring myself to agree with China wine either. Sorry, just me.

KH     : Ah….China wine, getting drunk in the wrong spirit some say. Anyhow, even Christ’s disciples have a mind of their own. They don’t agree all the time.

Prince : (nods) Yes. You are right Kong. As Augustine said, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

KH    : I will toast to that anytime! 

(Both fist pump the air...)

Prince : And you know what Kong, here’s the good news… you’re declared righteous. No repentance required. Your sins are all forgiven, past, present and future. Paid in full Kong. Your salvation is secured.

KH     : Erm…what sins? You’re not talking about the conviction and sentence right? You know I only have the church’s interests at heart. I love the church. I did nothing illegal, or even remotely morally out of place.

Prince : Erm…no, no. Of course not bro. What was I thinking? Of course not. I mean, you don’t have to worry about the Holy Spirit convicting you of sins...that I can assure you. You are justified for all time.

KH      : What sins, Joe? I don’t understand. Are you going back to the trial judgment?

Prince : Nothing…nothing…(fumbles) Forget it Kong. I am just blabbering. 

(Both look away, contemplating…and then, awkward silence).

KH      : Anyway, thanks Joe for your time. Come September, I will have to face my Gethsemane…

Prince : I’ll pray for you Kong.

KH      : Well, a get-out-of-jail card would be nice (both laugh).

Prince : You never know Kong…God works in mysterious ways. Things might just turn out different.

KH     : Well, I am facing whatever God has planned for me. I will persist on for Him. (looks at the watch) Take care Joe, got to go. Thanks for the Starbucks.

Prince : Don't mention. Take care Kong. Bye.


Hate is such a galvanizing force.

Hate is such a galvanizing force. Like a storm, its elements rush for maximum damage. Its destruction converges at a point, a vortex of rage - the full weight of mindless hate converges without reason and mercy.

The mob who wanted to stone the prostitute did not turn up with open hands or hearts. They rallied, chanting and clamoring, with clenched fists, safeguarding the stone they were so eager to hurl at the subject of their ire. Alas, their hearts were as hard as the stone in their hands.

You can't reason with a mob unless you are prepared to flow with their unreason. They can't be taught unless you teach them how to hate even more. The mob has no eyes to see, no ears to hear and no heart to pause. They speak in one voice, and that is the voice of death, not life.

The mob love to hate. They love to hurt. They love to stone. And every stone they throw is stained by their own blood, which is the same crimson blemish that flows in the veins of those they hate. The only difference between the mob and the object of their hate is the numbers they hide behind. Stripped of the mindless crowd, the lone hater stands on level ground with the one he hates.

In the end, we are all guilty of the very same thing we accuse the others of, and that is, the flaws we are so hell bent to eradicate from others. Hate therefore makes nothing grow except more hate.

But love is so different. It is in fact so different that it is exceptional - transforming even. In love, everything grows and matures in due season. In love, we don't see differences, we see similarities. In love, we don't see division, we see common ground. In love, we don't see threat, we see opportunity. In love, we don't see bitterness, we see forgiveness. And in love, we don't hoard, we give.

In the barren land of hate, everything dies. But in the lush green land of love, everything that yields to life flourishes. Understanding widens. Compassion blooms. Hope soars. Charity yields. Joy springs. And peace flows.

Love conquers all as it starves hate of the oxygen it needs to survive, that is, the consummation of self. As hate obsesses over self, love addresses it. Love transforms hate. She opens his eyes. She redirects his focus. She broadens his heart.

In love, we have a precursor. We have an example. In fact, in the Bible, God is love.

Jesus did not die to hate. He died for, in and to love. The greatest commandment for him revolves around love. In the last supper, he did not debate, explain or dissect theology. Neither did he lecture about theories of his death and resurrection. No, he simply reminded them to love one another.

There is no greater commandment or teaching than that. It was what his whole life was all about. It was the culmination of all the lessons he had taught - the summation of everything his spirit embodied. It was his last will and testament witnessed by all and addressed to all.

Yes, Jesus was firm. He called out the hypocrites, the blood vipers, the whitewashed tombs. He overturned tables, rounded up the den of thieves, rebuked the Scribes and Pharisees. However, his last defining act, his legacy and parting wish, was carried out in love. Jesus went all the way because he loved all the way.

It was love that drove him to Calvary; not hate. It was love that restrained his hands when they nailed it to the cross; not hate. It was love that turned the face the other way because the Father could not bear the sight of his son; not hate. It was love who declared "It's finished"; not hate - for hate would have declared "They're finished." And it was love that brought hope to the lost world; not hate.

Love weeps; hate feeds.

Let me end with this reminder I will always keep close to my heart:-

I refuse to hate.

For hate consumes.

I won't give in to hate.

For the past it exhumes.

Human will be human.

Who among us don't fall? 

In the end we stand even. 

We all fall short of the call.

Every guilt is proven.

In the way we hate.

For we are all beholden.

To one common fate.

Hate must go.

Before healing takes hold. 

No peace to the soul.

If hate leaves our hearts cold.

No life is unblemished.

No one can declare.

Our soul are all famished.

For a savior beyond compare.

Jesus bore it all.

He showed us the way.

He took the fall.

In love, above all.

So, I refuse to hate.

I shall not ferment.

I won't give in to hate.

To its childish demands.

I choose a different path.

In the steps of my Savior.

No doubt it's tough.

But I shall not waver.


Sunday, 17 July 2016

Kong Hee vs. Eng Han: The ultimate church?

The friendship started in 1995. At that time, Kong Hee’s church services were held at the old Hollywood theatre in Tanjong Katong. The congregation was only 1,300-strong, but growing fast. A demon possession brought them together. Eng Han’s wife suffered "attacks" and had no control over her actions. She had a history with the occult as her father was a medium.

At one of the church services, Eng Han’s wife was doing a handstand and shocked everyone present. But Sun Ho came to her aid in 1996 when she prayed for her for two hours. She cast the demons out of Eng Han’s wife and the couple were very grateful. Their faith grew after that.

From there, Kong Hee and Eng Han bonded like brothers. Eng Han then rose quickly through the ranks. He was appointed to the church board in 1998, eventually becoming vice-president and treasurer. For the Crossover project, he was CHC’s investment/fund advisor. He was also Kong Hee’s confidante, mensch, trusted friend.

But things went down-south fast when the investigation of fraud started in 2010. Their friendship was put to the test when Eng Han was asked to draw the battle-lines of his allegiance. Accordingly to Eng Han, he “confronted Kong about the above, where Kong simply responded by asking him if he was still on his side. When Chew urged Kong to “just apologise and repent” by coming clean, and he didn’t, that was his last straw, where he finally left, in a signal he hoped to send to others to think about the church more critically.”

From foxhole buddies, they became two strangers standing on the opposite side of the fence or chasm, and the latter is getting wider of late. The bitterness between them spilled over during the 142-day trial when Eng Han told reporters that Kong Hee was a liar and deceived those closest to him. Eng Han then left the church in 2013 in utter disgust and disappointment.

But the feud did not end there. His woes worsened when CHC sued him last year for $21 million being unreturned investments. Mind you, this was the same church he once gave tens of thousands of dollars to without flinching or batting an eyelid. In total, about S$600,000 of his own money was poured into the building fund and a multi-purpose fund, which was used rather lavishly and exclusively by the pastoral couple.

Thinking back about the church members who had parted with their hard-earned money, Eng Han lamented: “These people are all living difficult lives, you know? Even for myself, for all the earnings I have given, I could have saved or multiplied it for my own children. I hardly have anything now, because I believed in this vision, in serving God.”

Then came the recent saber-rattling when Eng Han lodged a police report last week against eight CHC’s members for fraudulent misrepresentation. He said, "I am only one of many victims of misrepresentation. The focus is not on myself but on what Kong, Sun and (their) team have done to the members, many of whom have left the place.”

Alas, Eng Han’s dream of a church which was “so different from other churches, always at the forefront of new things” came to an unexpected, bitter end with the investigation, prosecution, trial, conviction, sentence, civil litigation (for the return of S$21 million) and the recent accusations of fraudulent misrepresentation against his ex-mentor, former spiritual leader and trusted shepherd, Kong Hee.

At this juncture, it is ironic that when Kong Hee was cross-examined in Aug 2014, he said this: “I began to transition from the role of a shepherd to that of a rancher. So basically and I’ve said this to my members many times instead of just becoming a shepherd, I became the chief feeder, the chief leader….. I’m still pretty much playing the role of a typical church pastor, although, because the church has grown, I got to take a more helicopter view of things.”

The operative word here is “rancher” as against being a shepherd. And if I may stretch the metaphor further, with some indulgences, I see a nuanced difference between the heart of a shepherd and the business of a rancher.

I think the Bible used “shepherd” for a specific purpose. In John 21, Jesus the Good Shepherd told Peter that if he truly love him, he would do three things: “Feed my lamb”, “Take care of my sheep”, and “Feed my sheep.” Unmistakably, the sacred role of the Good Shepherd is to watch over His sheep, protect them, nurture them, guide and lead them, and inspire the flock – just as Jesus had done with his disciples. And should even one sheep wander off, the Good Shepherd would spare no effort to look for it.

But Kong Hee’s rancher metaphor, although unintended by him, is uncanny (not to mention, disturbingly ironic) and the parallel to his current situation in the light of the investigation, trial, sentence and Eng Han’s recent police report leaves a bad taste in the mouth – to put it mildly. It is unfortunately a case of cutting your nose to spite your face, or in Kong Hee’s case, shooting one’s foot with a metaphor that backfires more than it stirs up the noblest of intention and desires.

Now, one can’t help but see Kong Hee’s leadership as he’d self-described it, that is, a rancher. And a rancher in the modern context is one who breeds and sells animals for food-related purposes, or a tidy profit.

A rancher essentially runs a business, and unlike a shepherd who tends to and protects his flock, sacrificing himself for their safety, the rancher’s goal is to feed his livestock, and encourage them to reproduce, all for the purpose of marketing, advertising, distributing and selling them for money. At the end of the day, it is all about the bottomline, or the profit margin to maximize self-gain.

Metaphor overkill or a Freudian slip? – you be the judge.

Here, Luke 15:3-7 is instructive. It is about Jesus rebuking the religious leaders when the latter caught Jesus welcoming and eating with “sinners”. Jesus’ riposte is captured in this parable: “Which of you men, if you had one hundred sheep, and lost one of them, wouldn’t leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one that was lost, until he found it? When he has found it, he carried it on his shoulders, rejoicing. When he comes home, he calls together his friends, his family and his neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!” I tell you that even so there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.”

The metaphor, I admit, gets even more ironical. With granted indulgence to stretch it just that tad bit, it is safe to say that Kong Hee is not going to set up an a la Tommy Lee Jones’ search party anytime soon to overturn “every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse to look for that one sheep (and the many others) who had once dedicated his (their) life, time and money to his ministry, but had left in disillusionment and disappointment for what they have perceived as an unrepentant leadership, which now desperately seeks expansion just to regain lost ground.

Metaphor overkill or reality check? – you be the judge.

The biting irony? Kong Hee (and his wife) have spared no effort and expenses to go around the world to look for new sheep, rounding up the flock in the outer regions, but, to those who had once given their undying allegiance to him, even his most trusted confidante, he conveniently walks on by, leaving them to care for themselves, their broken trust, faith and hope lie in ruins (while the charismatic rancher and his beatific partner expand their estate to welcome the new flock). And when the church attendance dropped from about 24,000 to 17,000, with many even leaving the faith due to numbing disillusionment after giving of their best years to the ministry, I wonder what is Kong Hee doing as their self-proclaimed shepherd to remain accountable to them? Is his apparent nonchalance in conformity with what Jesus once commanded Peter to do, that is, Feed my lamb”, “Take care of my sheep”, and “Feed my sheep”?

Unfortunately, this is made even more unsettling when we clearly saw last November the passing of one's decade-old bible to another (spouse to spouse), a marital mantle transference, yet Kong Hee, not being a pastor, is currently busy being a pastor (or a rancher as he called himself) taking a helicopter-like flight around the regions to preach with sweet abandonment. I guess searching for (and making peace with) one or two lost sheep is less of a priority for him than roping in new ones.

Metaphor overkill or opportunistic spirituality? - you be the judge.

(Now, let me be absolutely clear that I rejoice too when souls are saved – regardless of the effort or intention. My focus is not on the saved, but the leadership – which is called to a higher accountability. My point is about the personal and private reflection of the whole truth by the leadership, and not the evasion, manipulation, dilution or discombobulation of it. I preface that no one here is beyond reproach. My only concern is that Kong Hee might be on an evangelistic overdrive to overcompensate for his leadership failures and shortcomings instead of coming to a point of broken admission at the feet of Jesus so as to move forward for greater enduring works. For I always believe there is no greater manifestation of God’s power than a man reformed, renewed and truly reborn).

I guess Jesus was spot on when he said that “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.” Alas, in today’s self-therapeutic culture in some religious circles, I think repentance is grossly undervalued. It has become an inconvenient truth. We rather keep it under wraps – especially the leadership – because repentance makes us look bad. Saying sorry is not only the hardest word; it is also an image wrecker. We just can’t keep up with appearances if we admit to the need for personal deliverances. Kong Hee’s three bows say it all. It is a melodrama of finger-pointing and not a personal trauma of unreserved admission.

Some churches are even dispensing with after-altar-call repentance altogether because they have deemed themselves righteous long even before a stray thought, a crooked act or a devious desire could materialize. For them, repentance is always other people since the body of Christ is already righteous, beyond reproach by virtue of Calvary. But seriously, are we? Has Christianity of late gaining more appeal, authenticity and credibility because we are progressively becoming more righteous than before? Is that why people believe and are drawn to us...because of our declared righteousness (or is it because of our admitted brokenness and open humility)? 

Let me end this way. I read somewhere that Eng Han was once so impressed with Kong Hee's leadership that he exclaimed that CHC was the "ultimate church". This is in line with what Kong Hee once said that he didn't want CHC to be just like any of the neighborhood churches.

Well, after the fallout in 2010, I guess it is back to the drawing board for Eng Han because, for now, the ultimate church only comes when the perfect comes. In the meantime, and for all time until then, all churches are work in progress. We are churches on the way and no church, be it by virtue of popularity, charisma, wealth or numbers, can declare that they have arrived – that they are the ultimate church.

And I trust that it is not just a matter of declaring one's righteousness and that's that, but it is about bearing the fruits of His righteousness that matters most. For we all know that seeds don't spring out into a mature oak tree in a day or two. It takes time. It takes discipline. It takes a whole lot of trust and obey. And no infinite recitation of one's righteousness without genuine repentance along the way can mature the spirit, strengthen the soul, and deny the flesh.

So, I guess the animus between Kong Hee and Eng Han will go on for some time to come. And while Kong Hee can publicly claim that he has forgiven Eng Han, even with the latest stunt concerning a certain police report, I don’t think both of them will be voluntarily sharing a space together any time in the future since the fault in their view always lies with the other person. Cheerz.


Some have come to me of late to tell me to stop "bashing" Kong Hee. Why do I have an axe to grind? Leave him and the good things he is doing alone. Don't touch God's anointed. And I am not even from the church; never attended except for one occasion last year with my son because he was invited quite enthusiastically by his classmate and his parents.  Well, here is why, in the best way I know how to explain it (if what I have written above thus far is woefully inadequate)...
...I recalled one CHC member once said: “Our trust is in God, not in man. As the Bible tells us, all men will make mistakes.” This is clearly a sound statement and the member appears discerning. But what happens next is more disconcerting than discerning. Here's how it all spills out. Kong Hee passes the full leadership mantle (over to his wife); yet he is still leading, preaching, instructing, traveling, conferencing, liaising, networking, connecting and commandeering. No one attending CHC can be mistaken as to who is still in full charge and ownership. Is Kong Hee really this indispensable to CHC, to the kingdom of God at large? Is preaching the word to an audience of hundreds and thousands more important to him now than to withdraw from all that for a season and a season only to preach to an audience of one – himself? And doesn’t this make a mockery to (or at least trivialize) the authenticity of the leadership handover? Here’s more disconcerting turn of events. Kong Hee is convicted and sentenced in November last year; yet he shows absolutely no remorse, regrets and contrition (even if not for the criminal charges, which he is understandably appealing, at least for the moral failures or lapses, or “mistakes” as his member puts it). Or is this a case of reserving a different standard for leaders and another for laymen? And that’s not all. Kong Hee had been forewarned before of the slippery slope regarding the Crossover project by a truly discerning member Roland Poon (and even pastors from other churches offered guidance); yet he did as he deem fit using religion, charisma and status quo as a justification, prosecution (of Roland Poon) and perpetuation, and forgetting Proverbs 10:37 which reads: “Whoever heeds instructions is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.” Then, comes accountability. Kong Hee’s leadership over the years has been marred by controversies, shortcomings, dubious collection drive, pressure tactics, extravagant lifestyle, lavish expenditures, disturbing music videos, lies and deception about the sales of it, and I am not even talking about the criminal charges, and yet he is still riding high as CHC’s de facto pastor as if he is sacredly chosen for the role (with his name on it) by the god who once told him to endure it all for a purpose and even apologized to him that he had to endure it all for that purpose. My god, am I the only one who sees a disconnect here? Is it any wonder that non-believers are disgusted? Can we as believers not understand their godsmacked incredulity of Kong Hee’s total obliviousness and mind-boggling audacity?  If we are honest about it, truly honest, I think the Crossover project is not so much about evangelism. It is however about telling the world (and the other churches) that Kong Hee and Sun Ho have got it right. They are simply obsessed with the rightness of their decision, with religious zeal even, and all else that comes against it is just plain rebellion. This literally cause her members to leave Godly discernment at the doorstep as they blissfully enter the blessed House of.…Kong Hee. And I agree with the church member who said that his trust is in God and not man, for all men make mistakes. But from the looks of it, from the things I have spelt out above, from the impunity-like care-freeness of Kong Hee’s recent evangelistic romp, I think the member is saying one thing and doing another. What is more ironic is that he - like Kong Hee - may not even realize it - or simply choose not to. Cheerz.