One of the Executive Members of City Harvest Church, Calvin Ho, has finally spoken (or written). Not surprisingly, he stands firm on the side of Kong Hee and Sun Ho. He is asking for “the establishment to demonstrate sound moral judgment and consistency of its acts” because he “can no longer see this unprecedentedly protracted court case go so wrong in the eyes of (his) conscience, and so unjustified in so many aspects, and to-date still delivers an awful lack of convincing balance of sound, good-conscience judgment.” Underscore “awful”.
Calvin then went on to “call out the obvious that is so wrong, in the whole scheme of things, and with a beholding of the state of affairs in this country (he) observe(s), as a total human-citizen-Christian-CHC Executive Member observer.”
He then posed five questions in his letter and I have added my thoughts to them– as usual. Here goes.
First, he asked, “where is the legal basis for CBT when there is no personal gain or benefit?” I will respectfully leave this part in the ably hands of the Court of Three Judges because as a Christian, my concern has always been with the spiritual and moral responsibility, stewardship and accountability of the CHC’s leadership before any dissected legal culpability of the collective six.
On this note, what is therefore not denied (and can’t be denied) is that Kong Hee’s stewardship has fallen way below what is expected of a leader, especially a church. The laundry list starts with shifting blame instead of bearing them, lying to the Church about his wife’s singing success and album sales, shamelessly touting her as the next “Whitney Houston,” living off the millions in extravagance while the poor and struggling in his Church live in modest accommodation, some even just scraping by, splurging on his wife quite mindlessly on a pretense of questionable evangelism resulting in money that could be used for other more worthy, effective and proven evangelistic causes (and definitely less controversial), and failing to make full and frank disclosure as the trustee, shepherd and professed lover of the Church about the Crossover Project where millions of hard-earned member’s money were spent.
I can go on about China Wine and the perversion of the gospel (which was met with disapproval from other church leaders), but I think you get the drift.
Where is then the responsibility and accountability in all this? Where is the stewardship and shepherdship of God’s people and their money? I can understand that one needs to readily forgive his or her pastor, he is just a man after all, but how do you even start the forgiveness, reconciliation and healing process when the church leaders admit to nothing, deflect all blame to his subordinates, and rally a defence (not legal mind you) to insulate himself (and herself) from any wrongdoing? I know one should not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ, but shouldn’t one be ashamed of the gospel of lies?
Maybe, Calvin can answer all that with his clear-eyed conscience?
Second, “who is the State Prosecution to tell the Church, its members and its leaders if they should or should not direct their building fund money to invest in a Crossover love outreach mission, if their Church Constitution already empowers the Management Board and leaders to do so?” Calvin then talked about the lack of transparency in the many Town Councils’ alleged investments in “risky collapsing Lehman Brothers stocks during the 2008 subprime crisis period, and why they are allowed to divert large funds to invest in such instruments, and lost millions?”
Here, I am reminded of the verses that say, “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6) and ”there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”(Proverbs 14:12).
Let admit it, it’s just a matter of time anyway. Being right at most times is a psychological sentence that locks one in a self-assuring mental prison of self-belief and self-invulnerability. The forces that gather once a man or woman thinks he is right and unimpeachable, even infallible of the ex cathedra kind, are self-reinforcing, and the resilience that is built up by the deluded will resist even the plainest of common sense, the sharpest of wits, and the sincerest of persuasion. And to the deceived, the many numbers that checked their brains out at the door, it is strangely the coldest comfort that they are readily prepared to embrace because form always supersedes substance, convenience is preferred to character, and groupthink prevails over critical individual reflection.
Thirdly, Calvin asked these series of questions, and this has to be quoted verbatim so as to not dilute its biting irony, “If the six charged and accused CHC leaders were swindlers and cheated of the Church members of their hard earned money, then why not haul all the 500 Executive Members to come testify and witness? Why were no victims called to testify? Why has even no Church Management Board Members been called to testify?”
Well, in the light of what has happened, and putting aside Mr Poon and the price he had paid before he was vindicated (and with no apology forthcoming mind you) and considering that the attendance of CHC had been slashed by almost half since the start of this fiasco, is CHC really a victimless church? Is Calvin speaking for the whole church or the members past who had left and present, that is, is he speaking for those who have donated and will still donate to CHC with glee or those who had given and then left in disgust because they felt betrayed and fleeced?
Of course, Calvin can argue that we are talking about legal wrong here to fit the crime charged. But in cases like this, where I am talking about how my Savior will go out of his way to look for that one stray sheep out of the 99, can we honestly say that CHC under Kong Hee’s and Sun Ho’s leadership has suffered no real loss? One really has to define loss and let’s not be flippant or legalistic about it.
Alas, I believe victimhood is a state of mind, that is, it is a mind-over-matter thing. Yes, you heard the jingle right, “If you don’t mind it, it don’t matter.” That is why I guess Calvin boldly wrote this, “How could you so neglect people like me who is an Executive Member for almost 15 years (in my estimation of years) as witness, and I am just one of the hundreds?”
I have no doubt that Calvin, being a “total human-citizen-Christian-CHC Executive Member observer,” will stand up for Kong Hee and Sun Ho – even if they ask him to sell his house, car and the shirt on his back for even more dubious and controversial projects as long as it is all carried out in the pristine name of evangelism. Again, I reiterate that it is not about what Kong Hee was being legally charged for. It is however about the spiritual and moral responsibility placed under his charge. Has he lived up to it? Does he need to reflect more about it, and not whitewash himself more on the international and local stage?
Fourthly, and this is disturbingly strange because Calvin went on to say that “every year we see government ministries having endless cases of lapses amounting to millions of dollars unaccounted for properly and all you need is one Cabinet minister to stand up in public to declare all these lapses were not result of dishonesty but genuine human errors, with media splashing all over echoing such positive statement, and then the case is closed with no one daring to question publicly otherwise,” then he tried to marry that whole mouthful with this “incompatible bride”, “now, not that I claim there is dishonesty there (???), but what I am saying is – who is going to investigate? (for no dishonesty?) Are we sure no one is having private gain? Why not the State Prosecution haul up all these offenders and grill them in court to find out as much as they grill the six CHC accused leaders?”
Is he for real? Is he treading in the rapid waters of defamatory undertows? Was this expressly or tacitly approved by Kong Hee? Or did Kong Hee secretly desire for this to be published without thinking about its negative consequences?
At this moment, I really don’t know whether he is helping Kong Hee’s cause or is he digging it deeper into the abyss of guilt for him both in the physical realm and the social media platform? You be the judge.
Finally, he repeated the so-called injustices by writing, “What is clear is there is no wrongful gain to any of the six accused leaders of CHC, as convincingly established by the defense counsels, yet the Prosecution, riding on the loud speaker engine of the state media, kept making loud, high sounding, sensationalized quotes such as “Lies! Falsehood!” - which are all so readily lapped up by the public as juicy news-bites.”
This is how Calvin ended, “I hope the establishment could make a convincing deliberation to end this unworthy protracted longest court case history in Singapore, where the Prosecution could go as far as the letter simply because the Church was parked under the Charity code of conduct.
It is time for a national rethink perhaps to separate religious organizations from the Charities. The Church is not a charity, period. It is caught in the Achilles heel for law argument sake simply because of the Charity code, but it is definitely a law argument without sound conscience or proper moral reasoning.”
Calvin, I know you are focusing on the legal aspect of the comparison between charity and church. However, here is my one-paragraph reply that is directed at the total forest of things, that is, the bigger picture on church leadership, and not just on a few trees of legal argument. Ready?
“The Church is definitely not a charity period, because it is much more than a charity. It goes beyond the standards and codes of conduct expected of a charity, which governs her effectiveness, transparency, openness, and accountability. The Church is all that and much more. The Church is ordained by God, led by His Spirit, and has Jesus as her reigning head. The Church is not called to be followers of men, however promising they appear to be on stage, but of the Crucified and Risen Christ. The Church is redeemed by His blood and is counted righteous by that one sacrifice surpassing all sacrifices of old. Jesus paid the ultimate price and we as his redeemed think, do, act and respond in all ways and manners that accord unreserved glory, honor and praise to His name. We are not perfect but in Him, we have our being, our salvation, our hope, our joy, our faith, our love and our peace. We do fall sometimes, but what sets us apart is that we admit to it, repent from it and turn from our wicked ways. Love is not blind Calvin, but it bears the Cross, pays the price and gives of Himself to and for the Church. Love conquers all, yes, but first, you must allow it to conquer you and all your worldly desires (and blind ambition and allegiance). So, you are right, Calvin, the Church is not a charity period. But it is a place where hearts are transformed, spirits are lifted, souls are encouraged, our flesh is crucified, lives are born again, love reigns, leaders sacrifice, leaders take responsibility, leaders shoulder the blame, leaders lift Jesus high and not themselves or their wife, and leaders do as they say and say as they do. In the foxhole of church leadership, the leader is the last to leave. Jesus set the example for the Church, and we are called to follow that example. And He stayed behind in the foxhole called Calvary, and he never left. Jesus has called us to live simply since this world is not our home – lest we mistake its possession for our possession. We are warned not to let the love of money (or the idolatry of spouse) cause our downfall. We are called to be beyond reproach as leaders and not to drag the Church through a legal entanglement that lasted for five years all for a so-called evangelistic project that is highly questionable, deeply disturbing, undeniably self-glorifying, wholly unproven and plainly arbitrary. Where is the Crossover now, the seedy gyration, Calvin? Aren’t the gallivanting couple going back to the good old fashioned evangelism – the way Jesus did it? We are reminded that we are in the world but not of the world, and definitely not become the world in order to save the world. We are called to always turn our eyes upon Jesus and the things of the world will go strangely dim, and not turn our eyes upon prosperity, membership expansion, multisensory programs, worldly identification and consummation, indulgent living, and promoting a culture of secrecy that is controlled by one, and allow the high calling and the glorified name of Jesus to go insidiously dim.”
Calvin, I know you love your pastor. I know you wish him well. I know you may see all this as worldly persecution. But put all that aside, reflecting for yourself, away from the mesmerizing crowd and culture, do you think Kong Hee and Sun Ho have nothing to apologize for, nothing that they have done, judged, said, and thought wrong that they should be responsible and accountable for?
Leaving legal aside, is Kong Hee “morally blameless” for the lies, deception, arbitrariness, obsession and misappropriation? Is he strategically reserving an apology to an opportune time because it is inconvenient and inappropriate to do so before the trial ends then and before the appeal concludes now?
Bro, is there a rightful time to take responsibility for a wrongful crime (or moral wrong)?
I hope that in the same way that I have deeply reflected and replied to what you have written, you would do the same for mine. For it is undeniable that all 500 of you will unquestionably stand up for Kong Hee, but will you stand up for what is right? Cheerz.