Kong Hee (and his team) was likened to a "rogue trader" by Justice Chan.
He wrote: "An analogy may be drawn between the appellants' use of CHC's monies for their Investment (in Sun Ho's music career) and a rogue trader who misuses his client's money for his own purposes to make very risky investments with very high potential returns."
To be fair, he did caveat that "while the rogue trader's motive may be wholly self-serving, the appellants' motives may be mixed, ie, partially to benefit CHC by investing in what they believe to be a better and more effective means of evangelisation to non-believers worldwide, and partially to use criminally misappropriated CHC's funds to invest in Sun Ho's music career to make huge profits..." (Paras 486 and 487).
This brings me to the news today (11 April 2017) about a particular criminal reference filed by the AGC. It has to do with one word "trust" - that is, does aggravated CBT (Section 409) cover leaders like Kong Hee who had led tens of thousands with unquestioned divine-mandate, played hide and seek with the authorities with ten of milions of people's money, and then insisted on his innocence because his heart is for God in all that he did?
It was, to him, a sacrifice of the highest extravagant order.
Indeed, what started in the spirit may end up in the flesh. But it's slightly different with Kong Hee here. For him, what started in the spirit, muddled through in the flesh, and ended up in complete denial.
If we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but in the spiritual realm, then maybe for Kong Hee, any appeal for him is clearly beyond the flesh and blood - for it is in the spiritual realm that truly counts, that is, the battle for his conscience.
For you can always win the costliest battles of appeal in the world with great fanfare, even invite (and use) the world to change hearts (according to his theological legitimacy). But ultimately, I believe God meets you in the spirit, where it is the quietest, and it is there that you are still, disarmed, and confronted.
Lesson? Just one.
The roller coaster ride has gone for far too long. CHC's executive pastor earlier said this:-
"It has been a seven-year journey for City Harvest Church. In the Bible, the seventh year is a time of Sabbath, a time of release and rest. It has been a hard journey that all of you have taken with the leadership—through it all, we have learned many lessons, the most precious of which is to trust God with our whole lives."
I am afraid the transformation of heart will take more than seven years in CHC's leadership case. And I trust that - while they have learned many lessons - some so-called lessons learned only go to toughen one against learning the one lesson that makes all the enduring difference, and that is, a broken and contrite heart of unconditional repentance.
Soon, the Court of Appeal will have to decide whether the word" agent" in Section 409 applies to directors and Kong Hee. While the courts busy herself to clear the air and we wait for the final outcome, there is another wait in another realm that is captured in this parable as I end.
"There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the inheritance. Let me use it to expand my church. Let me use it for my wife's music career. Let me make her famous so that people who know her will come to know you.' So he divided his property between them.
Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off to start a megachurch, won fame, wealth and adoration all over. He told his music producer to aim for the sky for no amount is too big for his wife.
After he had spent everything, he borrowed even more. There was a severe financial famine in his church, and he began to be in need.
So he went around and hired himself out to the world, who sent him to the fields of questionable loans and companies. He longed to fill his appetites with the goal of making his wife a resounding success. But alas, the law of the land caught up with him.
When he came to his senses, he turned back to ask for forgiveness. He then bowed three times and said, "I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy for making unwise decision; please pardon me."
So he got up and went to his wife and his congregation who were always waiting for him. They gave him a rousing standing ovation and it was deafening. He was once again elevated, and all his waywardness was readily washed clean as white as snow.
Meanwhile, at home, by the gate, his Father patiently waits for his return. He had his servants prepare the best robe for his son. And in his hands were a ring and fine sandals. Alas, the feast with fattened calf to celebrate his son's return is beginning to turn cold." Cheerz.