Sunday, 9 April 2017

The gospel according to Kong Hee.

It's a sad day for the church as a whole. It is even sadder when leaders lead not by example, but by popularity. That is the theme of this post and here’s a little background.

We are all called as believers to and for the same mission, that is, to fulfill the Great Commission. We are to be the light and salt of the world. We are also called to be set apart from the world, holding up the name of our savior, Jesus, in honor, hope and victory.

Before he confronted Calvary, Jesus reminded us that we will have troubles, implying troubles from the world. But he also reminded us to take heart, for he has overcome, and so will we.

Alas, there is nothing in those words of Jesus that quite prepare us for overcoming troubles that are created within the church by leaders for whom respect and trust are duly accorded.

And here, I am specifically referring to the other five appellants in Kong Hee's team and what the Appeal Judges have to say about them here:-

"None of the appellants, particularly Eng Han, Ye Peng, John Lam, Serina and Sharon, could be said to have gained anything from what they did other than pursuing the objectives of CHC."

If anything (or anyone) is said to have profited from this unwholesome enterprise called the Crossover Project, then the founders themselves are clearly the main and only beneficiaries.

On this point, I tend to agree with the dissenting Judge Chan’s view based on the force of common sense when he said that "it was very clear Kong's wife had benefited from criminally misappropriated funds to fund her music career."

Now, this is not to say that the other two Judges disagreed with Judge Chan. In fact, Sun Ho's jet-set lifestyle unbefitting of what is expected of a self-sacrificing pastor, her personal ambition and excesses on the road to becoming famous and influential for what she deems as evangelism, and her uncharacteristic involvement in songs and videos that casts a bad light on moral values and Christian principles were all spread out in plain sight for all to see, ogle and marvel at.

To put it bluntly, I guess part of her Crossover plan was to generate lust in order to attract remorse, to entice the audience with filth in order to invite reflection, and to serve up a sordid concoction of immorality in order to plant the first seed of conversion.

So, the three Judges were kept fully apprised of all that (that is, the excesses and extravagance that form the element of self-profit and self-enrichment). But on a procedural technicality, it reports that "while the prosecution noted in its oral submissions that there was benefit accrued to Kong Hee's Wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun, this was not raised in its written submissions for the appeal. The issue of personal benefit was, therefore, not factored into the sentencing."

With that so-called omission, the hands of the law were unfortunately tied. The Judges therefore could not factor into their appeal decision the reality that Sun Ho had profited from the building fund for the purpose of sentencing.

But, you may ask, the hands of common sense shouldn't be similarly bound right? Surely, the truth (or reality) supersedes technicality, right? In other words, in the Court of Conscience, it is clear that Sun Ho and Kong Hee were the only beneficiaries of the Crossover Project.

All this leads to the unavoidable conclusion that the couple therefore used the church funds for self-gain, whether directly or indirectly, and that cannot be denied; unless of course one deliberately favors uncommon sense over common sense, or self-delusion over spiritual discernment.

So, this brings me to the point about troubles created within the Church (and not so much by the world).

The Crossover is a strange hybrid creature of evangelism where the pastoral couple, holding full sway over the unwitting tens of thousands, invite the world into the church in order to convert the world. If a metaphor helps, this is somewhat like nursing a serpent back from the cold hoping that she will defy her nature by not biting her benefactor in return.

The truth is, the Crossover Project may have started with ennobled goals. But along the way, the puppeteers became the puppets as personal ambitions, consuming pride and unrelenting desperation took over and caused the pastoral couple to lose their way, their head and their faith.

If the Crossover Project was a $50 million dollars pyramid scheme, then the ones who sat regally and opulently at the top are none other than Kong Hee and his wife, Sun Ho. And you can say that the other five were just at the wrong place, wrong time and wrong company (and if I may add, serving the wrong leadership at that time).

As such, Kong Hee deservingly got the harshest sentence because he was the ultimate leader of the five. It is said that his role was that of the spiritual leader of the other appellants. In addition, Kong Hee provided the "overall direction and moral assurance for their actions" and his significant other-half who inspired him to perpetuate this criminal misappropriation was none other than his wife, Sun Ho.

So, while it is correct to say that there was no personal gain for the other five appellants (Chew even gave more than half a million to the church), it goes against the reality of things (not to mention common sense) to say that neither Kong Hee nor Sun Ho benefitted personally, whether directly or indirectly, from the senselessly extravagant experiment that is the Crossover Project.

And now that the verdict of the appeal is out, you'd expect them (that is, Kong Hee and Sun Ho) to at the very least apologize for what they have done, that is, and more specifically, their questionable leadership, their mindless ambition, their careless ways of applying church funds, their extravagance, their cowardice, their shifting of responsibility, and their hypocritical stand of projecting a martyrdom image. 

I mean, isn't it time to reflect, resolve and come clean? Didn't the Appeal Court say that the accused had "resorted to deceit and lies" to hide "the truth of their transactions from auditors and lawyers, because they wanted to keep the use of the church's monies for the Crossover Project confidential?"

If this is so, one can expect no more pretensions, right? No more games? No more denial? And no more smokescreen?

Well, guess again. Kong Hee was the least repentant of them all after hearing the verdict on Friday morning. While Deputy Pastor Ye Peng was heard telling the court that he is prepared to bear a heavier sentence if the sentences of Sharon and Serina could be correspondingly reduced, Kong Hee however expressed disappointment over the reduced charge and sentence. He was expecting total acquittal.

Till this very day, he remains "unimpeachable" by the standard of his own self-styled theological legitimacy, or self-declared innocence. He is one leader who has refused to accept any responsibility or be accountable for his actions. He neither gave to Caesar nor to God what belongs to them exclusively and respectively.

Alas, I guess the only lies for which we are truly punished are those we tell ourselves. And such punishment perpetuated by one's deceit and lies has brought down the integrity of the Church as a whole as well as the lives and families of those who had followed their leader in the hope that when the time comes to do the right thing, their leader would stand up to the plate and be counted.

Well, I guess it would be wishful thinking on my part to expect Kong Hee and Sun Ho to acknowledge that they have failed in their leadership with the blind pursuit of the Crossover Project to its self-serving end. 

(I know he had apologized yesterday, this time by asking for forgiveness for being unwise. Yet, it is an apology tainted by a form of tactical maneuvering that still denies any and all wrongdoing - as charged and convicted - but admits to some unspecific failure in leadership in order to preserve that humility stance and milk the sentimentality of his congregation. Alas, some apology moves you forward - it addresses the wrong. Others just keep you even more confused - because it avoids the wrong altogether). 

And while the National Council of Churches of Singapore has done the right thing to put on record that, on behalf of the council, it "will be sending a personal message to express (their) continued prayers for pastor Kong Hee, his family and CHC, and also assuring him and (CHC of) continued fellowship with (them) as part of the body of Christ," who is then appointed in the higher echelons of the ecumenical church to counsel Kong Hee back from his prodigal path of impenitence? God knows, his church is not up to the task since it is not a sanctuary where a broken and contrite heart goes to seek repentance, but it is an echo chamber where an insular and stubborn heart goes to seek self-affirmation. 

If God, accordingly to Kong Hee, had apologized to him, who then will the council send as the next "prophet Nathan" to wake Kong Hee up from his deluded state of mind or his misplaced divine illusions? Surely, with a case this big and the repercussions this widespread, it is the leader who ought to bear the responsibility and make amends accordingly right? In other words, repentance, reformation and restoration cannot be a one-way street right?

Alas, let me then conclude with the gospel according to Kong Hee, and part of it is ironically stated in the papers yesterday. It reads: "The investigations cast a spotlight on Kong's prosperity gospel, which marries materialism with spiritualism, and the attempt by the church, which at its peak had 30,000 congregants, to reach out to the "unchurched" by turning Mandarin pop singer Ho into a star in America."

That is about just right when it comes to describing the way Kong Hee runs the church. The passage talks most pertinently about a marriage and the making of a pop star. However, what the reader may understandably overlook is the word "spotlight", and it has been shinning most endearingly on the couple since the Crossover Project was launched, and no one else. Cheerz.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I declare that I have no religion but am not anti-religion. I have difficulty accepting the point that "if anything (or anyone) is said to have profited from this unwholesome enterprise called the Crossover Project, then the founders themselves are clearly the main and only beneficiaries." The basis for my difficulty is my understanding that the church goer had benefited upfront, spiritually and in other ways, when he contributed money.

    1. The victims of a pyramid scheme are always given the impression of 'benefit', but in the eyes of the law and justice, it is still a scam, however cleverly executed.

  3. The least Pastor Kong could do now is to return the huge amount of cash to the church & embrace the punishment given to him instead of appealing. During his jail term, if he truly repent & transform, God will intervene & do the rest. Every sin has its consequence. Thats why, we believers of Christ, knows the Heaven & Hell exist. Everyone has to atone for his sins especially the Shepherds to there flocks. God can use the repentant heart as his instrument to save lost souls. As for his wife, the law should punish severely. She is the main & sole benificiary. Justice must prevail for the people who donated.