Never met or spoken to him. Not even seen him face to face except for one occasion from a distance, in one Saturday service three years ago with my son. He was preaching then and was undeniably charismatic on stage.
My point is that Kong Hee draws a lot of "Likes" for my post. And if I happen to (quite deliberately) put his face (or hers) on my blog or Facebook, I galvanise even more head-spinning attention. I guess that explains my post's image here.
In other words, I become "famous" by riding on the infamous trails of Kong Hee. Like a parasite?
Here comes my point in sharper focus.
I hate myself for it. I don't think it is right. I think something is seriously wrong.
Why should Kong Hee's exploits or affairs attract so much attention, but the deeds of the unknown mee siam stall owner or the auntie who sells tissue paper at Bedok Food Court attract not even a pinch of it?
On second thought, maybe this post would be better framed as "Why I hate myself for being parasitical when riding on the trials and travails of Kong Hee?"
But I guess that might be a bit too dramatic. And a title that long is tedious and distracting.
So, I thought of just sticking with the current title for a candid, heart-to-heart post to set the record straight (as some of late have been asking me whether I have an axe to grind with Kong Hee).
Alas, controversy always stirs the pot to an overflowing froth, and Kong Hee and his Crossover Project are controversy magnet for such attention deluge.
And don't even let me loose (since it is the Year of the dog, my year at 48) on the perennially incredulous antics of the crossover like China Wine and Kill Bill, and the millions spent on Sun Ho's delusionary singing career by the astonishingly large numbers of willing donors with an all-embracing heart.
That controversy will fill to overflow a vast estate of frothing pots.
Now, at this point, many will readily jump in to offer the most obvious reason for the massive interest in Kong Hee. It essentially boils down to his fame, his worldwide exploits and his charisma.
He is well known for many good and bad reasons. He was hot and in high demand in the evangelical and charismatic circles, and such recognition remains unabated even after he walked into Court last April to serve his time, which is now confirmed at 3.6 years. He has also touched many lives, as tens of thousands locally and abroad can readily testify.
And if he behaves and complies with prison rules, he may just be conditionally released for home detention around the time of our 54th National Day 2019 - give or take a few months.
So, let's go back to the self-loathing part of my post here.
I think Kong Hee should just be left on his own. Recall that salvation belongs to the Lord, not man. That's the main point of this post.
I have been conscious since his surrender to the State Courts to avoid writing and mentioning even his name when I write on a few occasions about the City Harvest saga for the above reason; that is, to leave well alone well alone (not counting this post of course, which will be my final piece about him because I trust/hope he has learnt his lesson).
He is serving his prison term, and like he said, he is basically at peace with himself and was prepared to accept whatever the outcome of the appeal - even if it means an enhanced sentence of 8 years. I guess, God showed mercy after all.
Even if some of us are of the sincerest view that in his case, justice ought not to be tempered with mercy or compassion because he was let off too lightly, we should at the very least walk on by because last Thursday's appeal at the highest Court of five Justices puts an end to it all. It's like putting the dog to sleep, for good, for now and forever.
At this point, I recall this proverb: "If a dog chases two rabbits, he will never catch one." (too many Year of the dog references?)
I take that to mean that we cannot let go by holding on, or move forward by looking back. In other words, some goals are just mutually exclusive.
For example, in love, there is no hate. And in light, there is no darkness.
So, in forgiveness, there is no vengeance because it is His to exact. And in salvation, there is no perfection, for it is never done until we are done on earth.
I can imagine a dog feverishly chasing love and hate, forgiveness and vengeance, salvation and perfection, wanting it all, but never catching either, or at all.
Sure, Kong Hee is a lot of things to a lot of people. The controversies of his past will dogged him for decades to come (pun unintended). He will have to live with his leadership flaws, his shortfalls, his failings.
But that will be exclusively his to deal with in the solitary confinement of his cell. He is paying the price for it, and he will be paying for it away from the distracting glare of stage lights, the deafening applause, and the adoring members fist-pumping his every sermon preached from the pulpit.
Gone are all that in the compelling quietude of his current regimented space.
There is surely a therapeutic advantage to earnest repentance when one is sequestered from the noise of mass and indiscriminate public endorsement and into forced hermitage for in-depth self-examination.
So, I wish him well, and I did just that when I wrote on his FB on the eve of his surrender these words: "Take care pastor."
As for believers on the other side of the divide, it is time to stop grinding the axe. Let's heal the rift, fill it with goodwill, close the gap, understand that no human leadership is perfect, open our hearts and embrace hope, redemption and repentance.
(That's why I chose that title as a clickbait to reach out to as many readers as possible; for what it's worth anyway).
Yes, the crossover has shown the ugly side of the ambition of man - good intention notwithstanding. But it is the redemption of Calvary that will always outdo, outshine and outlast all.
While I admit that the illegality of the crossover was overwhelming, it is the timeless legacy of Calvary that is and will always be overcoming. And while hate for what is evil or wrong is justified at times, at least for a season, it is love that ultimately conquers all, for all seasons.
For in light, there is no darkness. And as Proverbs 4:18 puts it, "The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day."
As believers, united as one, regardless of church and creed, our evangelism at this pressing time is not so much the conversion of new hearts, but the transformation (or persuasion) of old.
Because, as Proverbs illumes it so well, the path of the righteous shines brighter to full light, and not shines dimly edging towards full night.
Thanks for reading. Have a blessed Sunday morning.
Unity in faith, courage in hope, and love in everything. Amen. Cheerz.