Kong Hee arrested: weep and do not throw stones

Weep with those who weep

It has been fermenting for some time, about two years- this City Harvest Church investigation. We have heard rumors that the court case was postponed because of the recent elections. More recently rumor had it  that it was going to be squashed as they could find nothing. Now it is a sobering fact that some serious charges will see its day in court. It won’t be an easy time for City Harvest Church members or for the church as a whole, particularly if you are a mega-church. Its time for the Singapore church to weep with those who weep, and to pray and trust God to work good out of this shameful and hurting period. This is not a time to throw stones, but to feel the pain of others as if our own.

The Straits Times online report

City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee and four others, including former board members, were arrested on Tuesday morning following a probe into financial irregularities of the church by both the police and the Commissioner of Charities (CoC).

Among other things, the CoC found financial irregularities of at least $23 million from the church funds. Its spokesman said the funds were used with the purported intention to finance the wife of pastor Kong, Ms Ho Yeow Sun’s secular music career to connect with people.

‘There was a concerted effort to conceal this movement of funds from its stakeholders,’ said the CoC spokesman.

City Harvest church founder Kong Hee (above) and four others from his ministry were arrested by the police in an early dawn raid on Tuesday morning, two years after investigations first began into the homegrown church.

City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee and four others, including former board members, were arrested on Tuesday morning following a probe into financial irregularities of the church by both the police and the Commissioner of Charities (CoC).

Among other things, the CoC found financial irregularities of at least $23 million from the church funds. Its spokesman said the funds were used with the purported intention to finance the wife of pastor Kong, Ms Ho Yeow Sun’s secular music career to connect with people.

‘There was a concerted effort to conceal this movement of funds from its stakeholders,’ said the CoC spokesman.

In a statement, the police named the five: church founder Kong Hee, his deputy, Mr Tan Ye Peng, former board member, John Lam Leng Hung, church investment manager Chew Eng Han, and church finance manager Sharon Tan Shao Yuen.

Two years ago, on May 31 2010, the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) started an investigation into certain financial transactions of CHC after receiving information of misuse of CHC funds.

A police spokesman said that after a thorough investigation, the five would be charged with being in a conspiracy to commit criminal breach of trust as an agent. If convicted, each of them could be jailed for life and fined.

Mr Tan, Mr Chew and Ms Sharon Tan, will also be charged with conspiracy to falsify accounts. If convicted, each could be jailed up to 10 years and fined. All five will be charged in court on Wednesday.

For the full article by Chong Chee Hin go HERE.

Yahoo! News gives a detailed and clear description of the allegations in this article How did alleged misconduct at CHC take place?

Because the pastor said so

Ben drew a deep breath and closed his bank account. All that he had saved for the past decade of working in the premier Administrative Service is now in this cheque that he would put in the offering bags on Sunday. He had been saving to invest in a private property he had been assiduously evaluating. Now he wrote the church’s name on the cheque. There was hesitation, but once he put pen to paper it was quickly over.

He was not the only one. Many in his cell group from the church had already done the same thing over the last few months. In fact he was his usual cautious reluctant self – turning things over in his head till his mind was exhausted and drew a blank. It was not just a matter of copying others in the cell group, or the many other cell groups. The whole church had been feverish about being ready for this greatly anticipated event the pastor had spoken about. Now he has decided to dive in too with the rest of his friends.

The pastor’s words had reverberated in the corridors of churches in Singapore. As the messages were being broadcasted in other countries in the region as well, there had been a groundswell of hostile reactions in Facebook. Many heads of denominations and pastors have taken to pulpits and pen to write against the pastor’s prediction. “Heresy!” they declared. “Dangerous doctrine!” they shouted.

Ben, 34, had heard from colleagues about how other churches had raised the alarm about his pastor’s prediction. This must be how the early Christians felt when opposition battered them, he thought, shaking his head. The pastor had said it, with scriptural backing, scholarly argument and numerical precision too, and that was convincing enough for him. Like him, many in the mega-church, cannot accept what the critics have said, for their lives had changed and became better and happier as a result of being part of the church.

On August 4th, he was among the first to go to the top of the Marina Bay Sands to get a better view. All the earth will see and know, the pastor had said. It would be a spectacle that cannot be ignored by the world’s media.

Ben had not married, not even fallen in love once. He had wanted to travel more, especially to visit the Holy Land, but was too busy to have done so. He hadn’t even had a chance to vote once! Though he was high up there in the civil service, he had not even attended a National Day Parade in his life. As the elevator shot up, regret bit him as he thought of all the things he wished he had done.

He also wondered, How would his meeting with the Lord be? What would he hear the Lord say? He had mixed feelings about meeting the Lord in the air, but the pastor said it would happen on 4th of August, and he had done all he could to prepare for this day.

Because the pastor had said so.

Why pastors resign

pastors salary

Recent spate of resignations

News of the resignation of two prominent pastors surprised me. It was announced in Riverlife Church, a megachurch in Pasir Ris, that Rev Vincent Lun, their senior pastor has resigned. Then I heard that so has Rev Melvyn Mak, the deputy senior pastor of Faith Community Baptist Church. These two in the wake of recent resignations of pastors from New Creation Church, City Harvest and Church of our Savior who have served faithfully in their respective congregations. Then there is the forthcoming retirement of many senior and experienced Anglican priests in the next few years.

Push and pull factors

It made me realize that though I have given thought to why members leave a church, little have I thought or written about why pastors resign. It was a rare thing in the many years that I have served, but recently it seemed like the drizzle of the past has turned into a tropical downpour. So why do pastors resign? Common sense, anecdotal hearsay and guesswork is all you need to draw up a list of push and pull factors. A combination of push and pull factors are usually involved in any pastor’s resignation.

resisting change

Push factors

-Frustration over resistance to positive change.

-Unhappiness with some in church board or congregation, usually precipated by conflict or disagreement.

-Pastor finds insufficient support for his vision or strategy.

-Pastor is discouraged or burnt-out and there is no provision for sabbatical or rest.comparisons and competition

-A stifling system invented out of distrust of a pastor’s consecration to God, dedication to the ministry.

-No chemistry with leadership or staff team. Personality clashes with key people.

-Disillusionment about people, leaders, and the way church is done.

-Frustration over inability to meet up to unrealistic expectations of church and self.

-Disunity and politicking in the church.

-Autocratic, unreasonable  “boss” or board.

-Poor fit of one’s gifts with the position.

-The shove of mandatory retirement age or poor health.

endless needs, needs, needs

Pull factors

-Called to another kind of ministry: whether missions, a para-church ministry or to plant a different kind of church.

-Attracted by greater freedom, flexibility and trust, or by its opposite: a clear structure and order and policy.

-Children have grown up and are independent and the need to provide financially for their education is lifted.

-Greater awareness of one’s true passion, gifts and wiring and the fit is better outside church.

Its time to move on.-Too long in a place and restlessness beckoning for a change of scenery or challenge.

-Pastor’s conviction that they have done what they could with the team and people and a change would be good for the church.

-Emigration to another country.

-Finding expression for one’s changes in convictions about doctrine, philosophy of ministry or vision, that the church cannot provide space or acceptance for.

– Better compensation and terms so that there is more than enough to meet the family’s needs, and to give to others.

-Maximizing one’s experience and insight in the senior years to focus on passing on the baton to the next generation.

And you might want to add other factors in the comment box…..