City Harvest Church probe: why is this happening?

Difficult times for CHCchc

Like a tsunami, the front page news hit us pastors without warning. It was least expected. Just a few years back the Commissioner of Charities gave the biggest church in town a clean bill of health in its extensive governance review. Now the Commercial Affairs Department is investigating an alleged misuse of church funds. This is serious. When something like this goes on the front page, normally the authorities would have some substance to their probe. These are difficult times for City Harvest Church (CHC) and Rev Kong Hee, and we need to stand and pray with them.

Kicked in the teeth

Many people are kicking CHC in the teeth online. Sarcasm, contempt and cynicism are the online menu of the day. This is not the way of Christ. Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty”. Though I have never been much of an admirer of CHC, and have been ambivalent about its growth, I do respect its pastors. This blog post is not baptized in bile.

For me the question that begs an answer is, “Why is this happening?”

Media with hidden agenda?

When the Straits Times published the news on the front page, it made me wonder, “Why was this in the front page, relegating to the bottom, the story of the national table tennis team that just made history by beating China and becoming world champions?” The media has been overenthusiastic in the last decade in putting religious leaders in an unflattering light. This has made me suspect the media has a hidden agenda. However, it was most likely that dollars and cents, and therefore what interested readers, that drove the media. When the news broke out on the internet, a flood of both critical and supportive remarks overworked the comment boxes of this story. It gave the media early notice of  what readers were interested in. And they gave the readers what they wanted – on the front page.

Pastors and churches at fault?

An obvious reason for all the bad press we have had is simply that we pastors and churches have been at fault. Even though our intentions are all good and pure and noble, the working out of these purposes and plans, would require attention to governance issues, to sensitivity to other religions. However, we usually do not accord a high priority to these in our Bible school training nor in our practice of the ministry. So if we have erred here then it is best the churches and Bible schools work on making the necessary changes.

Thorn in the flesh?

Why is all this happening? Some see this as a spiritual attack on a growing church, a church on the cutting edge. The cynical will call this a cop-out explanation, an excuse from taking responsibility, and blaming it on the devil. From a spiritual perspective though, this could also be viewed as a thorn in the flesh so that God’s servants in CHC can stay ever-dependent on His grace. The apostle Paul had a humbling experience himself and talked about it:

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12: 7-10)

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  • I read the newspaper articles again and I realised that they were very carefully worded giving hints here and there. I dont think they have a hidden aggenda.

    I never knew CHC had many companies linked to it, nor was it mentioned from the pulpit nor in their web site. To me they are guilty of being less than transparent, being in the grey area. I am OK if they give jobs to their linked companies if everything is upfront.

  • Why is this happening?

    1. I don’t think that the media has a hidden agenda, it’s simply the fact that scandals sell papers.

    2. I don’t think in CHC’s case, we can blame it on the pastors being ill-equipped for proper governance. Pastor KH owns several businesses and even lists his occupation as “businessman” in his profile page on his website, and and I think he is savvy enough in the world of business.

    3. Thorn in the flesh? I don’t think so. My personal view is that God is protecting HIS sheep from shepherds who have morphed into wolves.

    I know that one is innocent until proven guilty but my gut feel is that probably certain people in the higher echelon of CHC may have put their own personal interests above the church’s.

    I have read comments of some CHC members who are questioning the church’s policy of awarding service contracts to only one particular company, which suggests that there may be some conflict of interest involved.

    I guess we would just have to wait for more information in the days to come to see if my suspicions bear out.

  • If our Father allow all these happenings, surely His grace will be sufficient to let CHC ride above the storm. It is to show grace again!

  • Hi BP – congratulations on a reflective and balanced perspective.

    Power, money and sex are heady stimulants, not easily managed, let alone mastered.

    Pastor, businessman or plain man, nobody is immune. Methinks we have a crisis when we start placing on price on God’s word and start justifying a business with faith.

    If “lifestyle center,” can masquerade as a Church and vice versa, where is God’s Church.

    A thought on Stanley’s comment – in reality, sheep like wolves, as it makes for a sustainable ecology. Is there a difference when you substitute a shepherd to the equation? Seems to me either way, they get exploited.

    Wonder what Jesus would do in these circumstance?

  • If there is nothing to hide, there is no problems. Even Jesus was thrown many questions trying to trap Him. But He has good answers for all.

    But if there is something fishy, the Lord may allow it to be exposed.
    I come from a background where I was cheated by those who called themselves pastors, and later on I know they are ravenous wolves. Only God knows how they have abused me. and i was so naive at that time.
    And I do appreciate shepherds who are true shepherds cause I know the hurt and abuse of being under false ones.

  • i had a dream last night, I believe its not prophetic in nature but merely a reflection of what I hope to see and also a result of too many snacks before bedtime…

    but in this dream I saw NCC going to the aid of CHC, backing them up fully no matter the result and showering CHC with awesomeness.

    Anyway, we’ll see what happens this sunday when Ps is back from Italy…

  • Do mega churches follow the civil service rule of getting 3 quotations whenever they seek to spend more than $X?

    Maybe its time to implement that rule in churches to prevent companies, which may be co-owned by church members, charging less than competitive prices.

  • Let’s not throw stones at CHC.

    When NCC was going thru the One-North issue and His salary issue, I felt for the church and pastor, as it is not an easy period under this “limelight”.

    Let’s extend Grace to them. As pastor has taught, “I rather err at the side of grace…”.

  • An interesting poem of relevance to the case…….

    Sleep of a Good Conscience

    Please do not blame the Devil
    It’s truly not his fault
    Your church accounts are queried
    And your leadership gets hauled.

    The Police are not his minions
    Nor the Commissioner his friend
    And leave the whistleblowers –
    There’s just no Satanic trend.

    In fact, I know this Devil
    He argues with me all day
    At night he sits beside my bed
    And folds his wings to stay.

    Then he talks to me of riches,
    Fame, power, and health to keep
    And all I say to him is NO
    Before I turn to sleep.

    Gwee Li Sui of Gweekculture

  • Whatever is happening, let’s believe good to come out of it. Pastor Kong Hee and the others have not been declared guilty yet so let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. Let’s pray for them and the church.

    I personally believe and hope Kong Hee is innocent. We can disagree with his teachings, but I’m for giving people the benefit of the doubt on their character and not to judge a person’s character. And even if he’s found out to be guilty, let’s pray that God will restore him and good will come out of it and CHC will continue to be a blessing to many lives. We’re fighting a war against the evil one, not against another member of our same body.

    When one part of the body hurts, we all hurt. Let’s pray, pray and pray. Now is not the time to declare negative judgements when we all know so little.

    I hope what Joshen dreamed comes to pass. A few weeks ago, I was thinking about how great it would be for New Creation to contribute to CHC’s church building fund. That would be an awesome step of showing grace.

    It would be wonderful if through this NCC’s leadership and members show overwhelming support to CHC and Pastor Kong (support does not need to be approval, but it’s love and acceptance in spite of failure in such an event of failure) – rather than just keep quiet – and through this a closer relationship between the two churches and pastors result. That would do the body of Christ a lot of good!

  • Jeremy,
    Amen with you!

    Let’s extend Grace to them because we know that we are forgiven much……anyone who have no wrongdoing…..then cast the first stone! Not me.

  • Oh I see you shared my poem here. 😀 It’s not Geek but Gweek Culture — but, oh well, sigh! lol I agree with the rest that I don’t feel the secular media has any agenda. In fact, the media has been careful to highlight good things, explain excesses as much as that is possible, and yet prepare the public for investigations to swing either way.

    People who scream foul just can’t be satisfied because the news itself already hurts them. I read this blog where the writer complained about how Channel NewsAsia dared to use the word “raided”. His suggestion was that they use words like “invited”. LOL!

  • Hi all,

    This is my 1st time posting on this blog, though I’ve been following this blog & the blogs of several others who commented on this post. Anyway, I just wanted to share my thoughts.

    This incident reminded me of the story where Jesus met a man that was born blind at the gate, & His disciples ask Him if this man was born blind cos of he sinned or his parents sinned. Jesus basically replied beautifully (as always), saying it’s not about why it happened, but rather God being glorified through him.

    So I believe as believers, it was never about whose fault it is, but to see Jesus’ name being lifted high & Him being glorified!! I believe when we see the results of this incident & in Israel, we will all declare, “This is truly the work of God, & it is marvellous in our eyes!!”

  • Better to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Lets not prematurely judge, or for the matter, judge at all.

    Desire and speak the truth in love, and not from hurt, nor envy, nor anger.

    Whatever the outcome, a part of God’s family is involved. Extend grace and love to them, pray for them; for they are His, as we surely are ourselves.

    And above all, focus on Jesus and His Kingdom.

  • “Many will say to Me on that day, ’Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ’I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness” – Jesus according to the Gospel of Matthew, 7.21-23

    To the question “who is my neighbour?” Jesus gave an answer that surprised his fellow Jews. The outsiders became the accepted ones in Jesus’ parables, while some of the supposedly God’s people became the rejected ones.

    “Who is God’s family?” Again, do not be surprised that many Christians are judged by God as rejected ones while many “outsiders” became the accepted ones.

    Do not skip justice so quickly to jump to “GRACE”. Until one accepts justice, acknowledges his guilt, and sincerely repents, grace/forgiveness will not be applicable.

  • The good thing for most or all of us is that Jesus will only judge when He comes again. Otherwise we will have a lot of dead Christians appearing in the obituaries!

    Justice in Singapore’s legal context must of course be served, but in its due process, and subject to an investigative conclusion. Before that, it is wise of all not to race ahead in judgment.

    After all, wouldn’t we all like to have a fair hearing when we are accused?

  • Dear bros/sis in Christ,

    I think as man, our first response is to analyse and judge. But praise God how he loved us that He sent Jesus not to judge us but to save us through Him! Isn’t it so marvellous this is our God! John 3:17

    If God will not condemn, what are we to condemn? For Jesus has already taken the full punishment at the cross on our behalf! God no longer counts nor remembers our sins no more to those who believes in Him!

    Hallelujah! Saviour and deliverer! Thank you Jesus!

    Let His spirit binds us in His love together with CHC for we are one body.

  • Dear Blogpastor

    I’m just curious. You referred to a lot of online “sarcasm” and contempt,” and that “This is not the way of Christ.” Suppose that you as a pastor have friends involved in such unbecoming activities; suppose you regard them as “blogger friends.” How would you council them? Especially, if they are not following the way of Christ? As a pastor, would you in love council and correct them? Are their times you might even need to rebuke them? Would it concern you if they you actually approved of their behaviour? What would you do if you noticed they were behaving online in a manner that certainly is not keeping with such exhortations as Eph 4:29-32 and Col 3:8; 1 Cor 13:5-7. What might be the “way of Christ” for Christian blogging? What are behaviours that show we are being changed by God’s love and grace, and behaviours that seem to contradict His love at work in us?

  • Hi Michelle,

    Regretfully you are placing a extremely onerous responsibility on him

    Humans are inherently flawed – we have the mindset of God but not his mind.

    The swagger and arrogance of man is based on facade that Grace afforded. The

    Who can stand up to a 100% scrutiny – the last guy we found, we crucified.

    He was too pure for us and a threat to prevailing social structure.

    If you know such a Man, would like to suggest we will also “justifiably” execute him. The rest we just fine and jail.

  • Hi Michelle,

    Regretfully you are placing a extremely onerous responsibility on him

    Humans are inherently flawed – we have the mindset of God but not his mind.

    The swagger and arrogance of man is based on facade that Grace afforded.

    Who can stand up to a 100% scrutiny – the last guy we found, we crucified.

    He was too pure for us and a threat to prevailing social structure.

    If you know such a Man, would like to suggest we will also “justifiably” execute him. The rest we just fine and jail.

  • Let us pray for God’s grace and mercy and for Pastor Kong to be cleared. If we insist on the truth to be revealed, and that Pastor was innocent until convicted, surely they will find a fault for no one is perfect. I rather live under Grace than under Law, for all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.

  • These things that happened to CHC might look as ugly as it can be, but I believe my Bible, and certainly God that so love the world that He gave His only son will pour out His grace unto CHC not to condemn but to make them reign as kings again…Jesus said the greatest commandment is L-O-V-E, so start loving them, including their Pastors.God loves Pastor Kong Hee and it is unconditional love…We must unite in prayers so that CHC will be restored in all things…Praise the Lord..

  • Amidst the confusion, we should remember the 33,000 members of CHC, esp. those young in faith. That the gracious Lord would grant them wisdom to discern the truth and focus on God’s word and seek the Holy Spirit for constant guidance.

  • Dear Pastor,

    I have much respect for a man of God like you. You certainly say different things from other bloggers who cast stones and pass judgement even before investigation is completed, let alone if there will be even a court case.

    You said some of things in my heart too.

    They may be innocent, cleared of all wrongdoings and exonerated after all. Wonder what the detractors will say then.

    God Bless You, Pastor!

  • Hi Michelle,

    Imo the Blogpastor is not responsible for every other pastor or believer for their behaviour. No pastor is.

    A pastor is only responsible for those God put under his charge and care. Even the Apostle says in one of the epistles he has a certain sphere of influence and authorities.

    A pastor can only exert his authority over those people he has contributed something in their lives one way or another.

  • Well-said, BP. Really enjoy reading the many edifying, wise, and grace-filled answers to your post.

    I was really glad when Pastor Prince actually reminded NCCers to be gracious to CHCers. I agree that many stones have been cast prematurely in this situation.

    How can we who are also imperfect complain about another for their imperfections? A lie is a lie. We have all lied before. No one lie is bigger or smaller than another.

    What we can do right now is to extend to them His hand of grace and trust that the same HS who teaches us, guides us and encourages us will also teach, guide and edify them.

    We’ve all made mistakes before and have been grateful for the grace lavished upon us so we can stand again and walk with Christ. Let’s reflect this same grace we have received upon those who need it most now.

    I have no doubt the govt will serve it’s own dish of justice as seen fit, but let’s serve the feeding of grace, regardless of the outcome, to our fellow brethren in Christ who worship our LORD in CHC.

  • Utterly detestable things in the temple of God (Eskiel 8:7-12)

    The bible records that multiple leaders can commit hidden detestable acts even in the house of God. It’s of no surprise to see what happened in CHC and the things are being unfolded in the coming weeks.

    Let be mindful that “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Hebrews 12:6). “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent” (Revelation 3:19).

    Take comfort that God shall not subdue but restore those he chastises and loves.

    Let our faith be purified in time like this.

  • Halftimer,

    Do you think a father will chastises his young son by pushing into the deepest part of the swimming pool just to let the boy learn that playing near the deep ends are dangerous?

    Matthew 7.
    9″Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

  • I am reminded by Paul’s message in 1 Corinthians.

    We are no longer our own, as we belong to God now, and are now part of His family. Just as with natural families, So what we say or do to one another affects the rest of the family.

    With the proliferation of social media tools, it is all too easy to set a forest on fire with a small flame ie. start something big with one blog or one post. Christians active in the blogsphere is a double-edged sword.


    Is what we have to say more important than keeping the unity of the Body of Christ?

    Can we trust God enough to turn things around without us adding fuel to the fire? Or must we have our say?

    Some things do need to be said, yet as grace and truth came through our Lord Jesus, it is entirely possible to say it with truth and grace.

    As some have already said, let us therefore think of the rest of the family too, especially the ‘weaker’ in faith, so they don’t get stumbled.

    Leave the chastening to God. He will do it. After all, He is God.

  • Hi finishedwork,

    To chastise is to discipline someone who needs to be corrected. The example you gave is for teaching and learning, and it does not apply in the context of wrongdoing.

    God’s blessing does not limit to prosperity but more often to buid godlinss in us. Man does not live by bread alone.

    While going through the difficult time, the Serenity Prayer is what we ought to pray:

    God, grant me the serenity
    To accept the things I cannot change;
    Courage to change the things I can;
    And wisdom to know the difference.

  • I am an NCC member and love the CHC brothers and sisters just the same.

    Let’s go back to the bible, Abraham denied his wife twice and let her sleep with two kings, King David committed adultery by murdering Bathsheba’s husband so that he could have her.

    Peter denied Jesus 3 times but Jesus still cooked breakfast for him(yes, you can check the bible) and the first thing he told him was “Peter, feed my sheep”.

    There was no lamentation, but love and grace abound for all three instances (both in the old and new testaments). That’s God’ style

    I believe things happening to CHC right now were not the first and will not be the last and can happen to any churches and man of God.

    Only by Grace, we can love!

  • Just came back from ten days in Kuala Lumpur. I missed quite a bit of news.

    Since when has a pastor being in his own church become newsworthy, LOL.

    Whatever happens, CHC is family!

  • yeah..i totally agree wih PP, what u have just mentioned really is the reality of what all churches have to go throught just like what PAUL in the bible went through, cos it is by GRACE and spirit of God that we can go through all these obstacles. even in the circular world is the same, i mean it’s very normal when some person or organisation has got the fame, status, power and wealth…there will always have some parties who could get envied and always remember envy is the ROOT to damge in everythg…just let God’s grace works within them and us….

  • Wonderful statement – “Whatever happens, CHC is family!”

    Hope that all Bible believing Christians remember that we are all fighting against the spiritual dark forces and never against Ps Kong Hee and CHC.

  • When one plagarised, it means text lifting from someone else works and it show bad side of the character. It is not true to oneself. When news broke and found wanting, one cannot say citation is due for credit.

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