On The Kong Hee Issue

I had decided to re-publish this on NigelChua.com in my bidst to stand up for what I believe for, and value in. I am unapologetic for my stand, and have no doubt that you have things that you stand for too. Let's keep believing and standing for things that we value for. This is an article repost by Joel Joshua plus commentary from me at the end of the article.

Article by Joel Joshua Goh who blogs actively at http://joeljoshuagoh.wordpress.com begins here:

First of all, I find it ironic that it is the people outside of City Harvest Church, most of whom have never donated a single cent to the Church, who are expressing the most angst and fury. It is good to want to see justice done, but what is this impassioned hatred for? Because CHC is big? Because their converts are persistent? Because you "just don't like them"? Because China Wine sounds bad to you?

Second, I don't understand why many CHC members are in denial and insisting that Kong Hee and friends are decidedly innocent and that God will acquit them, when the verdict is not out. Of course, not all CHC members are making such statements and representations, but a significant portion is doing so, enough to give the public perception that they are – as the public gleefully expects – lending blind support to their leaders despite the incriminating facts suggesting otherwise.

Thirdly, it is perfectly consistent to do several things: 1) Condemn Kong Hee's actions if he is guilty, 2) Forgive them, 3) Commend his achievements in both the Church and the society, 4) Honour him as a spiritual leader even if he is guilty, 5) Support City Harvest Church and its members in this time.

  1. The facts, as laid down by the mainstream media are, we must admit, incriminating. Kong Hee and friends intentionally concealed and misrepresented the way church funds were being used, and worked in a way which suggests a conscious and systematic mishandling of money. While, of course, they may not be guilty of any real wrongdoing, the very likely likelihood is there, and if he and his friends are indeed guilty of a crime, then the appropriate course of action is to condemn their misdeeds. There are no two ways about that – even praying to God will not change that fact because God is a God of justice, and He would want wrongdoings to be condemned.

  2. But praise be to God, who is also a God of mercy. Even if Kong Hee and friends are to be found guilty, we can simultaneously condemn their actions while forgiving their persons if their misdeeds were found to be done with the right intentions or in their understandable human weaknesses. There is not a man without sin on this earth, and there is no reason to expect a church pastor to be an exception.

  3. The misdeeds of a man do not cancel out or negate his achievements. Regardless of whether Kong Hee and friends are guilty, City Harvest Church and its subsidiary social groups have been an immense force for good for thousands in Singapore, the region, and the world, whether in terms of spirituality or in secular social work. I do not know the man and his friends very well, but I have seen for myself the many lives which have been changed for the better because of him and the ministry he founded and led. Of course there will be the negative stories about CHC, and I may not even like its Charismatic style of worship or the coercive (and perhaps annoying) antics of its members either, but I thank God for the many changed lives I have seen and cannot deny. In thanking God for that, I must also thank Kong Hee and his ministry.

  4. The three greatest men in Christianity (apart from Jesus who obviously is an exception to human standards), David, Moses, and Paul, were all murderers (David was also an adulterer to boot). Which, of course, would be a far greater crime in modern society than money laundering. In terms of spirituality, Moses is charged with placing a veil over the eyes of the Jewish nation because of own his personal insecurity, so that their hearts are made dull with regards to the Gospel up to this day (2 Corinthians 3.13-15), and Paul was personally instrumental in the attempted destruction of the Christian Church and with the killing of early Christians. Arguably, both had done greater diservices to Christianity, but they are amongst the greatest men we have ever known. That is because it is not the mistakes which define us – since we all make mistakes (and very grave ones sometimes) – but the way we approach these mistakes.

  5. I guess what baffles me most is the glee and joy with which many Christians are condemning and even mocking City Harvest Church and its members. Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered – and whose work is this scattering at which you rejoice? Are these hurting church members not our own brothers and sisters? Is this wounded church not a part of our very own body? In the words of a friend, "we ALL belong to one body. When one part is hurting, the entire body is affected. The hand does not work in isolation. Neither does it reject other parts of the body". What are you rejoicing at? That your words of accusation in the past have been vindicated? That the pastor you believe is preaching "wrong" theology has been shamed? That the Church you are embarrassed with has been bruised? Where does the joy with which you mock the stupidity, the blindness, etc, of the church members stem from?

Written by Joel Joshua Goh who blogs actively at http://joeljoshuagoh.wordpress.com

Nigel's Comments

This entire saga can be seen from two perspectives: the Christian believer and the unbelievers/anti-Christians.

From a believer's perspective

The bible clearly denotes that Christ was innocent but suffered a lot of trials, tribulations, lies, allegations and betrayal throughout his earthly ministry. As followers of Christ, we are not exempted from such a fate, but, I'd like to highlight that suffering for Christ's sake (meaning we get persecuted eventhough we do no wrong) versus suffering for mistakes/errors made on our own sake or stupidity (meaning if I made a mistake, it's mine to pay for).

I am a being that comprises of spirit, mental, physical, and emotional. Being spiritual and Christian, I can draw the similarities between what Ps Kong Hee is going through, and the similarities to Jesus being persecuted (note: I am not saying Ps Kong is Jesus, I am saying that like Jesus, he is being persecuted). Why persecution? In the bible, it clearly denotes a great war between good and evil, between heaven and earth, where today's spiritual world is fighting over the souls for the end time. Believer or not, there will be a day where our physical body will pass on, and our spiritual body will be judged by the Great King. For the reason of war, and being Christians, we will often and always undergo sabotage, sufferings where it is not a fault that was made but simply because we are Christians, and more so if we shine for the kingdom of Christ (in normal wars, we don't often take note of normal footsoldiers, but of the generals and leaders, and they were often targets of ambush and assassination).

That's my take from a Christian perspective, and for this reason, I stand with Ps Kong, Sun, Ps Tan, Jacqueline, Eng Han and the entire CHC team. My Church, My Life.

From a unbeliever's perspective

As I do have a mental/emotional aspect, I do have thoughts and ideas that come up such as

  1. Loss/grief of donated finances

  2. Shock of possible "betrayal" of donated finances

  3. Shock of such concerted efforts to conceal the flow of finances

  4. Eventhough Ps Kong may have been consistent for the last 20+ years...but did he fall?

And these thoughts stayed in my head for a good 3 days, where I constantly tried to think of possible solutions, scenarios that could "justify" the problem.

There is no answer if I just maintained this perspective.

As I sought answers to the questions in my mind, I brought up the possibility of the media being inaccurate/highly sensationalizing for the sake of sales at the expense of CHC and Ps Kong. OR that Ps Kong really did wrong. Being objective here, so far I've only come across the media's highly questionable information on Ps Kong Hee and the church, I'll probably need more than that to convince me to convict. I/We are still missing the true incriminating evidence, however damning the papers seems to portray.

Plus, I don't trust the media - that's why I stopped reading newspapers and stopped watching TV for more than 10 years.

Handling Conflicting Ideas

I am able to handle more than 2 conflicting ideas in my head at the same time, so on one hand, the four thoughts that came to mind bothered me, but on the other hand, I do realize that we're in a spiritual battlefield here. Yes, even though the four thoughts that came up into my mind are bothersome, but I've decided on the following:

  1. Loss/grief of donated finances  - offerings, tithes and freewill donations that have been given freely are no longer mine to claim that "they were mine", but they are holy. I will take it as how the bible taught us - all money donated to the church are now considered holy to the Lord (at least my part is), and I will leave the Levites (spiritual leaders) to decide what and where and how the monies are handled. That's bottom line. God is in control.

  2. Shock of possible "betrayal" of donated finances - this is answered samely as point 1.

  3. Shock of such concerted efforts to conceal the flow of finances - I am still awaiting evidence and data to prove the situation, be it right or false, but likewise, I am believing in God for His hand to move.

  4. Eventhough Ps Kong may have been consistent for the last 20+ years...but did he fall? - data and truth is always true, no matter how one slices it. Given two assumptions: (1) Ps Kong has been a stickler for finance for 20+ years; (2) that he didn't embezzle or defraud the church in the last 20+ years; I'd trust in the consistency of his last 20 years rather than a hyped-up, highly sensationalized scandal that is likely to boost up sales for the media.

So that's my stand. Not only me, but my family and I, we are for Ps Kong and team, City Harvest Church and for Jesus.

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