A Note: The below article was written 2 years before the recent (June 2012) charges against Pastor Kong Hee. I know this issue has become huge news again and I’ll probably write a blog post of my thoughts when this issue settles a bit. Right now, I think most of us are pre-judging the five charged. Until I hear their defense, I will give them the benefit of the doubt and they are innocent in my eyes – as they should be in all our eyes as most of us really don’t know what’s going on nor have we listened to their responses to the charges.
As I say below, I have great respect for Pastor Kong Hee and still continue to have that respect even as I disagree strongly with some of the teachings of City Harvest. Right now, I still think he’s innocent – that may or may not prove to be the case. But I also think if he’s done wrong in the eyes of God, then we should continue to love and extend grace to him and empower him to return to the right path through repentance. But I stress “in the eyes of God”. Not in the eyes of man nor in the eyes of the Singapore law. Let’s get real here. The laws in Singapore aren’t 100% perfect – no laws are. And the local church, while living in the country and needing to submit to the laws of the land, is in no way 100% accountable to the government. The laws have their place but we are accountable to God, not man or the local laws. Most of the laws are good, but not all. I say all this because if the 5 have been found out to have broken the Singapore law but have not profited from the money personally or misled the Church (and of course it’s a bit more complex than all that I write here), then I would still support them morally even if the nuances of the Singapore law thinks otherwise. Things are not as black and white as people think it to be. Just because the Singapore law has convicted them (if they do convict them) may not necessarily mean they have done wrong in the eyes of God. Most likely, I think the outcome would be that what they have done is probably a bit in the grey area. That’s what I expect. Not totally innocent maybe, yet not totally as guilty as the Singapore law may declare them to be, nor as the wider public may think.
I’m not from City Harvest Church (I attend New Creation Church) although I attend their meetings occasionally. I attended the Asia Conference last month and was very inspired by it. In this blog, I’ve always maintained that I think City Harvest is an amazing church and that I respect Pastor Kong Hee a lot. I disagree with a lot of things they do too, but that would not take away the great respect I have for them.
I’m writing this post for the same reason I’ve written a lot of posts on this blog in defense of New Creation’s teachings – because I think there’s been a lot of unjust criticisms against the church and the pastor. I definitely believe there’s a place for constructive criticism – and I think I’ve done a lot of that in relation to New Creation’s teachings, whether one agrees with my views or not. So it’s not that I don’t think there’s a place for criticism. But I’ve just seen too many negative criticisms and words going around – especially by fellow Christians – and so feel compelled to write this post and more importantly write a positive prayer of blessing for the church and the pastor, as well as invite others to do the same.
I personally believe Pastor Kong Hee is innocent – this is relating to the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) investigations. I do so because I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt. I’d be surprised if a pastor like him was out to make money. I believe his vision for God’s kingdom trumps his desire for person gain. On the other hand, if he’s found out to be involved in intentional deception for personal gain, then I wouldn’t be too surprised because I’ve been a Christian long enough. People fail – just look at you and me. Great leaders fail too. I respect and honor him and Pastor Prince, but my faith is not in them or any human leader.
If Pastor Kong Hee is guilty, then I would still support him, as I would support any other Christian leader in the same situation. Support as in pray for him and honor him for the work he has done – not agree with what he did. I’d welcome him back to ministry (perhaps after some time) if he repents. But if he doesn’t repent, then I’d still love him as a brother, pray for him and speak positively about him, while of course hoping he repents. There’s no need to cast more judgments upon him. God’s love to me is unconditional and we’re called to offer that unconditional love to all. That’s what grace and mercy is about.
Now isn’t really the time to come to premature conclusions as many are already doing. We should be praying for him and especially his church. If some of his church members seem immature in idolizing him, seeing him as infallible and the investigations as purely the work of the devil, well, then disagree with them but pray for them. Many young people in New Creation idolize (or seem on the verge of idolizing) Pastor Prince too – but I wouldn’t want anyone to stop listening to Pastor Prince’s sermons because of that. In the same way, let’s not be too critical of City Harvest because of some overzealous members when we can channel our energies positively to pray for the church.
While I think it’s an over-reaction to say that this investigation is purely the work of the devil, it’s equally an over-reaction to say that the devil has absolutely no role in this matter. We’re fighting a spiritual war, not one against flesh and blood. Nobody knows the proportion of the devil’s involvement in all this. And we don’t really need to know. We can be sure God will work things for good and we should just be praying for the church and the people involved.
Whatever happens, I really hope City Harvest continues on with their great vision to impact the world. I’ve always said this to my friends: I see in City Harvest Church people that I know no other English speaking middle-class church could reach out to. And I thank God for their ministry. We definitely need churches like City Harvest in Singapore and it has been a huge blessing to Christianity in Singapore and the world. May they continue to do so with or without Pastor Kong Hee.
Let me end with a prayer for Pastor Kong Hee and City Harvest Church:
Dear Father, I thank you for City Harvest Church and Pastor Kong Hee. I know the church and him are precious in your eyes. They are as much your children as other Christians from other churches. And I know you grieve with them because of what some of their leaders are going through.
I don’t know whether Pastor Kong Hee is guilty or not, but bless him mightily during this time. May he stay faithful to you and draw closer to you. If he has done wrong, may we all know there is always grace available for where sin abounds, grace superabounds – and may that grace lead him to repentance. Whatever happens, just pour out your grace and love upon him and the other leaders and the church in a tangible way. Cause them to come out of this situation even stronger for Your Kingdom.
May City Harvest Church continue to grow. Let no member fall away whatever the outcome of the investigations. While they continue to give their support and appreciation to the leaders under investigation, cause them also to look only to, and trust only in, the One who is all perfect and all beautiful – Jesus. May Jesus be glorified in all this.
I speak good and wonderful and beautiful things to City Harvest Church. Bless each and every member in the church. May the gospel of Jesus Christ continue to shine forth from them and may they continue to be light in a dying world.
In Jesus’ most precious name. Amen.
I invite anyone through the comments section to write a prayer of blessing upon Pastor Kong Hee, the leaders under investigation and the church as a whole.