Saturday, 30 August 2014

The Grilling of Kong - Battle Between the Camps

We are into the gazillionth tranche of the City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders trial where 6 CHC leaders were charged for Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT) and Falsifying Accounts. This tranche is very unique because Pastor Kong Hee spoke in court for the first time as the witness/accused under cross-examination by the Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) since the charges were announced in June 2012. In that weekend sermon following the charges, he had appealed to members to wait for his chance to tell his story, and that “he maintains his integrity”.

Fast forward to today, we have covered the third week of his cross-examination first by his defense lawyer, then by his co-accused Mr Chew Eng Han and then finally by the DPP himself, Mr Christopher Ong. Sadly, the wait for his side of the story did not provide much meat except a broken record repeating phrases such as “I don’t know”, “I left it to the professionals”, “It was Serina Wee/Sharon Tan/John Lam/Eng Han/Bro Foong (Daw Ching)/other mother’s son/daughter/etc”. The fact that his cross examination uncovered many shocking facts about cover-ups, hiding facts from CHC board members, executive members and basically the entire church, exposed many lies, the MPA, etc… did not help his credibility. As a leader he simply refused to take responsibility but instead chose to deflect responsibility to all his deputies. It was indeed ironical that he said before the beginning of the first tranche “let’s not implicate anyone” – he basically implicated EVERYONE. And the saddest party implicated is the church itself.

It is no surprise that social media is abound with discussions and debate about the new revelations. For those who mattered to know the truth and the fact that they were deceived, they spoke in length all those lies and deception. The diehard church supporters continued to maintain the “don’t judge/don’t comment/don’t everything related to this case” stance, while the rest just stood and watch the saucy news churning day in and out. Each camp has its own reasons why they should continue exposing the lies, why they should keep quiet, etc.

The following are some of the opinions gathered from social media:

What the “Pro-Kong's-Nonsense" Camp Say
What the “Sick-of-Kong’s-Nonsense” Camp Say
Let’s keep quiet because no one really knew what transpired in detail, without accurate information. Hence we should refrain from negative and accusative remarks directly or indirectly.
There’s no need to have the full details. The intention to deceive is already there, with proven facts such as covering up of audit trail – what more accurate information is needed?

They have said their fill over the past 4 years, calling us names all because charges were not yet filed. In the presence of material fact, a reasonable conclusion can be reached.

Similarly, the other camp misled many people by proclaiming “full vindication” and claiming “demonic persecution” even before investigations were closed.
We are talking about a servant of God, a world-renowned pastor who has accomplished much for the Christian world!
The Book of Timothy gave us very specific qualifying criteria the conduct of leaders. Furthermore, as sound governance practice, the Church board should have temporarily suspended those pastors involved and not allow them to continue preaching on the pulpit as long as the case is not over. They failed to oversee what was preached from the pulpit. Over the 4 years from May 2010 to present, many unpleasant were said from the pulpit by these so-called “pastors”, labelling detractors as “reprobates”, “unforgiving”, etc. This enabled the accused to manipulate the members further using the pulpit, which is a position of influence and implicit trust.

They should be disqualified from whatever title and leadership position they hold. We must not allow such deception to continue. We will continue to expose them.
Remember how David treated Saul even when Saul wanted to take David’s life; David did not touch God’s anointed even when he had the opportunities.
If you read the bible, David did not physically harm Saul. However, David shouted in public from one mountain to another mountain about the deed of Saul, in the presence the armies of both sides.

Today, social media allows us to cross mountains and continents without physically harming “Saul”. Maybe this would be a self-fulfilling prophecy to compare Kong to Saul.
Was there intention to cheat and put money into their own pockets? Probably not.
They have lived it up for all to see. Did money get into their pocket? Think MPA and if that’s not enough, think about the Suntec deal.
Could the intention to spread the gospel be carried away to an extent? Probably yes.
You bet! Think about how carried away they were singing “You Stupid” to carry the gospel message!
Was it a mistake and was it regretted?
It seems from the trial that the only regret was that they were caught! Otherwise it would have been business as usual – looking at their plans to sell 1.5million CDs with the same model as the Taiwan Crossover – where members each buy a number of CDs to make Sun the #1 best-seller.
Would Pastor Kong and Sun make much more money if they are not doing this? Probably yes, as they were all talented individuals.
You seriously got to be kidding me! Because of this project, they declared themselves “off-salary” and lived on giving by members who contributed their tithe/offering/building fund pledge to the MPA which snowballed to a few million bucks! Had they continue to be salaried by the church payroll, they would not have earned a tenth of this in a year!

Coming to talent, it depends on which area od talent. Kong were very good at lying with his eyes open while Sun can sing well as long as members bought her CDs. So if they keep exercising their talent without being found out, then you could be right!
Were they lazy, and not working hard for this project? From observation, they did work hard.
In fact, in Singapore, nobody gets a decent salary without working hard. These people lived on the hardwork of their very own members’ giving! They worked very hard indeed - to keep on lying and acting out this monkey show.
Are we aware of the implications to the non-believers, seeing Christians “fighting” each other?
It really depends – there’s a certain responsibility every Christian have to protect other Christian. We are also called to judge the house while God judge the world.

Leveticus 5:1 is very clear Christians cannot keep quiet. We should not fear confrontation just because we might “stumble” others – in fact, blame it on Kong. When he was given the opportunity to take responsibility in private, he blamed his lawyer Jimmy Yim for “forgetting” to bring his confession letter. Now with the matter in open court, all dirty laundry will be revealed.
Let us restrain from blogging, or ranting the negative. Why? Because people will link the case to the church and then to a larger body called Christians.
Wake up please. In the very first place, our DPM had already made it very clear that this case involves individuals of CHC – it has nothing to do with the church. It is the accused who wanted to drag the church through the mud by holding them hostage. In fact, it has been proven time again that the Kong had been sending subliminal message to imply to members that he was being “marked” to be put down by the government.
If your own family is being hauled to court and accused for cheating and lying, would you as a Christian be going around ranting and publicizing it? I would doubt so.
I would first defend them vigorously and that includes giving testimonies of them, appealing for a signed petition and making known to everyone how good they were! I would not keep quiet. But when it’s proven they have done wrong, I will not have the moral conscience to continue rattling their “good deed” when facts reveal otherwise – that makes me accomplices to their crime.

I will instead keep my mouth shut if they were remorseful. However, if they rattle on that they were persecuted by the government, and try to con my relatives’ money to pay for their legal fee instead of take responsibility; I will smack the wind out of them lungs and make sure they learn their lesson in a safe jail (one you can never get out like Mas Selamat).

But after they are out, I will love them as if nothing ever happened – because I trust they paid the price for their mistakes and learned their lesson. Every person deserves another chance.
Don’t assume people are clueless or stupid.
You just proved my point.
Let it be in the hands of God. Do not cast the first stone.
This is contextually wrong. The bible calls Christians to judge Christians, while He will judge the world. It is precisely because we have such warped teaching that we ended up with such a predicament.

What would Jesus Do? He spared no grace when he overturned tables and scolded those who abused other believers outside the temple. What makes you think keeping quiet is the way? Didn’t you learn God works through your hands?
It is a legal case now so let’s not discuss the moral issues. Let’s talk legal jargon. It’s hard to accept but it’s a fact. The apology to the members may come later, but at this stage, any apology would cause a lot of implication and even mean a jail term.
An apology will not get them a jail term – a confession would. Apologize for what they did wrong morally, if you want to maintain a "talk legal only" term – lying, concealing the facts, labeling detractors, etc. After all, didn't they justify this as part of the “discretion” needed for the crossover???

Anyway, my opinion is that a jail term is inevitable looking at what transpired in court, so a confession in the form of PG may be better for them (although I pray everyday they will fight till the end since they maintained their innocence!).

Besides, being religious leaders, they have a higher moral and ethical standard to uphold. To be legal is the lowest form of value, not to mention they claim to be doing all these deception and misrepresentation under the cause of the Great Commission. They are the real jokers who put down the name of God!
How will God look at this saga? Many would focus on how God thinks of them. But may I submit to you that God is also looking at what kind of a man we become at the same time.
As far as we know, we are the worse of the lot, being branded as reprobates by your dear hero, so it really don’t matter. Thankfully from the bible we know God has a different opinion of us that we need not live in condemnation but with confidence in Christ. But what has this saga turned you into? What has it revealed about your character and paycheck dilemma?

In conclusion, we can see that both sides perhaps have their valid reasons to either go on the discussions openly or be quiet altogether. In the following articles, we will explore some of these arguments deeper, such as the intent, whether there’s any personal gains, the implication of CBT and falsification of accounts, etc.

Till next time…