During the ensuing trial of Kong Hee and 5 other CHC leaders yesterday (11 Aug), Kong Hee told the court that the controversial Crossover Project had the backing of an “overwhelming majority” of the CHC congregation.
He also described how his wife Sun Ho’s pop albums and concerts were used as an “effective evangelistic tool”, helping to triple the size of its congregation at one point, he said.
Kong and the CHC leaders are facing varying charges of criminal breach of trust and falsifying accounts, involving multi-million dollars of church funds. In particular, they were said to have allegedly misappropriated the funds to bankroll his wife’s music career.
Kong recalled that on the opening night of a June 2000 event organised by CHC to train church pastors and leaders in Asia, he had asked Ms Ho to tweak pop song lyrics to include gospel messages.
“Instead of saying, ‘I love you’, she would sing, ‘I love you, Jesus’,” Kong explained. The response from the young delegates was “overwhelming”. When they tried this again in a Taipei church two months later, he claimed “hundreds” accepted Christ.
The next turning point came in 2001, when music videos featuring Ms Ho were shown to a Sony Music executive, who suggested that she had the potential to become a pop artiste.
Later, Kong decided CHC would “engage the world of Music Television (MTV), and through it… preach the gospel of Jesus”.
When he told the church his plan, “they went wild”, he said.
Ms Ho eventually signed with recording company Decca.
In January 2005, when his son was born, Kong asked the church whether his wife should continue with the project. A poll of 1,700 members was carried out and 90 per cent said she should continue, Kong said.
Members supported the Crossover Project financially, he added.
He described Ms Ho’s concerts for her third album as a huge success. He told the court 280,000 attended them and 100,000 filled out cards with their particulars for follow-up action.
Between 2002, when the project began, and 2007, Ms Ho released five Mandarin albums in Taiwan. In 2003, she took the project to the United States, where she subsequently released five English albums.