City Harvest Case – Why Am I No Longer Here?
Here's my thoughts about a recent blog...
I was from City Harvest Church, and this was a place I used to say had changed my life – the teachings of the pastors, how I got to know God and how I met my wife and have our families saved. I first came to City Harvest Church in 1995, joined the Cell Group Minstry in 2002 and was a Cell Group Leader and EM until I left in 2011. So I guess I can say that I was there even before the Crossover was started.
Over the years up till the point I left, I had nothing – NOTHING negative that I can say of my pastors. In fact, since 2010 when they were under attack when CAD first raided CHC in May 2010 I’ve written testimonies of them on many FB pages and many discussion sites when most others are quiet I was one of the few speaking up for them in spite of all the ridicules by other non-CHC-supporting forumers, and eventually continued to fight for them as a member of the CHC Cyber Taskforce until November 2010. Unfortunately, most of the FB pages has been archived, but fortunately I had 2 copies archived in my FB Notes:
This Will Not Be Me If Not For Them
How Pastor Tan Ye Peng Impacted My Life
I had great respect for Pastors Kong, Sun, TYP because of the “sacrifices” they had. If you still ask me today what would be my position, I will still say the same – I will not be where I am if not for them because they taught me many things.
But I also believe that gratitude, loyalty and truth need to be rightly divided objectively. Just as we need to rightly divide the Word in context. Just as right is right and wrong is wrong.
Why I Left?
My story is pretty bizzare, but this article will hopefully summarize it:
The Last 16 Months of My Life
What Happens Next?
Between then (1 March 2011) and now (26 August 2014), many things had happened – I was suddenly a traitor, an ingrate, disloyal, a Judas, a bitter and angry man, judgmental, even a ratprobate (rat + reprobate = ratprobate!!). Then I realized that most people I know who had left CHC – nevermind a pastor, a musician, an elder, a normal church-goer has some names and labels attached, and a “reason for leaving” or a “story” which feels so strangely unfamiliar to the actual person's version going through it.
Almost 3.5 years went by, and I see another need to perhaps write a balanced report to you after reading of concern. The issue centers on the court case whereby 6 of the City Harvest Church leaders were charged with Criminal Breach of Trust (CBT) and Falsification of Accounts. 2 of them were my heroes! The matter at hand is something known as the “Crossover Project”. You can read about this by googling it.
Do I Believe in the Crossover Project?
In all honestly, I have nothing against the Crossover Project, where you express the love of Jesus through secular songs and win souls in order to fulfill the Great Commission. In fact, the Crossover Project started with this pure intent – Sun Ho cutting mandarin albums which carries a positive message, run concert tours all throughout Asia and then share her testimony and Pastor Kong will then deliver the altar call and get people to come to Christ. Why not?
You see, this is an event people like myself remembers till this day. I doubt anyone will object us calling it the “glorious years of revival where hundreds of thousands of souls across Asia come to Christ”. This was phase one of the Crossover Project. By then Sun Ho was already dearly known as “the pastor singer” or “Mu Shi Ge Shou”.
Do I STILL Believe in the Crossover Project?
Over time, the strategy saw huge success in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, and plans to reach Asia turned to China and for some funny reason, the strategy selected was a discreet form of funding to penetrate Hollywood and through MTV, penetrate China to influence the people of China. Well, the first stage was rather “ok”, with singles like Where Did Love Go seeing some success, but I cannot explain many things after…
I cannot explain Chinawine … I cannot explain Kill Bill… I cannot explain You Stupid… in fact, I cannot explain how many things were done has that original “evangelical element”! One of the things was how church funds were being used to support this project, which as we all know today resulted in the charges.
So in summary, for those who came to CHC later, the first phase of the Crossover Project up to 2005 was pure and glorious. The Crossover after 2006 was just surprisingly ridiculous. So.. HELL NO! I DON’T BELIEVE IN THE CROSSOVER PROJECT ANYMORE. IT HAS BECOME A DOUBLE CROSS.
Do I know where my money went?
As far as I can remember, being an EM of so many years, we have always been told no church funds were used for the Crossover Project – the project was either sponsored by Wahyu Hannafi (phase 1 to Taiwan), and funded out of Sun Ho’s successful music career where she uses her royalties (phase 2 – which is the foray into US and also business). Her Skin outlets and charity works in China/Haiti/etc were funded through her highly successful career.
So I heard where my money should go and where it did not go before and after I gave, but I was shocked where it actually went when I hear it mentioned in court. I certainly did not know my Building Fund pledge giving went all the way across continents to Hollywood. I do know my BF pledge was used strictly for the purpose of the building acquisition and paying rental expenses which were eating into the General Fund (GF).
I was an Executive Member in CHC, and I did vote with my mind and heart to give the Board the mandate to invest the money into bonds for higher returns so that we can be good stewards of money, as Pastor Kong explained. So it invested in bonds of Xtron (XPL, supposedly a leading AVL company) which were supposed to earn interest at an acceptable risk… but apparently now we found out in court that it went around the world via CHCKL to pay for parts of the Crossover expenses and Xtron is technically not in profit.
It’s not about the money. It’s about stewardship and accountability. So that’s not ok.
What About the Muti-Purpose Account (MPA)?
Someone said, “the MPA was a secret account and only those who gave to the MPA knew about it. If you didn't know, erm, that’s because it didn't concern you!”
Actually that was not correct because the MPA was approved by Ems in 2005/2006 to provide a source of income stream to Pastors Kong and Sun who got off church payroll to do the Crossover Project. In fact, the MPA funded Sun as early as 2004. Pastor Kong got onto the MPA in 2005. He even laughed at the pastor of the other church who earned $500,000 a year, while he boasted that he was so sacrificial and not on payroll. That’s uncalled for and now that the truth is exposed that he actually drew a salary by netting off salary in the MPA and then tell MPA donors there’s a deficit, it becomes a deception. Worse, he does not even tithe. Or rather, he tithe from monies taken from his MPA, into his own MPA. How smart!
The givers of MPA gave their tithe, offering and BF pledges into the MPA. They do not give into the church’s General Fund. Well it’s fine, they still gave, right? If it’s about the money, yes – then its fine because its your choice who and where you want to give. But it’s not about the money. It’s about stewardship and accountability. So that’s not ok.
If there’s a better purpose to give into the MPA, why not let every member in church decide? If using church funds to finance the Crossover is known church-wide, then why not make this an option where members can choose to give their tithe/offering/BF to the MPA to support the Crossover or to the GF to support church operations? If we teach Malachi 3:10 then God’s storehouse is God’s storehouse and giving to the MPA without tithing to the GF is then robbing God. Again, it’s not about the money but about the principal behind – be faithful in the little things. Don’t underestimate the generosity of the members.
The Defendants took your money… you sure you know about this?
Not all of them took the money. The money used for investments was only spent on Sun Ho’s expenses in Hollywood. No big deal. As someone with a little financial literacy, I see Xtron as nothing more than an instrument just like the “GIC of CHC”. Once CHC invest in the XPL bonds, I don’t care what they do with the money as long as CHC gets their interest repayment and principal according to the bond indenture. But yes, technically they took my BF money for the financing of the Crossover – that’s perfectly legal. What makes it illegal then which resulted in the charges, is another topic. But… it’s still not about the money. It’s still about stewardship and accountability. We were not told how the money moved. So that’s not ok.
And when I gave to the BF which invested in XPL bonds, I know that if the bonds were sound and had personal guarantee, I will not lose anything. So that’s ok. When I gave, I was still blessed because of the principal of sowing and reaping. So that’s ok; in fact it’s great! I had financial breakthroughs, blessings, happy family etc. I wasn’t short-changed. In fact, I was even more blessed than ever before! So that’s ok!
But… we were not told how the BF money moved without passing XPL and why it had to go to CHCKL then to Hollywood to fund the Crossover which is our BF (not XPL) and then to another bond called FIRNA back to CHC.
So that’s not ok. It’s still not about the money. It’s still about stewardship and accountability.
So do you think they did the CBT thing?
It’s for the judge to rule, but I can just say they made it happen. We all know they made it happen because now we really took the world by storm and will be world shakers and history makers – an Asian Christian reaching out to the lost singing “You Stupid” and “Kill Bill” instead of “Sun with Love” or “The Smile of Spring” (Chun Tian De Wei Xiao).
How they "made it happen" sounds so stupid - when we (EMs) gave them the mandate to invest the money, who gave them the galls of permission to channel it to Hollywood via CHCKL so it now becomes CBT??? If you are asking if I think they are guilty of the charges on them, the answer is a freaking “WHATEVER”!! The stories and repeated phrases of “I trust the professionals and I dunno” already made a joke out of my hero that the intent was always clear from the start, there’s a crossover project and we needed to fund it but when we get caught it’s the professionals’ fault! The verdict doesn’t matter anymore because money has been misused, lies been told and attempts have been made to cover up. They will be lucky to escape with a few years behind bars. There’s no reason why they needed to falsify accounts or conspire to commit criminal breach of trust – but they did the Houdini on the BF. I can’t say more since the trial is ongoing. But I know that I know that there was no intent to cheat, only the will to misrepresent and deceive further.
What if the verdict is guilty?
I went into this with my eyes and ears wide open and they took me into a place full of wool which covered my eyes and stuffed out my ears. Then… they turned off the lights and tuned off the sound. Well, life goes on. The church goes on and MUST GO ON because there’s work to be done – the needy be provided, the elderly cared for, broken marriage to be mended, kids to disciple, etc. I don’t live my life on “what ifs” so I really don’t like this question. But it will be, so we still have to move on. Would I be disappointed? Would I feel like my faith and trust was misplaced? Hell yes!
I would be disappointed because we started off so well, with such good intentions and momentum and great results. I would feel my trust was misplaced but my faith still rests on Jesus knowing God never fails and He will rebuild the House.
If the court decides they are guilty, it gives room for rebuilding with whatever remains and no more half-truths, deception and cover-up. We go for full disclosure and accountability and pick up the pieces from there. It doesn’t erase the errors but the lessons learned through this experience will be invaluable. And it doesn’t rubbish the biblical values and principles.
You heard the allegations. Don’t tell me you are ok with it? You won’t leave CHC?
Why should I leave CHC now that the allegations are true and the perpetrators dealt with and spiritual authority restored? This is still the church of God. People can still praise and worship Him in spirit and in truth, no longer in deceit and half-truths. The Word never fails; it continues to change my life and teaches my God’s ways. People gather from house to house sharing the love of God together. Kids learn about the ways of God in Children’s Church and heroes of faith in the bible. There are testimonies after testimonies of God’s goodness and presence. Why should I leave?
I will stand behind my pastors who are now behind bars – a season of restoration awaits them. We can do Crossover without singing to people “You Stupid”. Yes, bring back “Sun with Love” but let Annabelle sing it. I’ve heard the allegations and now the charges. I may not know all the explanations or stories, but I know enough to be loyal. And pray God tell I’ll be more loyal to Him than anyone else.
So Why Am I No Longer Here?
That's because someone said, “these supposed insiders claim they know the inside stories. Their only claim to their insider relationship is with a renegade who broke ranks with the others. How is that fair to make a conclusion based on his allegations without hearing out the rest? I admit the allegations were eyebrow raising and truly tabloid material. BUT I’ve not seen any fruits of this man, I’ve not heard him preach. How can I leave CHC just because of his allegations? Isn’t it a basic expectation to hear how Pastor Kong can refute these claims? (and possibly Pastor Tan later)”.
For the record, I was before this renegade became one; we were arch-enemies. He did to me what you did to him. And we both learned our mistakes because we were deceived by people who knew we would fight for them to the last, if our “heroes” were attacked. I can only say you never bothered to find out in spite of your leadership position. You never bothered to dig deep when public information is available about the financial state of XPL and other related companies. You never bothered to know the man and listen to his side of the story. You never bothered to confront your leadership when that need arises. You blindly believed and enforced your believe using your authority – that is repulsive. Yet given an opportunity we would rather reconcile but you never stopped branding us as someone against you - you cannot even tell your brothers keepers from wolves. I will not jump to conclusion. But it is proven – you did the same thing to the renegade what others in authority similar in your position did to me. Yes, I should not be leaving. But given the circumstances, am I left with a choice? Similarly, is this renegade you are talking about left with a choice?
Back to my beginning statement - I was from City Harvest Church, and it was a place I called my church, my second home, and my life, until somebody decided otherwise because we do not see eye to eye.
If there’s ever a lesson to be learnt today, accept dissident views with objectivity. People leave when they have no choice.
In the bible, it was the same – in the book Ruth, people leave the house when there’s no bread to feed the hungry. My prayer for City Harvest Church is that there will always be bread and lampstand.