Announcement: Apostle Kong Hee & 5 CHC leaders back in court on April 7. (Update 05/04/2017)

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Note: Keep up to date with CHC and Kong on Church Watch Central.


The Straits Times has officially reported that Apostle Kong Hee is back in court on April 7:

City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee and 5 CHC leaders back in court on April 7

For your convenience, this article will provide as a resource. We will:

  1. Identify the six accused.
  2. Recap the allegations made in court against Kong Hee and the other five.
  3. Recap on the verdict of each individual.
  4. The desired verdict of each individual by the prosecution. (Update)
  5. Supply links how Kong Hee demonized and maligned his own government.
  6. Provide resources how Kong Hee and/or Phil Pringle have used international conferences to malign Singaporean authorities and manipulate people to give money to support Kong Hee’s case (and learn how involved Pringle was in Kong Hee’s ministry, by influencing him in making important decisions regarding the purchase of SunTec, prophesying over Sun’s music career and allowing Kong Hee to copy the C3 building fund model).
  7. What is CHC?
  8. Exhibit videos of Kong Hee exploiting his vulnerable members into giving money for his building fund.

Continue reading

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Leaked audio of Kong Hee & Sun Ho maligning Singapore government in 2013

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The Singaporean government have made it clear why they were investigating Kong Hee and the accused and what this meant for the church.

Official Statements Surrounding The City Harvest Church Crisis

Below, we have obtained excerpts of Sun Ho and Kong Hee speaking at a leaders meeting in 2013. In the leaked audio, both Kong Hee and Sun Ho provide insight into their attitude at that time when they were under investigation, disparaging the COC.

The bible is clear that this is not the way Christian leaders are to behave privately in church nor is it the way to respect positions of governing authorities.

[NOTE: Please listen to the audio yourselves. We have done our best to transcribe what was said in the audio. If you think we misheard audio segments, please post corrections down below.]


AUDIO 1: SUN HO

[Click to Download video soundbite]

TRANSCRIPT

“We know for a fact that the government wants to take us down, which we’ll share with you all why we know for a fact. [Kong: Another time, la.]

Ok so, and then from a very credible source, you know that we know that they really want to take us down. So, I just feel that we must keep our communication flowing. You know- and then if we really have anything like for example in the past you know, just text me and say that…”

AUDIO 2: KONG HEE

[Click to Download video soundbite]

TRANSCRIPT

“I’ve got … objective proof that they are against us, lah. They are against me lah. [Sun Ho: Against our church.]

Against our church.

Even last night, we got a very credible source. … These people don’t know anything about the case one lah. That is the point. Don’t know anything about the case, man. They just know the important families in Singapore.

And this thing basically happened because of us, lah. The moment I make the announcement, the following week somebody passed an edict: destroy this church, destroy this man.

Basically they pull out, and then at the same time its a perfect storm lah. There are a lot of people that are criticising us. CAD came in, opened our books, they want to see embezzlement (..lawful gain lawful loss..). They dig dig dig dig dig, couldn’t find anything, because, Sun and I don’t line our pockets with anything that’s not ours, lah”

AUDIO 3: KONG HEE

[Click to Download video soundbite]

TRANSCRIPT

“I’ve already got the COC that want to nail me, the government wants to nail me…”

Kowtowing journalism fails to report Kong Hee demonizing Singaporean authorities

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Two  “Christian” news organisations published stories about the recently convicted Kong Hee in Africa. Their stories consist of quoting Sun Ho and Kong Hee…

… from Kong Hee’s FaceBook page.

No joke.

That’s it. That’s the standard of Christian news reporting.

Read both articles here:

Christian Times: Amazing Christian revival in South Africa, says City Harvest Church pastor Kong Hee
Christian Post: Megachurch Pastor Kong Hee, Wife Sun Ho ‘Exploding Inside’ by Amazing Christian Revival in South Africa

Both Christian news outlets wrote that “revival” was happening in Africa… according to Kong Hee’s FaceBook page…

… You know – the guy who was found guilty, in the Singaporean courts, of lying to his church about the building fund.

Are we missing something here?

The word “revival” is too often thrown around with no meaning these days. However, it’s thrown around to grab people’s attention and it’s thrown around to promote a leader’s success or NARpostleship. And that’s exactly what Sun Ho and Kong Hee appear to be doing.

This lazy journalism provoked us to investigate the church where Kong Hee spoke.

A few clicks later, we managed to find the sermon Kong put on his wall on YouTube. In that sermon, Kong Hee was presented as a “servant that [God’s] anointed.”

In the video below, we have taken snippets from the service we watched revealing that Bishop Mosa Sono and Kong Hee are part of the NARpostolic (Church Growth International) network, led by the convicted felon David Yonggi Cho.

Now that is a story worth reporting. Especially when God’s ‘Anointed Servant’ decided to demonize Singaporean authorities for putting him and his wife through hell:

“We are in the midst of the greatest fight of our lives right now because there is a plot from the devil to destroy my life and my ministry.”

(BTW, it took us UNDER HALF AN HOUR to obtain this information.)

Watch the full “revival” here:

Source: By GBC WebTeam, GBC Live 25 June 2016-Couples Forum, YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji7QPJ7Up78, Streamed live on Jun 25, 2016. (Accessed 09/07/2016.)

Occam’s Razor and the Perpetuity of Evangelical Scandal

This is a very helpful article from Pastor Tom Chantry, reflecting on some hard truths about the state of what is currently called ‘Evangelicalism’. The issues raised in this article are actually relevant to believers in every denomination (as many of you would already know first-hand), and are worthy of serious consideration.

Along with a well-considered critique of modern Evangelicalism, Tom provides practical encouragement to those who belong to Christ in the face of daunting and pervasive challenges within the visible church:

Occam’s Razor and the Perpetuity of Evangelical Scandal

Occam’s Razor is the name given to the logical argument that the simplest theory to explain any given phenomena is likely the correct theory.  Since our judgment is often obstructed, we need to shave away needless assumptions and bits of argumentation in order to arrive at a reasonable understanding.  Scientists debate the legitimacy of the Razor as an empirical tool; certain complexities in nature (think of the construction of the living cell) suggest that complex explanations of material phenomena are often correct.  It is nevertheless a useful philosophical tool, particularly as a foundational principle of the common sense by which we ought to live.  If I awake in the morning to find branches from my trees scattered about the back yard, it is simpler to assume that we had a strong wind than it is to believe that demons attacked my trees during the night!  The sensible man will automatically adopt the simpler theory.

It is in this solid common-sense manner that I propose we apply Occam’s Razor to the latest evangelical scandal, whatever that scandal might happen to be.  Last week it was Steven Furtick’s intentionally provocative “God broke the law for love” clip.  A few weeks earlier it was Andy Stanley’s nastyaccusationsagainst small churches.  Years ago it was Mark Driscoll’s braggadocio about his belligerent bus-driving technique.  And of course we aren’t allowed to forget Perry Noble’s “Highway to Hell” Easter service, mainly because he keeps reminding us of it.

There have been a number of responses to Furtick’s latest departure from orthodoxy.  The best I have seen is Todd Pruitt’s point-by-pointexamination over at Mortification of Spin.  Among the other responses, however, a perplexing note has emerged.  Jared Wilson at The Gospel Coalition gets to the heart of what was wrong with the video, but only after sympathizing with what he assumes Furtick was trying to say.  The ever-polite Tim Challies, while critical, also enlightens us as to what Furtick intended to say.  Why the rush to exonerate?

When well-recognized evangelicals – particularly those who have never made any significant contribution to or defense of biblical doctrine and piety – make asinine statements about the gospel or engage in stunts which contradict all the tenets of Christian virtue, why do we feel the need to cover their indiscretion with a cloak of good Christian motives?  They themselves rarely seem to desire this!  The complex logical gymnastics by which we defend the men while questioning their words and actions are based upon one obstinate presupposition: because these men are evangelicals, they must be received as brothers in Christ and granted every advantage of our most gracious instincts.  This is, I suggest, a needless assumption which we ought to simply shave away.

quote

Now at this point you might assume that I am going to argue from Furtick’s catastrophic misrepresentation of the gospel that he is, in fact, not saved.  Some of you are cheering me on, while some are already marshalling counter-arguments of charity and catholicity.  Actually, I feel no need to make such an argument about Furtick per se.  The fundamental assumption which ought to be abandoned is not so specific.  It isn’t merely that I think Furtick (or any other particularly embarrassing Christian celebrity) may not be a Christian, it is that I reject the idea that  any evangelical should  be automatically presumed regenerate.  Shave away our presumption, and not only the scandals du jourlisted above, but also a lot of the rest of evangelical history, suddenly make a lot more sense.  The simplest explanation is in this case both logical and correct.  The mere fact of being an evangelical is no safe indicator that anyone is a child of God.

Perhaps it will help to remember how we arrived at this assumption.  Back in my childhood, we divided Christendom into uncomplicated teams.  There was the team of Catholics, etc. (“et cetera” because we rarely encountered the Eastern Orthodox or various Middle Eastern strains, and when we did they looked to us like Catholics on steroids).  There was also the Mainline team, known for its modernism.  Members of neither of these teams were presumed to be saved, and for good reason.  Both had lost the gospel, and if anyone in their midst was actually a believer, it was clearly in spite of his church, not because of it.  So far, so good.  But then there was a third team called “evangelicalism,” and its members, we assumed, were all (or at least mostly) saved.  Perhaps I am oversimplifying.  Fundamentalists wanted to be on their own smaller team where everyone played by the same rules, but we tended to see them as the grumpy members of our team.  And of course there were a few big-R Reformed types who insisted that “Reformed” was never a subset of “evangelical,” but we thought of them as better-read but equally-grumpy Fundamentalists.  In our minds, big E was the saved team, and we accepted everyone that wore the right team colors as part of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Yet there is precious little in evangelicalism to justify such an assumption.  After all, the Scripture does suggest that there will be certain signs which, while they do not allow us infallibly to identify each true believer, will give us a sense of who should and who should not be called a brother.  Let us consider three of the very simplest:This process was exacerbated by the politicization of religion during the Reagan Revolution.  As the church accepted the premise that its task in the world was political, it necessarily also accepted that its strength was in its numbers.  Expansion of the term “evangelical” and even of the concept of salvation became a necessity.  A new socio-theological calculus produced a triangle with Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, and Orel Roberts at the vertices, and we were assured that everyone inside was both a brother in Christ and a reliable Republican vote.  To even question whether some of these folks were actually Christian was to weaken the political punch of the evangelical demographic.  Of course we’re all saved!  How can you question your teammates?

1. Actual Believers will understand, confess, and defend the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.(See, for instance, I Corinthians 15:1-5.) This gospel is, in brief, that Jesus, the Son of God who became true man, died for the sins of others and then rose so that they might have eternal life.  Some years ago White Horse Inn recorded answers to the question, “What is the gospel?” at a Christian booksellers’ convention, seeking to illustrate the paucity of gospel knowledge among evangelical Christians.  At the time I thought they were exaggerating their case, but that was before my experience in Christian education.  Four years of teaching the children of evangelicals demonstrated a sad reality: unless they attended either foreign language churches or confessionally Reformed churches, the evangelical kids not only didn’t believethe gospel; they had rarelyencountered it.

2. Actual Believers will decisively reject all counterfeit gospels.(SeeGalatians 1:6-9.) Not only is evangelicalism widely ignorant of the gospel, it is actually awash in various false gospels. Many simply cling to empty platitudes about being “on fire for God” or “having God in your life.”  Increasingly, though, evangelicalism is not preaching a content-less message, but one with terrible content.  The Prosperity Gospel, for instance, teaches that God wants to bless us with happiness in this world, and if we trust him to do so, we’ll be inevitable winners at life.  This is of course a complete rejection of the words of Jesus (see Matthew 5:11-12 and many other places), but it is the dominant theme of evangelical Christianity.  How else do we explain the Tim Tebow phenomenon, in which an athlete was considered a great Christian leader because of his championships at Florida?  How else do we explain the far more sinister Trump phenomenon, in which too many evangelicals are willing to accept an obvious degenerate’s claim that he is a “great Christian”?  Is it not because his ostentation looks like the sort of blessing promised by Osteen, Jakes, and others?

3. Actual Believers, while not morally perfect, will care about holiness and will strive to live according to God’s commands. (See I Corinthians 6:9-11.)  Evangelical piety has degenerated to the point that it now reflects the knee-jerk “Don’t judge me, bro!” ethics of the typical modern agnostic.  Having long ago rejected the fourth commandment on shaky theological grounds, and having never really had the sophistication to understand the second commandment, evangelicalism is now losing commandments at an accelerated rate.  Various forms of abuse keep popping up in the church. Years of easy divorce are giving way to confusion over sexuality.  Tomorrow’s evangelicalism looks likely to giggle at the idea of the seventh commandment as much as today’s evangelicalism snickers at the fourth.  Leading the charge are the evangelical pastors who demonstrate little of the dignity and sobriety which is to characterize God’s ministers.

So tell me, why do we accord the presumption of regeneration to every evangelical?  These trends are the very reason we recognize that most members of the Catholic and Mainline teams are not actual believers: they reject the true gospel in favor of false ones and do not demonstrate genuine biblical holiness.  How is evangelicalism different?  Once we shave away our false and unhelpful assumption, a far simpler explanation for the rolling scandals of the evangelical world emerges: a great many evangelical Christians are simply not saved.

To be perfectly clear, I am not at all implying that I have sufficiently examined Furtick (or any other member of the evangelical kakistocracy) to make any sort of pronouncement on his spiritual state.  He has not applied for membership in my church, nor did I sit on his ordination council (assuming the perhaps unlikely existence of such).  Perhaps the best element of Pruitt’s write-up on this particular scandal was this:

“Now, if any of this seems serious to my brothers and sisters in the North Carolina Convention of Southern Baptists then perhaps they can press for a meeting with Pastor Steven. Certainly they do not want to be associated with such serious error. Certainly.”

This places a certain burden squarely on those shoulders which deserve it.  It lies with the Southern Baptists to determine the answer to two critical questions: what is required in order to be a Southern Baptist pastor, and what does it mean to convene together with pastors who evidently do not fit that requirement? These are questions which I do not need to answer, and I do not pretend to have answered them.

My concern is much simpler: what am I, a Reformed Baptist pastor in a smallish church (but I repeat myself) supposed to think when Andy Stanley attacks my people, or when Steven Furtick – in what seems to have been one of his rare attempts to actually talk about the gospel – attacks the holiness of God?  Well, what do I think when the Pope says something moronic about Mary, or when some lesbian Methodist pastor is discovered in further scandal?  Why should I think anything?  I am not particularly shocked when the Pope or the Mainline minister acts like less than a true Christian, and frankly, the mere fact that someone is a pastor in an evangelical denomination doesn’t mean that much to me either.   Just because the folks at the Gallup Poll think the latter is on my “team” doesn’t mean I have to presume his regeneration.

No doubt these self-evident observations will seem terribly unkind, unloving, and un-Christian to many.  Perhaps Justin Taylor can even be convinced to call me a low-quality “discernment blogger” again, although he’d have to read past the title this time.  Given the likelihood of such a response, let me suggest three advantages of shaving away the idea of presumptive evangelical regeneration:

1. When I stop assuming that every evangelical is a fellow believer, it helps me to be a better neighbor. I am convinced that rejecting the risible myth that something like a quarter of my fellow Americans are genuine believers makes me a far better citizen of the Republic.  I can give up on the absurd notion that I live in a “Christian country,” and instead I can busy myself with seeking the good of the nation in which God placed me.  My political stance may be influenced by my faith (I agree with Dennis Prager that anyfaith makes one less susceptible to progressivism and statism), but my faith and my politics are not coterminous.  Most importantly, I can grant my neighbor the gospel rather than assume, most likely falsely, that he has already heard it.  This last holds true even if my neighbor is an evangelical; I have mentioned before that I have long considered my ministry in Christian school chapels to be mission work.  Knowledge of the gospel being so rare in the evangelical world, we do well to bear regular witness to it.

2. When I stop assuming that every evangelical is a fellow believer, it helps me to be more peaceful and more peaceable.How should I respond to the antics of evangelical superstars?  Let us take Furtick as an example, and let us be clear: he has never done anything to suggest that we ought to consider him a fellow believer.  (I am putting aside, you see, his evangelical ordination, which is meaningless.)  If I feel it necessary to respond, I will notfeel the need to charitably ascribe to him Christian motives which he evidently lacks!  It isn’t that I must ascribe badmotives, either.  I simply treat theological rubbish as theological rubbish.  Since I won’t be twisting myself into knots to say, “Look, I know this is heresy, but clearly he didn’t mean it,” I will be at far greater peace within myself.  On the other hand, neither do I need to kick and rage and scream about how awful it is, like the true watch-bloggers.  Did an evangelical super-star deny the gospel?  Well, is the Pope Catholic?  It’s not as though it’s something I’m going to fix.  If I do respond, it needn’t be with outrage, which means I’m not only at peace internally, I’m free to be peaceable with all men.

3. When I stop assuming that every evangelical is a fellow believer, it helps me to love the brethren. It is spring, s0 – even though while I write this snow is falling outside my study window – allow me a springtime metaphor.  On the rare occasions that I attend a Phillies game, it is almost never in Philadelphia.  Nevertheless, I always wear at the very least the appropriate red cap.  Furthermore, I always see others in red, because our phans “travel well,” even when our team is awful.  (Who am I kidding; that’s most of the time!)  If I walk into Miller Park in my bright red cap, the other phans and I will nod, wave, and generally acknowledge one another, all for no reason except that we are dressed similarly; we are “on” the same team.  Of course, I do not invite them into my home, concern myself with the well-being of their families, or share their joys and sorrows.  (Not, that is, beyond the general sorrow we all feel over Ryan Howard’s impossible contract.)  I suspect that this is what Christian fellowship has been reduced to.  Christians know that they are supposed to smile and nod when they see someone from their team, but they keep one another at arms’ length.  Why?  Is it not because, deep within themselves, they suspect that other “Christians” may not be true brothers?  When I discover a fellow-believer, it is not by such trivialities as his self-identification as an evangelical.  It is instead by his love of the gospel, his rejection of false gospels, and his concern for biblical holiness.  In other words, I’ve found a brother, even if we disagree on some of the particulars.  I’ve found someone to whom I can gladly extend the right hand of fellowship.

In this case, the simplest explanation really is best.  Many evangelicals are unsaved, and the world makes a lot more sense when we acknowledge it.

Source: Tom Chantry, Occam’s Razor and the Perpetuity of Evangelical Scandal, Chantry Notes, https://chantrynotes.wordpress.com/2016/04/11/occams-razor-and-the-perpetuity-of-evangelical-scandal/, Published 11/04/2016. (Accessed 11/04/2016.)

City Harvest case: Appeal hearings set for September before a three-judge panel

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The Straits Times reports:

City Harvest case: Appeal hearings set for September before a three-judge panel

SINGAPORE – The appeal hearings for the six City Harvest Church leaders have been set for Sept 19 to Sept 23. This was decided during a pre-trial conference on Monday (Jan 25), parties confirmed with The Straits Times.

The appeals will be heard before a three-judge panel, tentatively comprising Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin, Justice Woo Bih Li and Justice Chan Seng Onn.

Last October, the six accused – church founder Kong Hee, 51; deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, 43; former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han, 55; former CHC finance managers Serina Wee, 39, and Sharon Tan, 40; and former CHC finance committee member John Lam, 47 – were found guilty of misusing around $50 million in church funds after a trial that stretched more than two years.

The church leaders were convicted of using church funds to further the music career of pastor-singer Ho Yeow Sun, Kong’s wife. This was allegedly done by funnelling $24 million into sham bonds to bankroll Ms Ho’s career. The accused then misused a further $26 million to cover their tracks.

All six were handed jail terms of between 21 months and eight years. Kong got the heaviest sentence as the alleged mastermind of Singapore’s largest charity financial scandal.

The prosecution, which called the sentences “manifestly inadequate” after asking for jail terms ranging from five to 12 years, is also appealing.

Source: Lim Yi Han, City Harvest case: Appeal hearings set for September before a three-judge panel, straitstimes.com, http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/city-harvest-case-appeal-hearings-set-for-september-before-a-three-judge-panel, Published 25/01/2016. (Accessed 26/01/2016.)

Kong Hee reveals he still thinks he is innocent in recent statement

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Kong Hee writes on FaceBook,

After the sentencing last Friday, I have had a week to carefully consider the sentence and have also studied the Court’s grounds of conviction together with my lawyers. Whilst I respect the Court’s decision, there are points which appear to be erroneous and warrant appeal. I will therefore be preparing to file an appeal against both my conviction and sentence. Earlier today, I was informed that the Prosecution has also filed an appeal against the sentence imposed by the Court. My lawyers will also address the Prosecution’s appeal at the appropriate time. I sincerely need your prayers during this process for a favorable outcome. The road ahead is long and arduous, but God’s grace is sufficient for me. I love and appreciate you so much. Thank you for loving me and my family.

Read the full statement here: https://goo.gl/MgSyRj

Source: Kong Hee, FaceBook, https://www.facebook.com/konghee/posts/10153079190051895, Published 27/11/2015. (Accessed 27/11/2015.)

proof_FaceBook-KongHeeAppeals_27-11-2015

We would like to know who helped Kong Hee write this below statement. This is not his work. It’s too theologically slick, refined and deep for him to produce without others being involved to make him look this theologically credible. (Compare this presentation with Kong Hee’s ‘9 Reasons Why Jesus Was Not Poor’ sermon.) We’re quite confident that Kong Hee wouldn’t even know who Archbishop Chrysostom is or how to access the appropriate writings on Chrysostom. We know who Pinky is, so who is the Brain?

And see if you can spot the lies in Kong Hee’s appeal:

MY APPEAL


After the sentencing last Friday, I have had a week to carefully consider the sentence and have also studied the Court’s grounds of conviction together with my lawyers. Whilst I respect the Court’s decision, there are points which appear to be erroneous and warrant appeal. I will therefore be preparing to file an appeal against both my conviction and sentence. Earlier today, I was informed that the Prosecution has also filed an appeal against the sentence imposed by the Court. My lawyers will also address the Prosecution’s appeal at the appropriate time. I sincerely need your prayers during this process for a favorable outcome. The road ahead is long and arduous, but God’s grace is sufficient for me. I love and appreciate you so much. Thank you for loving me and my family.


 

Can & Should Christians Appeal?

Personally, I have been studying the journeys and trials of the Apostle Paul from Acts 21 to 28. From Scripture, we know that Paul had stood trial before a Jewish court and three Roman courts. He spent a total of at least five years in prison.

In about 57 A.D., Paul arrived at Jerusalem to bring humanitarian aids to the Jews1 and to share the gospel with them.2 A week later, he was at the temple when a riot erupted, resulting in his arrest and subsequent interrogation.3 Paul had to stand trial before the Sanhedrin, the ancient Jewish court of judges. Twenty or so years earlier, it was this same Sanhedrin that had tried Jesus,4 and John,5 as well as Stephen.6

Being a Roman citizen, Paul was then sent to the Roman procurator Antonius Felix in Caesarea.7 As the governor of Judea, he was also the chief judge of the province.8 Five days later, Paul’s accusers, together with their lawyer, brought “many serious charges” against Paul.9 They accused him of rioting, breaking Jewish laws, and committing treason against Rome.10 If convicted, Paul could be sentenced to death.11 While Felix chose to temporize and not reach a verdict, he imprisoned Paul in a jail cell at Herod’s judgment hall for the next two years.12

In 59 A.D., 13 Porcius Festus succeeded Felix as the governor and chief judge of Judea. He reopened the trial for Paul to give his defense before his accusers. In the midst of the hearing, Paul exercised his rights as a Roman citizen, and appealed to Caesar, who presided the highest court in the empire.14 Festus granted his request.

The concept of appealing to a higher court to review the verdict of a lower court was not foreign in biblical culture. Scripture tells us that there was an appeal process already in place for the Hebrews and Jews from ancient times. The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, as well as many other Bible dictionaries, explains “appeal” in Israel’s judiciary as this:

“After the Exodus, Moses at first adjudged all cases himself, but at the suggestion of Jethro he arranged for a number of inferior judges, with evident right of appeal to himself (Exodus 18:13, 26). Later on the judges of the different towns were to bring all difficult cases that they were unable to decide before the Levitical priests and judges at the place of the sanctuary for a final decision (Deuteronomy 17:8‐11).”15

Was Paul defiant in his attitude toward the Roman rulers? Was he afraid to be punished for breaking the law? Paul had taught that every person must submit to governing authorities,16 and he was certainly not afraid to be thrown into the lion’s den.17 However, he knew it was not time for him to die yet, because in an earlier night vision, Jesus had said to him, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”18 Wanting to fulfill the Lord’s mission for him,19 Paul availed himself of the civil privileges of a Roman citizen, which God had blessed him with, and appealed to the “supreme court” of Caesar. He was also convinced that the evidence was on his side, and that he had a fair chance of winning the appeal in Rome. A few days later, Paul’s confidence was further affirmed when King Herod Agrippa II heard his testimony in another court hearing, and felt that Paul should indeed be acquitted.20

In 60 A.D., Paul arrived in Rome. Unfortunately, it would be another two‐year wait for his day in court with Caesar, during which he was placed under house arrest.21 Rather than being incarcerated as a common criminal, Paul was permitted to live in his own rented dwelling, though bound by chains, and always in the company of a prison guard.22 During this time, to all who visited him, Paul kept preaching and teaching the gospel “with all confidence.”23 The four “prison epistles” of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon were written during this two‐year incarceration.24

At the end of 62 A.D., Paul was able to make his defense before Caesar and was acquitted of all charges.25 According to church traditions and the early fathers, like Archbishop Chrysostom, he was released from imprisonment and continued his missionary work to Western Europe, possibly as far as Spain.26

Three years later, in 65 A.D., Paul was rearrested and imprisoned again in Rome for about another year. It was during this time that he wrote his final epistle, the second letter to Timothy, to tell Timothy that he had “fought the good fight,” he had “finished the race,” and he knew that “the time of [his] departure [was] at hand.” True enough, sometime in 66 A.D., Paul was beheaded by the order of Nero Caesar.27

In God’s sovereign will, Paul was destined to be a martyr. However, before that appointed time for martyrdom, Paul exercised his legal rights within the judiciary of his day, and fought for the freedom to preach the gospel as instructed by the Lord Jesus.28 His courtroom advocacy and legal appeal gave him eight years of powerful ministry to many parts of Europe. He fulfilled the purpose of his life29 and was not disobedient to “the heavenly vision.”30

Paul appealed not because he was defiant toward the ruling authority.31 He appealed because (a) the weight of the evidence was in his favour, (b) he had a clear mission from the Lord Jesus that he still needed to fulfill, and (c) he was exercising his legal rights as a Roman citizen, a privilege that God had blessed him with.

Regarding my decision to appeal to the High Court, I sincerely need your prayers for a favorable outcome. It has been a very long and difficult journey since 31 May 2010, but I have always felt God’s loving presence and your unfailing support. I am so blessed by your friendship. Thank you for loving me and my family.

Source: Kong Hee, MY APPEAL, https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzYLXQWuYruRdFV6ZkVrMHRCSVU/view?pli=1, Accessed 28/11/2015.

 

City Harvest trial: Prosecution calls for 11 to 12 years’ jail for Kong Hee and church leaders

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The Straits Times writes,

Although Kong faced only three charges of criminal breach of trust, Presiding Judge See Kee Oon said he was the key man behind the scandal.
Although Kong faced only three charges of criminal breach of trust, Presiding Judge See Kee Oon said he was the key man behind the scandal.ST FILE PHOTO 

It asks that 4 leaders be jailed 11 to 12 years each; sentencing could be as early as Friday

The Public Prosecutor has asked for stiff sentences for all six City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders, including the recommendation that church founder Kong Hee be sentenced to 11 to 12 years in jail, The Straits Times has learnt.

The six were found guilty last month of misusing some $50 million in church funds.

Of that, $24 million was used to bankroll the music career of Kong’s wife, singer-pastor Ho Yeow Sun.

Apart from Kong, 51, the prosecution also recommended a jail sentence of 11 to 12 years each for deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, 43; former CHC finance manager Serina Wee, 38; and former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han, 55.

For former CHC finance committee member John Lam, 47, the prosecution asked for a jail sentence of eight to nine years.

  • WHAT THE PROSECUTION IS ASKING FOR

  • KONG HEE, 51

    Founder and senior pastor of City Harvest Church (CHC)

    Guilty of three charges of criminal breach of trust.

    Sentence: 11 to 12 years

    TAN YE PENG, 43

    Deputy senior pastor

    Guilty of six charges of criminal breach of trust and four charges of falsification of accounts.

    Sentence: 11 to 12 years

    SERINA WEE, 38

    Former CHC finance manager

    Guilty of six charges of criminal breach of trust and four charges of falsification of accounts.

    Sentence: 11 to 12 years

    CHEW ENG HAN, 55

    Former CHC fund manager

    Guilty of six charges of criminal breach of trust and four charges of falsification of accounts.

    Sentence: 11 to 12 years

    JOHN LAM, 47

    Former CHC finance committee member

    Guilty of three charges of criminal breach of trust.

    Sentence: Eight to nine years

    SHARON TAN, 40

    Former CHC finance manager

    Guilty of three charges of criminal breach of trust and four charges of falsification of accounts.

    Sentence: Five to six years

The lightest sentence of five to six years was reserved for former CHC finance manager Sharon Tan, 40.

The prosecution handed in its written submissions on sentencing to the court on Nov 6.

The six are due back in court on Friday for oral submissions on sentencing.

It is the earliest date for the court to pass a sentence.

For the moment, only Kong and Chew have indicated that they are likely to appeal.

“I think it’s likely (for Kong to appeal) but I can’t confirm right now; realistically, we have to see what happens on Friday,” said Kong’s lawyer, Mr Jason Chan.

Chew told The Straits Times: “I am standing by my defence and what I testified during the trial, and will make an appeal.”

The defence has told the court repeatedly that CHC suffered no loss and the six accused had not profited from their crimes.

The church leaders were found guilty of varying counts of criminal breach of trust and falsifying accounts.

A maximum cumulative sentence of 20 years can be imposed on the accused, in addition to a fine.

Kong faced only three charges of criminal breach of trust, which along with Lam, was the lowest number faced by the six accused.

But in his written judgment, Presiding Judge See Kee Oon pointed to Kong as the key man behind the scandal, writing that the charismatic church pastor had “acted consciously and dishonestly”.

“Kong Hee maintains that he is a pastor and not an expert in legality.

“But one does not need to be an expert in legality to appreciate certain fundamental aspects of honesty, truth and integrity,” the judge wrote.

Judge See added that the group used their positions in the church to shroud their crimes in secrecy.

“When shrouded under a cloak of invisibility, much like the mythical ring of Gyges, persons in such positions of power have no fear of accountability and tend to become their own worst enemies,” he wrote.

The ring of Gyges is a mythical artefact that grants its wearer the power to become invisible at will.

It was mentioned in Greek philosopher Plato’s Republic.

He wrote: “It has thus been wisely said that the real tragedy is when men are afraid of the light, and if they choose not to come into the light they do so for fear that their deeds will be exposed, as they surely will in time.”

Source: Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, City Harvest trial: Prosecution calls for 11 to 12 years’ jail for Kong Hee and church leaders, http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/city-harvest-trial-prosecution-calls-for-stiff-sentences-for-kong-hee-and, Published 17/11/2015. (Accessed 27/11/2015.)

City Harvest trial: Kong Hee to appeal conviction and sentence

Channel NewsAsia reports:

BREAKING – Prosecution appeals against ‘manifestly inadequate’ sentences

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Six Accused

The Straits Times reports,

City Harvest trial: Prosecution appeals against ‘manifestly inadequate’ sentences

SINGAPORE – The prosecution has filed notices of appeal against the sentences given to the six City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders on Friday (Nov 27), noting that they were “manifestly inadequate”.

“Having carefully considered the written grounds, the Prosecution is of the view that the sentences imposed are manifestly inadequate, in all the circumstances of the case,” the Attorney General’s Chambers said in a media statement released on Friday morning (Nov 27).

CHC founder and senior pastor Kong Hee and five other church leaders were found guilty and convicted of criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts on Oct 21.

Last Friday (Nov 20), the six were given jail sentences ranging from eight years to 21 months. The written grounds for the judgment were released on Nov 23.

The prosecution had earlier asked for much harsher sentences ranging from five to 12 years.

Making it clear that Kong was the mastermind behind the conspiracy to cause wrongful loss to the church and defraud auditors, the judge had sentenced him to eight years in jail.

Former board member Chew Eng Han was given six years’ jail; deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng faces a 5-and-a-half-year term in prison, while the church’s former finance manager Serina Wee was handed a five-year jail term.

John Lam, former secretary of the church’s management board, was given three years’ jail. Sharon Tan, former finance manager, was sentenced to 21 months in jail.

Meanwhile Tan Ye Peng’s lawyer N. Sreenivasan told The Straits Times his client has decided to appeal.

Chew, who said he “didn’t agree with the conviction and the sentence”, would be appealing as well.

The remaining defendants have adopted a wait-and-see approach.

“We are discussing developments with her and she will decide whether or not to appeal by next week,” said Sharon Tan’s lawyer Paul Seah.

Wee’s husband Kenny Low, who appealed for space for his family, said: “I think it’s too fast to comment.”

On Friday evening, Kong said in a Facebook post that he was going to appeal the conviction and sentence.

The remaining five defendants have seven more days to decide whether to file a notice of appeal.

Source: Yuen Sin and Danson Cheong, City Harvest trial: Prosecution appeals against ‘manifestly inadequate’ sentences, Straits Times, http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/city-harvest-trial-prosecution-appeals-against-manifestly-inadequate-sentences, Published 28/11/2015. (Accessed 28/11/2015.)