The court case against several leaders of the City Harvest Church has caused quite a stir, and one of the former members has decided to speak up about his experience in the church. The member had attended CHC for about ten years before he left the church about two years ago. He had been baptized in the church, served in overseas missions, served in more than five ministries, and met his wife and married in the church. He also attended weekly services as well as cell group meetings.
According to the member, this church changed his life tremendously as he joined it while still in school. He had been a victim of bullying, and he had felt worthless for quite some time. However, the church and its members had made him feel like someone who could make a difference. He was transformed from a shy person to an outspoken individual, and his previously friendless status changed to that of a person with a lot of new friends and family members through the cell groups.
This member loved the thought of being a part of the construction of God’s house, and so he sacrificed a lot in order to support the building fund for the church in Jurong. Pastor Kong openly elevated members of the congregation who would delay their weddings, downgrade their flats, sell their cars or even empty their bank accounts in order to contribute to the Building Fund. The pastor said that he used to do all of this, and that God blessed him immensely. He was a wealthy man because of God’s blessings, and he drove an Audi A7 and lived in a condo.
According to this ex-member, after they moved to Jurong, Pastor Kong announced that Sun would join the entertainment industry in order to minister to people who would otherwise not go to church. The congregation purchased her CDs and even promoted her music in church. However, he said that his doubts began to creep in after he saw a video of China Wine which was supposed to showcase Sun’s achievements in America. He clapped; but he was embarrassed by her provocative dance moves and dressing. However, the pastor explained that Sun had to dance like this in order to appeal to the US audience.
The members continued to give in spite of their doubts, though most of them did not have any money to spare. However, after the scandal, this former church member decided that he could not follow the church leaders blindly anymore. In this member’s eyes, it was evident that the Building Fund had been used to finance the crossover project, despite the fact that Pastor Kong assured the congregation that the building fund was only used on the church building.
The church later moved to Suntec, and the congregation was informed that they needed to raise $310 million over a span of seven years to buy Suntec shares and to pay off loans in order to avoid any losses. At the time, the pastor was living in a multi-million dollar penthouse in Sentosa Cove, and Sun was living in Beverly Hills in a $20000/month rental house. The pastor was driving an Audi A7 and wearing branded clothes as well as flying to the US every week.
Eventually, this member decided to leave. He lost the friends that he had made in the church, but in turn, he was able to dedicate more time to his wife and his family. He is now able to save more money and he can take his family for vacations. He also sends money to his parents more frequently.
In spite of everything, he is grateful to CHC for the person that he has become, in terms of his character. However, he will never appreciate the deceptive ways through which he was encouraged to tithe and give offerings for the Building Fund.
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