Phil Pringle speaks with City News on his long-standing friendship with Kong Hee and City Harvest Church.
Contributed By Sharon Chew
You have been ministering to our church for the past 20 years. What is the nature of the relationship you have with City Harvest Church?
From the start, I always felt a great affinity with Kong and Sun. There are some relationships that God joins together, and you’ve got to recognize, respect and nurture those relationships, no matter what. I believe that those relationships that are divinely arranged, you need to stay together, because all of us have a piece of each other’s destiny inside of us, and in that relationship, destiny unfolds. And so I nurture and look after what I recognize is something that God has put together.
I’ve always felt when I come here [that] I have a word from the Lord, whether it’s a teaching, prophetic, or evangelistic word. I feel it has a timeliness about it, and it’s relative to the moment of the history of this church. So last weekend, I was talking about worship and praise, and thanking God for the past, thanking God for the present, thanking God for the future. I think that at moments like the building dedication, that that is a really important thing to do: to worship God for everything that He’s done, for giving us the building, but also to worship Him for what’s going to happen in this building, to thank God for that.
Being prophetic is part of the relationship. I probably might have said five times to Kong—really, from the early days, every time we drive past Suntec City, I would say, “You’re going to be in that building.” Not at any other building. I just sort of felt that. And here we are, moving in, into the fulfillment of a prophecy, which is kind of “Wow!”
Being the one who prophesied about our big move, how do you feel about the prophecy coming to past, albeit at great cost to Kong, and even to yourself?
I think any prophecy has a price to it; any destiny has a price to it. It’s not going to come to pass without help from God, without us being dedicated to making those prophecies come to pass. I get the word of the Lord for different people around the world at different times, and I try not to deliver it in too much of a way that it’s perfect and infallible. I mean, I could get it wrong. But when I feel a word, I definitely say it to people. I don’t think it’s a credit to me—it’s simply a gift that God gives to people. If you can hear it, then it’ll definitely work for you.
I’ve always enjoyed preaching here, to try and give the church direction and build them up. And to edify Kong, to stand with him, just to be part of what he’s doing, and to feel I can help and support, somewhere along the line. That’s been my main thing. I’m committed to City Harvest Church but that’s because I’m also committed to Kong and Sun and what they want to do. So that’s a relationship that God has put together. And it joins our churches together. Kong has been a great blessing to our church in Sydney as well, and to our pastors.
Was there a defining moment in your friendship with Kong and Sun that you knew you wanted to take the relationship deeper?
Probably the first time I met them. They were on their honeymoon, they came to the conference and I was very impressed with that. I thought, “Well, anybody who is that radical and that dedicated, I want to be their friend.” So I gave him a little gift, and he asked me to come and speak here, and I came up, and everybody was so on fire, and I thought this church is going to grow like crazy, so I thought I’m going to become a part of what this is, by making myself available.
The last 10 months have been a trying time for the church. Has this period with us shown you a new aspect of the church, or caused you to see CHC differently?
I’ve seen two things. One is that people are pretty much the same all around the world. On the one hand, it’s really good. On the other hand, it’s quite disappointing. And we can all think, “Wow, we are all better than anybody else.” But when a real trial hits, you find out what people are really like. So some go because they can’t take it and they even develop critical attitudes. That’s unfortunate, but it’s a good thing because the next level, and the next stage can’t have people who disqualify themselves like that. And you don’t want to be building on critical people. So God allows a trial to happen because it sifts out those who haven’t got the right spirit for the future. The shaking happens so that what can be shaken gets shaken out, and what can’t be shaken gets stronger. And so, the people who have refused to be shaken by this trial, which is not small, will only get stronger, and they become the foundation for the next move of God. It’s been awesome to see how many people have been truly faithful and committed, in spite of real challenges and difficulties surrounding the church, and criticism. The members of the church have stood strong. Their rewards will not be small.
What would you say to the people that are trying to stand strong, but they are discouraged because they see people becoming negative?
Everybody has a day when his or her loyalty is tested. We only grow through tests and pressure. And so, when a friend or an associate starts to travel in a direction that we don’t think is right, and we have to make a stand, that can be very challenging, but we grow, we get stronger because of that. And I think people just need to make that kind of stand, they have to make that kind of call. I understand it’s difficult, because relationships that you thought would last have become fragile. I would say to anybody who’s feeling weak, to hang around with the strong, to hang around with the committed, and to really hold fast through the trial.
Has this period of time also given you a new or more meaningful perspective of what God is doing in Singapore and Asia?
Yes, I think that churches are being renovated. I think many of the old styles of doing church is going to fade away, and a whole new generation, and a youthful modern way is going to start emerging. I think City Harvest Church has paved the way for that, for many others. I mean, there are several—our own movement, C3 movement, and other movements—have shown a new contemporary style of doing church, but you would be one of the most prominent Asian churches that has become a model for that to happen. And that’s where revival will spring out—amongst young people, but they need to be in churches that they are feeling comfortable with, and haven’t got a terrible cringe factor about them.