Phil Pringle, City Harvest Church’s advisory pastor, was in court yesterday morning to support CHC’s senior pastor Kong Hee. We spoke to him after the verdict.
How did you feel when the verdict was delivered?
Obviously, the verdict is very serious. I was initially shocked, and then deeply concerned for the families—I’m praying for comfort for them. I know Kong is more concerned about others, especially about Sun and his family.
I feel that even though the judge commended them for intending to do the right thing, he [found] that the investment strategy of CHC was not acceptable to the law. I think the situation was that he said, “You meant well, but you did wrong.”
It’s easy on hindsight to pass criticism, but at the time, it obviously seemed right to them, as they had sought professional advice on their plans.
I also think that the judge felt that Pastor Kong was the only one making decisions and that everyone was simply doing what he was directing. I think it’s true Pastor Kong presided over the larger vision; however, the activating was certainly in the hands of many people in the team.
The judge noted the facts that Pastor Kong has not wrongfully gained, nor church wrongfully lost money. However, that fact that the funds had been, in his words, misappropriated, attracted the judgment he delivered.
So, in the light of all these events, we remain filled with faith, that the promises of God are not deactivated by negative circumstances. All of us have made mistakes. We can be thankful to God that He continues to work with us through grace despite our shortcomings.
Let’s continue to stand together believing in the sovereign hand of Almighty God.
We’ve prepared for this as best as we could but the shock of the verdict and the flood of attacks from the public—and even friends and family—may be hard for some of our members to take. Remind us again what we should do.
The Bible says, don’t revile people who revile us, but bless those who curse us. And leave any negative response in the hands of God. Our calling is to love, to love those who hate us. We shouldn’t try to engage those who have only negative things to say—if we can’t say anything constructive, we should be silent.
Jesus was accused of breaking the law and breaching the Sabbath and the law of blasphemy. Paul was accused of treason. Peter was imprisoned for preaching, which was deemed against the law.
We sometimes have sanitized Christian history. But when Jesus was treated like a criminal and executed, his disciples fled. We must learn from these moments that though people make mistakes, it’s not a reason to leave them. When people are unjustly accused or unfairly treated, it’s not a time to depart.
It’s never been popular to be a Christian, especially when you’re standing for somebody or something. Don’t get into that strange thing when you’re persecuted and you think, “They appear so good, yet the verdict from court has declared them wrong.” You simply need to trust in the Lord, and trust what you know about Pastor Kong from your years in church. He is endorsed by many ministers around the world and the faithful members of the congregation who’ve been with him since the start.
Do you, as our advisory pastor, think we are prepared for this?
More than anybody! The church will stay together. You’ll be strong. You’ll only get stronger. The church is not built on Kong Hee. It’s built on Jesus Christ. The church is more together and more resilient than you think it is. It survives any kind of persecution. The worst kind is when Christians fight against each other, when ministers criticize each other. It’s the worst kind because it’s confusing for the younger believers.
At this moment Pastor Kong is still discussing with his lawyers about an appeal. Do you think he should? Would it be prideful if he did?
To not appeal is to say “Okay, I guess I’m a criminal.” It’s not an arrogant pride. It’s a pride that says “I know who I am. I am not a criminal.” If you could appeal, you should. He has a responsibility to CHC to do that—the church needs him.
It’s a tough time for us all. What do you want us to fill our minds with?
This is the God of Jesus Christ, of David, of Moses—all who seemed like they were in impossible circumstances, but God delivered them. God’s glory is manifested in the darkest hour. We can trust God: His love for CHC will shine through.
Phil Pringle will be preaching, together with CHC’s advisory chairman AR Bernard at CHC the weekend 31 Oct and 1 Nov, 2015.