By: Michael Han
Well, I don’t know how brainwashed Chew Eng Han was, but three things are for sure:
- First, Kong Hee married a diva;
- Second, the church funds that were used to finance Sun Ho’s singing career would have converted thousands to Christianity – so said Sharon Tan’s lawyer;
- and third, Kong Hee had misled Chew (and many) into believing that Sun Ho’s singing career was a roaring success.
That is the news today (17 Sep) and the testimonies given by Chew and Sharon Tan yesterday.
The papers reported that “He (Chew) had been brainwashed into thinking pop singer Ho Yeow Sun would be a “megastar” like American singer Whitney Houston as her husband,…Kong Hee, had regularly played up her success.” Kong Hee even told the church leaders that his wife was going to be more successful than Jay Chou and the Taiwanese girl group S.H.E.
Chew then said, “If she was touted to be the next Whitney Houston, how would she not be a profitable commercial vehicle for us?”
Lesson? I guess that question “how would she not be a profitable commercial vehicle for us” sums up my lesson here. That’s the reality of megachurches today. While Jesus came to be a revolutionary, to start a counterculture, that is, to be set apart and be different from the world, the megachurches are however melding comfortably with the world, partnering in its methods and ways, and joining heartily as one.
Need I say more? I think you’d expect it right? Ok, here goes.
If it is not obvious by now, then let me laboriously flesh it all out here without insulting your intelligence.
City Harvest Church (CHC) is a church of two with thousands like lemmings hopping along. But let me caveat that first. I am talking about the Crossover Project (CP), and nothing else. CHC did perform great charitable works, transformed lives for good and gave hope to teens and inspired many. However, it is the CP that had led to this lamentable spillover. It is the CP that had crossed over the dividing line between sanity and insanity, Christianity and self-opportunity, and evangelism and self-promotion.
The CP had become a consuming passion, an overwhelming obsession, and a sinking delusion. The lawyer for Sharon Tan said, “…if the building funds were used instead to hold a Christian rally here – paying for overseas speakers, the rental of the National Stadium, and other logistics – it would have been seen as a “wrong use”, but the church would have benefited from the thousands converted to Christianity.”
Well, as a musician for more than twenty years in a megachurch band, I beg to differ that “it would be seen as a “wrong use””. In fact, church funds that are used for Christian rallies, spent on rental and logistics, where Jesus is the main focus, and his life, his teachings and his resurrection are preached, would be a boon for evangelism and conversion. It would even be biblical. It would be a harvesting to great celebration. I am not that old fashioned mind you – I believe rallies where Christ’s name is lifted up will draw many to Him.
But this is not what the CP is about. I sincerely believe – (after reading all of CHC’s ‘secrets’ on CP reported so far), that the misguided ambition, the skirting of responsibility by the lead pastor of the church, the conflict of interests (inseparable husband and wife), the brainwashing, the lies and deception and the cover-up – the CP is inevitably the promotion of one and that person is not Christ. Evangelism was just a convenient tag-along.
It is the reverse of “Calvary” where many sacrificed for just one. It is a showcase of just one. It is a celebration of the success of just one. And she has got her husband to lift her up so that many could be drawn to her fame, performance and diva-ness (prima donna-ness).
I know what some of you are thinking. But Sun Ho did it all for God. She sacrificed for Jesus. She endured it for the kingdom of God. I refuse to be so naïve. I resist the temptation to farm out my thinking to dubious personalities (that comes in pairs). I do not want to be brainwashed. I just want to call a spade a spade – no embellishment, no frills, no additive and no colourings.
Please join me to think just for a second. Just think for yourself please. Just for that lonely cold second.
It may have started with some element of decency and respectability in 1998, but with Mr Poon, with the hypocritical demand for Mr Poon to make a public apology in the papers, with China Wine, Kill Bill, and the lewdness in the videos, with using church funds to buy up own album stock and telling thousands that his wife is a huge success (when it was obviously not true), with the pulpit cover-ups, with the years of investigations, with Chew’s revelation of a conspiracy, cowardice and the ugly fallout, with Kong Hee shifting all the blame, with falsifications, with lies and deception, with the civil suit to recover millions of church funds against Chew with the defence that it was for giving out loans, with the living in excessive luxury and self-indulgences, with the desperation to evangelize around Asia as a last attempt to win support and enlarge one’s estate, and last but not least, with the so-called longest criminal trial of 144 days (second only to a drug trial in the 1990s), is there any doubt left that Kong Hee and Sun Ho had wronged?
It is one thing to still believe in the couple if it were a lapse that they have admitted, apologized and moved on to reform. But it is quite another thing to drag the whole church and the faith in the mud for years and yet still have the cheeks to tell his congregation that God had apologised to him for the Paul-like trial and persecution to rousing applause. Go figure!! Is Kong Hee for real?! Is the church for real?
Alas, the modern megachurches do not need more of God, or more of Calvary, or more of His blood, or more of His Spirit, or more of grace, or more of prosperity, or more of evangelism, or more of end-time sermons, or more of scriptures, or more of love, or more of hope, or more of faith – when she doesn’t even have the basic common sense to process all that.
Without critical thinking, which I believe is the first gift of understanding for any believer, we will take anything and everything into our spirit hook, line and sinker. And the Crossover Project is the hook that is hidden by the bait of popularity, mega-size crowd, group thinking, frantic church programs, sensational stage performances, and millions in mindless donation.
The sadder thing is that after some time, the hook is no longer covered because there is no need to since many have already taken in the bait and are happily swimming along with the conspiratorial current.
Let me end with this exchange between Chew and the Judges in Court yesterday.
“So were you brainwashed?” asked Justice Chan.
“Yes, I was,” Chew replied and continued. “If what I did was considered part of a criminal conspiracy, it would have been the worst thought-out conspiracy ever”.
Justice Chao chimed in, “It looks that way to me too.”
How’s that for surrendering one’s common sense (and critical thinking faculty) at the altar of the cult of personality?
A version of this article was first published in Michael Han’s FB.