Most of you following the City Harvest Church case will know by now that its founder Kong Hee has
finally apologised to his flock:
What the mainstream media reports didn't show you, though, is the visuals behind it — how it all unfolded.
Thankfully, Kong repeated on Sunday morning what he did on Saturday's church service and we sat through it to bring you the highlights:
1. Kong enters in the middle of a worship session, and starts praying into a microphone, occasionally breaking out in tongues:
2. He singles out new visitors to the church, asking them to stand up and inviting them to collect free CDs with the day's "message", as a "gift from the Church to you" after the service is over:
3. He addresses the people, and asks them to say something encouraging to one another:
It's been a tough week and I think it's important that as we come to the house of God we are part of a great spiritual family. Are you glad you're part of a wonderful family like this? Yeah?
Now this is what I want you to do. Sometimes we come to a church like this, and so much have gone on over the past few days, and we don't want to talk about it, we don't want to deal with it, we just want to ignore it.
This morning I just want you to do this for the next one minute, just one minute — I want you to turn to somebody, say two or three people and say, "hey are you all right?" and then I want you to say a scripture, an encouraging scripture to that person. Sort of like "God has a great future for you. God going to bring healing to you." If you know the person is sick, "God is going to heal you today". Say something encouraging. Can you do that just for one minute, turn to two or three people, ask them how are you this morning, say something encouraging. Just do that now for one minute.
Praise God, Amen. Please be seated.
4. Then he goes into his speech, the same words he delivered on Saturday night:
I understand that what I'm about to say has already been widely reported in the local media, since last night. But nevertheless I think it's important for me as your senior pastor to express my heart to you this morning. So even if you have heard it, give me a chance to say it.
Over the last few days, many of you have asked me "Pastor, how have you been?" I've received hundreds of text messages, emails, and of course i am saddened with the outcome of the trial. But this I do want to say.
You have suffered much over the past few years because of your commitment to City Harvest Church. And your commitment to me. I am so sorry for all the pain and the turmoil you have had to endure under my leadership, under my watch. You have had to answer questions, and criticisms from famly, from friends, from colleagues.
Pastor is so very sorry. So so sorry. That you have to endure through all these under my leadership.
5. Then come the bows:
To the front:
To the left:
To the right:
And to the centre again after returning to the podium, and you can see the tops of the heads of the congregation, who by this point have stood up to applaud him:
6. He goes on:
Pastor is so sorry, but hopefully that season in the life of our church is now in the past. I want to thank you for your faithfulness and maturity in this whole matter.
I know that the future of City Harvest Church is secure because of God, because of you and the new leadership that has been put in place. Out of the ashes we will rise. I am overwhelmed and deeply grateful for your love and support, especially in the past few days. Thank you for being so brave and so courageous. Thank you for being there for us and please continue to pray for us and our families.
Then he pauses for dramatic effect, and continues:
City Harvest, I love you. I really, really do love you. Always have and always will.
7. Then the Board steps up and speaks:
Addressing the congregation on behalf of the church board, pastor Aries Zulkarnain says this:
On behalf of the church board, I would like to thank you all for standing so steadfast with the six who went through the trial. Your prayers, fasting and encouragement have made an enormous difference. I know that we are all very deeply saddened by the verdict that the judge delivered on Wednesday. He convicted the six of all the charges they faced. And I know some of us did not expect that.
But the judge explained how he arrived at his judgement and we respect that. The six are studying the judgement intently and will take legal advice from their respective lawyers in the days to come. And I think it is very important that as a congregation we understand what the judgement was really based on.
And then, he flashes these two slides to explain what in his view the judgement "was really based on":
He then concludes by saying:
While we may not understand the full meaning of this judgement, one thing to know is that the judge acknowledged that the motive of the six was their love for the church and they believed they were using church funds for an evangelistic purpose.
But he does highlight the steps they've taken to improve the church's governance:
8. Next, Kong leads in a very intense and long prayer (that we shall spare you the details of) and Kong occasionally breaking off into tongues:
That ended with this:
O God, O God, O God, we lift up our hearts before you this morning. Father this morning we affirm what (pastor) Aries have prayed last night that if your people are called by your name and humble themselves and pray, Lord you will hear from heaven and you will forgive us and Lord, you will forgive our sins and heal our our land O God.
Father I just pray you heal our Church, you heal our Church you heal our Church. Father we thank you for a glorious future, we thank you O God that there is hope in Jesus that there is a future in Christ because of who you are. Lord we stand in that promise in Jesus name we pray, and everybody say Amen.
And here's what happens next:
9. Pastor Aries returns, and immediately says,
Thank you Church, I just want to collect God's tithes and offering. I want to thank you for your love for City Harvest Church. Thank you for your love towards God.
He quotes a bible verse and talks about it briefly, and then he whips out a white envelope:
I want to encourage you. You know what, we love City Harvest Church. We love the vision that God has given to us, and we love God. Today I want to encourage you. Why don't we just give... to God; not to man, not to anybody. But we give to him. Why? Simply because we love him. Simply because he love us. Simply because how much he has given to each and every one of us. His one and only son.
Today as we reciprocate his love toward us, by giving during this time of uncertainty, all the more it is so much more precious in the eyes of God. and I pray that today, God will see those sacrifices and your offering. And he will bless each and every one of us. You know we thank you today, and you see there is an envelope that look like this, I want you to just take it out, and put your offering inside, and you can, if you are making a cheque make it payable to 'City Harvest Church', I want to encourage you to fulfill your tithe, your building fund. Thank you for your giving, thank you for your love towards City Harvest Church. God loves you, let's give with a big wide smile. Amen? Praise God.
And then he calls them into prayer:
Father we thank you for this day. Once again as we pray to you, Lord, this is our offering of love. Father, we know that you love us, I pray Father today your blessing which has come upon us. Lord even today as we give to you, you will see these prayers represent our individual but also our corporate needs. I pray that you open the windows of Heaven, pour out your blessing upon each and every one of us. So father we thank you and commit this time into your hands. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Amen. God loves a cheerful giver!
Yes, the word "corporate" does mean collective, and not just relating to a corporation, and we really hope he meant the former.
And that's what happened during City Harvest Church's first weekend services, post-guilty verdict.
Except we regrettably missed out on Serina Wee sobbing during Saturday evening's service.