Mega Pastor Kong Hee Out of Prison, Reunites with Wife & Family | A Pastoral Response

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Kong Hee out on 22 August

The only test of a Christian is the test of love. The first commandment of our Lord Jesus is to love God; the second commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Jesus has to tell disciples to “love one another,” implying that loving the world is easy, but loving fellow Christians is more difficult. 

Nothing illustrates this challenge better than the way Christians treat ministers with whom they disagree, as compared to how they react to enemies of the Cross. Christians freely criticize Christian pastors like Kong Hee and Joseph Prince, who call Jesus their Lord, while they are careful not to condemn apostates. They would rather show love and pray for Joshua Harris and Marty Sampson, both of whom publicly recanted their faith in Jesus Christ. 

Some Christians have got their love and condemnation reversed. Their reactions are contrary to what the Bible commands us. Paul wrote to Timothy, “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses” (1 Timothy 5:19). David said to Abishai when both of them had an opportunity to tear down Saul, “Do not destroy him; for who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?” (1 Samuel 26:9). God Himself told us, “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm” (Psalm 105:15). The Bible is replete with examples of harsh critics who touched God’s anointed and felt justified to accuse men of God like Moses, David, Jesus, and Paul–each of them fell sick, died untimely deaths, or met divine judgment. All of them had arguments and sounded reasonable at the time: Pharaoh, Korah, Dathan, Abiram, Miriam, King Saul, Shimei, King Jeroboam, Jezebel, Pontius Pilate, Herod, Elymas, etc. How many Biblical examples should be sufficient to serve us as warnings?

On the other hand, Paul sharply rebuked those who opposed the preaching of the Gospel. He condemned an enemy of the Cross named Alexander twice: “Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme” and “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works” (1 Timothy 1:20, 2 Timothy 4:14). The distinction was clear: you don’t publicly criticize any leader who preaches the Gospel; you do rebuke a leader who blasphemes.

Christians today do the opposite. It is as though modern Christians love their enemies better than their families. This was the point of my teaching on “What is the Unforgivable Sin and Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?” which you should find enlightening.

I do not follow Kong Hee’s teaching or lifestyle, but I know three things.

First, he has not blasphemed the Lord nor recanted his faith in Christ.

Second, no one is qualified to criticize a Christian leader unless you have verified the information. You can rarely know what a person believes and does unless you talk to him directly, in person. Jesus laid down the Scriptural procedure for dealing with alleged offenders, “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone” (Matthew 18:15).

“Alone” means privately. The Internet is not alone. I abide by this policy whenever I hear Christians criticize another minister. I ask them, “Where did you get that from? And have you verified with the person directly?” Nine times out of 10, the Christian gossiper shuts up. They cannot name their source, they believe anonymous hearsay, and they don’t bother to verify. I tell them that’s ungodly.

When I heard Singaporeans criticizing Pastor Kong Hee four years ago, I tried to meet him. Not being able to get a meeting, I met one of the defendants who was subsequently convicted. He maintained his innocence to this day. The facts of the case were clear to him: no individual profited financially, no money was ever lost to the church, and every cent borrowed was fully paid back. Yes, there was mishandling of funds, but does a criminal conviction with 8 years imprisonment seem proportional? Or were they being made examples of? The bankers lost billions of dollars in the last Global Financial Crisis, and none of them got jail time. Those details are what we call “water over the dam” now. My point is not whether the conviction is right or wrong; Singapore is known to have one of the best judicial systems in Asia. My point is that I went to listen to both sides, and recommend you do too, but very few Christians did or will.

Third, the Holy Spirit cares about Kong Hee. This week, I had a sense in my spirit that he must be coming out of jail. Sure enough, it happened on the 22nd of August—justice served!

I am glad that he is out of prison on good behaviour. He had been sentenced to 8 years in prison, reduced to 3 years and 6 months, of which he served 2 years and 4 months. The public humiliation, the separation from his family, the rancor showered on him by fellow Christians, and the near-universal agreement with government decisions in Singapore, all added to his punishment. He looked like he had aged 10 years in a couple of years.

Here I am in Australia, not having had thought about City Harvest in the natural. I have only visited a service once and have not ministered in their church. It was the farthest thing from my mind. Why would God tell an Australian pastor that a convicted Singaporean was coming out of jail this week? Because God loves him. God was so kind to release Kong Hee at this time, as today–the 23rd of August–is his 55th birthday.

Happy Birthday, Kong Hee!

I pray he goes on to do a lot of good using his Christian faith and experiences in suffering. The Bible states, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). I pray Singaporeans would be happy to have a productive citizen back, but I also wonder how many immature believers will keep wounding our own soldiers and sniping the saints with “friendly bullets”?

God will allow everyone He loves to suffer something unjust, to feel a bit of what Jesus felt when He went to the Cross. Was it a prophetic act that the only tape series I ever got from City Harvest by Pastor Kong Hee was about the Book of Job? Perhaps this was a Job moment, a Paul’s thorn in the flesh season, for the staff of the once biggest church in Singapore. Only they can say whether pride crept in. Only they can say for sure why they went through the process they went through. But even the Perfect One went through it. God the Father demoted His Son and let Him suffer injustice before raising Him from the dead.

Perhaps that is what Cardinal George Pell is going through right now, assuming he is innocent of the charges against him. I pray Australian Christians will treat him better than Singaporean Christians treated Kong Hee. Don’t expect the secular news to treat any Christian fairly. Don’t believe everything they say. To be fair people, we have to be led by the Spirit.

On the occasion of Kong Hee’s release, I encourage Christians to love all Christian ministers and stop loving apostates. That is what Paul modeled for us. If you are tempted to spread gossip about a Christian brother, you’d better be sure to speak to him first. If you will not, then why not love?

Love is the only test of the Christian faith. Loving God and neighbor, not stranger, is the highest command. Godly love is first expressed within the household of faith. You must love your brothers–even famous ones, rich ones, and fallen ones…or else God may one day say, “You never loved me. For just as you did it to one of the least of these, My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40, 1 John 4:20).

Watch on DVD “What is the Unforgivable Sin and Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?

Or STREAM it now! “What is the Unforgivable Sin & Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?

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10 Comments

  • Pastor Steve – Thank you for such a wise word. I love your boldness in telling the truth and confronting hypocrisy amongst Christians. I love that God gave this pastor a birthday gift and that he spoke to you about it before it happened. That is significant.
    I always remember Jim Baker talking about how when he was sent to prison and steeped in shame – he was alone for days when a guard came to get him to see a visitor. Low and behold, it was Billy Graham. Jim said that it felt like Jesus himself was visiting because Billy simply hugged him and encouraged him.
    People tend to forget that God doesn’t finish with people like we do. As long as their is breath in a body, there is hope for forgiveness, healing and restoration.
    God bless you in all you do!
    Sara

  • “Criticize” (to reprove another person’s theories, in an effort to obtain a perfect truth = law = rule = way. My school teacher would instruct us to exchange homework with another student to correct it, before she took the homework for a final grading score).

    Gospel conversations are essential; iron sharpens iron, and Gospel conversations iron out the wrinkles in our understanding.

    1 Doctrine; 1 Accord; 1 Gospel: we will not disagree once we both understand.

  • You are a wonderful man Pastor C!!

  • Thank you Pastor Steve
    You are right on. A very large number of Christians have been totally deceived .
    They knowingly ignore the commend Jesus gave us : ” you must love one another as I loved you”
    I am thankful for pastors like you who have a clear understanding and do not stay silent.
    God bless you

  • Thank you for this important word! I pray we will love and help restore believers and pray for the Body of Christ and not attack each other, but also not stand with those defiantly sinning and leading others into it. Thank you for your clear stand.

  • Margaret Makewell

    (August 24, 2019 - 2:14 am)

    Didn’t even know Kong Hee was in jail – poor guy – glad he’s out and so interesting God told you ahead of time.
    I believe that George Pell is wrongly accused and also, although I know little about criminal justice, it seems to me that he was convicted on the say so of one man – seems odd to me. Praying that justice will be done.
    Agree with your remarks about apostates. I feel sad for them but they are God’s problem and He already knows the ensuing outcome.
    God bless you Steve and I will listen to your highlighted sermon.
    Regards
    Margaret

  • I have felt very much for Kong Hee all along his ordeal. Thank you Pastor Steve for voicing correctly how Christians have ‘stoned him’ God loves him. He nor his wife is perfect but I believe ‘When he is tried he Kong Hee will come forth as Gold.
    May God bless his future in much greater ways.
    God bless you Pastor Steve and Pastor Kong Hee

  • Satan is the accuser of the brethren. If we are filled with the spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit, we will be merciful and full of grace. We are taught as we judge so will we be judge and the measure we use will be used toward us. As believers in Jesus we must learn to recognize judgmental critical religious spirit thoughts that are not of Christ, to cast them down. Our enemy shots these fiery ungodly thoughts, so we must have on the helmet of salvation and the whole armor of God. We are in warfare not against our brethren which is what the enemy wants, but against power and principalities that govern the heavens.

  • Outstanding read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing just a little research on that. And he really bought me lunch as I discovered it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch!

  • Dear Pastor Steve,

    Please allow me to say that this is the first time I have heard of you and your ministry, and I am very grateful to you for writing such a balanced response. It was a timely encouragement, and some of us have been sharing it over our own networks.

    I am one of the silent majority that have endured some measure of abuse from (well-meaning) family, friends, and fiends. Since you have been so kind as to flip the coin, let me take some time and space to expound on things on the ground.

    There are many of us in City Harvest who, contrary to popular opinion of megachurch attendees, are not groupies, believe bright DMX lights and LED screens are no different a style of worship from pipe organs and wooden pews, and do not love money – but believe it is necessary for the world’s resources to pass through our hands in order to see the Gospel preached in this day and age. The media focuses only on the SGD50 million that was shifted around/misappropriated, but has never bothered to elaborate on our stand that these finances greatly helped open doors for the Gospel to be preached in Taiwan and Greater China in pioneering ways – through the story of a pastor i.e. Pastor Kong’s wife, Sun, who became a pop singer (something that has been the target of a lot of heavy scorn as well.)

    I grew up in this church. I hail from a nominal Methodist family, came to City Harvest in 1996, and have not attended any other. I have seen our teething pains in discipleship, but I also have been blessed beyond measure, and found the love of my life and a great, warm, caring spiritual family here. We are not perfect as a church, but we are not (all) nuts. Most of the negative news tends to be spread by people who came for messages on prosperity and blessing, believed God was a heavenly vending machine, and got upset when their condos and Audis failed to appear. Concurrent sermons on God’s holiness and the straight and narrow path that is our Christian walk appear to have been conveniently ignored.

    My personal perspective on the mistakes that we made is this: nothing is perfect while we are on this earth, and I would say that I am not sure I would not have made the same judgment calls as our pastor, were I in the same position and been entrusted with the same sort of vision and the same access to the same amount of finances.

    Most of all, the one thing I am confident of is that Pastor Kong returns from isolation to a more mature body that has grown deeper and stronger in the Lord. He carried us in the early days; I believe now that the “children God has given him” are strong enough to carry him.

    So thank you once again, Pastor, for praying for our church and taking a stand – not for man/men per se, but for what I think the Spirit has placed in your heart to say.

    I’ll be following your blog and ministry, and I hope to have the opportunity to hear you preach live someday!

    Blessings and grace to you from Singapore,
    LT

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