In one of the worst allegations of church misconduct of all time, Kong Hee, the Pastor, and five other leaders at City Harvest Church in Singapore have been accused of misusing over $40 million dollars in church funds to fund the hip hop career of the pastor’s wife, Sun Ho and later cover those illicit transactions in order to avoid prosecution. The City Harvest case, along with all of the surrounding news that has since come out about the church is the perfect example of the unbiblical Prosperity Gospel run amok and the compromise that is taking place in much of the Christian church all over the world – as pastors abandon sound biblical doctrine, in favor of “me-centered”, prosperity-focused teaching filled with Biblical error.
After a two year investigation by Singapore’s Commissioner of Charities and the Commercial Affairs Department of the Singapore police, Pastor Kong Hee and other church leaders were arrested for secretly using church funds in a series of complex transactions (in which the church purchased bonds in sham companies that were owned by City Harvest itself, thus diverting “investment funds” back into the hands of the pastor and leadership) that were supposed to go a building fund, to finance the hip hop career of the pastor’s wife, Sun Ho, who goes by the stage name of “Geisha.”
According to reports:
The prosecution alleges that the six leaders, all members of the church’s management board, have misappropriated more than Sg$50 million (nearly US $40 million) of church funds and have committed criminal breach of trust.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, according to the Commissioner of Charities “[The] funds were used with the purported intention to finance Ho Yeow Sun’s secular music career to connect with people,” the Commissioner of Charities said in a statement released Tuesday. “There was a concerted effort to conceal this movement of funds from its stakeholders.”
AFP reports that Prosecutors at the start of the trial Wednesday said the accused channeled money allotted for the church’s building into buying sham bond investments in church-linked companies so they could finance Ho’s secular music career.
They allegedly falsified church accounts to make it appear the bonds were redeemed, in a practice the prosecutors called “round-tripping”.
“These transactions were thus designed to throw the auditors off the scent of the bogus bonds,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Mavis Chionh.
Sun Ho herself is not on trial, the Brisbane Times says, and early this week she was reinstated by Singapore’s Commissioner of Charities as City Harvest’s executive director after a review found she had not contributed to mismanagement of the church.” (source).
The Crossover Project
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. – 2 Peter 2:1-3.
At the center of this scandal is The Crossover Project – City Harvest’s attempt to spread the Gospel to the secular world through the use of pop music – specifically, the pop music of Sun Ho, the pastor’s wife. So from the onset, the foundation of this project was unbiblical. Christians are not commanded to spread the Gospel through pop culture, but to use the Word of God, the Bible to convert souls to believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. Romans Chapter 1 says: “ For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth..” The power to change a person’s heart to have saving faith in Jesus Christ is from God and His Word, not man-made efforts to use hip hop music that is not even mentioning God, Jesus or the Gospel.
Despite this obvious conflict with Scripture, the leadership of City Harvest maintains that they received the command to carry out this project directly from The Lord. As stated on their own documentary on the Crossover Project, which is still viewable on their church website;
“In 2002, City Harvest Church received a mandate from God to reach the secular world through music…It was necessary to extend the influence of Sun into certain cities through the power of pop culture and pop music.” (source).
According to the church leadership, the plan was for Sun Ho to perform her secular pop music in a certain city, and then Pastor Kong Hee would preach at a local church in the same area. Soon that church would arrange another concert with Sun Ho as the headliner and this was supposed to share the Gospel.
Not only was this plan completely ungodly, the music of Sun Ho, aka Geisha, was completely sinful and sexually-charged. Here is a video for her song “China Wine”.
[Warning: This video contains a great deal of provocative dancing, skimpy clothing and one inappropriate word]
The Bible says: “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (James 4:4). This video is immersed in worldliness and sinful rebellion. How is the Gospel being spread or the church promoted by a pastor’s wife dressing provocatively and dancing around in a hip hop reggae video? Rather than promoting the Gospel, the Crossover Project was more an attempt to launch Sun Ho the Geisha’s secular music career.
In an interview in 2007, Sun Ho made it clear that she was interested in full on secular music style:
You’ve done a lot with Asian MTV. Are you planning to do music videos for MTV in the United States?
Sun Ho: “I can’t wait for that! I keep asking, “When are we going to shoot for MTV?” Recently I watched Justin Timberlake and I watched Christina Aguilera, and Beyonce’s. I would have to say that it’s different from what we do in Asia. I keep telling Tas (her manager) “Tas, you’ve gotta prepare me for that! I have to be more sexy!!” (Laughs)
I want to work with the choreographer to come up with “China Wine” dance steps and stuff. Seriously, I can’t wait to grow in America and I can’t wait for people to see me and [tell me] how they feel about my music. I feel like this is the only way an artist can grow” (source).
The Bible says of women in the church: “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” (Titus 2:3-5). What spirit is leading Sun Ho, as an elder woman in the church and the pastor’s wife, to make videos like these and aspire for the world? It is not a spirit of God.
At trial, prosecutors presented evidence Sun Ho The Geisha was given a $10M marketing budget that was “in line with Shakira’s marketing budget and less than the budget for Beyonce”. (source). All of this was paid for with church funds given by the congregation each week.
In one of the many sites devoted to exposing this church, former members testify that not only was the Crossover Project acknowledged by the church, churchgoers were pressured to buy Geisha’s albums on a weekly basis:
I initially attended it [City Harvest Church] with my folks. We enjoyed the sermon and the clear teachings of the pastor and his fellow leaders. But things went downhill one Sunday morning when a leader took to the stage to plug Ho Yeow Sun’s new album. The horrifying thing was how he chirpily used hard sell tactics to move the units.
We were asked to buy more than one copy and pass them to our friends. If one were to buy 6 copies or some absurd number, that would entitle one to a free poster or t-shirt (something along those lines). What was most upsetting at that time, was the fact that he was using the pulpit to push the sales of the pastor’s wife who was more interested in cutting pop albums than say attending church service. The posters from her new album were also plastered along the entrance and lobby of the building. There were no images of Jesus. No, instead, this singer’s face, the pastor’s wife, was all over the building. If that does not trigger alarm bells in the average church-goer, what will? That was the last week we attended CHC. (source).
All the while, Pastor Kong Hee fully endorsed his wife’s career, performances and lavish lifestyle. As part of the effort to “spread the Gospel” Sun Ho, aka Geisha, moved to Hollywood Hills, California where she lived in a rented mansion for $28,000 per month, in a neighborhood that boasts Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie as residents. How can any church, much less one with tens of thousands of members, stand for this? How can they tolerate such clearly outrageous behavior from their leadership? This is the danger of the spiritual apostasy – the departure from Biblical preaching, to man-made, entertainment-focused heresy, that is sweeping through much of the Church today.
The lifestyle of the Pastor Kong Hee and his wife are precisely what Scripture warns against:
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. – 1 John 2:15-17.
The Lord Jesus Christ said: “… Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12:15). All throughout the Bible Christians are told not to covet and lust for the material wealth of this world. City Harvest has not only lusted for the world, it has flaunted it in the form of their Pastor’s wife living the life of a Hollywood superstar.
Unfortunately for Sun Ho, aka Geisha, the superstar career she envisioned as a crossover star in America never materialized. After suffering massive losses from production costs, the signing of high-profile co-producers and singers, her debut American album incurred a $14M loss, which the church paid off in a single transaction. The congregation was told that monies were being used for a “building fund.” were used to purchase bonds from a company called Xtron. Prosecutors allege that Xtron was a sham company and presented compelling evidence: they have the financial records of a $14M transfer to Xtron productions, the company that managed Ho. Serina Wee, the Chief Financial officer for City Harvest church, and one of the six accused leaders in the trial, sent the money.
In all, prosecutors allege that $23M of church funds were used to finance Ho’s career and albums. Another $20M was used to try and cover the transactions.
In their defense, lawyers for City Harvest Church said that the Crossover Project was the most important effort the church was making and that keeping finances discreet was necessary to its success. They claim that the Pastors and leaders at City Harvest did not want the public to know that Sun Ho’s career was being funded by a church so they would not be turned off before hearing her music and strong Christian testimony.
The Horrible Side of False Doctrine
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. – 2 Timothy 4:1-4.
Lost in this is that not only are thousands of churchgoers and fans of City Harvest church being wrongly fleeced of their money, they are also in danger of eternity in hell and the lake of fire by listening to the numerous false doctrines being preached at City Harvest.
City Harvest built itself into a mega-church on the basis of the Prosperity Gospel, the heretical, false doctrine that claims that Christians are entitled to all sorts of riches and earthly prosperity, provided they give an initial “seed” to their pastor. It essentially teaches that Christians must pay for the blessings they want in life but like a Ponzi scheme, will receive a major return on their investment in the end. And they are the epitome of everything that is wrong with this doctrine that has led so many churches astray: Pastors who live rock star, lavish lifestyles as “proof” of their “anointing”, then proclaim that they are “prophets” and thus their teachings and decisions should not be questioned, constant pressure to give money as “tithes and offerings” to secure blessings and “favor” from God and very little actual Biblical preaching that puts the focus on our sin, need for forgiveness and ultimate salvation in Jesus Christ.
In the clip below, Kong Hee, in one of his many pleas for money from his congregation, shamelessly pressures his followers to give money by saying that their prayers will be ineffective without it:
Notice what Hee says from the opening moments: “What we give every week is the measure of the value you place on your Lord and your Savior Jesus Christ.”
Nowhere in Scripture are we told this. At no point in Scripture did Jesus ever ask anyone for money and yet he healed the blind, the lame and raised people from the dead. He spent His earthly ministry with His disciples and they never gave him “seed offerings” or paid Him for His teachings. Yet this is the deceptive, Satanic manipulation of the Prosperity Gospel. It is premised on fooling churchgoers into believing that their money is the key to blessings from God and a true measure of how much faith they have in God. The Bible says nothing of the sort. For a true, Bible-believing, born again Christian, blessings come from faith in Jesus Christ.
The ultimate blessing any person can receive is the forgiveness of their sins and eternal life. And that comes from belief in the heart, not money or doing an action. The Lord Jesus Christ made it clear repeatedly in Scriptures:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. – John 3:16-18.
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. – John 3:36.
And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. – John 6:40.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. – John 6:47.
Time and time again, it is faith, belief in the heart, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who died for your sins and took your punishment so that you may live eternally and be forgiven, is what saves a person. Not performing any action, like giving money.
Now that Jesus is raised from the dead, He went up to glory, sitting at the right hand of God The Father in Heaven. And He serves as the High Priest and advocate for all who believe in Him. He provides the forgiveness for our sins before The Father by the testimony of His shed blood on the cross. So when a person becomes a Christian, they are viewed as “righteous” and free of sin in God’s eyes, because the righteous, sinless life Christ lived is “imputed” or transferred to the believer. Thus a Christian can pray directly to God and worship directly to Him:
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:14-16.
A Christian can pray and worship God at any time of any day as they feel. But Kong Hee says that raising one’s hands and praising God has no meaning if “the tithe is held back.” Once again, the false prophet takes everything back to money. This is to pressure the church and his television audience to give.
In the clip below, Pastor Kong Hee misuses John chapter 12 to preach that Jesus claimed to be rich:
Here is the passage in question:
Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always. – John 12:1-8.
This is a beautiful moment in the history of the Christian faith. Mary took a very expensive ointment to anoint the feet of Jesus and worshiped Him. Judas’ motivations were clear – he wanted the ointment sold so he could skim some of the proceeds for himself. But the reason that Jesus rebukes Judas and allows this worship is in verse 7: “Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.”
This event took place six days before Jesus would be crucified on the cross. Jesus was once again reminding His disciples that He was going to die. The death on the cross of Jesus Christ was the perfect sacrifice that provided atonement for the sins of the world. It was the fulfillment of the hundreds of Messianic prophecies. The ultimate plan of salvation of God was about to come to completion and this ointment, which was normally used to embalm the dead in ancient times, was a gesture that Jesus used to signify His own coming death.
So in verse 8, when Christ says, “For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always” it was a somber reminder that these would be the final days and hours in which the disciples would have their Lord among them. Jesus Christ, though fully God, was fully man. He cried, He felt pain, He hungered and He loved His disciples. And soon it was time to depart from them, while the poor of Judea would still be there in the following week.
Yet Kong Hee takes this passage and twists it wildly to infer that Jesus was trying to say, “Me? I’m rich!” and distinguish Himself from poor people. Hee then gets to his real point – twisting the Scriptures further to say what Jesus meant was “if you really want to worship me, it has to be at the right time..” and proceeds to make a push for offerings for a building fund, “while prices are low..we are in a recession, for the marketplace..” This is not Biblical teaching. It is a false Gospel premised on money and earthly riches. 1 Timothy chapter 6 exposes such false teachers saying:
Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. – 1 Timothy 6:5-6.
Prosperity Gospel preachers repeatedly preach that “gain” i.e., making money and amassing luxury items and wealth, is a sign of “God’s favor” or “anointing.” The Bible very clearly says this is corrupt thinking and “destitute of truth.” And that true gain is living for Jesus and being content with whatever status one has in life.
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.- 1 Timothy 6:7-11.
The leadership at City Harvest Church fell to temptation to copy pop culture and make millions of dollars in the secular music world. Kong Hee has clearly erred from the faith and their many tens of thousands of followers have suffered because they are not hearing the true, Biblical Gospel. Notice the final warning in the passage is to “flee” from this type of preaching. Christians are not to sit in churches that preach false doctrine and hope for change to occur or “give it time.” The bible instructs us to remove ourselves from these sinful doctrines as quickly as possible.
God Speaks Directly To Kong Hee And Apologizes For The Trial?
As if the preaching of City Harvest Church could not get any more heretical, Kong Hee, who like many Prosperity Gospel/Word of Faith preachers, claims to be a “modern day prophet”, claimed in the clip below, given in the summer of 2013, that he spoke to God directly and that The Lord apologized for Kong Hee being arrested and put on trial.
Notice there was no repentance. Pastor Kong Hee issues no apology whatsoever. Comparing himself to Jesus Christ on the cross, Kong Hee claims that God told him it was necessary for him to be arrested and put on trial for the Church to be the ministry to move a generation. In other words, everything that City Harvest has done, including the Crossover Project and the China Wine video, are in essence, endorsed by God. Many false teachers use this tactic of claiming to have “direct conversations” with The Lord as a way to compel their followers to believe whatever they say. If the pastor has the anointing, as proven by his mansions, luxury cars and private jets, then certainly he or she should be able to speak to God as well – so goes the thinking.
What is most disturbing about the clip is the applause Hee receives for his clear lies. Despite the massive investigation and media attention, City Harvest is still packing full houses in their stadium for their Sunday performances. Many City Harvest churchgoers line up in the early morning hours at the court house on a daily basis to show support for their heroes, Pastor Kong Hee and his leadership team.
Pray For This Church
Pray for the congregation at City Harvest and the many TV viewers of their broadcasts to flee from these false teachings and believe in the Biblical Gospel. Pray for their eyes to be opened to true Biblical teaching and to put their hope and faith in Christ for eternal riches, not material wealth today and Ponzi schemes. And pray for Pastor Kong Hee, Sun Ho and the leadership at City Harvest to repent for their numerous false doctrines and step down from preaching. The beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that while we were all deep in sinful rebellion and immersed in the world, Jesus Christ died for us. So that anyone can be forgiven if they put their faith and trust in the Jesus Christ of the Bible, (not the made up fictional Jesus or God that false teachers speak to directly). There is true forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus Christ. There are true eternal riches and happiness in Heaven. And it does not cost one dollar to receive it. It only takes faith.