Chew Eng Han, Church board member, one of six members charged for mishandling church funds of up to $24 million to further the career of senior pastor Kong Hee's pop-singer wife, has decided to step down from his position at City Harvest Church in Singapore last Friday.
Chew is a shareholder in the Business Breakthrough Group, which City Harvest started in 2003 as an 'outreach to the marketplace', according to the church website. According to its 2011-2012 progress report, City Harvest Church's congregation size numbered more than 19,000 last year.
Personal Statement From Chew Eng Han
Dear friends in CHC,
The time has come for me to make a major shift in direction for my life. I’ve thought and prayed through this for many months, and on balancing the pros and cons of it, I now have a deep conviction that that the right thing to do is to depart from City Harvest Church (CHC).
CHC is my first and only church and in the 17 years there, I have been fed the Word of God and learnt to grow in spiritual strength and faith. For that, I am deeply grateful. Many members of the church have qualities which are not easily found elsewhere – tenacity, faith, love for people, generosity, perseverance and loyalty. If certain events had not overtaken this wonderful experience, CHC would undoubtedly continue to be my one and only church.
For those who do not know me well and have not heard me out, I hope you will not jump to conclusions about me and the appropriateness of such a move. Those who know me better will understand what I’ve been seeing and tolerating – wrongful labelling, quick to take credit and to pass the buck, betrayal, slander, ingratitude, denial and lies, manipulation and control, greed, pride, hypocrisy, abuse of authority, practice of favoritism and different standards. it is exacerbated when it is perpetrated by top leaders, including those who taught us that the Word is supreme and that obedience to the Word equals loving God. Leadership cannot be measured by words but by action. Nobody qualifies to lead, or to preach what he cannot practise in real life. More than anything, these are foremost issues of spiritual and moral significance.
I realize these are strong words, but nevertheless I do believe no one has to be afraid of speaking the truth. Otherwise we are in bondage to man and their man-made rules. Jesus Himself did not mince words when dealing and confronting certain issues or persons, because He carried the Spirit of Truth, which we similarly do. We are also given the gift of the Holy Spirit to discern between right and wrong, truth and untruth, and then to take a stand for what is right and true.
Above personal reasons, I firmly believe that everyone is entitled to have a go at knowing and walking in the truth, and those who withhold it from the masses will be held accountable by Him for consensual silence. I fear God, not man. Unity is good, but it cannot come at the expense of truth and justice and be imposed for the personal benefit of a few. True unity is linked to the Spirit of God, of Truth and Justice, and edifies all, not a select few.
Hopefully, many will kindly remember me as one who has poured out his whole life and has tirelessly fought for the cause of this church – be it in the property search, the crossover, or the reputation of the leadership. It takes a lot for me to make a sharp turnaround, but we do have to make difficult decisions at important crossroads of our lives, and this is such a decision. In the end, principles such as accountability, honesty, fair-dearling, justice and truth will for me take precedence over position, popularity, recognition and acceptance.
My wish for all in CHC is that everyone will focus his eyes and heart on Jesus Christ, who is and can be the only Foundation of the church. God bless you and be with you all.
“If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth, only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end despair.” CS Lewis
“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.” Winston Churchill
June 21, 2013
Statement from the Business Breakthrough Group Limited (BBG)
The leaders of the Business Breakthrough Group Limited (BBG) would like to announce that BBG is now operating as an independent private entity.
We are no longer functioning under the covering of City Harvest Church (CHC) with immediate effect. (BBG has been established as a Company limited by guarantee under Singapore Law, and has been funded independently since December 2012)
The leaders have deliberated over the best course of action for its members, and the leaders have collectively and unanimously agreed to this course of action in full support of the personal statement issued on 21st June 2013 by the founder of BBG, Chew Eng Han.
We would like to thank the current leadership of CHC for their past support of BBG, and our thoughts and prayers are (continue to be with) the church, the congregation, and with the CHC leadership.
Business Breakthrough Group Ltd
June 22, 2013
CHC responded with the following statement
DEAR BROTHERS AND SISTERS,
We are saddened by news of Chew Eng Han’s decision to leave City Harvest Church, which he announced yesterday.
Eng Han was a fund manager for and Board Member of CHC, and has been part of the family for 17 years. His children have grown up in this church. He has served in various ministries over the years, such as leading the Business Breakthrough Group. He has contributed in many ways to the vision and mission of CHC, including the Crossover Project.
While we do not fully understand the reasons for his current sentiments, we wish nothing but the best for Eng Han and his family, and thank him for all his contributions.
The Board knows and believes that the senior leadership has always walked in integrity, adhering to Biblical principles through the leading of the Holy Spirit. We maintain our full confidence in the leadership. Over the last 24 years, they have worked hard to maintain and protect the interests of the church and the members, and we trust they will continue to do so.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the Board and the church leadership have always leaned on God for all decisions of the past, and will continue leaning on Him even in this time of difficulty.
We take comfort in the fact that in the Bible, even colleagues in the ministry, such as Paul and Barnabas, had parted ways, only for the glory of God and the furtherance of the Gospel.
It is our hope and prayer as the Board that CHC will be even more united in such a time as this, that as a church, every member will put his and her trust in the Lord and remain steadfast in prayer.
Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Cor 13:11, NKJV)
Lee Kiam Hiong
2013/2014 CHC Management Board
City Harvest Church
Chew Eng Han’s response to CHC’s statement
In response to CHC’s Board’s response to my Personal Statement on my departure from CHC, the following are my replies:
1. Firstly I refer to the para which states:
“While we do not understand the reasons for his current sentiments, we wish nothing but the best for Eng Han and his family, and thank him for all his contributions.”
My query to the Board is whether they have been made aware of a four and a half hour meeting between Pastor Kong, Sun, myself and my wife? Are they also aware of some of the issues which I raised and whether there were sincere corrective actions taken since that meeting 3 months ago?
2. Secondly I refer to the para which states:
“The Board knows and believes that the senior leadership has always walked in integrity, adhering to Biblical principles through the leading of the Holy Spirit. We maintain our full confidence in the leadership.”
My query is how many of the board members made a conscious effort to read the COC Inquiry Report which was made accessible to them? And if they did, was then a diligent internal inquiry held in-house, to determine if there was any wrongdoing on the part of the alleged wrongdoers? Has the board done an inquiry on the issues named by COC, and satisfied itself fully that there has been no compromise of integrity? If the board has not done so, it cannot state that it knows and believes in the integrity of the senior leadership.
3. The board is probably unaware of many other issues, especially those on the pastoral angle, in terms of the manner of conduct of some of their pastors and senior leaders. Without such information, it is not equipped to issue a board statement of confidence.
The church statement is a mere attempt to unite the church with a spiritual tone, but lacks substance in dealing with the real issues of truth and integrity.
22 June 2013
Message from the Board of City Harvest Church
Dear Brothers and Sisters in City Harvest Church,
We wish to put on record that the members of the Management Board have satisfied ourselves regarding the allegations of integrity, honesty and lifestyle of the senior leadership after appropriate reviews since the investigation by CAD started. We wish to reiterate that we stand by our statement on 22 June 2013 that we have full trust in the integrity, honesty and spiritual standing of the pastoral leadership of City Harvest Church.
We do not wish to discuss, engage or argue with these allegations at this present time as these matters are before the Court. We would like to advise our members to do likewise. There are two sides to every story and all the evidence will be brought up in due time, and the truth will be revealed. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says that "there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens."
If you have any pastoral concerns, please feel free to contact your pastors or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, "I appeal to you brothers [and sisters] in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought." (1 Cor. 1:10).
Lee Kiam Hiong
2013/2014 Management Board
City Harvest Church
24 Jun 2013