TOC sat down with 4 members of City Harvest Church after Sunday service to hear their side of the story about what they think about the recent arrests, the media coverage of the case, and the Church’s Crossover Project.
Christopher Pang and Ben Cheng are Executive Members of the Church, Lennard is a Ministry Member, and Clarence is an Ordinary Member. Christopher wrote an open letter to MCYS which TOC broke here.
The Church members were speaking on their personal capacities and not representing the views of the Church.
TOC: What's the feeling on the ground of CHC at the moment?
Ben: It's a pretty mixed feeling. We have known the Crossover Project for a long time, and supported the Project. There is a lot of love for the Project.
This Project started with love. We love God, we love the Church, we love our Pastors, and we love Singapore. It's for the love of lost souls of people that we started this project.
We are praying, hoping for the best outcome. We trust the judiciary.
TOC: Do you think anything illegal has taken place?
Ben: We know what is happening, and we have given the leadership the permission and the mandate to carry out the Crossover project.
Chris: There's always two sides of the coin. The case is for the courts to decide.
TOC: Both Chris and Ben say that it is up to the courts and the judiciary. Do you trust them?
Chris: Obviously we believe in the jurisdiction and the infrastructure that our government has in place in Singapore. So yes, we trust the courts. But I must share my concern about some of the prejudgment that seems to have taken place. I hope that Singapore, which is my home and my country, would take things into context.
Ben: The lawyers and judges are doing their best. We pray for the best result.
TOC: How central to the Church is the Crossover Project?
Ben: The Crossover Project is one of our main projects. Sun Ho's achievements in the entertainment industry is not an end unto itself, but a means. Because of what she has done in the entertainment industry, she has managed to get access to places that would otherwise be inaccessible to the Church.
People do jump into conclusions prematurely. There are two sides to a story. It's like people judging a family. If you are in the family, you know the full story.
TOC: Do you think that the CoC and the CAD have no right to intervene?
Chris: No, I think we respect the organisations that have been set up to look after the charities in Singapore. I think the intention is good.
Ben: We are doing something unconventional with the Crossover Project. This is like when the first person to say that the earth was round was persecuted. Likewise, TCM took many years before it became mainstream.
Because the project is unconventional, this has caused misunderstanding. The CoC is doing its job. The CAD is doing its job. We also believe that we are doing the right thing. That is why I say that it is a misunderstanding.
Clarence: We are not saying that the government has no say. But we as a Church family, are stakeholders, and in that sense because we share a common vision, we support the project. We know that CoC is doing their job to the best of their ability and we respect that. But as a member I want to say that I was aware of where and what my giving was used for. Even when our leaders and mission teams go for mission trips, the church is updated regularly on these trips upon their return.
Chris: We respect the law. We respect the national organisations that have been placed to watch over not just the charities, but everything else in Singapore.
Ben: We support the laws of the land. The bible teaches us to respect that.
TOC: What do you think about the coverage of the case so far in the media?
Chris: I personally felt that a segment of the press media should exercise some discretion before publishing their reports. I would say that some of the reports are "undue".
TOC: Has this case impacted on unity within the Christian community in Singapore?
Ben: The Christian community is now more united as a result of the case. We have had pastors from other churches writing to give us their support and prayers.
Chris: Some other faith groups have also express their support for us.
Clarence: The unity Ben spoke of is a kind of brotherly unity. It's not a "me against the world" type of unity that is sectarian. It is the coming together of a body that shares a common faith, because one of our own is going through a challenging time.
Ben: Our main concern is for the families of those involved. We love Singapore. One of the things CHC has done and what the leadership have done, is to build the brand of Singapore. We also add value to that brand.
Our forefathers have built Singapore into such a marvellous place, and we are able to leverage that in the world. We have religious freedom, unlike in some other countries. This religious freedom is the basis for our work.
TOC: What is the best outcome?
Ben: The best outcome is for the misunderstandings to be cleared, and at the end of it all, we have our leaders exonerated and the crossover project will continue.
Clarence: The best outcome is that the Crossover Project will not stop here and that it continues to touch lives.
Ben: That Pastor Kong remains our leader and continue the Crossover Project in Asia and throughout the rest of the world.
TOC: Any concluding comments?
Leonard: What the media has failed to do is to hear directly from those who have personally been touched and impacted by the project.
Ben: If you read testimonials, you see all the good that the project has achieved. We want Singapore to be a better society and country. We help those who have been rejected by society to become better citizens. Our hearts are with these people, and we gain a huge sense of satisfaction when we help people.
Clarence: The Crossover Project has definitely accomplished what Ben mentioned in terms of not just giving hand-outs, but a hand up for the needy, the hurting and the less fortunate members of society through various social enterprises inspired by the vision of The Crossover Project. Our nation can only be as strong as the weakest citizen, hence Singapore is definitely a better place today because of The Crossover Project.
Ben: We are non-political and have no political affiliation. We are more interested in the welfare of our fellow human beings.