Tuesday, August 5, 2014

News On City Harvest Church

CHC spent half a million dollars buying Sun Ho's unsold CDs (Click on title for original source)

SINGAPORE: Sun Ho was not the successful singer City Harvest Church had made her out to be. Evidence showed the church spent about half a million dollars to buy her unsold Mandarin CDs.
The profitability of her artiste management company Xtron was also questioned, as the trial involving the church's leader Kong Hee and his five deputies resumed on Monday (Aug 4). 
The six church leaders are accused of misusing millions of church funds to buy sham bonds to bankroll Sun Ho's music career.
She had been touted as a big commercial success, but lead prosecutor Mavis Chionh said the financial statements told a different story. In 2004, City Harvest Church spent about half a million dollars to buy her unsold (Mandarin) CDs - numbering at least 32,000 copies - to give away to overseas ministries and overseas churches.
These details surfaced as the prosecution sought to highlight inconsistencies in former church board member John Lam's evidence. He had cited Ms Ho's success as a reason the church should invest in bonds issued by Xtron - her artiste management company.
The Prosecutor had strong words for Lam. She called his evidence incredible, and a lie, and said he was desperate to find an explanation as to why he had gone along with a plan to let the church sink millions of dollars into what were essentially junk bonds.
Lam pointed out that junk bonds were not necessarily bad bonds, and added that he had believed that Sun's US album sales would be good enough to cover the obligations of the bond. But the prosecution said that as a former director of Xtron, Lam would have known it was not a profitable company.
For example, its only asset was a laptop, with all other assets loaned by the church. It did not even have the budget to pay for a S$46,000 freight services bill.
The prosecution also drove home the point that Xtron was not the independent entity it had been made out to be. For one, Lam and his fellow accused Chew Eng Han had agreed to stamps of their signatures being made, to be used on Xtron invoices. Ms Chionh said the two were "happy to rubber stamp decisions", knowing they were made by Kong and the church.
It was also heard that the bulk of Xtron's funding came from the church members. For example, Indonesian businessman Wahju Hanafi's donations to the Church Building Fund were refunded to him, and channelled to Xtron. The building fund pledges and tithes of some other members including Lam were also diverted to Xtron. The trial continues.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Why Team Ministry Is Better Than a One-Man Show

This is an article taken from Charisma Magazine.
Click on the Title for original source.

Why Team Ministry Is Better Than a One-Man Show
The Author of this article is J. Lee Grady.
Last week I served alongside a team of pastors at a ministry school in Debrecen, Hungary, a city I've visited four times. Even though I don't speak Hungarian (it's one of the most difficult languages on the planet), I had a blast working with my friends Zsolt, Eugene, István, Pál and Attila. We shared meals, worshiped and prayed together and opened our hearts on a deep level—with the help of my interpreter and, on a few occasions, the Google Translate program on my phone.
Nobody tried to be the star as we shared teaching slots during the week. We preferred each other and encouraged each other. And we laughed a lot because we really enjoyed each other's company. Every leader contributed his part—and in the end the students were blessed that their teachers flowed in harmony.
Teamwork is an essential part of God's plan for ministry. In both the Old and New Testaments, we see teams of people working side-by-side to further His kingdom. Moses shared leadership with Aaron and Miriam (see Micah 4:6) and David had a group of "mighty men" who performed valiant deeds under his command. Solomon appointed a team to serve as his deputies, Nehemiah rebuilt Jerusalem with teams of workers, and Esther's maidens prayed and fasted with her before she saved Israel from genocide.
Jesus loves teams. He gathered a group of hand-picked disciples and then sent them out to minister in pairs (Luke 10:1). He involved them in feeding the multitudes and healing sick people. In the same way, the apostle Paul never traveled anywhere alone, and he always credited the people who helped him. His love for Timothy, Phoebe, Luke, Silvanus, Titus, Priscilla and other team players is an obvious backdrop in his epistles.
So if teamwork is so essential to Christianity, why do we prefer the celebrity model of ministry today? Here are five clear reasons that teamwork is a better approach:
1. Teamwork accomplishes more. Anybody who has ever chopped down a tree with an axe or painted a house knows the job gets done quicker and easier when more people are working. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says: "Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor." Ministry leaders are compared to oxen in the Bible, and Jesus said He would place a "yoke" on us when we are called to ministry (see Matt. 11:29). A yoke connects a team of oxen. Jesus never referred to his followers as renegade stallions who run off on their own. He called us to be yoked together with others. You will not achieve as much if you insist on doing everything yourself.
2. Teamwork unlocks people's potential. In a one-man show, a leader performs the up-front job, a few overworked people help in the background, and the crowd watches. Religious spectators are trained to sit—as if they have nothing useful to contribute. Yet the New Testament tells us the Holy Spirit gives every believer certain gifts, and we all are to use these gifts for the common good (1 Cor. 12:7, 11).
In today's megachurch culture, the celebrity pastor looms large on the big screen, and he may even broadcast his message to several satellite congregations. This might effectively reach some people for Jesus, and it might be a short-term solution for growth, but does it encourage every church member to discover his or her potential? The best leaders know how to involve lots of people to reach God's goal.
3. Teamwork encourages healthy relationships. It's easier to do ministry alone. But you will never grow if you do a solo act. When you are part of a team you must deal with competitive attitudes, jealousy, pride, complaints and hurt feelings. This is exactly why Jesus wants us to work together! You will never confront the flaws in your character unless you work with others. They will expose your selfishness, and you will expose theirs. Proverbs 27:17 says: "Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." God will use Brother Bothersome and Sister Sandpaper in your life to make you more loving—and more humble!
4. Teamwork prevents scandals. Years ago after televangelist Jim Bakker was released from prison, he admitted that he had surrounded himself with yes men who didn't have the courage to tell him he was making unethical business decisions. Leaders with a one-man-show mentality are in danger of doing incredibly stupid things because they lack accountability. Team ministry encourages transparency, and senior leaders recognize the value of getting honest feedback from their colleagues. You will fail as a leader if you don't have wise counselors who have access to you. Surround yourself with team players and ask them to point out your blind spots!
5. Teamwork keeps us from idolizing men. A well-known pastor in Nigeria was known to record his sermon each week and then send tapes of his message to his pastors throughout the country. The pastors were then expected to stand in their pulpits the following Sunday, play the recorded sermon ... and move their mouths to the words! They had no message of their own. They were simply clones of the "All-Important Man of God."
That may sound silly, but aren't we guilty of similar foolishness when we put leaders on pedestals and idolize their preaching style? The one-man show may have worked in the past, but the emerging generation has zero tolerance for religious phoniness. People today want healthy leaders who know how to share power instead of grabbing or abusing it.
J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. He is the author of The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale and other books.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Passing of Peter Young

This is an article taken from the MalayMail Online. Click on the Title for original source.

A gentle giant passes

written by Amar-Singh HSS, Lim Swee Im

June 30, 2014

On the 28th of June 2014, quietly and with little fanfare, one of the greatest of Malaysians has died. He has now gone on to be with God for all eternity, receiving a reward far beyond what many of us can ever hope to receive. 
Rev Peter Young was a gentle giant. A truly great Englishman who swapped his British citizenship for a Malaysian passport to serve the underprivileged here. He was a rare man amongst men, one whose heart of compassion was far bigger than any tiny ego he may have had. He never clung to power or fame, thus remaining unrecognised and unacknowledged for his great service to our people, whom he adopted and loved as his own.
Peter was an exemplary person. He has done a great service for Malaysians. He is an inspiration to many of us, as his life speaks louder than his words. Many people have probably never heard of him, as he is not one to ‘blow his own trumpet’. Allow us to share some of his life and contributions to our country.
We first met Peter when he was with Malaysian CARE in 1980. He happened to live near our home and we became friends through mutual interests and beliefs. He was appointed the first Executive Director of ‘Malaysian CARE’ in January 1980, a Christian organisation aimed at showing God’s love by action in the community. Through the inspiration and leadership of Peter, his wife Betty and others involved with Malaysian CARE, many different segments of the marginalised population of Malaysians were reached and supported. At this time the social services by the government was in its infancy and most NGOs were doing ‘charity work’. Peter tried to move our hearts and minds from a ‘charity model’ to a ‘social and rights model’. In this, his vision was very far ahead of most of us. He worked by setting up model services that others could see and pattern after. Pioneer work was started with Rumah Care, a home for children whose parents were patients and residents of the Sungai Buloh Leprosarium. Soon after, work and sheltered homes were set up for those mentally ill, prisoners, drug dependents and disabled persons.
In this Peter was a landmark and watershed in the history of social work in Malaysia. Without his work and example we would have been much slower in developing services as well as poorer at focusing our energy on the right areas and right approach.
Our contact with Peter continued and he was instrumental in encouraging our hearts, and the hearts of many, to turn to look at the needs of the poor, disabled, disadvantaged, marginalised and outcast in Malaysia. In this his heart was truly after God’s. Peter was never one to cling on to his past achievements. I remember vividly at one Asia-Pacific Paediatric Conference in 1993 where everyone was talking about the physically disabled, Peter instead presented a paper on the needs of children with intellectual and learning problems. Another paradigm shift for many of us. This area is now recognised as an enormous need in the country
Peter never needed to cling on to power or have fame and recognition. I still remember clearly what he said when I met him at Malaysian CARE during its early days, and when I was still a young and immature doctor. He expressly stated his intent was to build up Malaysian CARE and then to hand over the organisation to a local born Malaysian when its foundations had become firm and stable. True to his original intent, after many hard decades of labour down the road, he stepped down and handed over the leadership completely, without further interference or intervention, to a local born Malaysian. He did all the hard work when the organisation was unknown, and gave it all away to another person just when the organisation had become a recognised and well known force for social service. He was content to just fade away and remain forgotten by younger generations.
As said, after many years, he left Malaysian CARE in capable hands and started ‘Dignity and Services’ — an advocacy group to promote the needs and champion the cause of persons with learning disabilities. Dignity and Services gave birth to United Voice which is the first and only registered self-advocacy group for members with learning disabilities in the country. He also helped to start ‘The Micah Mandate’, a Christian-based public interest advocacy ministry that seeks a transformation of Malaysia through justice, mercy and humility.
Peter has spoken and shared at many meetings and through books and writings over many years. He speaks simply but with passion and conviction. He is by nature a quiet and reserved man but has a great sense of humour. Spending an hour with him is to be with a true VIP, a servant of God.  In Malaysia, those who most deserve awards, are often least likely to get them. Many get awards just for occupying a position without doing much work. Peter deserves awards many times over for the depth and scope of his work.

In memory of Peter we ask that we jointly “Make the Right Real” (Incheon Disability Strategy). We know what is needed in our country to heal our social problems, let’s work together to make this really happen. We have lost our focus as a nation and are fascinated with grandeur, twin towers and feeding the rich. Too little of government expenditure, tax payers ringgit, are spent on supporting those in need. Our social services (Welfare Department) are poorly funded and very poorly staffed. Few of the staff in the Welfare Department are trained social workers. Peter, as a true Malaysian, would be delighted if we rose to the occasion and grew significantly the services for the poor and disabled, disadvantaged, marginalised and outcast.
Peter has gone Home, one of Malaysia’s greatest humanitarians, a wonderful man of God.
But Peter remains in our hearts.
Peter remains in the work that he has started, sustained, flourished and multiplied.
We bless you Peter and your beloved wife Betty, who stood alongside you in your hard years of labour, for your inspiration, dedication and loyalty to Malaysia and Malaysians.
Malaysia is so much poorer without your physical and spiritual presence.

We are glad you are with the God whom you love with your entire being.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Article by Archbishop Datuk Bolly Lapok on the Allah issue

This is the latest response on the Allah Issue that has plagued the Church in Malaysia for many years now. Looks like our Church leaders are rising up and saying, "Enough id Enough". Let us all link our hearts as we join our Christian leaders in prayer for wisdom and courage to do and say the right things at this critical times that we are living in today.

This article has been taken from The Malaysian Chronicle.

Saturday, 29 March 2014 19:56
ALLAH: No more turning the other cheek - Archbishop warns
Written by Archbishop Datuk Bolly Lapok

Today, we are gathered here in Bandar Sri Aman, a town whose very name means peace. This is indeed an historic assembly. History will surely judge us by what we say and do from today henceforth. We are on a prophetic threshold as children of God.
The Bible reminds us in Ecclesiastes 3:8 that there is a time for war and a time for peace. It seems a paradox that we are called to be peacemakers by our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus (Matthew 5:9). Yet at the same time we are also to brace ourselves for war. Herein lies the mystery of living out our faith in obedience to our calling as Christians and to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
In the words of a highly respected clergyman, “Because by the grace of God we are defined as family with a call to action in reconciliation, then we have to find not only the call but also the means of being reconcilers, when our instincts and passions often lead us in the opposite direction.”
“If the Church is not a place both of conflict and of reconciliation, …it is a failing or failed church. It has ceased to be the miracle of diversity in unity, of the grace of God breaking down walls.”
Turning the other cheek is not the right answer in this situation
With its multi-ethno-religious makeup, Malaysia can present itself as a model to be a miracle of diversity in unity. Unfortunately, the scourge of that ethno-religious strife is fast approaching its flashpoint with extremist elements of political Islam relentlessly stoking the fire of hatred and bigotry.
How then do we live? Some among those who mean well have suggested that when slapped on one cheek we are to offer the other. This is half-baked theology if turning the other cheek tantamount to sending a wrong message to the provocateurs and extremists in political Islam that we are willing abandon our calling to being peacemakers and reconcilers.
These extremists among political Islam are, in fact, a tyranny by the minority while the rest of us including peace-loving Muslims and non-Muslims, have been sucked into the spiral of silence only to become the suffering majority. Ultimately, it is for all Malaysians of goodwill to ensure that Malaysia is not hijacked by the deluded minority.
To turn the other cheek in these circumstances is indeed to bear false witness to the Gospel of reconciliation itself. This we will not do.

Systematic insanity
The insanity that we are facing has become so systemic that even the judiciary has seen it fit to abandon sound principles of jurisprudence and taken an unprecedented extra-judicial position that the use of the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God is not an integral part of the faith and practice of Christianity. This is an uncalled for, unnecessary and a gross insensitive provocation.
This is a travesty of our constitutional and human right for the Church to manage its own affairs including translation of our Holy Scriptures into Bahasa Malaysia and our native languages. This is the exclusive ecclesiastical authority of the Church that neither the state nor the judiciary should trespass in accordance to settled international convention and law.
The continuing prohibition on the use of the word “Allah “has far reaching consequences affecting the profession and practice of the Christian faith amongst the Bahasa Malaysia and other indigenous language speaking Christians of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak (including those who are currently residing in Peninsula Malaysia) who constitute 64 % of the Christians in Malaysia.
The recent finding of the Court of Appeal that the word “Allah” is not an integral part of the faith and practice of Christianity affects the rights of 1.6 million Bumiputera Christians in Sabah and Sarawak who use Bahasa Malaysia and their own native tongues as the medium to profess and practice their Christian faith.
The word “Allah” as referring to God has always, continuously and consistently been used by these Bumiputera Christians in all aspects of the Christian faith including all forms of religious services, prayers, worship, liturgy, and religious education and there is irrefutable historical evidence in support of this.
Extremists so bold now, even copies of Alkitab are being seized
The finding of the Court of Appeal has emboldened certain extremist Muslim religious authorities to seize copies of the ALKITAB BERITA BAIK and the BUP KUDUS the Bible in the Iban language (in which the word “Allah” is used) which were specifically imported into Malaysia for the use of our Bumiputera Christians thereby violating their inalienable rights to complete religious freedom as guaranteed under the Malaysia Agreement and the Federal Constitution.
We must be reminded of our cultural heritage as Christians that it is neither accident nor coincidence that Sarawak is the only Christian majority state in the country. Our status is one of divine appointment. It is not surprising then that Sarawak is known as the Bible belt of Malaysia.
The fact that the Church in Sarawak has not for once demanded that the post of the Chief Minister or that of the Governor be picked from among Christians bears testimony to the extent the Church is willing to go for the sake of reconciliation and peacemaking.
We have and are doing our part in reconciliation. We feel that it is incumbent on the Federal government to recognise our cultural heritage and our constitutional rights to practise our faith without undue interference and intervention.
Revert to status quo
We, therefore, urge the Federal government to revert to the status quo by entering into consent judgments for the three cases still before the courts related to the use of the prohibited word.
It has not been easy for us. But because by the grace of God we are defined as family with a call to action in reconciliation, it is our sacred responsibility to find not only the call but also the means of being reconcilers, when our instincts and passions often lead us in the opposite direction.
We have gone the extra mile for the sake of reconciliation.

May God bless Malaysia.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

An Invaluable Advise for all Pastors

John Piper Responds to Pastor David Yonggi Cho's Conviction for Embezzling $12M by Making Plea to US Pastors March 5, 2014

When asked about the conviction of David Yonggi Cho, founder of world's largest Pentecostal congregation in South Korea, for embezzling $12 million from his church, popular pastor John Piper took the opportunity to warn pastors in the U.S. who might "love money," in a recent message.
"With every public dishonoring of Christ, every public dishonoring of His Word and His Gospel, and His Church, it makes me angry and it makes me sorrowful," said Piper in a recent episode of Ask Pastor John.

Yonggi Cho who pastors Yoido Full Gospel Church and oversees a network of churches numbering 800,000, was found guilty by a South Korean court for committing breach of trust and corruption amounting to $12 million, according toYonhap News Agency. He received a suspended sentence of three years in prison with a five year probation and was ordered to pay a penalty of $4.7 million by Seoul Central District Court on Feb. 20.

One of Cho's sons, Hee-jun, who serves as secretary general of Yeongsan Christian Cultural Center and was a former chairman of Next Media, was sentenced to three years in prison.
"My response to this is really not to pile on any additional condemnation … but rather to try to respond for the rest of us in a way that tries to prevent these kinds of things," said Piper.

"I want pastors to keep watch on themselves. I have five pleas to pastors. My hope is that pastors will listen this and take this 68-year-old pastor's heart-aching that we not bring this kind of reproach on the name of Christ," he continued. He then listed five precautions pastors should take to avoid the sinful seduction of money.

1. Kill every desire to be rich and get rich
If you see the desire in your heart take aim at it with the words of Christ and the words of Paul and put it to death with a swift blow with the sword of the spirit. Jesus said how difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom. In other words don't want this.

2. Pastors, if you see your income starting to grow, set a governor on it
Keep away from accumulating more and more and communicating to your people that you lay up treasures on earth. One of the best ways to do this I think, is to grow the percentage of your giving. I'm not impressed with a pastor who gives 30 percent of a million dollar royalty check and keeps 70 percent of it to buy luxuries with. I've heard pastors boast that they give 30, 40 percent. I'm not even impressed with giving 90 percent of a $10 million royalty check and keeping a million dollars to play with. While you look like every other millionaire and think that you have done a virtuous thing. Money is insidiously deceptive. We've seen it over and over again and I'm pleading with pastors, be content with what the church pays you and give the rest away with joy and strategic wisdom.

3. Be totally transparent with your fellow elders about your sources of income
These elders should not be the wealthy powerful peers from outside the church. That is an unbiblical way to lead your flock. It has no biblical foundation and it communicates distrust for your local leaders and a kind of pride that you are above their local accountability. Let all the books of your income be open to any member of your church who asks the elders. Secrecy around money is deadly. It's a sign that something is not right so work to give your ministry the flavor, 'we're not like peddlers of God's word.'

4. Live simply to show that your treasure is in heaven and not on earth
Please don't write this off as pauper theology. There goes Piper again with his pauper theology. That is absolutely ridiculous. The kind of distortion that makes of what I'm saying is a sign of fear that what I'm saying just might be true.
Get a car that works; that gets you where you need to go. Get a car that doesn't break down on you every few months. I'm talking about a modest entertainment budget that doesn't eat out every night. I'm talking about a refreshing vacation, not an exorbitant one. I'm talking about clothes that are unremarkable and undistracting, both for not being shabby and not being brand driven. I'm talking about a home that accomplishes your family and ministry purposes leaning towards ordinary folks in your congregation, not the wealthiest.

5. Put in place a leadership structure of a plurality of elders
A council of elders on which you the pastor have one vote. You are a chief among equals…not by having veto power over everyone else.

"I'm so jealous of these things because I am jealous for the name of Christ. His name is being blasphemed Paul said … the name of God is being blasphemed because of you. 'You abhor idols and you rob temples.' That is hypocrisy to the core … that is happening today because of pastors who love money," Piper ended.

David Yonggi Cho Found Guilty by the Court.

This is an Article taken from The Gospel Herald which was published on the 21st February 2014. This Article is of special interest to us because of the close ties between David Yonggi Cho and Prince Guneratnam, the Senior Pastor of Calvary Church, Kuala Lumpur.

David Yonggi Cho, Founder of World's Largest Church, Found Guilty of Breach of Trust, Corruption 

David Yonggi Cho, founder of world's largest Pentecostal congregation, was found guilty by South Korean court for committing breach of trust and corruption of 13 billion won (US $12 million), according to Yonhap News Agency.  

Yoido Full Gospel Church senior pastor received a suspended sentence of three-year prison term with a five year probation and ordered to pay a penalty of 5 billion won (US $4.7 million) by Seoul Central Distrcit Court on Feb. 20, 2014.  

The court also sentenced Cho's elder son Hee-jun, secretary general of Yeongsan Christian Cultural Center and former chairman of Next Media, to a three-year prison term without suspension. He was formally arrested before the court ruling, the Yonhap News reported.  

In 2002, while serving as chairman of a church-affiliated newspaper Kookmin Ilbo, Hee-jun sold the church 250,000 shares of stock in I-Service at 86,984 won (US$80.06) per share, which was much more expensive than the market price of 24,032 (US$22.12) per share, the hankyoreh reported. 

Prosecutors identified David Cho as an accomplice to the crime of breach of trust, claiming that Cho used the money to help his son recover losses made in stock investements.    

According to hankyoreh, Cho had directed the transaction, which the church has "absolutely no need for" and resulted in a loss, to be dealt with as quietly as possible despite his full knowledge of the potential "uproar" from the elders and congregation if they find out. 

The church's loss of 131 billion won resulted in 29 church elder's filing the lawsuit in 2011, accusing him of embezzling US $20 million. In addition, prosecutors acquired evidence of tax evasion during the investigation, where Cho was suspected of evading 3.5 billion won (US $3.2 million).  

While Cho has denied the allegation, he has also been criticized for privatizing church assets.  

Although the judge believes that Cho should be severely punished for committing breach of trust, especially for a person of his status in society, he gave a light sentence on Cho's tax evasion in consideration of Cho's long-term contributions to the society, the Yonghap News reported.  

The court sentenced Hee-jun to three years in prison for being the main culprit, who tried to evade responsibility - placing his personal financial loss on the church and the blame on others.  

Cho, 78, founded Yoido Full Gospel Church in 1958 and it now claims more than 450,000 followers. His proteges have built their own "disciple churches" across the country, creating a congregation of around 800,000, with Cho as the leader.