Saturday, June 30, 2012

ABUSE of church funds not new in M'sia either

This is an article taken from the online news portal Malaysia Chronicle. (Click for original source) 
What we have seen happening to the Singapore Church, will it also happen here in Malaysia?

ABUSE of church funds not new in M'sia either: RM59mil to support wife's singing career!

Written by  Christopher Fernandez, Malaysia Chronicle
Recent reports from across the Causeway that the founder of one of Singapore’s richest fundamental Christian churches has been charged in court for allegedly siphoning off nearly RM59 million of the congregation’s money to support his wife’s singing career are abuses of church finances that are not new.
Even in Malaysia there have been cases of abuses of church funds from time to time that have most of the time been swept under the carpet as Christian groups do not wish the involvement of the governing authorities in their churches especially among fundamental Christian churches.
Fundamental Christians are new entrants in the world of Christendom. Unlike the Roman Catholic and multiple number of Protestant denominations that have existed for centuries, fundamental Christians or evangelical Christians (as they like to be referred to) evolved out of the “Azusa Street” revivals of post-Great Depression America and have managed to propagate their beliefs throughout the world.
Fundamental Christians in Malaysia
In the past, several fundamental Christian groups have been highlighted to the public over their “troubled” status as churches such as Gereja Hujan Akhir or the Latter Rain Church (Petaling Jaya), the New Testament Church (Tapah) and Calvary Church (Damansara Heights).
Calvary Church, most notably under the leadership of their senior pastor, Tan Sri Dr Prince Gunaretnam, was several years ago embroiled in a financial scandal.
The alleged misappropriation of funds by the senior pastor was hushed up though the church was splintered into two factions in an acrimonious spat that witnessed a certain number of members losing faith and confidence in the management of the church.
Within fundamental churches there have also existed instances of incest, sexual misconduct, unaccountability or misuse of sourced funds and other abuses over the years.
While the wrongdoers are not above disciplinary measures, most offences are usually swept under the carpet in a “keep it within the family” spirit.
As a result, there are a growing number of complaints not only by mainstream churches such as the Catholics, the Anglicans, the Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans and others, but also by Islamic groups, Hindu and Sikh organisations and the Buddhists over the activities of fundamental Christian church groups as they focus on pinching followers from other faiths.
Up to now, there have been no real checks-and-balances conducted or imposed upon fundamental Christian groups. They also seem to be keen proponents of the free enterprise spirit with some of them raising millions of ringgit in building and missionary projects.
These are usually churches with humble start-ups in houses, shop-houses, former cinema theatres, who sometimes transform into “community centers” as a way to escape the scrutiny of the authorities.
Their proselytizing activity is not just a “conversion of souls” measure but also an attempt to boost the coffers of the church.
Fundamental churches have large “treasure chests” because church members are asked to part with 10 per cent of their salary every month.
Besides this, there are financial pledges to fulfill and donations and offerings in cash or kind made to the churches making the whole set-up reek of a fabulously-run corporate structure eventually.
The general comment by mainstream church members is that fundamental churches are nothing more than “business enterprises.”
The systematic indoctrination of members include behaviour modification to the extent members owe a life-long allegiance to their churches with the promise of eternal life upon death for their submission and obedience to leaders of the church who profess to act on behalf of God.
The success of brainwashing weak-willed individuals who fall prey to their proselytizing usually enables leaders of these churches to live off the commercial efforts of their adherents and to fund a jet-setting and lavish lifestyle on the pretext of “taking care of the business of God.”
Will it happen here?
Prevention is always better than cure. It is timely to recall how Pastor David Koresh destroyed a community of fundamental Christians or how Reverend Jim Jones, an ex-pastor of the Assemblies of God, drove the members of his church to commit suicide en masse in what has come to be known as “The Jonestown Tragedy,” in Guyana.
This is another noticeable failing of fundamental Christians. They are also doomsday cults – with a preoccupation with the afterlife - which distinguishes them markedly from the remarkably health activity of the mainstream or traditional churches.
Usually, persons who fall for their proselytizing are persons who have difficulty in the areas of health, finances, relationships, or with study, work or business problems. These individuals are easy prey.
Unhealthy and extremist religious groups
Owing to the evolvement of this situation, where liberty is given to religious organisations, there has emerged a significant number of groups with teachings that are counter-productive to the health and well-being of a secular state like Malaysia.
One has only to go through the list of religious organisations in this country at the Religious Affairs Department and witness the number of “independent” churches that exist each with their own version of Christianity unlike that espoused by mainstream and traditional churches.
Unhealthy and extreme religious groups must be dealt with firmly and the government must exercise their clout to nip the problems in the bud caused by organisations of this nature before they begin to fester and inflame the ever-so-delicate fabric of our multi-religious, multi-racial environment.
In doing so, the government has to been seen not only as acting fairly, and in a secular manner, but in accordance with the provisions of the laws of the land. There has to be a more open and transparent approach by the government to ensure, for the safety and security of the populace, that all religious communities toe the line.
Validity and relevance of fundamental Christians
Unlike a growing number of countries in the world today, Malaysia has, thankfully, been spared the wrath of any untoward religious flare-ups. This augurs well for us. Since we are a fairly young nation, if we appear to be doing well in the practice of our individual beliefs, it is largely because government mechanisms in place to check religious tensions have so far been effective.
So far mainstream and traditional Christian groups have really no bone to pick with the government or any other quarter, however critical the criticisms leveled at them. This is a sign of the growing tolerance and accommodative nature of mainstream and traditional churches.
The exception perhaps is that of the role of fundamental Christian groups with their own commercial kind of branding of Christianity. What is being propagated by them should come not only under the scrutiny of the government but also by the various Christian denominations as to their validity and relevance in a country such as Malaysia.
Malaysia Chronicle
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Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Review of the Healing For Our Land Revival Meetings

Recently many Churches in Kuala Lumpur joined hands to organize the following Revival Meetings.

Healing For Our Land (M4J) from the 6th - 9th June 2012.

They started with The Kingdom Revival Conference in FGA, followed by 3 nights of The Festival of God's Power at the Bukit Jalil Car Park.

Fo those who have missed it, watch a short video clip Review taken from the You Tube. It is truly amazing to see what God is doing in Malaysia. It is also very encouraging to see the unity of the Churches in Malaysia bringing  people from all walks of life together to pray for our land.

Click here for original source

Friday, June 1, 2012

2012 24-7 Year of Prayer for Malaysia - June

We have come to the middle of the year and this month, we are encouraged to take stock of our lifestyle. Whether we are living in excess or in need, let us take some time to ponder on on God's marvellous creation around us and develop an attitude of gratefulness and appreciation for it.

Together we shall continue to pray and seek God for wisdom to be good stewards of all that God has blessed us with.

To read the previous months' Prayer Emphasis click : 2012 Year of Prayer for Malaysia 

Here is an urgent prayer request. Click on the title to read the full report.

31st May 2012
Radio Free Sarawak anchorman, Peter John Jaban, abducted by Malaysian security forces – Police deny knowledge on the whereabouts of the popular indigenous radio presenter