Singapore's City Harvest Church founding Pastor Kong Hee has said that despite weathering a "very challenging" year, Jesus has made Himself abundantly real to his family "every step of the way."
In a Facebook update posted on New Year's Eve, Hee, the 51-year-old pastor shared a number of photos and videos of himself, his wife and church co-founder Sun Ho, and his church family.
"This is my personal Year-in-Review," he captioned the update. "It has been a challenging one but Jesus has been so real to me and my family every step of the way. Thank you for loving us and always praying for us. We love Jesus and all of you... Happy New Year!"
As reported by the Gospel Herald, after a lengthy trial, Kong and five other CHC leaders were found guilty of channeling $35.9 million in church funds into the singing career of Ho's pop star career in the United States and Asia.
Although the megachurch maintained that Ho's pop music was intended as a form of outreach to non-Christians, Kong was sentenced to eight years in prison, the longest of the six, whose sentences ranged upwards from 21 months.
According to the City Harvest Church website, Kong had been told that his prison sentence would begin in January.
Later in November, the pastor announced that he will be appealing both against the conviction and the prison sentence he was handed down: "Whilst I respect the court's decision, there are points which appear to be erroneous and warrant appeal," he wrote. "I will therefore be preparing to file an appeal against both my conviction and sentence."
He added,"Please continue to pray earnestly for the six and their families that God will grant them wisdom, protection and grace during this challenging time."
Despite their uncertain future, the pastor and his wife have carried on with their ministry, recently visiting Fukuoka Harvest Church in Japan.
"Had a powerful time ministering in Japan, the 'Land of the Rising Sun'," Kong wrote. "[Sun Ho] and I love Japan very much, and we can see that it is very much ready for a massive revival. Let it be to us (and them) according to Your Word, Lord Jesus!"
Meanwhile, City Harvest Church has announced that it plans to improve its governance, moving forward with a new "CHC 2.0" vision. The new leadership will involve "selecting well-diversified board members, appointing a legal firm to advise the board, setting up an internal compliance team and also carrying out an annual audit using an outsourced firm."
Speaking in an interview conducted shortly after Kong's guilty verdict was handed down, Kong's mentor, Phil Pringle, said he believes CHC will "only get stronger" when asked if the church was prepared for such trials.
"The church will stay together," he emphasized. "You'll be strong. You'll only get stronger. The church is not built on Kong Hee. It's built on Jesus Christ."
He added, "The church is more together and more resilient than you think it is. It survives any kind of persecution. The worst kind is when Christians fight against each other, when ministers criticize each other. It's the worst kind because it's confusing for the younger believers."