Despite being found guilty of misusing millions in church donation funds to fund his wife's singing career, Singapore's City Harvest Church founding Pastor Kong Hee has maintained his innocence and told his supporters that he trusts God will use the development for good.
"This is a difficult time for me, and especially for my family, just as it is for the other co-accused persons," Kong wrote in a lengthy Facebook message on Thursday.
"As was the case throughout these past three years of court trial, and the earlier two years of investigation, I have put my faith and my all in God, and trust that whatever the outcome, He will use it for good in His time and in His way (Rom. 8:28; Eccl. 3:11)," he said.
As reported by the Gospel Herald, Judge See Kee Oon charged that Kong and five other CHC leaders were found guilty of funneling more than $35.5 million in church donations to promote the singing career of Sun Ho, who is Kong's wife and fellow CHC founder. The six CHC leaders face up to 20 years in prison for their roles in the crime.
Kong and the others accused have denied any wrongdoing and dismissed reports that they controlled management company Xtron, which was handling Ho's career. Despite such claims, the prosecution presented evidence that the CHC leaders used it as a conduit for money that went directly toward Ho's career.
"Each of them participated and functioned in their own way as crucial cogs in the machinery," said the judge.
The popular pastor, who founded the megachurch in 1989, claimed that the church only supported his wife through the "Crossover" project, which was meant to share the Gospel with the world through her songs.
However, Judge See ruled that the "perceived success of Crossover was inflated," and that those convicted fooled themselves into thinking that "it was both morally and legally permissible to temporarily use the money from CHC's funds when they knew it was not."
Sun Ho also issued a statement on Singapore City Harvest Church's website shortly after the court verdict, urging the 17,000-member congregation to continue praying for Kong and the five other church leaders convicted of fraud.
"The judge has rendered his decision, and naturally, we are disappointed by the outcome," wrote Ho. "The protracted season has been extremely difficult, not just for the six, but also for their families and friends, as well as our congregation."
In continuing his Facebook post, Kong thanked supporters for the "love and support" they continue to show his family despite overwhelming odds.
"We thank you for your prayers and encouragement, as they mean a lot to us. Please keep praying for me and those involved in the trial, for our families, and especially for the congregation of City Harvest Church, which I love so dearly with all my heart," he wrote.
Hundreds of supporters "liked" Kong's post, and many of them posted well-wishes and prayers for the embattled pastor and his family.
"Kong Hee, we keep you and your family in our prayers..Jesus too was convicted for something He didn't commit. God will guide you and surely make a way where there seems to be no way. To God be the glory," wrote a supporter from Jakarta, Indonesia.
Added another, "Dear Pastor. You are my first pastor and CHC is my first church. The verdict does not make me think any less of [you]. I pray that our church will come out of this better and stronger than before."
Wrote yet another, "Stay strong in Faith. No one knows what God has planned for you and your family and the rest. Only God knows what is next to come. As Faithful Children of God, we shall continue to leave our Trust to our Heavenly Father to lead the way. We shall walk The path laid out for us and have Him in our Hearts at all times. I Pray with all my heart that God bless you and Family with comfort in His Embrace, and may His Big Plan for you unfolds soon. Take care brother. Me and my family will continue to pray for you."