Less than two weeks after pastor Kong Hee, founder of Singapore's City Harvest Church, was found guilty of misusing millions of church funds for his popstar wife's career, Kong's mentor, Phil Pringle, encouraged church members to draw near to God and find their comfort in Him despite overwhelming odds.
On Sunday, Pringle, who is also the church's advisory pastor, preached on the topic of Fearlessness, referencing Psalm 23:4, which reads "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."
"God has not given you timidity; If you ever feel timid, that is not coming from God," he told the cheering congregation. "It doesn't matter what valley you're in, you're going to get to the other side...even though you might have experienced the sunset, you're going to experience the sunrise. New days are unstoppable; winter will not remain forever...Jesus is no longer in the tomb."
He added, "As you go back out of church and face your situations...whatever it is. It may seem so big and large and impossible to navigate your way around it, but know that the Lord has said, 'Fear not, I am with you, you're going to get through this.'"
Immediately after the sermon, Kong's wife, Sun Ho, took to Facebook to express her appreciation for Pringle's timely message.
"Pastor Phil Pringle shared such a good word in season with us at church tonight. My heart was so moved seeing the many who responded to the altar call and gave their hearts to Jesus," she wrote, "Thank you for encouraging us with this verse last weekend."
While Ho, who was recently ordained as a CHC pastor, was not herself trialed in the case, Kong and five other CHC leaders were found guilty of funneling more than $35.5 million in church donations to a management company called Xtron, which was handling Ho's planned U.S. album release.
Judge See Kee Oon said that the CHC leaders used Xtron as a conduit for money that went into Ho's career, despite the defense protesting that Xtron was not being controlled by Kong and the accused. Kong and the five other CHC leaders face up to 20 years in prison.
According to the AP, Kong is currently waiting the prosecution's written submissions to court, which will take place on 6 Nov. His lawyer will respond with a mitigation plea on November 20, and sentencing is expected to take place either on the same day or at a later date.
Meanwhile, the 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, 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. 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."