Despite facing a lengthy prison sentence, embattled City Harvest Church pastor Kong Hee enjoyed the holiday season by participating in a number of Christmas services with his church family.
In November, Kong, 51, and five other CHC leaders were found guilty by Singapore's charity commissioner of channeling $35.9 million in church funds into the singing career of Kong's wife and church co-founder, Sun Ho, 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. Those convicted were scheduled to start their sentences after Christmas.
Despite his uncertain future, Kong has spent the past several weeks with his CHC family, leading a number of Christmas worship services along with Sun Ho, who was recently ordained as a church pastor, according to his personal Facebook page
"Christmas is always a most beautiful time because of Jesus. He is the LIGHT of the world. Jesus says, 'He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life' (John 8:12). Have a bright and glorious Christmas!" the pastor captioned a video of a CHC candlelight service.
Kong also shared a video of his wife singing traditional Christmas carols along with the cation, "O Come, All Ye Faithful" was originally a Christmas carol in Latin written about 400 years ago. Sun Ho (Official) is leading City Harvest Church (Official) in singing the chorus. This Christmas, O come let us adore Him ... for He alone is worthy ... we give Him all the glory, Christ the Lord!"
As reported by the Gospel Herald, Kong and five others filed appeals against their convictions earlier in December, arguing that there were points in the court's decision which "appear to be erroneous." An appeal date will likely be scheduled within six months, a lawyer told The Straits Times.
In explaining his decision to appeal, Kong compared himself to the Apostle Paul in a nearly 1,000-word statement. The pastor contended that while Paul was destined by God to be a martyr, his decision to appeal the verdict after his arrest gave him the opportunity to spread the gospel for eight more years.
"Paul appealed not because he was defiant toward the ruling authority," wrote Kong. "He appealed because (a) the weight of the evidence was in his favor, (b) he had a clear mission from the Lord Jesus that he still needed to fulfill, and (c) he was exercising his legal rights as a Roman citizen, a privilege that God had blessed him with."
Meanwhile, the prosecution, which argued for sentences of 11 to 12 years, filed its own appeal, complaining that the sentences were "manifestly inadequate," reported The Straits Times.
In a statement, CHC leaders, including Ho, thanked the congregation for "demonstrating strength and unity" over the past few years.
"We ask you to remember and hold close to your heart the call of God upon City Harvest Church," they wrote. "We have learned lately what it means to have faith, trust and rest in God-let us put what we have learned to practice. Let's band together to fulfill the heavenly calling for us through CHC 2.0."