Kong Hee, the Singapore megachurch pastor found guilty of fraud after a long-running trial, broke his silence on Facebook yesterday saying it was a "difficult time" for him and his family.
Kong, pastor of the 20,000-member City Harvest Church, was charged with three offences of criminal breach of trust in connection with attempts to boost his wife Sun Ho's singing career using church funds. He and his five co-defendants misused $17 million from the church's building fund. A further $18.5 million was used to cover up the scheme through a complicated system of bond issues and 'round-tripping' transactions in which the church used its own money to pay debt owed to it.
Kong had steadfastly maintained his innocence throughout the trial, which lasted for 140 days. He won the support of many Christian leaders who believe that the case was founded on a misunderstanding. The funds were used to support Sun Ho's career through CHC's 'Crossover Project', aimed at promoting a Christian voice in the secular music industry – a mission tactic familiar in the West but far less so in the East.
In his Facebook post, Kong said: "My family and I are continually assured and strengthened by the love and support shown to us during this entire time. 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.
"The days and steps ahead are challenging, but with God's grace and love, I have no fear. The Lord Jesus, my Good Shepherd, will lead and guide. I will obey, I will follow, by faith."
He is facing a potential 20 years in prison for his actions.