9 Reasons Why City Harvest Church Was the Devil To Me

I’ll probably receive some flak from City Harvest people – but through my years I’ve learnt that all they know is to spout out loud their blinded ‘opinions’.

People: They’re not opinions if you were brainwashed into it; that just makes it an influence over a weak mind.

I dare say this.
Why? Because I was one of them.

It was quite a number of years back, when I was still in secondary school. To be honest, I didn’t grow up in a happy home and endless hopes of getting out of my abyss was just part of my daily routine. While there were others who asked me to join their ‘gangs’, I didn’t want my daddy to look down from Heaven and be disappointed that he didn’t live long enough to love & protect me.

Soon enough I was invited to City Harvest Church and was quite intrigued by their style of worship. At that time, Charismatic churches weren’t very well-known in Singapore. So when songs had strong beats, fast rhythms and people grooving to them – it all seemed really new.

And deep down I wanted to believe that maybe, just maybe… They were the family that I lost. Oh, how stupid I was.

It wasn’t too long before the whole hype of their music tuned down a little and other ugly things started to sprout.

Disclaimer: Whatever I share here is entirely my own experiences and from my perspective, which can be limited. So if you experienced anything otherwise or feel that I’m spouting nonsense – you’re welcome to leave. Thank you.

First, I’ll start with offerings.
Quite a norm of the church, yes? So unlike the typical church that lets you put in the money into the little pouches and pass it on – they make you put the money into envelopes, then you put it into the pouches.

I didn’t think too much about it at first, but slowly I began to question – “Why was there this need?” Honestly it just didn’t make sense to spend money printing envelopes with the logos, etc. And the manpower spent inserting those envelopes to every newsletter (granted free labour, anyway).

Then one day I thought to myself, “It just seems like they want to obligate you to give. You were given a wrapping for a present; so therefore you feel you ought to give the present. It is also a way to monitor how much an average person gives during service. So why is there this obligation when it’s supposed to be freewill?”

So the next service, I tried something out – I didn’t give an offering. Oh, badass! 😀

Then my mentor (everyone is assigned one) looked at me when I just passed the pouch over, asking me why didn’t I give an offering. I said I have no more money left for the week, so can’t give anymore. After which, she gave a very disapproving glare.

After service at fellowship (dinner), the cell group leader requested to speak to me. He said he was informed that I didn’t give an offering because I had no more money left. Then he told me it was my duty to put aside money for God every week, it was to show God my love and sincerity in worshipping Him. 

HAHAHA! Okay, I’m sorry. Right now I’m just laughing at how pathetic it sounds. But he really did say that! And at that age, I actually thought I did something gravely wrong to God. I failed to realise that it was between me & God.

The following week onwards, they monitored if I gave offerings closely. Even with the friendly reminder before service started.

Second, tithings.
Somewhere in the bible it says something about giving God 10% of your fortune or harvest… Truthfully quite vague about this. I just know the 10%.

So then every month, you’re supposed to give 10% of your salary/allowance to the church – on top of offerings.

“Whatever you have, actually belongs to God. Even your money. But God is so magnanimous that He only wants 10% of it.” Remember those words crystal clear.

So like I said, I didn’t grow up in a happy home. Sometimes my remaining parent would not give me money or take what little savings I had – sometimes I had no money to even eat. Therefore giving away 10% was asking a lot of me.

And on those envelopes that give you for offerings are forms as well. There you will fill up your name, cell group number, contact number and amount you are giving for your tithe.

Yes, they monitor your tithings.

So quite a few times my cell group leader said he was notified that I didn’t give my tithing for this month, or my tithing seemed significantly lesser than usual.

Again – I bought into it and felt like I could do better for God. I failed to realise I wasn’t chasing God; I was stupidly chasing their approval for God knows what reason.

Third, pledging monies.
Everyone should know more or less that the church has building funds. I was there when they just moved to the church in Jurong, near NTU. It was entirely brand new, nice facilities with obviously pricey construction. “Nothing but the best for God,” they said.

Then before I knew it, they had new ideas to build a stadium of some sort. Citing the rapid growth of church members as a reason. There was about a 20 to 30 minute speech on how we should contribute to building the house of God.

Nice words, eh? House of God. So of course I’d want to help! Pledge money that I rely on getting occasionally from concerned relatives? Sure!

What an idiot I was.

And the best part was that they even set a benchmark of how much they encouraged each church member to give. If I remember correctly, it was about $200 a month.

My mentor even sat down with me to plan out how I can somehow give $200 every month – on top of 10% tithing and very compulsory offering… to build the house of God.

Then I started to think, “Am I just here to give them free money; buying the illusion of a family that I crave for?”

Fourth, God the investment banker.
Every time before offering, we were told this – if you give to God, God will give you back 10 times.

So even if you do not have much money, just give what little you have… And somehow God will multiply it and give it back to you.

They preached that God wants all of us to be rich. And also that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. So therefore – to show your sincere love to God, you must give him your money.

I tried asking what if my treasure isn’t money? Then they said, “The bible meant money.”

Fifth, bringing in new people.
Every week we are expected to always bring in new people to service. ALWAYS expected to.

They even presented charts of who brought in new people and who didn’t. Those who didn’t were mildly humiliated, of course.

But it was really difficult and rather ironic. When I had too many close friends outside church, they were unhappy and told me that it was ungodly influence. I should surround myself with spiritual people.

Oh, but still must have a good enough relationship with these non-spiritual people to convince them to come to a religious event.

There was this time my mentor called another cell group member and myself to her house. There, she sat us both down and made us call each and every person on our handphone contact list – asking them to come to church. ‘No’ is not an answer.

If they were sick, we’d give a mask. If they were not free, plan the following weekend or the next. If they were not willing, ask why until they couldn’t give a legit reason.

I don’t know how many people I pissed off, how many friends I lost that day… but I know that month my phone bill was really high. 😦 And those people I called became even more guarded against anything to do with Christianity.

When we didn’t manage to get people, she scolded us. When I said this isn’t the right thing to do, she said I was being selfish and not sharing salvation. When my cell group member managed to get someone, they both said I didn’t care about this hard enough.

Then I asked, “What’s the point of bringing in people who are unwilling? Won’t this just shut their hearts to God even more when you force them like this?”

Needless to say, I was rebuked for not having child-like faith.

Sixth, accountability.
Basically what happened here was my mentor was to be kept informed of my whereabouts at all times.

After school, what I was doing… Who I’m hanging out with… It was a tad invasive.

And I wasn’t allowed to meet boys. Other church members in the school were to tell immediately if any of us did something the church won’t approve of.

I was in a girls’ school, but somehow I still got to know boys through friends or sometimes the Internet. However I wasn’t allowed to go out with boys because they do not approve of it. And according to them, I cannot start dating till I turned 21.

And when I asked the cell group leader, “Then why did you start dating your girlfriend at 16?” I was rebuked and told not to question my leader.

There was once I met this boy after school for a movie, it was supposed to be with another girl but she had to go home. So it was just the both of us. A cell group member in school saw and immediately informed our mentor, of which I quickly got a phone call to ask me what in the world I was doing.

Next service, I was rebuked again and I actually felt guilty for it even though I knew clearly he and I were just good friends.

I tried reasoning with my mentor that it didn’t start out this way, that the other girl was suddenly called to go home.

“Oh what a coincidence. How do I know that you’re speaking the truth? You always had boys, so maybe this was your way to go on a date. If it really wasn’t a date, you would’ve left when the other girl left as well. You don’t respect yourself.”

Seventh, buying Sun Ho’s albums.
Ah, everyone’s favourite.

So our pastor’s wife wanted to enter the music industry to preach the Word of God. Using songs to lead the people honestly didn’t sound like a bad idea.

Then it got to her albums. Every single person in church had to have her album. It was compulsory, really. If you didn’t have her album, then you don’t love your church family. And back then we still used portable CD players. Everyone was supposed to have the CD in their bags.

It seemed quite ridiculous to me at this point. Especially when they pushed us to buy several albums at service. Yes, several copies of the exact same album. Why? To give Sun Ho the support to spread the Word of God.

Everyone had to buy at least 3 to 5 albums. Cell group members collected money from the members to buy the albums. And told them to give the albums to other people to spread the Word.

Slowly, the number of albums each church member had to buy was increasing. Pastors and cell group leaders kept on pushing and pressurising everyone to buy the albums. It got to a point whereby another cell group member actually sold his car in order to buy more albums.

Eighth, Sun Ho’s crossovers.
True to her word, she did go overseas and preached the gospel through her concerts. She would sing some songs, share her testimony and call on people to receive Jesus as their one true saviour.

Every now and then we were shown numbers of souls she saved – tens of thousands at a time.

Then I asked, “Do these people have a church to go to, to continue building their relationship with God?”

“Not sure. We already shared the Word with them. It’s up to them now.”

“But without a spiritually supportive environment it’s easy to lose faith. Won’t they then be condemned to hell for knowing the Word but not believing in it?”

Yup. Got rebuked again.

Ninth, outcasting.
Back then there was a man (yes, Mr Roland Poon) who told the public about the church forcing members to buy Sun Ho’s albums, of which he was fiercely dealt with in church. His cell group leader and mentor rebuked him to no end, his cell group members ostracised him.

Of which then he was pressured to give a public apology to the church and was definitely treated differently. And to give due credit, Kong Hee did announce in service to forgive and accept him back.

However this social outcasting happened to me when I started asking questions. I started mentally calculating how much money the church was making (10% tithe + offerings of $2 at a conservative amount of per pax), it gave me a rather high number. After thinking through it all, I realised every month the church should have a bit of money left after operational costs. Then why did they constantly ask for money all the time?  So how much were they paying the pastors? What else are they spending on? Shouldn’t the leftover money be put into the church’s own building fund, instead of asking for more from the people? Wasn’t the money given to God, for God’s people?

They also showed how well Sun Ho was doing overseas – claiming she was popular in Taiwan and America. Showing us hit charts where she was #1. To me, if she was so popular… Then why did the church make everyone buy about 9-12 albums each to support her? So with the help of the Internet, I went to look around. Only to find that every weekend I was buying into a scam. I chatted up some Americans on IRC and asked about Sun Ho, where 100% response I got was along the lines of, “Who the f**k is that?”

They said the money goes to God. Fantastic. So tell me, do you actually give the money to God? I’m sure our Earthly money means to nothing to Him, who is in Heaven. So if you don’t actually give the money to God… What on Earth do you spend on that you deem worthy enough to be ‘God’?

It was just downright ludicrous.

If they did things the public disapproved of, they’ll say that Jesus also faced this and they need to move on. The devil was fighting against them. Resistance meant they were doing the right thing.

If they did things the public approved of, they’ll shout Hallelujah and how they are bringing God to the world.

In full honesty, they did very good marketing right there. They brainwashed the people into believing every single thing they did, no matter what other facts might state. The people in the church aren’t the bad guys – they were just steered the wrong direction.

To me, I saw the devil doing an excellent job there. I saw so many people leave and strongly shutting their hearts away from the very idea of God. And I saw how those people in church don’t worship God; they worship Kong Hee and the prosperity gospel they’re fed.

Feeling frustrated and powerless, I left and prayed, “God, if You do exist – please save these people.”

I’m thankful for the strength Mr Roland Poon found to stand up for what he believes in, despite all the opposing forces. And I’m glad that at least there’s a little justice out there.

9 Reasons Why City Harvest Church Was the Devil to Me
Photo Credit: Channel NewsAsia

XOXO, G.

559 thoughts on “9 Reasons Why City Harvest Church Was the Devil To Me

  1. Hey, thank you for sharing and being so open to all of us. By the end I was quite sad, after so many commitments you had at the church, all the money you “spent for God” but your prayer was “God, if You do exist – ………..” Jesus does exist and He is God. I’m sorry if your “church’s leaders” are a scam, but I hope you’ll find your way to God again and enjoy your relationship with Him. God Bless 🙂

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      1. Gera, that was very well written and I truly appreciate your guts in spilling it all out. Keep it up. The society need more people like YOU and ROLAND POON to bring justice. Thank you…….Cheers!

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      2. You must look into other religion to see the truth of this world. Check with the Theravada Buddhist text and you will know the real truth of this world.

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  2. Romans 8:28 (NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

    Hi, I am sorry to hear about your story as I am following this news too since CHC is the largest and most well-known church in Singapore. However, please do not give up faith because if we are giving up due to such incident, then the devil has really done his job in attacking and putting down the people of God. Do have faith that whatever happened, there is a reason for it, in the plan of God.

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  3. Im really Sry to be reading such a statement regarding a previously held in high esteem church…..
    Certainly many similiar stories have bloomed around social media and I believe every true Christian would have been saddened by the inside happenings and methods used by chc but I would Also like to urge u to nt giv up on Jesus and find another church which follows His Word and get to know him once again from scratch…. =)

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    1. To all members of city harvest church,please join another church especially one that truly practices what Jesus preached.You do not need loud music and entertaining songs.Go back to the basics.We are to help the needy, reach out to the suffering and visit the sick.Visit nursing homes and orphanages .Buy them food and toys.Give them your time.Be compassionate.Heal the sick like Jesus did.Spend your time with God.Jesus died so that we can have direct access to God.God loves us more than we can ever know and wants to be close to him.Be bold .Go to a church that do not emphasise money all the time but one that practices what Jesus preached.You will not regret it.Do not be fooled any longer.Be wise and be holy Love the lll
      Lord your God with all your heart ,mind ,strengh and soul.God will give you peace and rest.When you enter heaven,God will say “Well done my good and faithful servant”

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  4. Hey Gera

    Im a current member of CHC, but dont worry, im not here to give you any flak.
    First of all, id just like to say that i can actually relate to a lot of the experiences you said you had, e.g calling up of friends to invite to church, invasion of privacy etc. I thought that i was the only one that thought this way, and im glad that you and i think alike, in a way.
    Please, stay strong in the faith and continue to love our Lord Jesus, because He is the reason for our salvation after all. Remember, Man can let you down ( Many many many times) but God can never let you down.

    God Bless!

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      1. Because CHC is still a family, albeit a flawed one. However, ask yourself, is there such a thing as a perfect church? We were victims of a pastor whose ambitions to evangelise were viewed as “wrong”, which, legally, is true. However, look at things this way: In the end, he is just trying to bring the gospel to the unchurched, as we should be doing.

        I’m not asking you to change your opinion of CHC, but please try to see the underlying intentions of the pastor, and not just what he has done. The church is imperfect, but it is a lot better now, with a lot of the “abusive” behaviour of the leaders now a thing of the past.

        I chose not to leave CHC because the people and leadership are willing to change, and I’m willing to see that change happen

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  5. Hi Geraldine, Thank You for sharing your experience and thoughts.
    I am not a Christian. I am agnostic. But that does not mean i am less religious than followers of faiths. I always think and communicate with the Creator (or what i call the Infinite) even though it is always one-way. It helps me to step beyond my earthly being. No answer but the mere act of doing so is good enough. That is perhaps the trials of being human. I believe that is always possible because the Creator had devised endlessly what we have seen for infinite years and infinity to be. Surely it is mathematically possible that all our every single moment of thoughts and actions can be communicated to the Creator. What next if we indeed communicated with the Creator? God knows! And that is still good enough for me. What happens after life nobody knows but what happens to me in the life i live i can choose to be unearthly. Blind faith in this way is perfectly fine with me.
    I may not be qualified to but i celebrate with you for believing beyond your earthly being. So pray and enjoy.
    For what you shared, I find you a courageous girl. You are matured and thoughful. A good human being like you will live a meaningful and happy life no matter what the world or universe comes to. So i say 加油! and share your high spirits with others.
    I have children. I hope to encourage them to be religious whatever faith they follow, or even as a religious agnostic.

    Respectfully,
    KC

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  6. Love your encourage and your intelligence. I know that if you if your continue to pray and study the scriptures with a sincerely heart, the holy ghost with guide you to the truth.

    Intelligence is the ability to use knowledge properly. The Lord has said, “The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.” (D&C 93:36.) The light of which this scripture speaks is the Light of Christ, for Jesus further said, “I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (D&C 93:2.)

    God will reveal truth to those who seek for it as prescribed in the scriptures. Listen to this guidance, provided by the scriptures: “The Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know … it is of God.”

    “By their works ye shall know them; for if their works be good, then they are good also.”
    and “By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them”

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  7. Gera, I’m praying that you will find a Christian faith congregation that binds its members together in love rather than just through their own processes and dogma. Remember that God loves us unconditionally, and loves us for what we are, not merely for the things we do or don’t do.

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  8. Really thankful for how you’ve shed light into the whole situation. I may not be a member of CHC but I am sure that the truth will eventually be revealed. I am so sorry to hear how you have gone through such situation of being reprimanded of things you shouldn’t be forced to do. Indeed, these people shouldn’t have control of your life, and you are held only accountable to God.

    Kudos to you, Gera! And continue be rest assured in God for He has greater plans for you 🙂 &He loves you too!

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  9. Gera, Jesus have overly paid for our sins and redeem us. And now all we have to do is to follows his one and only commandments which is “LOVE”. With this one and only commandment it will help us to fulfil the rest of the ten commandments. To me, when I read about City Harvest, pardon me, it seem like a “cult” teaching rather than the preaching of GOD’s words. I do hope that you are intact with your faith and like what Bill’s encouraging words. Remember, GOD don’t need material things from our earthly place. All HE needs is our faith and be faithful to him. The scripture also did said that “Man don’t live only with food but with the word of GOD”. Many times in the scriptures you will hear our Lord Jesus say “Your faith have save you”. So these prove that is not the material or money we have that save us, is our faith. I will pray for you and hope that you don’t give up and continue to grow stronger in your faith. GOD BLESS! Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  10. Gera, sometimes God let you to taste the bitter of a community. But he wanted you to realize, how great he is, how awesome our God is. I m from charismatic churches also, from my experience when I give to Church I had nothing to lose at all. NEVER LOSE ANYTHING! When I give whether the church use it properly or not, it’s our duty to give as a christian. God will see our offering. Never see from people perspective, see from what God see. Just feel His grace. When you have bigger faith nothing gonna stop you, that’s the illusion that the devil made for you so you just stuck in your sorrow so you cant see God grace in your life. God Bless You, Keep Growing and be mature!!!!

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  11. Keep God personal to you, not what the church made Him to be or what other people made Him to be. I know that God wants a personal relationship with you, know Him as how you personally would.

    He’s always with you. God Bless!

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  12. Hope that you will continue on your walk towards Jesus. As in all suffering in life, what you went through was permitted by God so that you can find true faith, Paul had this advice for Timothy in 1 Timothy 6 3:10 for dealing with false teachers who would use the name of Jesus for financial gain –

    3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound[b] words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and[c] we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

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  13. Dear Gera,

    Thanks for your revelation. Not only are you intelligent, you have the ability to think outside whatever boxes people tried to put you into.

    With your discerning ability, you don’t really have to follow any one religion. You can follow all of them or none at all. All religious contain half-truths because they are bound by the use of language to communicate their concepts. It is impossible for us to think beyond the languages that we know or use. But the biggest problem with religion is not so much the limitation of language but the limitation of the human mind. And worse, the hypocrisy of the practitioners.

    I wish you ALL THE BEST IN YOUR PERSONAL SPIRITUAL JOURNEY.

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  14. Thanks for sharing your personal experience. I am most impressed by your ability to think outside the box that people put you into.

    With your discerning ability, you can follow any religion or none at all. Although I am a Daoist-Buddhist, I do not think it necessary for everyone to have a religion. All religions must be taught in words or language. But the very language we use to learn our religions becomes a trap because we think in words and are unable to think beyond the limits of our language. This inability to think beyond language causes the practitioners to over-intellectualise and that leads to so many contradicting interpretations even within the same religion. Worse, the practitioners are humans and cannot break out of a basic human weakness = hypocrisy.

    You must decide your own personal spiritual journey. I am confident that you will get there given your discerning mind.

    HAVE A HAPPY JOURNEY!

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  15. I still remembered my friends from city harvest giving me Sun Ho album for free, and I thought, “Wah, so good, for free CD”, in the end I found out, he bought many of Sun Ho albums under the strong encouragement from his cell group leader..
    This friend of mine is not rich and he actually bought a few of Sun Ho album for no reason..
    And what piss me off is, he “jio” me to go eat lunch, and I said ok, let us go eat chicken rice.. In the end you know what happened, I ordered a nice delicious roasted chicken rice, and you know what he ordered, he told the chicken rice uncle he wan chicken rice WITHOUT chicken!! Yes! Just the rice without CHICKEN, I began to have alot question marks in my mind..
    So during the lunch, I buay tahan, I ask him liao.. He said he is doing this for the building fund for City Harvest.. At that time I still not very sure what Building Fund is, but my friend told me he needs to contribute few hundreds every month to church for this building fund..
    City Harvest Church, what have you done to my friend.. Didn’t you all know that he is jobless and no income?? And he had to buy a few Sun Ho album and every month contribute to your building fund..
    I mean it perfectly ok to contribute, but at least educate my friend to contribute within his means.. Until now I’m not sure he did this willingly or unwillingly..
    I’m not sure whether what City Harvest did to my friend is right or wrong, but I felt heart pain for my friend..
    He rather buy a few Sun Ho album than to eat a proper chicken rice.. Wtf!!
    This thing happens about 10 years ago and I can’t forget this incident until now.. We no longer contact each other now, but I hope all is well for him..
    Truly, Father, what is right and what is wrong? Can we have the wisdom you have to guide us to do the right thing? This is a beautiful world to live in, but at the same time also a confusing world to live in, always have two sides to every story.. I pray for strength, the strength to stand up with what is right, and the strength to fight against what is wrong, God bless whoever that needs this strength.. Amen..

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    1. I really can’t understand you people. Are you people going to church to pray or some Rock concert apparently CHC appears to be like a concert . You are all brainwashed and most are already brain dead. Don’t you know that Praying to God is FREE! FREE Yes FREE God didn’t ask you to pay tithes it’s man. Blame yourself being gullible. Wake up

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  16. Hi Gera, it is very sad what happened in this mega-church, where i think it begin the problem, christian communities are supposed to be kind of small communities so we can support each other as well as track each other, i mean, we are just humans, who fails, trying to live according to the highest, the eternal. Anyway, iḿ from Chihuahua, México, greetings!

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  17. Hi Gera,

    thanks for sharing!

    I’ve been through just like you did and I agreed with all the statement you’ve written here. Until today, I’m still a free thinker. Believe in what you beliefs.

    God bless you.

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  18. Thank you for your sharing. I have always heard of stories of churches forcing tithes on their members and some of the many reasons you
    shared in your post as well (usually the suspects share this 2 criteria, from a certain denomination and a mega-church, but I’m not saying that the
    other so called denominations and/or small churches are not guilty of it as well). I always do wonder, how can some people be so stupid to fall
    into such schemes. Thanks to you, now I know that many people are gullible to scams, no matter how much salary they are making (assuming
    people with high pay means they have abilities to make important decisions in the company.)

    I shook my head in disbelief as I read through each reasons. It sounds to me like any other MLM scams…I mean schemes. A true church of God
    focuses on believing the bible to be the Word of God, focuses in the spiritual growth of every believer, caring for their spiritual status rather than
    all focusing in areas concerning moneys such as what CHC is doing.

    I am glad that you have gotten the right idea about what a REAL church ought to be.
    I pray and hope that you will find true fellowship amongst real believers of Christ.

    God bless you, Gera!

    in Christ,
    Justin.

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    1. Dear Justin,

      You have asked a very important question, “…how can some people be so stupid to fall into such schemes?”

      I had to ask myself that exact question after escaping from a cult here in Singapore in 2007. It was not a church, but rather a ‘company’, but even that is not true, as it was really only pretending to be a company as the entire operation was a big lie.

      When I finally figured that out, I needed to find out why they were able to trick me. How was I so stupid to let that happen?

      I did a lot of research seeking the answers to that. Not only to protect myself from getting tricked again, but also to help other people in similar situations.

      First of all it was a relief to see that smart people are often tricked into such situations. Look at all the people that were lured into the Madoff pyramid scheme that turned out to be a complete sham. He is now in prison, and many wealthy and ordinary people, as well as institutions, all lost a lot of money.

      Ok, Madoff was not a cult leader, but he used similar tricks.

      The tragic deaths of the followers of Jim Jones who ended up dead is however an example of how a cult can manipulate its members, even so far as getting them to commit a mass suicide. Heavens Gate is another example.

      So how does it happen? Many tricks are used in a variety of ways.

      A key trick used by the group that got me was offering something that sounded too good to be true.

      Like most promises that sound too good to be true, this one really was (too good to be true).

      I can’t be writing about this all day (and maybe you don’t want to spend too long reading about it), so I found a web page describing five common steps used;

      1. Invitation to a non-threatening event
      2. Love-bombing
      3. Dangling “The Prize” in front of you
      4. Extracting an agreement from you that you want the prize
      5. Shutting down your dissent by threatening to withhold the prize

      The full article can be read at this link;
      http://michaelbluejay.com/x/how-cults-recruit.html

      There are many similar articles available. Not many people are aware that cults and cult-like groups continue to operate all over the world in various forms.

      The last thing I’d like to mention is that no cult victim should feel that they are stupid, many others with decent intelligence have also been fooled.

      Victims are far from alone in making this mistake. The most important thing is to learn from it and not make the same mistake again.

      Peace,
      n3

      Like

  19. Sadly, there is church like this in Indonesia. It’s been 3 years I got out from that church. What you describe is almost similar with what I’ve experienced.

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  20. Dear Gera

    I am grateful to God and to you, that in time the Church have disappoint you to the intolerable level, instead of just kao peh kao bu like many of us, you analyzed the problem thoroughly, and presented to us as invaluable lesson that must be learned for all Churches.

    But, if i can give my 2 cents, we as a Christians, no matter how corrupt the church official can be, we still need the church, to spiritually grows in Christ.So, i will pray for you, that you will have a good spiritual journey in the future, and please also pray for me 😀

    In Christ

    Jalma, a sinners

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  21. Hello

    I highly doubt you’ll find and read this comment, but I’ll just type it in good faith anyway, that even if you do not see this, mayhaps God will acknowledge it.

    Foremost, I’m a Christian and my faith empowers me. So I do not take it lightly when I say that in the heart of places where God reigns, can there be small pockets of sin. And I believe that certain instances and experience do not happen in just CHC.

    Such injustice is done when those who are down in life and simply are looking for something to rely on get hoodwinked and misdirected. Though your unfortunate experience is, well, unfortunate, it served a greater purpose. Only when one go through such experience and is courageous enough to warn others, can it be prevented.

    I strongly believe that God works in mysterious ways and all these will be used for His greater purpose. At least now, churchgoers will be more wary of similar instances. After all, a church should be transparent. If a church does not allow the congregation to question their reasons for doing things, then something is probably wrong.

    Lastly, I just hope that your heart will never be closed against God. For in such trying times will you grow stronger than ever. Even when you give up on Him, He, truly, will never give up on you.

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    1. Hey Cantona, I did read your comment 🙂 Thanks for your words. Very well thought-through! Really appreciate that you put the time and effort into this

      Like

  22. Sorry that your have this bad experience with this church. Please do not loose faith in Christ for He is faithful. We will be disappointed when we put our faith in men because we are all sinners that includes pastors, church leaders. We should always turn back to Christ when we face trails and temptations. It’s very important to read and study God’s Word for it is living and its powerful. Ask Him for wisdom (James1:5). So that your will not be deceived by false teachers. Pray that God will provide you a sound doctrine church and true fellowship in Christ. Do not be discourage since Jesus has already warned us in the last days “beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” Matt 7:15. So don’t be surprise in Matthew 7:21-23 not everyone who said Lord, Lord shall enter the kingdom of Heaven and Jesus then declare to them “I never knew you depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” Vengeance belongs to God. We all should pray for the church to repent and truly saved by Grace. In Revelation 3:17 it reminds me of city harvest. I will be praying for you. Have faith in Christ Jesus.

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  23. Hi Gera. indeed I’m sorry to hear all these that happened to you. But as I was reading about reformation day (31st October – tomorrow!) after I read your blog, I was reminded that all these that happened to you are nothing new under the sun. During reformation time in 1517, bishop Albert who due to his desire wanting to be the archbishop can raise fund by selling indulges for people to cleanse their sin. At the end, it was Luther who did research and study hard on the scripture that fought against all these evil practices. So now, we as protestant Christian (I assume because City Harvest is not a Roman Catholic church) have the bible for ourselves to read. The power of God is in the God’s word. I pray that you will find a good church that focus on teaching the truth and guide you to read the truth for yourselves. If you need any good church recommendation in Singapore, I knew a few of it even though I’m not a Singaporean. Learn from the past not just yours but the reformers (history!) and move forward.

    this is a very good summary about reformation day.
    http://5minutesinchurchhistory.com/what-is-reformation-day/?utm_source=All+Things+Ligonier&utm_campaign=9babf22187-refweek_5min&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_420f754c7c-9babf22187-241421585

    Hope this encourage you, sister.

    In Christ,
    Steffie

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Faith means believing without any evidence. So it is pointless to a ‘shut’ mind. To the young Christian or any branch of the Abraham Faith, read the old testament and ask yourselves truthfully if you can love a god that demands you to sing praise and worship him all day and command you absolute obediance. An all powerful and knowing god that should know that mankind would betray him yet he creates man so that he can punish his creation. He blames not himself for creating a imperfect being yet blame the imperfect being for betraying him.

    Like

  25. Hi Gera! I just came across your post since a friend was sharing it. Thank you for writing this post. It’s well-articulated and totally resonates with my personal experience when I used to attend Hope Church of Singapore (used to be called Church of Hope of God) back in 2003. Their way of operation is also similar to CHC. Albeit painful, I learned some of the most important lessons from this experience and I’m just glad that I grew out of it. Here are my thoughts:

    1) Never be afraid to question when you notice something amiss, even if it means critiquing someone with an authority in a church or from any entity. Religions have become basic fundamentals of today’s society, but we should never forget to take a step back and review them critically.

    2) There’s nothing wrong in treating your fellow church friends like a family. BUT the moment they tell you to prioritize church related events over the needs of your own family, it shows their lack of understanding in honoring the parents. That also means they are very disrespectful towards your relationship with your family and/or relatives. My cell-group leader and other mates began to treat me like an outcast because I skipped services or cell-group sessions in order to help my Mum while my late Dad was hospitalized.

    3) Prioritize your health and education before any church or religious activities. While I was in secondary school, I’ve had my fair share of bad grades to the point that I got reprimanded by my family and was eventually grounded for several months. I know that I have myself to blame for not managing my time wisely, but this process taught me to say NO whenever I’m asked to participate in activities that may take too much of my time and energy. During my time at Hope Church, I was constantly made to attend long hours of church gatherings or cell-groups sessions every week. By the time the weekend came, I’d be too exhausted to even do anything else including reviewing for my exams. The level of mistreatment I received escalated when I decided to take a step back – or a fellow devout labels: “backslide” – so that I could catch up with my studies.

    Needless to say, I’ve become apathetic towards the church. Had I continue to fail in my studies, I would never receive a scholarship and graduate from college in overseas.

    4) When it’s time to walk away, do so with dignity. Don’t worry about what the people will say or think about you. Sometimes, there are things beyond our control – in this case, we can’t change the way people react or behave towards us. Like you, I faced similar problems with invasion of privacy. When my cell-group mates continued to question my personal life outside the church, I knew that I’ve reached a point whereby my sanity was at stake. I decided to cut off all ties with those people to the point of changing my phone number because the amount of harassment was just unbelievable.

    5) Your personal faith or relationship with God shouldn’t be defined by the church you go to. I’m now an agnostic subscribing to the philosophy of humanism, but I know that not all churches bring bad influence. It just comes down to finding the right one for each person and as long they promote peace, compassion and equality for the better of humankind. CHC may had pure intentions about spreading the Word of God, but it’s obvious that they would eventually lost their direction and in the eyes of the law, Kong Hee is now found guilty.

    With that said, it’s always important to be cautious to research what’s in a church’s leadership and the kind of gospels they like to preach. In the present day whereby televangelists and megachurches dominate the modern Christianity, many people are easily swayed by famous evangelical priests like Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, etc. These priests live in homes that are worth millions of dollars and yet, fail to show transparency in their accounts. A British comedian named John Oliver did an investigation on televangelists and what he found reflects a lot of things that are wrong in many churches. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y1xJAVZxXg

    What bothers me even more is how famous evangelists like Franklin Graham (son of Bill Graham) is actively practicing bigotry by preaching Islamophobia. I will definitely have a second thought if a church invites these kind of people to its service.

    Thank you again for sharing your post. It’s become a great platform for discussion. Best wishes to you and Cheers! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Sure do hope this hasn’t disillusioned your faith in God and his unconditional love for you and even the folks you’ve encountered in CHC. Hopefully you’ve found yourself a better church community 🙂

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  27. Hi, thanks for sharing. I was invited to CHC when they were located at Hollywood Theatre. I attended the service twice. I noticed my cell group leader (I can’t remember his name) was a bit strange. As he gave me the feeling that he only cares about how many members he had in his cell group. How much he collected from his cell group, he even passed around the giro form for his members to fill up. He told us we have to be honest on how much we earn a month (he repeatedly said the amount it’s before CPF deduction not after) when i told him my saving account is thumb print he told me to bring the form to the bank to get my thumb print on the form and pass it back to him the following week. I asked him why can’t I pass to the bank teller? He said he needed the form for recording purpose. But I strongly felt that he didn’t really trust me. I just felt something was not right and didn’t go back again.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. The devil is everywhere. The CHC may have started off with good intentions. But they lost their direction and fall prey to greed. I have never believe in “wealth” gospel preached by some megachurches. This is the devil’s way of confusing us. Many people fall into that trap thinking of what they could get out of God. I personally think it should be God first and then all the blessings that comes along by having a personal relationship with God. You are right to stand up to these people. If not for Roland Poon, the wrong doings of CHC will never be discovered.

    Some churches collect money for building funds then for mission trips and for a whole host of other things like helping typhoon/earthquake victims overseas and all that. If the money is used for the cause it is meant for, then our love offerings is well spent. But men are fallible. Church pastors are mere men. We should not be afraid to question how they spend the money and ask for monthly financial statements. Good churches with good stewardship should provide financial statements to detail how much money is collected and how much they spend and on what.

    otherwise the love offerings of members are open to abuse.

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  29. I think you have not been treated appropriately.
    Human beings may fail you but God is still good.
    If you do not think CHC is suitable for you, then I would suggest you find yourself another church 🙂

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  30. You post has gone viral (I received it as a CC email) & I hope more people read it…especially CHC church members!
    I’m glad you came to the realisation that you’ve been hoodwinked big time.
    Organized religion (be it Christianity, Islam etc) was created by man. What is touted to be the “word of God” was written by man. How can you explain all the inconsistencies in all the holy books? You don’t need a religious group to get closer to God. You certainly don’t need to “go through” any church pastor to get closer to God.
    Just remember the golden rule – The Golden Rule or ethic of reciprocity is a moral maxim or principle which may appear as either a positive or negative injunction: One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself (positive or directive form). The rest is white noise.
    On a different note, you write very well & you have independent thought. If you haven’t decided on a career, I think you would make a great teacher or inspirational speaker or something along those lines 🙂
    I hope you’ve found good people to replace the family you were looking for.
    I wish you all the best in life!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. pls find another church to attend asap.Pls stop hurting and forget abt yr bad expeririences in yr former church.Leave it behind you and look forward to a new beginning.May u grow in yr new church and find sincere friends and a good pastor.Do not be conned by false prophets anymore.Jesus is our all in all and draw near to him.Read your bible daily so that you can be wise and careful.Be joyful.Let go of the bad memories.

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  32. I am sad to hear of so many false teachers that have infiltrated our churches in these modern times and you have been the victim of one of them. Many Christians would rather hear from the pastor I.e. from man rather than to read God’s Word I.e. THE HOLY BIBLE
    On offerings: 6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. Corinthians Chapter 9. (NIV)
    The 10% in offerings is mentioned in the book of Malachi in the Old Testament which is originally known as the Torah. All laws in the Torah incl. what food they can eat and “an eye for an eye” (as mentioned in Deuteronomy, Numbers and Leviticus) and tithing applies to God’s chosen people I.e. the Jews before the coming of Christ and do not apply to us Gentiles. TBC

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  33. 2 Peter 2
    3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make MERCHANDISE of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. (KJV)

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  34. Hi Gara,
    Years ago I did attend CHC before when they are still in Paya Lebar held in a old cinema. All is good till we are break up into smaller cell group and where the leader preach us to give (money) whatever we have to the GOD and GOD will remember your action and you will be saved on judgement day. I did ask the leader can I give other things instead of money, she replied no, the more (money) you give, the more credit you will have when judgement day is here. I just walk out and never return to them and GOD. What I had become today is that I do not believe in any religion anymore (including the other religion). To me they are just tools to scam people money and I do not believe there are any GOD above us except the UNIVERSAL where seeing is believing, Planets and Stars are what I believe in.

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  35. Good sharing. I have read through all of it, and I even read the 200+ pages that detailed the entire court judgement on this case and certainly glad that things are finally brought to light.

    After this case, I would like to think that all churches are now more transparent in their income-expenditure accounts, as well as toning down all these pressure methods to make members give to the church. I guess City Harvest is more prone to the latter, simply because they are pretty much a cell group church, so that system makes it much easier to exert pressure on their members, like what you have faced in the years there, to give money to the church.

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  36. it is very brave of you to write this account. and i hope it stand well against test of time and scrutiny. wishing you all the very best in life, geraldine. take care.

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  37. Hello Gera,

    I am sorry to hear about what you went through. Not all churches are alike. Not all people are the same. We all work out our own relationships with God on an individual basis and I pray that nothing you have been through damages your relationship with Jesus. I am a pastor here in Singapore of a small church and I want you to know that I am praying for you, not so that you give money but that you stay connected to the church of Jesus, the Body of Christ entire. I have been in leadership in churches for more than 30 years and I have never forced anyone to give anything. I am sad to see what has happened to the leaders at CHC and am praying for them too. Even if you do not return to that church I assure you that there are churches where things are different.

    God bless you,
    Steven

    Like

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