Join us on our podcast each weekday for an interesting story, well told, from Charisma News. Listen at charismapodcastnetwork.com.
Kong Hee's pop-star wife is set to take the stand in an embezzlement case that has become a trial indeed for the founding pastor of Singapore's City Harvest Church.
Sun Ho will offer her testimony in what Channel News Asia calls "one of the longest-running criminal trials" in the nation.
In May, a judge ruled that six current and former leaders—including the church's founding pastor, Kong Hee—need to answer allegations that they misused millions in church funds to finance the career of Ho.
The other defendants are Pastor Tan Ye Peng, members Chew Eng Han and Lam Leng Hung, and accountants Serina Wee Gek Yin and Sharon Tan Shao Yuen. They all face 10 to 20 years if convicted.
Prosecutors in April said that church leaders conspired to misuse around 24 million Singapore dollars ($19.2 million) in donated money, which was to go to building-related expenses, to help fund Ho's career. Additionally, four of the six—not including Kong—allegedly misused 26.6 million Singapore dollars ($21.3 million) to cover up the previous transactions.
The 20,000-member church, founded in 1989, has become one of the country's largest and fastest-growing churches. According to The Wall Street Journal, City Harvest's followers are "drawn by its charismatic style of evangelism and teachings that material wealth is compatible with Christian beliefs."
The charges of conspiring to engage in criminal breach of trust were filed in mid-2012 following a two-year investigation by Singapore's commissioner of charities and the police. All six have denied the charges.
Ho, who has not been accused of any wrongdoing, resumed her role as City Harvest's executive director last year after her suspension was lifted. Kong continues to lead the church as senior pastor.
For a limited time, we are extending our celebration of the 40th anniversary of Charisma. As a special offer, you can get 40 issues of Charisma magazine for only $40!