(May 2, 2017) Charles Schwab shares from his heart…

Last month the bad news from Singapore travelled quickly over the internethttp://www.charismanews.com/world/64407-megachurch-pastor-kong-hee-heads-to-prison.

In brief, a pastor and four of his church co-workers began gaol sentences on April 21 for illegal financial activities, following on from being convicted in 2015.  A fifth co-worker, who also received a jail sentence, is awaiting a Court of Appeals decision before his sentence will commence.

I’m referring to media reports of Kong Hee, who was the pastor of a megachurch in Singapore – City Harvest Church. Hee and five of his leaders were sentenced to imprisonment for the illegal misuse of around 50 million Singapore dollars. Their revised sentencing is for about half the time originally specified as a consequence of an appeals process.

A wakeup call
I must state that there was no joy in hearing that report – Kong Hee, the other leaders and the shaken City Harvest Church in Singapore need the prayers of caring people.

Years ago I served in staff associate pastor roles.  Now in retirement, I preach and teach and mentor when I can.  All ministers and leaders have responsibilities to God and the church and indeed the surrounding world.

In this connection, I see this sad news as a wake up call to all ministers to be more responsible! There’s a web-centred world watching us – and the church in general! We must all be careful not to degrade Christianity – and Jesus Christ and his church – in any way!

And as I considered this bad news, this sad news from Singapore, I was led to ponder again about my own fallibility and my own need of on-going submission to God.

I began to think about how this incident could be used positively to church leaders’ advantage, how this incident might challenge and convict every minister to seek the Lord in respect of our responsibilities, especially submission to God and caring fellow ministers.

All ministers should regularly heed Psalm 139:23!
Please note that I am not writing a slamming ridicule against Kong Hee!  The heart of my article is this… I look to myself, to my pastoral friends, to ministers worldwide and remind us all of our responsibilities before God in respect of our behaviour.

I personally am

  • Reminded of my own fallibility – and the reality that I too am able to disobey God!
  • Urged to renew my desire to be watchful and prayerful. 
  • Desirous to continue to welcome around me a few strong Christians who pray for me and who would intercept me if they even smelled the possibility that I could be going off the rails of Christian behaviour in a potentially serious way.

The words of verse one of a well-known hymn come to mind… written by Dr J Edwin Orr, promoter of renewal and revival:

‘Search me, O God, and know my heart today,
Try me, O Saviour, know my thoughts, I pray;
See if there be some wicked way in me;
Cleanse me from every sin, and set me free.’

All four verses can be found in http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Search_Me_O_God/ and the music and singing of the hymn can be accessed at the lower left of the web page.

Dr Orr’s The Re-Study of Revival and Revivalism is riveting reading – a great history of revival over the centuries, describing what ‘revival’ ‘awakening’ really is. Link for a downloadable free PDF file: http://www.jedwinorr.com/resources/pdf/Orr_Revival_and_Revivalism.pdf.

Opportune moment
I’m concerned for the church today – and for my fellow ministers. I feel the lesson here is that this sad news is regarded as an opportune moment for reflection about –

  • Who Jesus is (God’s Son, the only Saviour of the world, to be highly and worthily honoured)
  • What he wants to accomplish in and through all of us (individually and the church in general)
  • The fact that all ministers have a responsibility to live a life that isn’t open to reproach!

There is a longing across churches today for a genuine revival and awakening. Leaders must be right before God if we’re going to see this come about – plus many salvations. Churches – and leadership in particular must ensure that there are no blockages whatever!

My prayer is that every church leader, indeed every Christian, takes a positive advantage of this recent bad news report and is open to a Psalm 139:23 heart search – as I emphasised above, I myself am so aware of my own infallibility!

I’m reminded of the words of Dr Orr (above), scholar, preacher of true revivalism and evangelism, that apply to all Christians but, in the light of this article, especially to church leaders and ministers…

  • ‘Do you feel like you’ve broken your fellowship with God? You know all that is required! Repent and confess!’
  • ‘The important thing to remember is repentance is the prelude to revival. The church must first repent.’

It obvious that our troubled world heralds many wake up calls these days – but these are not heeded.

May this latest church/ministers spiritual wake up call be heeded by all who hold great responsibility in our churches and are accountable to our people and the head of the church himself – the Lord Jesus Christ!

Charles Schwab lives in Geelong, Victoria. Having served as a staff associate pastor for lengthy periods in two churches in Adelaide and Geelong and ministered in the Philippines and Fiji, his vision these days is to encourage churches and leaders wherever the Lord ‘opens the doors.’ cmschwab1 {AT} hotmail.com / +61 (0)421 219 861


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