Former member of City Harvest Church (CHC) reveals the cult-like approach of the church, his coercion to attend CHC, his mother’s mental melt-down and his resulting anxiety issues caused by the unbiblical teachings at one of Singapore’s largest pentecostal churches
I am a current City Harvest Church (CHC) member and still in my teens. I do feel anxious and am unsure why I feel this way. To be honest, I do not want to attend CHC and am aware that Kong Hee and the leadership are guilty for their fraud (and rightfully agree so), but I am coerced to attend CHC by my mother who remains a faithful follower even though me and my own father disagrees with CHC and accuse her of blind faith.
I attended CHC since 2002 when I was a kid. To me, staying in CHC or leaving would not make a difference in my thoughts towards them. Compared to Admin 1’s testimony, CHC now is not as “hard sell and forceful” as they used be during Admin 1’s days. However, there is that implicit pressure going on and I do feel stressful hanging out with my cell group (CG).
In the past, my dad had to disconnect the phone line because they kept calling me. As a 12 year old back then, it was really stressful. They would surround me in large groups, but today, my CG leaves me alone most of the time. My mother still coerces me to go, thinking that it can help me in my anxiety and fears. She thinks I’m a hermit. She also coerce my father to attend CHC and will nag and give him sleepless nights if he refuse to attend for too long.
I find their prosperity sermons boring, that it makes me want to sleep, because they always keep talking about the same things. Pastor Tan Ye Peng speaks the best in my opinion, while Kong Hee is just a savvy speaker. The preaching has been less doctrinal for the past 5 years, as most of the time was spent on praising Kong Hee and his wife, Sun Ho. I don’t care about their prosperity gospel much as I knew it was a lie from day one. I am content with what I have.
My connect group leader (different from cell group leader) keeps asking me to donate to this year’s building fund, claiming that I should donate out of “love for God”. On the stage, the message is about donating to receive financial blessings in return. Honestly, the “successful” testimonies they bring on stage are just 1 out of a 1000 people who donated, while the rest who donated suffered badly. It’s basically a sales pitch, a big propaganda machine. I don’t like it and that’s why I don’t tithe. And why should I since I don’t make any income?? They expect me to use my savings or money given to me by my parents. As my dad does not want to argue with my mom, he lets her be and lets her donate. He knew way long ago that the funds were channelled towards Sun Ho before they were exposed.
I lectured my connect group leader a few days ago, when he asked me about my view on the verdict. He isn’t in the position to comment back to me though since I was in CHC way longer than him. I just told him as a matter of fact, the this was indeed a breach of trust. I was very happy when Kong Hee and the leaders involved got arrested. They cheated me of my money when I was a kid.
Both of my mum’s first two cell group leaders left CHC and they were executive and board members. I am also aware the the cell group and connect group leaders themselves are controlled and pressured from the top.
When I tell my CG leader that I am stressed out, they can’t do anything much and my mum tells them that I have anxiety issues, not realising that CHC and she coercing me to go are the cause of it. I even have a psychiatrist letter proving I have that condition.
My mother however has it worse. Since attending CHC, she became very paranoid and very anxious. Anything that does not go her way smoothly, she will make the ridiculous claim that the Devil is acting against her, like having a minor car accident etc. Sometimes when she presses the wrong number on her mobile, she would blame the Devil for it. She keeps worrying about things and scolds me for being anxious when she in fact, is anxious herself! It’s hard to convince her to leave CHC but to be fair, her current CG people are moderate and many of them dislike Sun Ho’s antics.
When the judge said that Kong Hee was capitalising on people’s fear and paranoia to galvanize support for channeling funds in a discreet manner towards the crossover project, he was not wrong. Indeed, look at what Kong Hee has done to me and my mom now. When Kong Hee made the daring claim some time ago that God said sorry to him, he’s hallucinating! Sometimes I wonder if his dreams and visions are hallucinations or vain imaginations.
After the verdict, I saw the service live online where Kong Hee apologised and bowed his head to the congregation. However, his apology sounded more like he was sorry for the inconvenience caused rather than the fraud and the false doctrines he preached. A.R Bernard who is right now in Singapore, continues to praise Kong Hee and Sun Ho. The previous time he came, he even told the church to obey and trust Kong Hee fully.
I do want to leave CHC but I will do so when I get older as I do not want to cause myself anymore emotional turmoil as I am experiencing right now.
Jayden (name has been changed to protect identity)
UPDATE: As of today, Jayden is no longer attending City Harvest Church