The reduced jail sentences of six of the convicted CHC (City Harvest Church) leaders have gotten netizens in an uproar. While many debate what is a justified sentence for misuse of $50 million. I'm a huge believer of turning darkness into light so I'm here to talk about what are the life lessons we can take away from this.
While I believe darkness is always drawn to light, the closer you go to God, the harder it can be. It's a powerful place to be and also a dangerous one. When man thinks he's God, disaster follows. It's always been ironic to me that I have to separate God from pastor, pastor from church and church from man. If man is God, I won't believe in a God, what's the point? Well, this is why many don't believe and I don't blame them one bit. I'm not a huge fan of organised religion myself for this reason.
What I can say for myself is while I recognised the imperfections of churches. I have benefitted from God's grace and God is totally different from man. Power and wealth is addictive, the more people worship you and the more worldly success you attain, the more you think you are invincible. You don't need to be a Christian to understand this. You just have to look around at what's happening in the world and you can understand this. Conventional success is often limited to these factors without the consideration of happiness, purpose and meaning. You have probably encountered this personally, where you are celebrated when you are doing well, becoming full of yourself, drawn false friends and subsequently abandoned when you need them the most. Humility comes hand in hand with power/wealth or anyone will be tempted to overstep themselves. Man isn't God for a reason and can't be worshipped as such. The world is broken, people are broken, everyone is as fallible as the next person. Only who, what, when, how little or much.
Victim shaming by calling the donors fools is one thing I find difficult to tolerate. The people who donated are victims, not just monetarily but spiritually as well. Faith is a long arduous journey of continuous self-reflection and sometimes baptism under fire. If there's anyone who is hurting the most, it's them. I know this because it was a lesbian CHC churchgoer that brought me closer to God, she grew up in CHC, went to their theology college, donated religiously even though she wasn't doing so well and headed their volunteerism programs. When this saga started, I saw the hurt in her eyes and the betrayal in her heart. She said, this is home to me and that told me everything. She had to move from a place of self-denial as all victims go through to a place of forgiveness, this process isn't done easily. For anyone who have grieved a broken relationship or the death of a loved one, its one and the same. When the truth is be too hard to handle, self-denial prevents trauma, people often need time to process it. Imagine emptying out your pockets for a lifetime, calling a church your family and trusting someone but to find out it was mismanaged on such a large scale.
She also said CHC needs to rebuilt and carry on. I agree with her wholeheartedly. I didn't let justice cloud my mind and neglect the people who are hurting the most but rather acknowledge that despite it all, there are many good years where the leaders have moved the hearts of many through service directly to the community.
The criticism has overflowed in many ways. Christians and Christianity alike are under attack. Many Christians are struggling to understand persecution on a larger scale when they're not involved at all. They have to field all these questions while trying to make sense of it themselves. They are hurting too.
I'm able to deal with this far better than others because it's way too familiar. As a lesbian myself, this persecution you are feeling now, is how as a lesbian and a believer, I have always felt. Worse than non-believers persecuting me is believers doing it themselves under the guise of care when it's scapegoating. The hypocrisy turns my stomach. I have never believed for a day that it is right and true, I still don't. To be cast aside and condemned by the people you call your own, hope to journey with, is the worse feeling ever.
The same lesbian Christian who led me to understand God better is also the person who was asked to go for reparative therapy, rejected by her fellow churchgoers, became so disillusioned that she left church. The crisis of faith of the leaders can indeed bleed into a crisis of faith for the followers, when self is above love, nothing good comes from it. Till today, she struggles with acceptance of self and God. She was the also the one who among the many straight Christians I know that lived more Christ-like and manifest it through volunteerism. That's why her words spoke to me when none did.
So we come full circle, to the first point. Faith in the absence of humility and understanding of grace is one of emptiness. I take no pleasure at any of the leader's suffering. I still believe that God's grace is for all. It's not that it didn't get me thinking, it's rather that I understand that repentance can sometimes come after great suffering when one's will has superseded faith by far, destruction often leads salvation. It's not up to me anyway, all in God's good time. One's faith will always be tested, my duty is to continue my own journey, rest in him and not add to the suffering of others but live perfectly imperfectly the best way I know how.
To love, light and peace,
Find photo here.