Prayer sessions ahead of verdict

Former City Harvest Church (CHC) fund manager Chew Eng Han said he and his family are "calm" as they await the verdict on his appeal against his conviction and sentence.

Chew, 56, was among six CHC leaders, including founder Kong Hee, who were found guilty in October 2015 on charges of criminal breach of trust and falsification of the church's accounts totalling some $50 million.

Speaking to The Straits Times yesterday, Chew, who is no longer with the church, said he was going to bed praying for peace and confidence.

Meanwhile, updates on Kong's Facebook page showed he was on a mission trip to parts of Japan last week with his wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun, and their son, Dayan. It included a trip to Aokigahara, which is commonly known as the "suicide forest", at the base of Mount Fuji, where the family was seen in a video worshipping and praying.

Mr Andrew Kho, a strategic partnership manager who has been with CHC for five years, said he is confident the church will endure, even if the verdict goes against senior pastor Kong. "The church is prepared for whatever outcome, and I know that together with the leadership, we will be able to pull through," Mr Kho, 33, said, adding that the mood among fellow church members has been mixed.

READY FOR ANY OUTCOME

The entire church is in prayer. We hope for favourable outcome, but we are also prepared if it is not that favourable.

MUSIC PRODUCER ERIC WONG, who has been with CHC for 18 years.

The Straits Times understands that church members have, of their own accord, held overnight prayer sessions among its more than 500 cell groups over the week, starting last Friday. There are also prayer sessions at its 37 zones, which have about 15 cell groups each, while members have also prayed individually.

"The entire church is in prayer. We hope for favourable outcome, but we are also prepared if it is not that favourable," said music producer Eric Wong, 38, who has been at CHC for 18 years and hopes to be at the Supreme Court to lend his support.

Consultant Lester Chee, 28, said: "We will be keeping a close watch on the outcome, but we will stand together with them and their family regardless."

While church members have been in prayer, a CHC spokesman said the church has not differed from its usual activities in the lead-up to today, with no plans to formally gather its members.

"The past few days have not been different from the past months, really. Our church has been in a season of prayer," the spokesman said in response to media queries. It is expected to address its 16,000-strong congregation with a statement on its website following the verdict.

•Additional reporting by Melody Zaccheus

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2017, with the headline 'Prayer sessions ahead of verdict'. Print Edition | Subscribe