He was on a work trip in Taiwan in 1999 when Kong Hee noticed that young people were not going to church.
It was then that he received a higher calling to evangelise to the young people in Taiwan and the world, Kong told the court yesterday. That was the beginning of the Crossover Project - his church's mission to evangelise unchurched youths by wooing non-converts through secular pop music.
So Kong suggested that his wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun, who was then a song and worship leader in the church, to perform pop songs infused with gospel lyrics to 5,000 delegates at the International Pastors' School in 2000. The response, especially from the young people, was overwhelming and very positive, he said.
Kong met with music producers and was told that Ms Ho performing secular pop music would be better received, compared to outright Christian songs.
While initially sceptical, he fully embraced the idea when a Sony Music managing director told him that Ms Ho was good enough. "And for the first time, I knew in my heart that there's such a possibility that we are good enough to do a secular album, or to release a secular album. I was so excited," he said.
Ms Ho went on to produce five albums and host concerts around the world, including a 80-concert outreach tour between October 2003 and May 2004, he said. At each of her concerts, she would perform secular songs for 75 minutes before sharing her difficult childhood and how she found her faith. She would then break into the only gospel song of the night, before Kong went on stage to receive those who wished to convert.
The court also heard that Ms Ho reached 109,000 people through the concerts and more after the launch of her first two albums. Of those, 33,000 "received Christ into their lives".
Kong also said church members supported the project by buying Ms Ho's albums or donating to the Crossover Project. Some even volunteered to help at overseas concerts on their own expense.
"If not for the Crossover Project, we will just be possibly another neighbourhood church. (It) caused our church to have doubled and, at one time, triple in our congregation size," he said.
This article was first published on August 12, 2014.
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