Tuesday, January 25, 2011

CCC: God’s Vision or PG’s Vision?

The latest issue of Calvary Connect carried an interview with Pastor Prince Guneratnam (PG). On the challenges faced by the Calvary Convention Centre (CCC) project he said:

“Our building project is a faith project. It is for the advancement of the Kingdom of
God. It is a huge project. It is not surprising nor is it unique that we should face
many challenges.

In my knowledge, all building projects encounter challenges, especially church
building projects because we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the
rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against
the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). There are some
churches that have gone through much more serious problems than what we are

Plans can change but vision does not change.”

What a sweeping and completely untrue statement! He is blaming the difficulties the project is facing on the devil. He is also insinuating that the failure of the CCC project is somehow related to the crisis in the church which was caused by the devil. This thought has been so implanted in his staff’s minds that some of them have, in fact, been telling the members that the TTG are evil. 

To set the record straight, the CCC project was not one of the TTG issues. TTG was concerned about the lack of truth, transparency and governance in Calvary Church. Without doubt, these shortcomings are also in the CCC project but the TTG did not fight against the project. None of the resolutions put in by the concerned members at the previous AGM and EGM relate to the CCC project.

Today, the lack of transparency and accountability had gone from bad to worse. The members are not told anything intelligent but are given mere snippets of information which require piecing together like a jig-saw puzzle which remains incomplete and still a puzzle to all.

Coming to PG’s statement…..

“Our building project is a faith project…”

If indeed, the CCC is a faith project :

Why does PG need to resort to constantly preach the prosperity gospel and reminding the members that they must give in order to receive blessings? 

Why does he need to persistently persuade the members to fulfill their building and faith promise pledges? 

Why does he need to mortgage the church properties to the bank to raise some money to fund the project? 

Why does he need to tell the members that he is prepared to sell some prime church properties if the project runs short of funds? 

Why does he need to cajole and almost literally forced the leaders and members to sell paper bricks, dinner tables, funfair tickets and golf games to the outside world to raise money?

In so doing what he has done is, he has given the world the impression that our God is a poor God and He is unable to raise the funds from within the Christian community to build His own church building.

But our God is a rich God! If the CCC is His vision, surely He will open the windows of heaven and pour out His blessings and the CCC will be completed, without a single cent of borrowing. And no devil or powers of this dark world or the spiritual forces of evil can stop it! And certainly, not the TTG….

“In my knowledge, all building projects encounter challenges…”

PG’s knowledge is obviously very limited. Not all churches face such challenges like the ones faced by Calvary Church. There may be differences of opinion and a few may even leave the church but many big church projects were completed without such crisis, if it is of the Lord. Notable examples are the Metro Tabernacle, Glad Tidings PJ, PJ EFC, SIB KL, DUMC and Grace PJ. In fact, one of the churches even told the members not to give anymore to the building fund because they have collected enough and were encouraged to help out other churches. This is what happens when a church walks in the will of God and carries out His vision according to His ways.

It is so convenient for PG to blame the devil. He is giving the devil too much credit. If the failure of the CCC is the work of the devil, then the devil must have made PG appoint a freemason as the architect and an almost bankrupt company as the main contractor. These are the two main causes for the difficulties and challenges besetting the CCC. However, the fundamental reason could likely be that CCC was not God’s vision but PG’s vision.

"Plans can change but vision does not change.”

It is surprising that PG could make such a statement when the CCC is, in fact, his third edition of his vision. Maybe his age has affected his memory, after all, he has gone way past his retirement age.

Vision No. 1 was the Sri Hartamas land (near the new Agong palace) back in the late 80s. Those old enough would have remembered being shown a video clip with PG walking the length and breath of that piece of land and claiming it because God had given him a vision of the new church on that land. However, just before the signing of the Sale and Purchase agreement, the land was sold to someone else. The vision he so proudly proclaimed vaporised into thin air just as quickly as it came and it was quietly forgotten. Then arose a fresh vision for the present Damansara Heights site.

Vision No. 2 was to buy up the surrounding bungalows, tear down the existing sanctuary and build a new church on the Damansara Heights site. He claimed this was a new vision from God. The church bought up 7 or 8 bungalows but failed to buy up all the units in the island. Still, he felt the church could go ahead with what they had. Some preliminary planning approvals were given by the authorities and things looked really good. A lot of time, effort and money were spent. His vision of a 5,000 seat church was incorporated into the preliminary design and drawings presented to the congregation. Again he could not clear the final hurdle and the project was abandoned.

Vision No. 3 is the current CCC project. He originally wanted a piece of land in KL and not Selangor. Finding none, he settled on Bukit Jalil. The CCC project has been shrouded in lies and deception from the start. For the full story, check out the nine previous postings under “Calvary Convention Centre”.

He would not be able to finish the grand CCC monument that he initially planned. The cost has escalated to more than RM250 million from the original quote of RM50 million despite scaling down on the original specifications.

With what the church has in the coffers and a secured bank loan of RM35 million, he can only put up the main structure and the roof to stop the site from further deterioration and corrosion. He would need to sell church properties worth RM40 million or borrow another RM40 million and collect more building offerings to make part of the main auditorium usable.

Today, he hopes to complete enough of the structure to have Sunday services in the CCC. He has deferred the construction of the rest of the planned development like the classrooms, offices, recreational halls, subsidiary chapels etc.

To him, this would be proof that it is God’s vision. This is not necessarily the case. Man’s pride and self-will can accomplish much but “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it.”

Can it be ready for his grand show at the Pentecostal World Conference in 2013 planned to be held at the CCC? Possibly, if undiscerning church members and visitors continue to be ignorant and make sacrificial giving to the church.

Assuming the partial completion of the auditorium is achieved and is useable, what looms ahead is even more daunting and frightening. How will the church be able to service and pay off the RM35 to 75 million loan? The offerings alone will hardly be sufficient to maintain the facility. The danger of the bank foreclosing on the property eventually is real. But by then, PG will probably be enjoying his retirement and his successor (God bless him whoever he is) will need a giant Panadol. This could possibly be the closing chapter in Calvary Church’s history.

PG has misunderstood Dick Eastman’s word of prophecy that Calvary Church is a fountain-head church. A fountain head church is not necessarily an expensive and extravagant church building. Jesus is not interested in buildings. He is interested in people. The obscene amount of money being spent on the building cannot flow out of the church to touch the lives of people. A fountain head church is one from which the love of Jesus flows to touch and bless an ever widening spread of people. Instead of being locked up in brick and mortar, the money could have flowed out of the church to bless the needy, the widows and the orphans and of course to spread the Gospel. 

Compared to other churches, how has Calvary Church let the love of Jesus flow to others? All the church can boast of is an under-funded street ministry, the Sunshine Home providing only day care for a few elderly and one supported full-time missionary. The white elephant Calvaryland project which cost the church some RM8 to 10 million was just another ego trip which could never be financially justified. Another failed vision feather in his cap.

Look at the good works of other churches much smaller than Calvary Church; drug rehabilitation centres, dialysis centres, orphanages, properly funded street feeding programs, other social projects and regular mission trips to the poor and underdeveloped communities in the surrounding countries like Cambodia, Vietnam etc.

A big portion of Calvary Church’s missions giving are directed internally to the “extended ministries” and also used to pay many of the church staff salaries and are not really given away. Whatever little is given away, much publicity is provided so that the congregation will feel good.

Perhaps, it is fair to say that PG started well and that Calvary Church was once a fountain-head church. But sadly, today, the fountain head is now clogged up with dirt and has stopped flowing. Unless, serious efforts are made by the new Board of Deacons to clear the dirt without fear of man, Calvary Church will shriveled up in no time.

A God-given vision shall be fulfilled. It cannot fail. If it fails to be fulfilled, it is because of man, not God. God’s vision can only be accomplished if it is carried out according to His will.

So is the CCC a vision from God or PG’s own personal vision?

Let the Spirit give you the discernment!