Then He said to the dsciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come,but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.Luke 17:1-2
People in Rawang, Selangor familiar with the scandal that rocked its little Christian community recently, have by far been wondering why the culprit who lit the fire, the one who started it all, was never once named nor exposed. This is where the public needs to recognize that the purpose of this blog is to deal with matters that are of interest to God and the church, and not to shame or insult any particular individual without cause.
Unless you are a church leader or a public figure, and you have done horrible things that deserve condemnation in the community that others need to be aware of, you will not be named. Regardless of the nature of any transgressions, a carnal person can be easily forgiven by God and those they offended. But the same is not true for church leaders and people who lead others with their preaching and teachings. If you promote damaging doctrines, you will be a constant target on our radar.
In my country, or the world at large as a matter of fact, there is no recourse for believers to seek remedy in the event they fall victim to unscrupulous preachers. There’s no entity we could turn to and there’s no ears willing to hear our cases. Larger umbrella Christian bodies were established not as institutions that administers God’s justice, but they are there just to cultivate the church, regardless of whether pastors, preachers are doing the right or the wrong things. Therefore, this blog sets itself out as the voice to hear the cries of believers, people who suffered under the hands of ruthless church leaders who believe they have divine powers to do as they wish here on earth.
Next on our list is David Lee Ying Kiat. An ordinary man who left his church to form his own, David Lee together with his wife, Grace Tsen Siew Lynn, established a small community church in Rawang several decades ago. They started off well with decent number of followers and their church membership began growing to include worship services in English, Malay and Chinese languages. From past photographs obtained from social media, it is believed that their church, The City of Praise Rawang, at one time had more than 50 members. Not bad for a small church in a small town having only a small community of Christian believers.
By invitation from the couple’s sister-in-law, my family and I joined their church about seven years ago. And by the time I was with them, their popularity had already dwindled, and my formative years were spent there wondering what was wrong with the church. I wasn’t the only one thinking in that manner, I was told that many other preachers who came by this church to offer them help, also felt likewise. I never thought much about it, until the ugly truth began surfacing.
Practically, most other reputable or responsible preachers who visited this church, would never return a second time. Year in and out, you will only find a small number of false preachers and fake prophets, the fellow wolves like David Lee himself and his friends who shared the same beliefs of false indoctrination, these are the only ones you will ever find turning up and preaching at this church from time to time.
One Man Show On A Ship Steered By A Queen
Similar to the story of Ahab and Jezebel, the City Of Praise is governed by a lazy ruler and all decision-making of the church is rested in the hands of his wife and a small bandit of her own loyalists. The crappiest thing that they allowed to happen inside this church, is the way funds and money is managed. There’s no accountability, no oversight committee and no audits were done annually. What goes into the offering bags on Sundays, will go unaccounted, for the rest of eternity.
David and his wife, treated the church like their own piggy bank. Granted, as a family, they too have mouths to feed. Their extended family members (the Lees and the Tsens), numbering more than a dozen of them, were still school-going kids several years ago. Hence, the pressure on the couple were immense, to provide for their own. But the manner in which they used the church and manipulated its resources for their own financial benefits were known by many, but never exposed. Until now.
Members of the church are fully aware that almost all of the assets belonging to the church, were never purchased with church money. From carpets to air-conditioning units to audiovisual equipment, these items were donated as gifts by people from the community.
Even on annual festive events like Christmas or New Year, the food and refreshments were out-of-pocket expenses by church members and nothing was ever paid from church coffers. David will usually hold committee meetings before festivals, and he will ask those in attendance, who shall be responsible for doing things that needed to be done. And when it comes to food and drinks, those who volunteer to cook or dispense the beverages, they shall be assumed to be paying for it from their own pockets. So each year, you will find an odd number of people sitting at a table, looking at David or his wife, and not wanting to be embarrassed, they will hesitantly agree with the rest, to prepare and pay for the food. And on Christmas day, David and his preachers will proudly announce that God had blessed the church tremendously.
New members will find the atmosphere at The City Of Praise, Rawang, indisputably pleasant during their first visits. But after a while, they will face the unwelcoming truth, that one is expected to feed and to provide to the rest although no one will inform them that these are the unwritten rules of the church. While the unsuspecting individuals thought that they have done their part by contributing to weekly offerings, but little do they realize that all cash and money given to the church actually goes straight into the pockets of David Lee, his wife and their families. As for other needs that arise within the church from time to time, regular members are expected to give and contribute again, if you do not comply, the inner circle of the church, the pack of bandits that are close to David’s wife, will start treating you indifferently.
In one particular incident after my mother’s wake, I personally went over to the church on a Wednesday night, to approach David himself personally to thank him. I gave him an envelope containing substantial amounts of cash in it, and I mentioned to him specifically that the money is given as a gift to the church and not to him. Perhaps members of City Of Praise should question him now, how much I paid to him and what happened to all the cash I gave him. If the money were kept with the church, it could have been used to assist many families who are in need of food aid and financial assistance during recent crisis times. No, despite what is given to the church, the church is always poor and in need of more money. This is how ridiculous things are with this church and how it is managed by David and his wife.
Other than this, I have also personally spent tens of thousands of Ringgit purchasing art materials from the shop owned by this couple to support them, although I hardly draw on canvas and did most of my artwork with digital pens, most of the time. They are people who do not appreciate the goodwill of others and all they do is they make use of others persistently for their own selfish gains. Once you fall out of this category as their viable contributor, they’ll start treating you like trash.
Repentance That Never Was Repentance
One and a half years ago, they made an open pledge during one particular Sunday service, to repent and to seek forgiveness for all their sins and wrongdoings. But today, they were back at it again, with David continuously preaching the lie that if we give to his church, God will give us back more. The messages you hear on Sundays from this man, is no longer about the Gospel, the Bible or God’s teachings. It is about what this man is saying and promising, and he uses God as his marketing tool to get money instead of preaching. So, anyone who attends his church, goes home with the belief, that if we give more to him, the more God will bless us back. As though, being blessed by God is tied to the fact whether his family gets to put either rice or mere porridge on their dining table.
Their repentance was never a repentance. And they never sought to change their ways that hurt the community and the people of Rawang. Today, the Malay church itself is mostly attended by their own family members and people employed by David himself in his other interest, a shop selling art materials that in itself is already a sunset business, slowly dying into oblivion. The English/Chinese church has near zero attendance, and had been facing extreme difficulty attracting new members to its fold. Sunday school is non-existent and the youth groups no longer consist of youths, for their youths have grown up, and they don’t have any more new youths to take over their youth fellowship. To be honest, many people from the town of Rawang have been to this church. And the smarter ones already knew what was going on and have left long ago.
Money, Money, Money
Last week, he repeated the farce at the pulpit, that to give to his church is a law from God (“hukum” as mentioned in their Malay service). Whereas broadly speaking, he is also one who holds the false doctrine that all God’s law and commandments are no longer relevant to Christians today. Inasmuch as you can expect from this man, Christianity is therefore a license to sin, and once you are guilty, all you have to do is to go back to his church, sing some worship songs to usher away the transgressions and obey the law to put money in his pockets. Then you will be fine and you will do well as a follower of Christ. In a nutshell, if you are a member of City Of Praise Rawang, the only Holy commandment that you are required to follow is the law to give away your money to David Lee and his wife. Everything else said by Jesus that if we love Him, we are to follow His commandments, do not apply.
Structurally, the Malay section of City Of Praise, is fairly larger than its Chinese and English sections. But at the top, the church operates one trustee banking account, under the names of David himself and another person by the name of Raymond Lim. Although the Malay-speaking members were the majority, and they are also the biggest contributors to its church funds, not a single one of them were made party as trustees to its church funds, although the funds are mostly theirs.
The way in which David Lee structured the organizational chart in his church, clearly indicates how much he distrust those that are not of the same ethnic origins as himself. While he subtly speak pleasantries into their ears, that they are all one in the family of Christ and the church, but the truth is far from it. He never once gave away autonomy to anyone whom he perceives as having potential to disrupt or question his long term, primary agenda of milking resources from the people in his church.
In fact, no one is even allowed to question, how money is collected or how they were spent. This church takes from its people without giving anything back to them ever.
The City Of Praise Rawang is what it is because it is run by wolves and not shepherds. This church is constantly about devouring its flock, leeching on every penny of their resources, and using all kinds of ways and means to persuade them to turn over their wealth into the hands of David Lee and his wife. It was never a church but a business entity, a pyramid or a Ponzi-scheme, established to scam and steal from its members. Technically they sell empty assertions to Christians, and they make promises to others on behalf of God that God Himself never told him nor his wife to tell anyone.
These scammers are probably not even aware that the people that they have offended and are coming after them, were once people who supported them immensely, both operative and financially. Like their associates of false preachers and fake prophets, they have no idea that it was the ordinary people who gave them and their family, food to eat and clothing to wear. And they are also people without decency, who couldn’t recognize what others had done for them. But rather, they continue to play the cards of zealots, promoting themselves as profound, anointed men of God and that because they said so, therefore they are worthy and entitled to be respected and honored by all.
Coming up next, Grace Tsen and the shambles at her Sunday school. Stay tuned for our next article.