Sun Ho has acknowledged for the first time in public that she herself was having trouble reconciling the image of a pastor’s wife with her pop music persona as the “Chinese Geisha”.
“People in the church world were upset with me, asking how could a pastor’s wife do this, and people in the entertainment world were suspicious of me,” said Ho in a wide-ranging interview with City News, the online news arm of City Harvest Church (CHC) on Saturday.
Referring to the Crossover Project — the church’s mission to evangelise using secular pop music — the 42-year-old wife of City Harvest founder Kong Hee said, "There were moments during the Crossover, when I felt alone and I seldom talk about this, of course I had my US team, but it was just a hard mission".
“There were days when I didn’t serve the vision with the best attitude. It was hard to be on the road, to be apart from the family I’m so close to…” she admitted, realizing that “the values in the world and those in the church are poles apart”.
“Many times, I asked God how long more I had to do it”, she said, before revealing she felt like “giving up” several times throughout the Project.
"So much happened during the Crossover, but one thing I remember most clearly is this: standing on the stage each night, after I share my testimony, and seeing the souls come forward, telling myself, ‘It’s all worth it, it’s all worth it".
As part of the project, which started in 2002, Ho worked with music performers and producers like Wyclef Jean and Diane Warren. She released several songs including the reggae hip-hop number, “China Wine”, where she adopted the persona of a gyrating scantily-clad “ Chinese Geisha” in the music video which cost US$1 million to produce.
The music video quickly drew a barrage of scorn and criticism from netizens, who questioned how such music could support the church’s mission.
Six leaders from the church are currently on trial for allegedly misappropriating over $50 million in church building funds to finance Ho’s secular singing career.
In the wide-ranging interview, Sun Ho also said while many perceive her pop star life as “glamorous”, she felt otherwise, saying that life on the road was hard.
“Honestly, there was nothing glam about it. Who wants to wake up at 3am and have people pulling your hair, touching your face, and then be up and chasing the sunrise,” she said.
She also recalled the day that she heard news of the Commercial Affairs Department investigation back in 2010, saying with a sigh that it was a “scary day”. “I remember the blood just draining from my face. I felt like I was going to pass out. I stood there, frozen, I could not scream, I could not shout for anyone,” she said.
Another lowlight from this period was returning to a church congregation that did not recognise her after she spent several years in the US developing her career for the Crossover Project.
“In an ironic way, the Crossover had positioned me so successfully that they saw me as very ‘secular’ and they doubted my spirituality or maturity as a church leader,” she said.
Ho also shared how the lowest moment of her life was when she miscarried twice and sank into depression.
“It was very, very difficult for me. Even though Pastor was a great source of strength to me, I think only a woman understands the depth of pain at losing a child. So whenever I talk to other women who have lost their children, I feel so much for them,” she said.
During the interview, Ho also talked about how she met Kong Hee and the way he proposed to her. When they were working together in church, Kong approached her at the church office and popped the question.
At this point, the two were only friends, and they had no romantic feelings. They had not even gone on a date.
“When he came into the office and asked me (to marry him), I really thought he was joking. So I laughed, right? He was standing, I was sitting, and I laughed and laughed, then I caught myself because I realized I was the only one laughing and he was looking really serious. Then I stopped laughing and I just said yes.”
Ho also touched on her personal life outside of work and church, where she enjoys cooking – Kong particularly likes her bak chor mee – and going to the gym.