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17 July 1952|
|Spouse(s)||Rev (Dr) Nina Khong|
|Church||Faith Community Baptist Church (FCBC)|
Lawrence Khong Kin Hoong (born 17 July 1952) is a Singaporean Christian religious leader and magician. He is the senior pastor of Faith Community Baptist Church in Singapore and the chairman of LoveSingapore, a network of about 100 socially conservative Singaporean churches. Khong is also the founder and chairman of TOUCH Community Services, a non-profit, non-religious welfare organisation.
Khong is the son of a businessman and a housewife. His father, a general commodities wholesaler who came from Guangdong province in China, had another family in Hong Kong with four children, but remarried when he came to Singapore before World War II broke out.
Khong was rebellious and did poorly in primary school, he claimed that his grades improved dramatically when he entered secondary school at St Joseph's Institution. Following this, he went on to National Junior College, where he met his future wife, Nina, and were classmates with future prime minister Lee Hsien Loong. Despite becoming a Christian at the age of 13, Lawrence said that he had "backslid" during his army days, even though he said he went for a church camp at Port Dickson. Khong claims that a drowning incident at the church camp made him reflect deeply on life and on himself. He returned to church and joined the Varsity Christian Fellowship and began preaching on the pulpit while he was still an undergraduate. Khong also started performing publicly as a magician, and was a member of the Singapore Charter of the Society of American Magicians. After graduating with a B.A Business Administration from the National University of Singapore, he worked as an intern pastor. A year and a half later, he married his fiancé, Nina (who was by then a houseman) and the two set off for Dallas where he attended the Dallas Theological Seminary. While studying there, Khong was asked to pastor a Dallas church with a Chinese congregation because he could speak some Chinese, which he found challenging. Khong returned to Singapore and joined Grace Baptist Church in 1981. The church's congregation grew from 300 to 1600 between 1981 and 1985.
Faith Community Baptist Church
Faith Community Baptist Church (FCBC), was founded by Khong as a cell church in 1986. Khong delivered his first message to the new congregation on 17 August 1986. Besides serving as the pastor of the megachurch, Khong also stages entertainment shows that combine magic, music, drama and dance to engage his congregation. The church is reported to have a congregation of around 10000 members as of 2014.
FCBC is a charismatic church that is socially conservative. In 2012, the Faith Community Baptist Church fired a member of the church staff on "moral grounds" because of her adulterous relationship with a married church worker. As the Employment Act of Singapore states that an expectant mother from her fourth month of pregnancy must be paid benefits if she is sacked without sufficient cause, the church was made to pay the sacked employee $7,000 in salary and benefits.
In 2017, the church opened an arts hub at Bukit Merah Central. The nine-storey building includes a performance venue Gateway Theatre, which is rented out to arts groups on weekdays and used for church services on weekends. It is operated by Gateway Entertainment which is run by Khong and his daughter. The new building, costing more than $50 million, is mostly funded by the congregation. 
Media and entertainment
Khong has been performing as an illusionist and magician since his late teens. He started producing movies in 2010 and performing magic shows such as "Magic of Love" and "Magic Box".
Khong shared his experiences of "Magic of Love" in his book Give me the Multitudes! Obeying God's Call into the Media World, TOUCH Ministries International: Singapore but has received some criticism from fellow Christians for his use of magic and involvement in "marketplace ministries."
Khong is the founder of Gateway Entertainment (formerly TOUCH Media), the entertainment ministry of FCBC, which provides Christian stage and movie productions and magic shows. Khong stated that he uses his magic shows as a platform to introduce certain religious beliefs and "good Christian values" a secular audience. Khong has performed magic shows, with his daughter Priscilla. Khong's magic shows have attracted controversy in 2015. As Khong is known for his strong views against homosexuals, pro-LGBT groups questioned IKEA Singapore for its member discounts for Khong's magic shows. Ikea Singapore continued offering its member promotion for the shows after a review.
Lawrence Khong has also been vocal against the spreading "anti-Christian and immoral values promoted by the secular world" by entertainers in Singapore, a non-religious state. He has spoken out against performance of Madonna in the country.
TOUCH Community Services
Khong is the founder and chairman of TOUCH Community Services (TCS), a non-profit, non-religious welfare organisation that has 18 services, 19 centres, and 24 youth clubs in Singapore helping the under-privileged. The organisation has served over 100,000 individuals since its establishment. In 1998, Khong was conferred the public service medal in recognition of his contributions to the community. In 2002, Khong conceptualised Project SMILE or Sharing Magic in Love Everywhere. For his achievements, he was selected as a finalist for the SIP-Schwab Social Entrepreneur of 2007.
In 2007, TCS won the Outstanding Non-profit Organisation Award in the National Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards, which recognises best practices in the management of volunteers and donors, including fundraising practices, in non-profit organisations.
Views on homosexuality
Khong has been criticized for his views regarding equal rights for homosexuals in Singapore. In January 2013, Khong issued a statement to ex-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong against repealing Singapore's laws that criminalises gay sex. He sees the repeal of Section 377A of the Penal Code as "a looming threat to this basic (nation) building block by homosexual activists." and regards the "homosexual act" as "the greatest blasphemy against the name of God".
In 2014, LoveSingapore,a network of 100 local churches that Khong, chairs, created a guide to how to support Section 377A of the Penal Code, criminalising sex between men. He also wrote an open letter to the Health Promotion Board, criticising that their webpage on sexual health "condones same-sex relationships and promotes homosexual practice as something normal". He has also actively protested against the annual Singapore gay pride event Pink Dot, and has supported the counter-campaign and encouraged his followers to speak out against the normalisation of homosexual relationships in Singapore.
Support for Creationism
In 2016, Khong was noted to have delivered a series of sermons at Faith Community Baptist Church, saying Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution was "a real deception from the Devil". The church's support for creationism in its pulpit and on its social media channels prompted a discussion on the spread of the idea by certain groups of Christian evangelicals in secular Singapore. The Ministry of Education has since clarified that creationism is not taught in local schools.
Khong and his wife, Nina Khong, have four children – Priscilla, Michelle, Anthony and Daniel Khong Bao Liang (Deputy Senior Pastor of FCBC), and a grandson, Isaac. Nina Khong has given up her medical practice to serve full time in FCBC. In 2003, Khong publicly disclosed Priscilla's incident of having a child out of wedlock. The family has since reconciled with the church and stands strong on their biblical belief of 'sex after marriage'. He is also a national polo player who won a silver medal with the Singapore team at the 2007 South-east Asia Games.
Notes and references
- "The Pastor Who Does Magic: 'PREACHER'S MAGICAL TOUCH'", The Straits Times, 7 July 2008
- "Pastor Lawrence Khong opens up on family, elaborates on stance on homosexuality". 20 May 2014.
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- Loke, Angela (30 July 1974). "A tricky secret". New Nation.
- "G12 International Conference 2009". Archived from the original on 11 July 2011.
- "About FCBC" Archived 27 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine., Retrieved 5 October 2009
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 April 2010. Retrieved 5 November 2009.
- Lawrence Khong (2000), The Apostolic Cell Church (Paperback)
- "Purpose Driven Church" Archived 22 November 2005 at the Wayback Machine., Retrieved 5 October 2009
- "Singapore's mega churches offer salvation at a price". South China Morning Post. 10 September 2012.
- Lum, Selina (31 May 2014). "Church gets green light to challenge minister's decision". The Straits Times.
- "FCBC: Characteristic" Archived 31 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine., Retrieved 5 October 2009
- Tan, Jeanette (28 August 2013). "Church pays $7,000 compensation for dismissed pregnant staff who had affair".
- "In face of rising religiosity, keep faith with the secular state". The Straits Times. 1 November 2015.
- "New theatre venue opens in Bukit Merah". The Straits Times. 4 July 2017.
- "Church builds $50m arts hub in Bukit Merah". The Straits Times. 28 October 2015.
- "PastorNet: Lawrence Khong", Retrieved 5 October 2009
- "Destiny with HD" Archived 1 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine., TODAY, 25 September 2003
- "Digital dramas" Archived 27 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine., The Straits Times, 14 October 2003
- Lawrence Khong (2008) Give me the Multitudes! Obeying God's Call into the Media World, TOUCH Ministries International: Singapore
- ""Winning the Marketplace", Retrieved 5 October 2009". Archived from the original on 9 March 2010.
- "Lawrence Khong's Give Me the Multitudes", 13 December 2008, Retrieved 5 October 2009
- "Priscilla Khong: More to Magic - The UrbanWire". The UrbanWire. 6 July 2015.
- "Rise of New Churches" Archived 29 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine., The Straits Time Interactive, 21 July 2002
- "lawrence's biography". Archived from the original on 14 June 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
- "Flak from gay groups sees IKEA relook tie-up with pastor". Today. 20 April 2015.
- "Ikea to continue tie-up with magic show despite gay activists' opposition". The Straits Times. 21 April 2015.
- "Church tells Catholics planning to see Madonna to 'act according to their informed conscience'". The Straits Times. 23 February 2016.
- "Profile of Lawrence Khong", Retrieved 3 October 2009
- "Public Service Medal Recipients" Archived 28 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine., The Straits Time, 14 August 2009
- "Business With Heart: He's Well-Schooled" Archived 28 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine., The Straits Times, 15 December 2007
- "SMRT Has A Soft Spot for Charity" Archived 5 May 2010 at the Wayback Machine., The Straits Times, 16 November 2007
- "Ikea Singapore under fire for supporting anti-gay pastor's evangelistic magic show". 19 April 2015.
- "Singapore High Court upholds criminalization of homosexuality". Singapore High Court upholds criminalization of homosexuality. Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
- Khong, Lawrence. "SP Lawrence Khong's statement at ESM Goh Chok Tong's visit to TC". SP Lawrence Khong's statement at ESM Goh Chok Tong's visit to TC. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
- "Pastor defends publication of pro-377A guide". Today. 19 February 2014.
- "Church leaders air concerns on Madonna concert to Shanmugam". Channel NewsAsia. 23 February 2016.
- "HPB's sexuality FAQs undermine family". 15 February 2014. Archived from the original on 15 February 2014.
- "'Traditional values' wear white campaign returning on Pink Dot weekend". Today.
- "MOE assures a concerned parent that creationism 'is not part of syllabus'". The Online Citizen. 23 April 2016.
- "On creationism: MOE's reply to a concerned parent". humanist.org.sg.
- "The passion of Pastor Khong". Retrieved 25 June 2014.
- "SG Polo Team Clinch Silver Medal: 'POLO TEAM EARN SILVER TO END SEA GAMES ON NICE NOTE FOR TEAM SINGAPORE'", 2007
- "Polo Player Who Wears Many Other Hats: 'Middle-aged, But at the Top of his Game'" Archived 28 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine., The New Paper, 15 December 2007
- "The Polo-Playing Pastor: 'Being a Sport'" Archived 20 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine., TODAY, 25 October 2007