Geri and I recently returned from a 15 day trip to Malaysia and Singapore. We went to offer emotionally healthy spirituality, but we received, perhaps, more than we gave. The following are a few gifts we received:
1. The equipping of marketplace leaders is a critical kingdom strategy for the 21st century. The real fruit of our work in the church, I believe, is how our people serve Christ at work, school, and in their communities. My vision was stretched in profound ways on this trip. Edward Ong, builder of the Sutera Hotel and Resort in Sabah, has 2000 employees. He initiates business in response to the voice of God, hires intercessors to pray for his guests and staff, and models integrity. Take a look at this trailer:
2. The growth of the church in Asia is a powerful, rising tide. I have read, for years, how the growth of the church globally is in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Now I saw it on a large scale. The sheer numbers of growing churches and young people on fire for God was a wonder to behold. Our first conference was hosted by the All Saint’s Cathedral in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. (I never met “Pentecostal Anglicans” before!) One church in Singapore sent over 1000 people on mission trips this past year. Almost 40% of the young people under forty are Christians in that country. The contrast with the church in the USA was striking.
3. The growth of Islam is putting great pressure on the church. It is illegal to share the gospel with Malays in Malaysia. A pastor shared with me about the recent raid on their church by the government. Nigerian pastors that had flown in for the conference also talked with me about three of their churches being bombed on Christmas day with numerous deaths. Their commitment to preach and be faithful, regardless of consequences, challenged me to greater boldness.
4. A lack of time and space for God is one of the greatest threats to the church, both in Asia and in North America. The average work week in places like Singapore and China is 80-85 hours. Very few pastors I met enjoy a real day off, let alone a Sabbath. The average American, especially Christian leader, is not far behind. The combined forces of globalization, competitive capitalism and new technologies have transformed Asia. They are changing us as well. This may partly explain the overwhelming response to emotionally healthy spirituality in that part of the world.
For those in you in that part of the world, what might you add?