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Singapore and Southeast Asia (Pilgrimage Reflection #6)

Posted on July 28th, 2013

As with our time with Willow Creek New Zealand, we experienced a very full 7 days in Singapore, teaching 3 different seminars to over 500 pastors/leaders, and speaking to 1600 people at a large plenary session. We had the privilege to interact and learn from leaders from China, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myunnmar, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Brunei. How did God come to me/us?

  1. The groundswell of the life of God in Asia is quite distinct from our 35 years of leadership in the United States. There is an aliveness, a power, a passion, a creativity, and a movement of the Holy Spirit that is impossible to miss. The sheer number of Christians in China (estimates put it at 100 million) dwarfs North America. The center of Christianity truly has moved away from North America and Europe to Asia (along with Latin America and Africa).
  2. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality meets a profound felt need of deep, beneath the surface spiritual formation in Asia. This was our third trip to Asia working with Eagle’s Communications as our partner (2009, 2012 and 2013). All EHS books and courses (including Emotionally Healthy Skills 2.0 and The Emotionally Healthy Woman) are being published and distributed in English throughout the region. As a result, we found many churches and leaders deeply engaged in EHS when we arrived. Some of these churches are among the largest in their country. One woman, for example, who leads an EHS group in Shanghai, came to this conference. She informed me God told her to leave her job as a headhunter and volunteer full-time to serve the EHS movement in Asia.
  3. There is a very strong desire on the part of many from within China to bring EHS to their country. A team of people from East Malaysia sat through our seminars as they have been commissioned by an Anglican bishop to translate all the EHS Courses into Chinese and Malay/Indonesian. Eagles Communications plans to open up an office to coordinate EHS in Asia. The size of all this is beyond Geri and I to get our arms around.
  4. Serving with a team with us increased our impact significantly. Kelly/Shirley Ng from New Life and Rick/Jiji Harner, who serve as NLF staff in Cebu, Philippines taught and coached pastors and leaders throughout the week. They were tremendous.
  5. People work very long hours in Asia (one researcher argues it is around 80 hours a week). Emotionally healthy skills, slowing down, Sabbath-keeping, silence and solitude, the leader’s marriage are, for example, powerfully liberating truths in this part of the world. One leader told me she saw EHS as a deliverance ministry.
  6. The Western church needs to learn from the church in Asia. One Thai marketplace leader, for example, told me about how he uses 1/3 of his time to run his company, another 1/3 to serve churches and para-church ministries, and another 1/3 to teach English in a primary school.

Tonight, Geri and I fly to Australia for the final leg of our trip. We remain on a steep learning curve as “itinerant teachers,” missing our regular contemplative rhythms and NLF community.  Yet we feel great and look forward to partnering with Willow Creek Australia this coming week. We will be speaking in Perth, Melbourne, and Brisbane, before we conclude with 4 days of delight on the Sunshine Coast. We return to NYC on August 8th to NYC. We deeply appreciate your continued prayers for divine energy, sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, and grace to serve Jesus and His church in Australia. With much love, Pete and Geri

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