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Prof E.S. Isaiah, PhD; President of BIU; A Director of APM | 2018

Introduction

Singapore as a nation literally arose from being a under- developed nation to become an iconic developed nation in a matter of years and has rightfully earned a pride of place among the nations. The celebration of SG50 in 2015 was a landmark event in the life of the nation and the accompanying celebrations and festivities were marked by pomp and grandeur. Singapore has economically prospered and this in turn has benefitted the church in becoming economically prosperous too.

Singapore church and its development

Singapore has indeed developed but not without paying a price of some sorts, and in the process the Singapore Church was emerging as the Global Antioch—a journey from 1965. We need to examine the historical development of the Church. As a young nation, Singapore was rising and so did the church. The 1960’s were a historic landmark years for the church. The prophetic utterance that Singapore is the “Antioch of East” (Dr. Tan Kok Beng, 1964), and the historic public meeting of Dr. Billy Graham in 1968 that filled up the national stadium are imprinted into the indelible history of the church in Singapore. During those years the church also saw the birth and rise of an indigenous mission organization called Asia Evangelistic Fellowship (AEF) followed by Asia Pacific Mission a few years later. The church saw the introduction of a Charismatic wave that changed the spiritual landscape of the rising nation. The charismatic wave was silently spreading in the Singapore church.

This wave also enabled the church in fulfilling the ANTIOCH OF THE EAST prophecy due to which an increased awareness for reaching the unreached peoples in the non-western world became clearly evident. Mission Committees were being formed in the churches and number of Missions trips were increasing. Missionary candidates were identified, trained and sent to the mission fields. Missionary training

Schools were coming into existence in order to fulfil the missionary needs of the church. The church saw the rise of missions movements but not without suffering a level of attrition.

In this context Bethany International University was birthed in 1993 and emerged as the cutting-edge missiological School for reaching the reachable unreached people groups with a dual mandate of leader development and capacity building of leaders from the two-thirds world and the other, training Singaporeans as cross-cultural missionaries and Tent-making missionaries. For 25 years this missions thrust was spearheading into the non-western nations.

Unlimited possibilities and opportunities:

The Singapore Church on the international front is becoming more and more global in its outlook. I truly believe that this is the Kairos moment of the Church to seize the opportunity to become the GLOBAL ANTIOCH instead of merely remaining as the ANTIOCH OF TH EAST. Now the Singapore Church must move beyond its older mandate. What this means we will unpack a little bit. The following few factors will enable us to recognize that Singapore Church indeed is emerging as the GLOBAL ANIOCH.

I would like to point out at least three areas that will define Singapore Church’s GLOBAL ANTIOCH NATURE. Firstly, Singapore being classified as Developed Nation has brought in tremendous economic blessing to the church by enabling the Christians to be economically affluent along with the rest of the other citizens. With the economic affluence came the lifestyle changes with more spending power. With this economic affluence came the ease of overseas travelling without thinking too much. This economic affluence afforded the church to organize missions trips to various missions fields within the Greater 10/40 Window nations.

Then came the educational advantages with Singapore becoming an international educational Hub. This became a powerful instrument for the church. The church excelled in using this powerful instrument to enter into countries that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Education became a strong asset that the church shared with the rest of the world.

Thirdly, the cultural parity is another strong area that the Singapore Church suddenly finds itself into. About forty years ago it would have been a bit of an effort to reach out to the Western and European world but this gap is so narrowed down now that it is hardly visible now. With religious values being compromised in that part of the world, and with a sudden explosion of a migrant population among them, the Singapore Church has now the opportunity to turn its gaze from reaching the UPG’s of the non-western world to re-igniting the Christian flames in the Western and the European world that once was a powerful sender into Asia and Africa.

Singapore Church’s Kairos moment

The Kairos moment for the Singapore church has arrived as it is emerging as the GLOBAL ANTIOCH. With emergence as the GLOBAL ANTIOCH the church could ill afford to neglect a rising trend in another part of the world that is not non-western. With the rapid changes taking place in the European and the Western world, it has brought new opportunities and challenges to the Singapore church.

It is my view that the Singapore Church is strategically placed to play its new role as the GLOBAL ANTIOCH. This then implies that the church must be intentional and purposeful in training and sending a new generation of disciple makers to re-ignite the flames and once again get them to burn brighter.

There is a leaf from the BIU model that the Singapore Church can borrow in order to fulfil its missionary mandate to the European world. BIU has two models of training: one, is to bring the leaders from the Asian, African and Latin American nations and deepen capacity building so that when they return to their own countries after their training in BIU they will be able to replicate the training by training their own people and sending them to their own unreached peoples. This kind of leaders are increasing as tremendous multiplication is taking place in these countries. Therefore, they do not necessarily need missionaries from other places as such. Secondly, BIU is providing cutting-edge leadership training to candidates from developed nations in order to re-reach Europe and the West. This way Singapore Church will be able to fulfil its emerging role as the GLOBAL ANTIOCH.