An Invitation to Courage: Lessons from Southeast Asia

I was privileged to travel to Jakarta, Singapore, and Manila in late June 2019. The impetus for the trip was to participate in the Lausanne Global Workplace Forum in Manila. It was the first time in 75 years that Lausanne had hosted a gathering focused on workplace leaders.

I have been reflecting on that region of the world as one of the most densely populated places on the planet as well as the most religiously complex. When you add neighboring Hindu India, you have Islam, Buddhism, Christianity all in extremely robust numbers.

Given the trending toward religious intolerance in India, Indonesia, and other parts of the world – the antidote for city movements is demonstrating extraordinary courage amid these enormous challenges.

I really believe our depth of courage is in proportion to our sense of history with God personally and theologically. Therefore, reading through the Bible every 90 days has become such an important discipline for me.

I just finished the Pentateuch these past few days and finished Joshua today. I was struck by the contrast of the fear of the ten spies going to the Promised Land who had witnessed the parting of the Red Sea versus Rahab, a prostitute who had only heard about the Red Sea and yet believed. It often seems that the courage of the one or the few sets the course for the nation.

I also read Psalm 23 every day and find that I must daily confront myself with Psalm 23:1 – I shall not want because God is sufficient. As one devotional writer said, “For the nun and priest God is One for them who is simply enough.” Courage is rooted in the sufficiency of God.

Jakarta, Indonesia: Nus Reimas and Anton Tarigan

Jakarta is the second largest Muslim in the world after Karachi.  Indonesia hosts 12% of the global Muslim population.  Against the backdrop of this enormous country, the church of Indonesia has some of the globe’s outstanding leaders.

Nus Reimas has been a missionary with Campus Crusade for 47 years.  He is a remarkable statesman for the Indonesian church having befriended the President of the nation and the Mayor of Jakarta.  He has extraordinary favor with leaders across the denominational spectrum.  He texts almost daily to encourage the leadership in the church.  He has brought more than 30 leaders to our 2016 gatherings in New York City and Washington DC.

Anton Tarigan is a pastor in Indonesia and is hosting the global World Evangelical Alliance gathering in Jakarta in November.  Coming from a Muslim background, Anton says that there is increasing receptivity from educated Muslims to the claims of the gospel.  He is heading up the discussion for Movement Day Indonesia in 2020.

Singapore: Canon James Wong, Tim Wong, and Jon Wong

Canon James Wong of the Anglican Church in Singapore was at the forefront of the renewal movement in Singapore that began in 1978.  The renewal movement swept dozens of churches into a prayer effort that saw Christianity grow dramatically for the next 30 years.  Canon Wong played an important apostolic role in building unity across the city.

Demographers believe that 60% of the doctors, 50% of the politicians, and 40% of the lawyers are committed Christians.  Apart from Dallas, I have not heard of any other demographics like that in the marketplace of any city in the world.

Tim Wong is a senior marketplace leader and Jon Wong is a pastor in the Anglican church in Singapore.  Canon Wong is their father.  These brothers are giving leadership to the current question – what is next in Singapore?  Singapore is described by Forbes magazine as the most influential city in the Eastern Hemisphere.  How can Singapore be an Antioch for Asia?

Manila: Corrie DeBoer

Corrie became a doctoral classmate in 1998.  She and her husband Stew served the slum community together in Manila for decades.  She and her team have planted more than 1000 pre-schools in the slums of Manila through  Mission Ministries Philippines. Manila is now the 8th largest city in the world, the most congested city, and one of the youngest with the average Filipino now 24 years of age.

She has also taught graduate students at Asia Theological Seminary in Manila.  I have often described her as the Mother Theresa of Manila.  Corrie is encouraging a new generation of younger leaders to plan out a Movement Day Manila for 2020.

What these leaders have in common are two things:

  • They have shown enormous courage in facing the extraordinary challenges of their cities whether they be spiritual, economic, or cultural
  • These leaders have shown an enormous passion for the unity of the church in their cities. They have built enduring relationships that have spiritually transformed their cities.

What is your courage assignment in 2019?

For me I am concentrating in 2019 on three regions of the world to help encourage the acceleration of the gospel:

  • Southeast Asia given its incredibly strategic and religiously challenging context. This has meant 7 trips to Singapore since 2015 with several visits to Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and Manila as well.
  • Virginia Cities given the historical importance of the 400th Anniversary of slavery into the US in Virginia – we are planning 3-4 gatherings November 15-16 in Virginia. The racial divide is perhaps the greatest barrier to unity in the church in the United States.
  • Balkan Cities- gathering in Athens November 4-6 from Greece, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, and Albania. These are cities of the world where Christianity is typically less than 1%

I have concluded that as I get older in our faith, the stakes get higher.  My prayer is that we may not be guilty of the sin of unbelief after we have seen God do so much down through the decades of our lives and the generations of our leadership.  Just as God expected Zechariah to believe Gabriel in Luke 1 with the announcement of John’s coming, may we believe God for the extraordinary thing He is preparing to do in our context.  God is both supernatural and super-rational.

May we have ears to hear and eyes to lead with courage.

August 2019

By Dr. Mac Pier

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