"The destiny of the individual is caught up in the destiny of the nation"
Many of you might have heard of this term "The Antioch of Asia" thrown around during conferences or prayer meetings. But what is this really about and what does it matter for us in the marketplace?
In 1978, Dr Billy Graham, a well known American evangelist, held a series of rallies at the then National Stadium. During one of the nights, he made a declaration that God had called Singapore to be the Antioch of the East. Many Christians in our land believed it to be a prophetic word from the Lord regarding the destiny and purpose of this nation.
So what then is Antioch? For that we need to go to the book of Acts. According to Smith's bible dictionary:
The chief interest of Antioch, however, is connected with the progress of Christianity among the heathen, Here the first Gentile church was founded, Act 11:20-21, here the disciples of Jesus Christ were first called Christians. Act 11:26. It was from Antioch that St. Paul started on his three missionary journeys.
Before Peter's experience in Acts 10, the early Church was still a predominantly mono-ethnic community where the apostles preached the gospel and found its converts mainly amongst their Jewish brethren.
Peter's encounter with the Lord and Cornelius began to open the church to the wider picture of the gospel for all nations. So it was in earnest from Antioch that the church began to move beyond the Jewish people and into the nations.
So what then is the connection with Singapore? In the natural both were successful cities. According to Smith, it was "a city of great extent and of remarkable beauty". Both were cities along important trade routes. Both cities were melting pots of cultures and ethnicities.
If Singapore is to be an Antioch, I believe we will see four features:
- Cross cultural Churches that reach across national, ethnic and racial lines
- Mission sending base where people are sent into the nations from Singapore
- A place where the nations within Singapore are honoured and reached
- A united community of Christians
At the same time, I believe how all these will work out may not happen in the way we are traditionally used to. I believe much of this will be realised in the marketplace, in the daily grind and rhythm of working life. By expanding our mindset we can begin to see that the Lord has indeed prepared good works ahead for us to do.
God will use your work to send you into the nations
Many of us travel for work. Have you ever thought that God has work for you in that nation your office is sending you to?
Consider how you can find a local ministry there to partner and sow into. Why not extend your stay there and support local mission work? Visit a missionary there as an encourager. Be an intercessor for that city every time you visit it.
Daniel was in our terms -foreign talent – a Jew in the nation of Babylon that God used to influence a span of 4 kings. Joseph and Esther were the same – planted in nations not their own through God's divine appointment in the political realm to influence nations.
I encourage you to pray into this. Ask God to lay a heart for a particular nation that you can sow into, whether in prayer, finances, missions, partnership or ministry.
I make it a point when I travel to remember to pray for revival and blessing into the cities that I visit – whether for work or travel. The point is – start somewhere no matter how small.
God can use you to bless the nations in Singapore
Out of 5 people residing in Singapore, 2 are not locals. In my office, I work with people from UK, India, Philippines and France. When you go on a mission trip you impact one nationality at a time. In Singapore, we have the opportunity to interact with many nations without leaving our borders! Perhaps even right in your house, you have a domestic worker from another country?
A story was told of Gandhi, the famous Indian leader of his time as a student in South Africa. He stayed with a local family who claimed to be Christians. One writer said that:
"He was deeply hurt by his experiences with apartheid and “Christians” during his time in South Africa, and it obviously stymied his relationship with Christ."
Could we be unknowingly dealing with the next Gandhi of another nation in our office or at home? Are we representing Christ right in our dealings with those of other nations as they journey through Singapore?
Today in church I heard an amazing testimony: a Filipino congregation was having a baptism service. Among the attendees were the employers of some of the domestic workers who attend this church. One of the employers came up to the pastor and asked if he could join their church. The Filipino pastor was very surprised – he recommend that the man join an English service. But then he was curious – why did this employer want to join the church and so he asked. The man explained of how he saw his helper take care of the children, pray for them, sing and the way she did her work – it all made him want to have what she had!
Without preaching the gospel – we can be the gospel in loving action and testimony!
We can share in the reward of global missions
“….We share and share alike—those who go to battle and those who guard the equipment.” 1 Samuel 30:24 NLT
This scripture is taken from the story of how David conquered the Amalekites. Part of the army stayed behind and the rest went with David into battle. Some hard hearted amongst those who went into the battle wanted to keep the rewards of war only for those who fought. But David had a different response – that all should share.
Sometimes as sincere marketplace believers we may feel less worthy than our brethren who are called into full time work as pastors or missionaries. But here the Lord reminds us that we all share in the rewards. Some of us may never feel the call for full time global missions but perhaps you can support the work financially? You have a share in the reward for the work! Consider setting aside finances to support work you cannot do and places you cannot go.
In closing, I want to encourage us that the Lord doesn't measure us by success but rather our faithfulness to His word and our obedience to His call. Let us be found faithful in all the things the Lord has placed in our hands. Let us be good stewards of the influence He gives, the finances He enables and the opportunities He presents.
“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24 NKJV