HEARTS AFLAME: DIVINE PROVISION FOR BREAKTHROUGH
God has provided for us our Mission Fields
By REV MALCOLM TAN
“For a whole year they met with the Church and taught a great, many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.” – Acts 11:26 (ESV)
It was from Antioch, Syria that Paul was sent forth by the congregation there, for his 3 great Missionary journeys, described in Acts, which covered 2 continents. It was in this Antioch that disciples of Jesus, both Jews and Greeks were first called ‘Christians’ i.e. ‘those who belong to or follow Christ’. In fact, there were 3 great evangelistic breakthroughs that had taken place there, not long before the name ‘Christian’ was first used on the followers of Jesus:
- The Geographical breakthrough (v19) where the Gospel was preached for the first time to the Jews who lived beyond the boundaries of Judea, on the other side of the Mediterranean ‘pond’. The Gospel went to where it had not yet gone before, regionally.
- The Ethnic – Cultural breakthrough (v20) where the same Gospel was preached now to the Greek-speaking Gentiles, no longer only to the Jews. This confirmed and continued what God had earlier done through Peter in the earliest conversion of Gentiles at the House of Cornelius (Acts 10 & 11). What God did in Acts 11:26 showed that the salvation of Cornelius’ family was not to be a once-off event but was to be the forerunner of many more such Gentile conversions to Christ. The Gospel had gone out to those for whom it had never been offered before. The excluded ethnic groups were now visibly included in the Gospel invitation.
- The Ecclesiastical Structure breakthrough (vv 23,24) where the teaching and encouraging work of Barnabas in the life of the Church in Antioch, resulted in ‘a great number who believed’. People came to Jesus in great numbers through the daily ministry of the life of the church. The congregation exhibited contagious Christianity, resulting in many who were connected with the members, receiving special encouragement in their daily lives and coming to know the Lord Jesus, at the same time. The daily life of the church, here, did not create a Christian ghetto, insulating believers from impacting and reaching people for Christ, outside the walls of the Church. Instead, the opposite happened. People who connected with the Christian community ended up connecting with Christ their Saviour. The People of God were intentional and evangelistic in their daily activities, even in their regular ministry of giving Christian encouragement to the people they knew and influenced socially.
Within Antioch and from Antioch, the Gospel had spread far and wide. Antioch became both, an epicentre of the Gospel and the place where unprecedented breakthroughs for the Gospel were taking place. My prayer is that Singapore will be like Antioch in this way. That new breakthroughs for the spread of the Gospel will take place in Singapore and also, beyond, because of what God is doing in Singapore. That Singapore will be an epicentre for the Gospel in our part of the world.
Interestingly, the Singapore Centre for Evangelism and Mission (SCEM) was formed immediately after the 1978 Billy Graham Singapore Crusade. Some people claim that Billy Graham had, there, referred to Singapore as Antioch of Asia. Later, SCEM became officially, the Singapore Centre for Global Missions (SCGM) in 2009. May Singapore fulfil her calling in this and every generation, to be a centre of Gospel breakthroughs and expansion. Indeed, God will surely provide for us our Mission fields, within and beyond our little red dot, that Christ will be exalted, the Gospel proclaimed and the lost will be saved! Christ for the Nations, from Singapore, an Antioch of Asia! Amen!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR :
REV DR MALCOLM T.H. TAN is the Pastor-in-Charge of Covenant Community Methodist Church and Training Consultant, Methodist Missions Society (MMS).
SCGM 40TH ANNIVERSARY DEVOTIONAL CAMPAIGN
40 FRiends of SCGM have been invited to take part in our 40-Day Devotional Project to help raise funds for SCGM’s 40th Anniversary. Each day starting 20 November 2020 to 31 December 2020, SCGM will publish one devotion written by our 40 FRiends in our FundRaising effort and celebration of God’s goodness and provision over the last 40 years!
Through their devotional reflections, we pray that our FRiends of SCGM40 will bless and encourage many to reflect upon God’s Presence, Protection, Provision, Purification and Power in Missions.