Global Church

Antioch's of Southeast Asia

By Rene Alvarado

In 1978 I was graduating from Blaine Elementary school and on my way to Lane Tech high School where a friend would introduce me to Billy Graham for the first time. While I was trying to figure out how to navigate my way to classes with a 4-minute pass, Billy Graham was having a crusade in Singapore that year prophesying that Singapore would be the “Antioch of Southeast Asia”.  A reference to the ancient city in modern-day Turkey that was a key apostolic base in the early days of the faith.

Here I am, 40 years later, working with Resource Global with a mission to encourage young professionals to develop their cities of Singapore, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur into “Antioch’s”. Specifically, encouraging them that there is no difference between the sacred and the secular and that the marketplace is the key to fulfilling Dr. Graham’s prophesy.

Missions work is much different than the vision of missions I thought of when I chose to accept Christ as my savior sophomore year in college. I had heard of the Jim Elliot stories of missionaries’ who had traveled to unknown parts of the world to bring the gospel to peoples for the first time. The way I interpreted “taking up your cross” meant disconnecting with the western world and living off the fruits of the earth.   

Our trip to Southeast Asia was different. Instead of the jungle, I was meeting people in Board Rooms, Shared Office spaces, and cafes. Instead of traditional places of worship, I was worshipping with others in high rise community rooms and leased office spaces in professional buildings.

Instead of meeting with indigenous people who had never heard of the gospel, I was meeting with people who had graduate level education and corporate world experiences. People who had better command of the language than I had. People who had heard and followed many of the faith leaders that I follow and listen to back home.

This missions work is more of investing in God’s economy of multiplication where the investment is placed into instructing others who would then be “qualified to teach others”. This missions work is about discipleship, or what contemporaries call mentorship. It’s about investing in a co-hort: A group of Jesus followers who desire to apply those teachings in the marketplace.

A model that provides shared experiences much like the disciples had with each other.

This missions work includes the work of Mentors. Much like Eli helping Samuel decipher God’s voice in 1 Samuel, mentors are helping to re-train the mentees to hear and respond to the voice of God and His voice only. Instead of helping young disciples apply God’s truths at home, this mentoring is intentional about the field where these disciples spend most of their time and interact with others the most. The field for this new mission is the marketplace that offers a substitute for what are taught from scripture where identity, idolatry and meaning are the ploys of the evil one trying to pull God’s elect from connecting to the “true vine”.

This missions work is about relationships. The same relationship that God offers us in the midst of our suffering and joys. God favored relationships at every turn. Relationships with a Field Coordinator who is applying his/her gifts in administering the program at a local city. Relationships with mentors who volunteer their time getting to know and encourage the mentees. Relationships with co-hort members. Relationships with other co-hort groups throughout the world. Relationships with Board members who have graciously given their time, talent, treasures to develop and implement a vision for each city. And, relationships with church and faith leaders who are willing to provide the teaching form God’s word on it applies Monday through Friday.

It’s a mission that has a “heart for the city” where each co-hort member lives. A heart that cries out for the shalom and brokenness of the city. A heart that desires its city to be like Antioch. It’s mission work that is looking to make in impact from the inside out. From the places of work where most spend the majority of their waking hours. Cities where Jesus followers are a remnant. Cities where more trust seems to be given to the government and officials. Cites that claim Christ but were much integrity is needed. Where corruption is more of a business practice than integrity and honesty. Cities where  trust of government is broken and that brokenness has become the operational norm. Cities where westerners come and go with a message of Health and Wealth and leave the locals with the broken pieces left behind. Cities on hills, shorelines, mountain sides. Older cities. Man-made cities.

Cities that have a disparate level of wealth. Cities where indigenous people are favored and are still not able to compete. Cities that employ and emigrate other peoples to do menial work and labor. Where these same immigrants seek community and purpose in their lives and work.

Cities that look beautiful on the outside with great buildings, malls and public places. Cities where sites of cranes provide much hope for the future.

But .. cities like my home town that need to hear the good news of the gospel to provide redemption and restoration from its own brokenness. Cities that are waiting for a hero to reconcile itself to what was lost.  

This new mission field, like old ones, still needs the work of the only “true vine” that says “apart from me you can do nothing”.  I am not sure that this is the kind of missions work Mr. Graham had in mind but I can’t help but think it would have made his heart glad to see that his work continues past his time here on earth.

Rene Alvarado is an independent management consultant who has been a long-time friend of Resource Global and has helped visit multiple cities as we have looked to start our leadership cohorts.

Alternate Realities and Alternate Poverties

As a child, whenever I was approached by beggars on the streets of Shanghai, I recall pausing and reaching for my coin purse before my parents would pull me along and gently reprimand me: didn’t I know my money would just encourage their slothfulness, that if these people really tried they could find a real job? Their words did not sit well with me, not then or later as I repeatedly encountered homeless people in every city we visited or lived in. But then again, who was I to disobey my parents’ wishes, when I wasn’t even sure what difference my contribution would make?

Entering university and once again facing the glaring reality of homelessness in the world’s wealthiest economy, I sought to educate myself about an injustice that seemed beyond comprehension. In my community psychology class, I was surprised to learn that the primary driver of homelessness is not mental illness, addiction, or crime but simply the lack of affordable housing. In my daily devotionals, I was challenged by account after account in which Jesus chose to spend time with and care for the homeless, poor, diseased, and despised in first-century Jewish society. Around campus, I began to strike up conversations beyond the cursory “Hello, how are you?” with street paper vendors I saw regularly, curious to hear their stories and hoping to help meet some of their immediate needs.

It was during one of these conversations that I first befriended Stephen and Edie, over a year ago. A startling number of characteristics unite us. We work and live in Nashville, where Stephen and I are both students pursuing social science degrees at local universities. We are passionate about people and theology and social justice, and we love and worship the same God. When we are spending time together, exchanging stories, I can almost forget the barriers that separate us.

Yet, we live completely different realities. Each day, Stephen and Edie bravely bear the scars of having lost their home and their youngest daughter in the Nashville flood of 2010. Each day, as they earn their daily living dollar by dollar, they choose to bless and pray not only for the passersby who are kind to them, but also for the many who hurry on with blank expressions and averted eyes, or even hurl food and mockery in their faces. Each day, Stephen and Edie thank Jesus for His continuous mercies and daily provision. Is it not I who am spiritually poor, and they who God has sent to fill my poverty?

I have a long way to go before I can truly understand or empathize with the experiences of Stephen, Edie, and many worldwide who may suffer even more than they do. But I refuse to sit in inaction, paralyzed by the ambiguity of who and how best to help. With each life and alternate reality I choose to intertwine with mine— Stephen, Edie, and other homeless friends I have met, the street-smart African American first graders I tutor every Wednesday, my ex-students in Phnom Penh who still dearly hold my heart, those I hope to meet and share life with through PiA—I will learn to engage rather than to overlook, to love rather than fear, and to be a catalyst for radical compassion.

Felicia Hanitio

Jakarta Cohort, 2018

Resource Global Hosts Faith & Work Conversation in Bangkok

For many Christians, 60% of our lives are spent in the workplace. With this significant time investment, our work matters, and how we choose to invest that time is critical.

At Resource Global, we seek to see more and more Christ-following professionals inspired and equipped to live out their faith in their workplaces, and we think growing the conversation around faith and work is a key step towards that goal.

So, Resource Global recently led a panel discussion of pastors, marketplace leaders, and academics at the Global Proclamation Congress in Bangkok, Thailand, titled Pastoral Training and Faith and Work. Tommy Lee, Executive Director at Resource Global, facilitated the discussion around the importance of deepening the Church’s understanding of why our faith must impact the workplace, and how pastors specifically can support and equip their churches around the world to serve God through their work.

The audience was composed of over 300 pastors and leaders from all over the world, and we developed one question that served as the theme of our time together:

“Historically the church has seen marketplace leaders as merely funding sources or volunteers in church initiatives. How can pastors be trained to equip them to excel in their spheres as platforms for spiritual presence and effective ministry?”

We had a vibrant and productive discussion on both the successes and the growth areas of the Church. Yet James, a pastor who represented French-speaking African pastors, shared insights that particularly surprised us. He shared:

All of our lives, we as pastors have been told and trained that money is bad. We do not encourage people to make money but to see it as something the Lord does not want us to have. We tell people they are to live a life of poverty, and if they are truly followers of Christ they are to go into ministry.

You are now telling us something different.

You are telling us it is okay to be business leaders. And as business leaders, you can be just as impactful in the kingdom as a pastor. How do we continue to share and train other leaders on this topic? 

This catalyzed many more questions from the audience who were wrestling with this same question. James then came to us at the end of the meeting and asked to hold a follow up discussion with all of the French-speaking African pastors to discuss this further within their context.

As Resource Global continues to grow the network of young professionals seeking to be equipped to apply their faith to their work, we’re learning that growing the conversation with pastors around the world is critical. As we seek to establish cohorts in global cities, pastors are often the first group we encounter in a country. It is vital for us to continue working with pastors to continue the conversation that took place at this panel discussion, and discover together how to equip and support professionals in their church for Gospel impact in their cities.

To learn more about the faith & work conversation and to stay up to speed on Resource Global's work around the world, be sure to sign up for our updates here.

The panel consisted of the following individuals: 

  • Darrell Bock - Dallas Theological Seminary

  • Dean-Paul Hart - Compac Industries

  • Gary Brandenburg - Fellowship Bible Church

  • Ryan Richard - Lindell Foundation

  • David Tjokrorahardjo - Sovereign’s Capital

  • William McClure - Masterworks

  • Krishna Dhanam - Speaker, Trainer, and Consultant