I am currently in my fifth year of PhD studies at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (OCMS) in the United Kingdom. My research examines the extent to which the practice of the Assemblies of God of Malaysia has changed, with respect to its espoused Pentecostal Theology, since its inception in 1957 to the present day.read more
Surrounded by India (to the west), China (to the north), Papua New Guinea (to the east), and Australia (to the south), Southeast Asia is an economically, culturally, and religiously diverse region that is home to approximately 10% of the global population. Economically, Singapore is one of the world’s richest nations (per capita), while countries like Cambodia and Laos rank near the bottom. Inhabitants speak nearly a thousand languages (with over 700 in Indonesia alone). Large numbers of Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, and Hindus live in the region. Animism, folk religions, ancestor worship, and state-sponsored atheism are also prevalent. Roughly 40% of Southeast Asians follow Islam, and Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world. Although Christians mostly live as minorities, they represent the majority in the Philippines and East Timor.
Political upheaval, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters are among some of the challenges faced by the nations in the region. In the Philippines (a predominantly Catholic nation), a feud between the Catholic Church and President Duterte over his harsh policies against illegal drugs has intensified. More than a million Rohingya remain displaced since August 2017, after fleeing government-sponsored violence in Myanmar.
In the face of these challenges, the Church has grown at a remarkable rate. According to Operation World, the greatest relative growth has occurred in Cambodia and Vietnam. Pray for the training of pastors and leaders for these countries. In Vietnam, only two Protestant Bible schools belong to the Evangelical Church of Vietnam, the sole Protestant group sanctioned by the government. In 2004, the Institute of Bible and Theology reopened its doors in Ho Chi Mihn City after almost 30 years. In 2013, a second school opened in Hanoi in the northern part of the country. Dr. Peter (last name withheld), who earned his PhD at Fuller, with support from ScholarLeaders, now serves on its leadership team.
Furthermore, the growth has largely occurred through the efforts of local leaders. Churches increasingly embody Asian structures, styles, and leadership. Asian scholars have helped to identify and develop Christian responses to unique cultural and societal issues. One example is Grassroots Asian Theology: Thinking the Faith from the Ground Up by Simon Chan, who teaches theology at Trinity Theological College in Singapore. ScholarLeaders supported Simon during his PhD studies at the University of Cambridge. In the Philippines, Athena Goropse, who received the 2017 ScholarLeader of the Year Award, combines biblical scholarship with activism on behalf of the marginalized. Pray for Asian theologians who are helping the Church develop authentically Asian understandings of the unchanging truth of God’s Word.
Pray for the Church in nations where Christians face persecution. Political opposition and the struggles of living as a small minority take a toll on believers. Pray for perseverance and strength. Pray also for the continued growth and discipleship of believers. Pray for local pastors to receive the training they need in order to guide the Church in Southeast Asia.
I ask for your intercessory prayer for my people and my country, Myanmar, which is full of conflicts between the Burmese military and ethnic minorities. Christians and ethnic minorities have been tortured by the military for a long time. Consequently, many ethnic groups are seeking refuge in neighboring countries and in Western countries as well. Please do pray for the total dismantling of military power in the Union government.read more
I am originally from Hong Kong but worked at a Bible school in Phnom Penh before furthering my studies at Fuller Theological Seminary. My husband, Kakda Chan, was also a teacher at that Bible school. Cambodia has a strong need of trained pastors and church leaders. Higher educational levels of younger generations call for higher levels of theological training. We therefore decided to further our studies in the United States in hopes of joining our colleagues later in order to open a theology school that offers graduate-level programs.read more
In last seven months, the pro-democracy anti-extradition protests have completely changed Hong Kong. The protests started as peaceful marches against the extradition bill. However, violence and clashes between protestors and police erupted when the nonviolent protests failed to effect change. To date, police have arrested over 6,000 people and have fired more than 16,000 rounds of tear gas in the city.read more
As the social environment gets more complicated, believers are facing a host of issues related to the family, such as extramarital affairs, homophobia, questions related to sex education and social services, etc. Due to a lack of academically trained professors, and a dearth of Christian writers and researchers, Chinese theological education cannot build itself up and remains ill-equipped to tackle these issues.read more
Pray that the Church would learn how to love and pastor the younger generation, many of whom have become disillusioned with both society and the Church. Some of them, because of their participation in the protests, have been arrested or have broken relationships with their families.read more
As a woman from a patriarchal Naga society, I am keenly sensitive to Mary’s role in the Christmas story. What immediately fascinates me is that she was chosen to bear the Son of God – what an honor! In a world in which women are dishonored and marginalized, this is a great story of honoring women.read more