Singapore: Radically Generous

Singapore: Radically Generous

Written by: Joseph Koh (Photo by: Felicia Low)

Interview with Andy Byrd

Within mere minutes of hearing Andy Byrd preach, I could feel his zealous passion for the gospel and the nations. Like a Porsche 918 Spyder that revs from 0-100km/h within 3 seconds, no warm-up was needed for him to dive into baring his audacious heart for the lost. He showed me what stopping at nothing to reach that single sheep means, speaking right through my wandering heart.

In an interview with SELAH, Andy shares his perspective on Singapore and what could possibly stand in our way of living out our prophetic destiny as Antioch of Asia.

Could you share with us about your ministry?

Half of what I do is focused on raising up teams for the unreached through Youth With A Mission (YWAM); the other half is in activating the Church to reach the lost as part of Circuit Rider, in people’s home nations and for them to consider the nations.

In the midst of such crazy times — difficult things happening all over the world — we, Christians, are to carry a message of hope. Our response to difficulty and disaster is to believe for the harvest and not to shrink back in fear, caution, or safe living. A big part of my ministry’s message is that we live in a time of harvest: if every believer were to reach the lost, then we’ll see the greatest harvest in human history. So many people are hungry for hope and truth — this has been our experience in the nations.

What was your turning point in possessing such a big conviction for the lost?

The first is in encountering Jesus and capturing His heart. Personally, the more I got to His heart, the more I couldn’t separate loving Him and loving those around me. I believe this was driven out of intimacy, when I dived into His word and heart, and cultivated a lifestyle of worship and prayer.

Secondly, the more I read about history and studied past movements of God along with the scriptures, the more convinced I became that the harvest isn’t something we wait for. It is the result of an activated church.

God moves supernaturally, in different regions and different times, but there hasn’t been a time in history where He didn’t want to move. The activated church is the most powerful weapon on earth, and we don’t have to wait for a special moment. The harvest has always been ripe and is ripe.

What do you think stands in the way of an activated church?

Culturally, we have adopted many wrong thinking patterns. The expression of Christianity today is centred around one person or a small group of leaders, and they are considered to be the ones doing the work of the ministry.

As a result, there is a sacred–secular divide, whereby the pastor is seen to be doing “sacred” work while the “secular” is for everything else. This has kept believers from feeling that they can advance the Kingdom unless they are a pastor. There has been a breaking down of this divide in the several decades, but our current structure is still centred around empowering a few people. The majority therefore has no ownership over studying their bibles, their personal prayer lives, and in living out a life of obedience.

They don’t see themselves as an Abraham or David; only a few pastors are Abrahams or Davids. We need a revelation that everybody is qualified — anyone can walk in the faith of Abraham, intimacy of David, and power of the Holy Spirit. Whether they are called to the marketplace or in a traditional missions setting, all vocations are sacred. Every calling is sacred when done in obedience.

Prior to your third visit to Singapore, what has God laid upon your heart for the country?

This country is not only ripe for the harvest, but I would like to see Singapore take her place in the world missions movement. Many Singaporeans have already been sent to the nations, but I believe that it would catalyse a sending movement that eclipses what has happened up to this point.

Given Singapore’s prosperity, if her generosity doesn’t turn towards the least-reached, then this generosity will be self-focused, and will eventually self-destruct. Part of the sustainability of God’s work in this country has to do with a radical and extravagant generosity towards the nations — in terms of giving up its best people and best resources.

The more generous we are as a people, the less inward we become, and the more the gospel has power. Missions is built on a mindset of generosity.

How can Christians be more generous today?

It begins with a revelation of Jesus. If not, generosity can be forced, obligatory, and filled with striving. When the revelation of Jesus becomes real to us, then it becomes impossible not to be generous. Jesus was the most generous man who ever lived — He, an innocent man, gave up his entire life to die for guilty people. When He is real in our lives, us being generous will be something we can’t hold back rather than something we try to make happen.

What are your thoughts about Singapore being the Antioch of Asia?

I think this name is absolutely right — Singapore has an inheritance of training and sending. Antioch was a multicultural city, built on worship and prayer, and the prophets and the teachers worked side by side (gifts of the Spirit operating with the power of Truth). It was also a major sending centre for the early church.

What are a couple of challenges that prevents Singaporeans from walking out this call?

One potential challenge could be prosperity. It breeds individuality; individuality leads to isolation; and isolation leads to hesitancy, fear, and safe living. Greater individuality and isolation will mean that the Kingdom is less expanded.

We become protectionists — we protect what is ours rather than walk in radical generosity. This is why it was so important to the early church that everyone shared everything; if they became individualistic, the Kingdom would never have expanded. It is not to the point of communism or extreme socialism, but prosperity breeds an independence.

The question for Singapore would be: can we be prosperous without being independent and self-focused? If we can, then our prosperity becomes a huge avenue for the gospel to be spread across the earth. For Singapore to become Antioch, she has to fight the temptation of individuality that stems from prosperity. We cannot build our personal dreams instead of building the Kingdom.

What is one advice you would give to young adults today?

The most important thing in life is to remain rooted and grounded in an intimate relationship with Jesus — through worship, prayer, and the word. Everything else flows from that; selflessness and generosity flow from the heart of Jesus. This is what every father of the faith and every hero in history showed us.

If we conjure these things as a list of values that are merely written on paper, then they are not real. They are only real because we find them in the heart of Jesus. The joy of seeking God in worship, prayer, and the word is what leads to everything else.

If I were a ministry leader today, what could I do to ensure youths stay grounded in love?

I would teach my people not to be dependent on me as a leader but to become self-motivated in a relationship with Jesus. Therefore, if I were completely out of the picture, it wouldn’t matter because they would have learnt how to cultivate their own relationship with God. We have created too much of a dependency on leaders. We have to empower people to find God in the secret place, whether we are with them or not.

In conjunction with Burning Hearts, this article is the third of a three-part interview series on Singapore’s prophetic destiny.

 

JOSEPH thinks that Nasi Lemak ought to be Singapore’s national dish. He is passionate in discovering how faith can collide beautifully with urban culture, and believes in mentoring the next generation. He also wishes that a singular Singaporean accent will emerge in his lifetime. Follow him @firesandtimbers.

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