Interview with Aaron Walsh
When I first met Aaron Walsh over a meal during the Burning Hearts 1:11 Conference, my first impression of him was that he was a loving father with a spirit as bold and strong as he looked and one who knew his authority in Christ. It was not until SELAH had the privilege of having an interview with Aaron that I realised my impressions were not too far off!
Aaron, who founded the Tauranga House of Prayer in New Zealand, spoke at the conference with a clear message on his heart for Singapore. In this interview, he gives insight as to why courage is needed in the fulfillment of Singapore’s destiny as the Antioch of Asia.
You founded the Tauranga House of Prayer in 2006. What has God been doing recently?
We’ve just celebrated our 10th year anniversary! That means about forty hours a week of corporate prayer for ten years — it’s humbling because it is the longest extended prayer in New Zealand’s history.
We’re at a point where we have a clear mission statement: To pray and help others to pray. We’re beginning to initiate a conversation with the wider church in New Zealand and Australia that doesn’t pray. We’re reorienting, and probably repackaging the subject of prayer in order to make it accessible to them by breaking down some paradigms.
In your opinion, how has the topic and area of prayer changed over the years?
There are a few trends I have noticed that have made prayer significantly different. One of them was the shifting from a few to many. Prayer shifted from being something done by a few to being done by everyone — from endurance to enjoyable.
Secondly, prayer doesn’t mean something you have to do, but something you enjoy — from being outcome-centred to being God-centred. Rather than praying to get an outcome, we pray to encounter God. These shifts are necessary for Jesus’ dream to be accomplished, that “(His) house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations (Mark 11:17 NKJV).”
I don’t think we could have extended such an invitation with a wineskin that couldn’t cope with the masses. The masses aren’t intercessors. I don’t like that term and my advice for local churches is to stop calling people intercessors and destroy your prayer department. You shouldn’t have a prayer department because the house is a house of prayer for all. Jesus’ assumption is that we all pray. We don’t specialise in nor delegate prayer.
I think prayer transcends everything and believing prayer is what we do everything from. It’s a central ministry among other ministries. You are a house of prayer if prayer is at the centre.
When was your first trip to Singapore?
My first trip to Singapore was in 1993. I was 17-years old and stopped over for one night on the way to Manila for my first mission trip. Singapore was the first country I visited outside of New Zealand.
What has God laid on your heart for Singapore?
The foundational message is about embracing courage. There are three particular places where courage is needed:
Firstly, to accept and embrace failure as a legitimate outcome of starting new things. We are in such an interesting moment (in history) where we are talking about prayer and missions as a movement; and basically, what is required is pioneering — where new works and expressions are being established. However, nothing will be established if we are paralysed by the fear of failure. We have to address this resistance we have to failure, which has created a risk-adverse and creativity-less outcome because the gods of comfort have reigned. We have to reshape and redefine failure, with failure being a huge part of God’s narrative in everyone’s lives.
Uncomfortableness is the quality that requires courage. Uncomfortableness, in being stretched and tested, becomes the condition for transformation and growth to occur, but they require courage. Without courage, we’ll never self-evaluate, come to the right conclusions, or actually change!
Secondly, we need courage to change what our measures of success are. God measures success by obedience and not outcome, yet we tend to measure success by outcome alone. There are things in life that have no internal integrity but God’s kingdom is built on internal integrity.
The life that confronted me was Noah, because there was no outcome yet he’s referred to frequently in the Bible as a hero. If God didn’t measure his success by outcome, what did He measure it by? It was Noah’s obedience. The Lord measures my life and my success by my obedience, not whether that obedience produces anything.
Finally, we need courage to create a world where we resist the temptation for instant success. We have sacrificed legacy for instant impact. When someone pioneers something and says, “I have to produce something to give validity to my existence,” then we’ll often forsake important foundations that are necessary to build a legacy that will last 20-30 years.
Would we be prepared to have courage to endure years of what we perceive to be unsuccessful so as to create a foundation that would be able to absorb something that strengthens the next generation and leaves a legacy for generations to come? We’ve got to get off instant success. The big danger in creating manipulative outcomes is needing to sustain it. These works can grow quick but also die quick because they’re not sustainable; they were created by the hands of man. If God creates it, He will sustain it.
These are the three pillars that are perhaps preventing some of the works that God has for this region coming forth. If we resist this god of failure, decide that we would measure things from a biblical perspective, and have perseverance and steadfastness, then I think we can have courage that God will birth something pretty spectacular in this part of the world.
What do you think Singapore’s role is in Southeast Asia?
Prophetically and historically, it’s got to be the Antioch. Where I’m from, we have a little saying, which is, “To pray, equip, and send.” That’s the ethos of our whole community. I could transpose this to Singapore, to create an equipping centre fuelled by prayer unto missions.
Is there a reason why you’re so invested in Singaporean leaders?
Relationship. I just love them! It’s been a God-thing where a few young men grew to many young men. By God’s sovereignty and providence, I ran into them and they needed help.
Francis Chan said something profound, “We can love a vision and love no one.” We can have a vision yet not have a vision to love the person in front of us. For me, the vision isn’t Southeast Asia. The vision is these young men who happen to live in Southeast Asia whom God has called me to serve. They can live anywhere in the world and it wouldn’t change the way I would approach them.
If you could encourage young pioneers who are just starting out, what would you tell them?
I’ve been so encouraged over the years by Hebrews 6:12. Have the faith, patience, and conviction that God can, will, and has the ability to bring you into what He’s called you to do. Also, be as deeply committed to His ways, which is what He does in you to prepare you to inherit the promise. God will never fulfil a promise or grant an inheritance which will hinder us.
My mum used to say, “A prophetic word is not a guarantee; it’s an invitation.” It’s an invitation to begin the process of preparation of your heart and life. I’ve watched too many young people evaluate prematurely — “I did it for six months and it didn’t work!” No, do it for six years then evaluate. Premature evaluation has killed so many works because it might take ten years for something to happen.
What do you hope for Singapore to be in 5–10 years’ time?
I hope to see Singapore believe in herself. She has the role (of Antioch) and she needs to take it seriously.
The second thing is quite biblical — that the kings of the East would stand as a resistance against evil. My prayer is that Singapore will not bow her knee to the world; that she would see the folly of the West and not go down that path but have enough courage and wisdom to bring an articulation as to why we won’t simply accept the hotspot issues of the times.
May Singapore remain as a beachhead; a place of refuge; an equipping and training resource for the region; and a light of righteousness.
In conjunction with Burning Hearts, this article is the second of a three-part interview series on Singapore’s prophetic destiny.