More than 2,330 from about 200 churches and Christian groups in Singapore and from overseas participate in urban missions conference
The sixth edition of GoForth National Missions Conference 2018 was held from 21 to 23 June 2018 at the Anglo-Chinese School Barker Road campus. Its focus was to empower individuals and churches to reach and transform cities with the love of Christ. The “Go Urban” theme was especially relevant given that 54 per cent of the global population is now living in urban areas, with this expected to rise to 70 per cent by the year 2050. Southeast Asia alone is home to 2,728 people groups, with 7.7 million people still unreached.1
GoForth is held once every three to four years, and the 2018 edition attracted more than 2,330 participants from about 200 churches and Christian groups, across the English and Chinese tracks. About 45 per cent of the participants attending the English Track of GoForth 2018 were “millennials” below the age of 35.
Among the participants were 400 children, aged seven to 12, who attended two days of engaging activities in the Children’s Programme, as well as more than 500 invited guests at the Leaders’ Programmes that were organised by the two language tracks. In addition, each of the three free Public Night Rallies saw an exuberant crowd of 1,300 believers convening for an uplifting time of worship, the honouring of previous generations, drama presentations and inspiring sharing by keynote speakers.
The other highlight was the two-and-a-half-day exhibition, where 40 missions agencies and Christian outreach ministries showcased a myriad of global and local ministries, a testimony of what the Lord is doing throughout the world. Exhibitors offered opportunities for participation and preparation for the Great Commission in areas such as cross-cultural training, discipleship courses, social enterprises, multi-media evangelistic ministries, working with the persecuted and oppressed, crisis relief and so forth.
Missions-Centric Programme: Plenaries, Bible Study, Workshops, Circles of Passion
The two-day main conference programme was packed from morning to night with content from more than 133 expert speakers and 42 facilitators.
English Track keynote speakers were Bishop Efraim Tendero, World Evangelical Alliance; Dr Mark Beliles, Global Transformation Network and the America Transformation Company; Rev Guna Raman, City to City Movement and Agape Baptist Church; Mr Joseph Chean, Fellowship of Missional Organisations of Singapore (FOMOS) and Youth with a Mission (YWAM) Singapore; and Bishop Emeritus Dr Robert Solomon. They led Bible studies, plenaries in the Leaders Track, morning and night programmes, as well as workshops together with other specialists in different aspects of urban missions.
With the overarching theme of “Urban Realties, Seeing Possibilities”, the morning plenaries showcased four important aspects of urban missions-related topics: livelihood and the marketplace; navigating digital spaces; growing the urban church; and hope amidst social realities. Delegates had opportunities to engage with one another during these plenaries through interactive games, videos and discussions.
There were also 12 Circles of Passion (COP) lunch-time networking sessions, in which there were about 600 participants, that looked at different urban-related topics like developing a viral church; giving voice to the voiceless; tapering the wealth gap; the inter-generational disconnect; education; and riding the digital wave.
Fifty-five TED-style workshops, themed “Embracing Realities, Creating Opportunities”, were organised along four tracks: Multicultural Mix; Ministry Mandate; Maturity March; and Megashift Mastery. Topics included reaching out to migrants; discipling international professionals and students; cross-cultural communication; urban poor; arts ministries; ministry to the exploited, the heart-broken, the dysfunctional and the broken-spirited; multi-lingual education and so forth.
GoForth 2018 Chinese Track Sees Best Ever Attendance
Participants from 60 churches in Singapore and around Asia, as well as missions agencies, were present at the Chinese track of GoForth 2018. One hundred and eighty church pastors and leaders attended the special Chinese Leaders Track on the first day and about 300 people participated in the 17 workshops on various aspects of urban living and missions. This is the largest number to date at a GoForth Chinese Track programme.
On the second and third days, the morning Bible Study was led by Rev Dr Caleb Soo Lee Chong of Singapore Life Church, who focused on the lessons of Abraham’s blessing and sacrifice. Rev Dr Chen Lip Siong from the Asian Centre for Mission, Sabah, shared at the morning plenary on mission trends and the mission base today. Rev Dr Joshua Ting Sih Chung of Chinese Coordination Centre of World Evangelism, Hong Kong, led the two Public Night Rallies for the Chinese Track. He encouraged believers that as the “salt and light” of the world, we are to go into the world and influence all around us. Each night, close to 90 persons responded to the altar call.
Public Night Rallies: Three Evenings of Uplifting Praise, Worship and God’s Word
Giving hope, transformation and giving dignity and respect to those in need resonated closely with the hearts of each of our three keynote speakers of the three Public Night Rallies, during which the auditorium was filled to capacity.
Dr Mark Beliles laid the foundations for being called to serve the city through the seven spheres on the first night, “Birthing in Love”, which was a combined rally with the Chinese Track. On the second night, Joseph Chean spoke on social justice as a “Bridge of Hope”. And on the final night, Bishop Efraim Tendero challenged all present through his message, “Blessing to Nations”, to fully appreciate and arise to our calling as an Antioch nation, as we are like unique keys with the heart of Jesus to bless the world.
GoForth 2018 was made possible by God’s grace alone. It is our prayer that the conference will further catalyse the national missions movement, for it to gain momentum as we join hands to impact and transform cities, one person at a time. To God be all the glory.
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The GoForth national missions movement is a collaborative platform where we can partner in mobilising every believer to discern and be affirmed in one’s calling to be involved in God’s mission. The whole Church—every one of us, and not just clergy or full-time missionaries—is to take the whole gospel to the whole world. We are called to be engaged in the Great Commission of Jesus Christ, to go where the Good News has not been heard, where the church is weak or where there is no church at all, to the poor and marginalised in cities, towns and villages. The movement seeks to do this through national missions conferences, held once every three to four years, as well as through collaborations with different stakeholders in the Kingdom to encourage conversations, engagement and empowerment.
1 International Mission Board
Photos: Courtesy of GoForth National Missions Conference 2018