Our first Church Planter Intensive held in Asia ended on July 25. Jay Kyle is the Director of Asia for Redeemer City to City.
Hong Kong is known as a one of the world’s most iconic cities, often mentioned in the same breath as New York, London and Tokyo. It is a world power in financial markets and world-class architects love to study its new skyscrapers. But dim sum and church planting were on my mind as Maureen and I landed at the Hong Kong International Airport on June 26, 2012.
Good Chinese food awaited us in Hong Kong, but also landing on flights that day were thirteen potential church planters to be trained over the next month by City to City Asia. City to City Asia is a sister organization of Redeemer City to City and its goal is to train new church planters starting gospel communities in the major cities of the Asia Pacific.
From June 26-July 25, the trainees spent their days visiting recent church plants and receiving gospel-centered urban church planting training. We moved the trainees through four Asian cities to broaden their vision and understanding of what great things God is doing throughout Asia, and to deepen their personal knowledge and application of the gospel in their own lives and ministries. The month was spent in Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
Jet-lagged trainers like Mark Reynolds, Stephen Um and John Thomas arrived from Boston and New York to instruct them on Gospel Theology, Gospel Renewal, City Vision and forty other church-planting topics. CS Tang (Sydney), Nomer Bernardino (Manila) and Wing So, all men who had planted multiple churches in Asia, also took part and shared their lives and ministry with these new church-planting trainees.
The trainees visited with Tobin Miller who planted Watermark Community Church in Hong Kong, Gordon Huang who planted the Taipei 101 Church and three others in the last three years, Simon Murphy who planted Redemption Hill Church in Singapore, and Wong Fong Yang who planted the Puchong City Discipleship Presbyterian Church in Kuala Lumpur. To date these four men have been instrumental in planting thirty-four churches, so their words carried weight in terms of practical experience and servant leadership.
On the final day the church planters sat in a circle in Kuala Lumpur sharing how the training had impacted their lives. Michael Nhieu, who will plant a new church later this year in Sydney, shared, “When I arrived in Hong Kong I wanted to not just learn but to be transformed by the gospel. I was able to witness God across Asia and it has blown my mind. I saw the majesty of God as He lifted my eyes and vision of what He is doing, not just in Sydney, but throughout the Asia Pacific!”
Matt Straw who will begin a new congregation in Sydney out of St. Phillips Anglican Church on York Street shared: "In Sydney there is a lot of talk and excitement about church planting, but not many experienced church planters. Every day from 7 AM until midnight we were engaged with church planting, and I never got tired of the topic! We talked about it everywhere we went and over every meal. We experienced the purity of the gospel in our hearts. I received a new vision for ministry, that God is the One who is using us, and He is already on the move in these different cities. God is calling us to do the impossible, but He who has called us will give us the grace."
On Wednesday morning, July 25, 2012, at 1:00 AM our Malaysian Airline flight lifted off the runway into the night sky for Hong Kong which had just experienced a typhoon. I closed my eyes and thanked the Lord for keeping all of us safe and meeting with us throughout the training. Then I asked God to bless the church planters as they returned to their global cities to start new gospel-centered churches. Will you join me in this prayer that the Lord will be seen in His majesty and power through the lives of the those who will soon make up the thirteen new communities of believers in Sydney, Singapore, Mumbai, Bangalore, Manila, Taipei and East Asia? They will join the more than two hundred new churches worldwide in global cities with whom City to City has been privileged to partner. Thanks be to God.