The Church in Singapore has grown steadily since 1970, especially among evangelical and charismatic groups. And while there are notable megachurches in Singapore, more remarkable is the impressive number of large, stable, growing, multi-congregational churches across the entirety of the denominational spectrum. Mission schools and effective campus ministries draw many of Singapore’s educated people to faith. As a result, many believers have influence in society, as well as good opportunity as missionaries to work in professional roles around the world. Praise God for the positive impact of the Church in Singapore!
Singaporean society is built on dedicated labour, discipline and self-reliance. These engender stability, good governance and a corruption-resistant culture, but also an emphasis on performance and wealth. Materialism has noticeably increased. Much of Singapore's affluence is now dependent on imported labour from poorer countries; entire sectors of the nation's economy would collapse without it. Pray for justice and fair treatment for all those from abroad; despite good legal safeguards, exploitation does exist. Pray that churches might become more active in assisting those at risk. Pray also that the admirable strengths of Singapore might not in themselves become idols.
Singapore's capacity as a mission-sending nation has grown in leaps and bounds. The Singapore Centre for Global Missions (formerly SCEM) played a catalytic role in unifying and mobilizing the Singaporean mission enterprise. The Fellowship of Missional Organizations of Singapore (FOMOS), an association of several agencies and para-church groups, and the triennial GoForth National Mission Conference also have a notable impact. Many churches have active mission programmes; one outstanding example is Victory Family Centre, which has sent over a thousand short-term missionaries and planted hundreds of churches in 80 nations. Singaporean missionaries serving abroad increased from 140 in 1988 to an estimated 693 in 2010. As many as half of all congregations send missionaries directly to the field. Many others serve with international mission agencies such as OMF, OM, Cru, YWAM, WEC.
Pray for Singapore’s less-reached peoples. The nation is a magnet for people from many unevangelized lands. Over 100 nations are represented in Singapore’s population of 1.65 million foreigners. The majority are transient workers engaged in lower end jobs. A tremendous opportunity exists to reach them with the good news. But this must be done carefully; Singapore's carefully crafted religious harmony laws are increasingly being applied when evangelism is done in unwise fashion.
- The Malay population number over 500,000 and are considered Muslim by birth, but there are a growing number of believers in Jesus. The Religious Harmony Act requires great wisdom and sensitivity when sharing Jesus with Muslims, as it seeks to prevent remarks being made or printed which could cause religious enmity. Pray that churches will receive a passion and burden to minister to them. Along with Malays, there are 150,000 Indonesians including the Bugis, Riau and Madurese peoples. Pray that churches gain a passion and burden to reach them.
- The Indian population, numbering nearly 400,000, is mostly Tamil by origin. They are predominantly Hindu (over 50%), and about 25% are Muslim. There are a number of lively congregations among Hindu groups of South Asian origin but very little outreach to Muslim groups such as the Gujarati, Sindhi, Hindi and Bengali-speaking communities of North Indian origin. Pray for effective outreach to these groups. There are also growing numbers of Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis arriving as professionals, students and transient workers in manual labour.
- The Mainland Chinese population has grown rapidly to now number over 200,000 (some estimates are much higher). They may locate in Singapore as professionals, students or migrant workers. Some are Christian, but the majority remain unevangelized. A number of churches hold Sunday services especially for Mainland Chinese peoples. They also minister through Bible studies, English language classes and free health screenings. Singapore's ethnic Chinese churches have no excuse not to effectively reach out to these responsive people.
- Migrant workers. Numbers have greatly increased, constituting at least 33% of Singapore's workforce, and it is a sensitive issue in Singaporean society. They include large numbers of Indonesians, Filipinos, Burmese, Bangladeshis, Thais, Sri Lankans and Vietnamese. There is ministry to all of these groups; pray for the right strategies, for effective follow-up and for integration of converts into local churches and home groups. Particularly needy for outreach are the Burmese (less than 2% Christian in Singapore), Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans.
Singapore is a strategic centre for regional and global Christian mission due to its infrastructure, stability, location and strong Christian population. Most expatriate missionaries based in Singapore are involved in international ministry. Several organizations have their headquarters in Singapore - OMF, WBT, WEC and others. Dozens of others maintain bases there - notably UBS, SU, Navigators, IMB, TLM, OM, SIM, YWAM and others. Pray that Singapore will be a blessing to the least-evangelized nations and peoples around it and a servant leader that facilitates the emerging missions movement from other Asian nations.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.