“What if God gave us 1 per cent of our nation’s population? There would not be enough space in our churches”
The new chairman of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, Dominic Yeo from Singapore, spoke to Evangelical Focus. “We have to expect discipleship happening in our churches, and the next generation becoming church planters”.
MADRID · 24 OCTOBER 2023 · 13:23 CET
The new chairman of the largest Pentecostal movement in the world, the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, is from Singapore.
Dominic Yeo, who pastored the 10,000-member Trinity Christian Centre for 18 years, will now dedicate most of its time to promote church planting on a global level.
In an interview with Evangelical Focus during the world congress held in Madrid in October, Reverend Yeo spoke about he believes they will reach the goal of having 1 million churches by 2033. Asked about the rise of secularism in Europe, he pointed to “pockets of revival” in Scandinavia and other regions.
(Find the audio version of this interview at the bottom of this page)
Answer. What concerns Ukraine and Russia, we have believers and Assemblies of God churches on both sides. The war is hurting all the nationals, because as citizens of a country, the Bible teaches us to pray for our leaders, and to be loyal insofar the rules of the government align with Scripture.
I know, from talking to our Ukrainian brothers, that they are very hurt by the war. At the same time, the Russian brothers are hurt, because they did not want the war, but it has taken place. It puts them in a very difficult position of: ‘How do I stay loyal to my nation and yet my nation is causing destruction?’
So, there is pain on both sides. I empathise and feel the sympathy for both sides.
Israel and Gaza… We do have Palestinian believers as well, it is the same thing. When the war started, I received a text message asking for prayer from a friend who used to live in Israel and has family in Israel living very close to the area where Hamas attacked.
Say it how you say it: war is bad. But we look beyond the governmental aspects. We look with compassion. From a humanitarian perspective of the crisis, we want to be able to help. On the spiritual side, this has to do with mental resilience. I think in these times we need to pray that the people have mental strength to go through this time.
Q. “Shine. Called to influence” is the theme here at the world congress in Madrid. How do Christians influence their environment differently from non-Christians?
A. First of all, it is a lifestyle. The Scriptures say: “Arise and shine, for the light has come” (Isaiah 60:1). In the Gospel of Matthew, Scripture also teaches us that we are “salt and light of the earth”, so we are called to influence.
We influence not just with our speech. A lot of non-believers look at Christians and they run away from us. Christians tend to have just Christian talk, it is as we were shuffling the Bible down, and sometimes we don’t live authentic Christian lives.
“The Western Christian world can learn from Asian Christians about what it means to encounter God, experience Him beyond just a cognitive understanding”
Q. One of the ideas that you have been pushing these days at the World Congress is to reach the figure of one million churches. You have around 370,000 churches at the moment. How are you going to reach that goal?
A. [Smiles] By faith and by the grace of God. This push until 2033 means that every church has to reproduce two times. In the Lord, I think that is possible. And I will not surprised if by the end of 2033, we have surpassed that. Because I see things picking up momentum.
Really, if there is life, there will be multiplication. You don’t have to teach a fruit tree to have fruition. It is natural, you just must provide the environment. Think that if we can create the environment of faith, an environment with the Word of God, an environment of worship, I think we will see a million churches.
It will come because we are going to see evangelism taking place, which will cause us to plant churches.
“1 million churches? Until 2033, every church has to reproduce two times. In the Lord, I think that is possible”
As believers we always pray, ‘God, give us souls!’. We pray for the nation to be won. Well, what if God gives us 1 per cent of our nation’s population? The question would be where to put these people, there would not be enough space in our churches.
Church planting has to be expected. If you are praying for rain, you better carry an umbrella, if we pray for a million churches, we have to expect evangelism. We have to expect discipleship happening in our churches, and the next generations to be saved and released, so that they can become the church planters.
All this is part of the movement towards these one million churches.
Q. You’re the new Chairman of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship. Your large church in Singapore has thousands attending. How are you united on a global level with, for example, with a small church in Cuba of 50 people which is persecuted by the state?
A. We are united firstly based on our doctrines. Our doctrinal position brings us to be identified as Assemblies of God.
Then, there is the unity of mission. Maybe the church in Cuba cannot plant. But there are Spanish-speaking nations who can send a number of people, and partner together. Our common doctrine, identity and view of mission makes this possible.
For us, our church in Singapore, we have planted churches in Indonesia under the Indonesian Assemblies of God. In our planting, we helped them in Indonesia to fulfil the goals towards this one million churches.
There are many hands that can come together and collaborate.
Q. You mentioned the doctrine… From an outsider point of view, many would say one of the identity markers you have as Assemblies of God is speaking in tongues. Is that still a central doctrine?
A. Our central doctrines are four-fold. One is that Christ is our saviour, that is so important.
Then, we preach and believe in healing because Christ it the healer.
The Assemblies of God also believe that Jesus Christ is our Returning King, which is the emphasis about the Last Days. This leads to our call to holiness and prayer, because we are living in the Last Days.
“We emphasise Jesus, and Jesus is our baptiser. He baptises with the Spirit”
Speaking in tongues in not the main doctrine. Sometimes, from the evangelical world, others might look at the Assemblies of God, and think, ‘oh, they only emphasis tongues’. But no, we emphasise Jesus, and Jesus is our baptiser. He baptises with the Spirit and we overflow with the evidence of speaking in tongues.
These are the major four blocks that we orientate around as Assemblies of God.
Q. How do you relate to other evangelical movements? Let’s say, Baptists, Brethren, Reformed… And, are you going to the Lausanne Movement Seoul 2024 Congress?
A. In the past, our Missions director and our Superintendent have attended [to the Lausanne Movement congresses]. I would be open to attend if my schedule fits.
“ There is so much richness in appreciating the differences inside the evangelical movement ”
I don’t like to compare the Lutheran beliefs versus the Pentecostal. Or the Baptist versus the Anglican.
There is so much richness in appreciating the differences inside the evangelical movement.
For instance, I appreciate the Anglican movement very much. At least in Singapore, during the lockdown because of the coronavirus everyone went online on Zoom or other platforms to have their services. But one of the sacraments that the Anglicans did not do was Holy Communion, because for them that is a corporate thing. So, as an Assemblies of God minister, I look at this difference, and I begin to appreciate, because in Acts 2:42 you read about people “devoted themselves to the Apostle’s teaching and to the breaking of bread”. And this is a corporate experience, so Anglicans have a flavour there of which all of us can learn, whereas we contextualised it to personal faith and personal experience with Christ. And they might look at us and say: ‘That personal dimension is just as important’.
Q. You are in Asia, where the Gospel is growing. We are in Europe, in a secularised continent, some say it is a post-Christian culture. What do you think European Christians can learn from Asian Christians?
A. I think what we can learn from the East, from the Asian world, is the understanding of spirituality.
I see a lot of secular people in the West taking up spirituality, going to the wrong spirituality. In Asia, everything is about spirits and gods. It is very experiential, whereas in the West it is more about knowledge, more cognitive.
The Western Christian world can learn from Asian Christians about what it means to encounter God, experience Him beyond just a cognitive understanding of the Word. Asia can bring that flavour to Christendom.
Q. And what can people in other parts of the world learn from Europeans?
A. When you study the history of the church, there are lots of things that have come from Europe. Look at the Gutenberg printing press, in Germany, where the Bible was first printed and how it was distributed. We need to appreciate this, Europe was a strong missionary force.
Despite some believing that Europe is in a post-Christian era, let me say that I see not just pockets but many and deep pockets of revival and spiritual awakening in Europe.
About 12 years back, when I went to England to minister at the Assemblies of God Great Britain conference, I was amazed to see close to a thousand pastors. People talk about ‘big cathedrals and small congregations’ but when I talked to the pastors there, they were telling me about the vibrancy of the church.
“I see not just pockets but many and deep pockets of spiritual awakening in Europe”
So, I see a move of God. God is doing something.
Then I go to Italy, and I hear from the Italian Assemblies of God, great things are happening. And I go to Sweden, and there with the Pentecostal Federation and they talk about another thousand pastors. Look at the Finnish and Swedish Pentecostal movement in mission and church planting, I am very proud as an Assemblies of God. I go to Switzerland and I see pastors with great passion. And they are in their 40s and 50s, it is not as if I am seeing pastors that are 80 and 90 years old trying to run the ministry.
I have hope for Europe, I believe lots can happen, and I believe Europe will rediscover the distribution of Scriptures one more time, the propagation of the public reading of the Word. I believe Europe will become one of the greatest sending forces.
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