AWARE and marketplace evangelism

On 27 Apr 2009, on the Aware saga, the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan advised both parties on the dispute.

ONE: religion should be kept above the fray of petty politics.
TWO: do not let one issue hijack the agenda and polarise Singapore.
THREE: A rainbow coalition is vital for any group here to make meaningful change.

1) The first advice was that "Religion should be kept out of petty politics.

'We don't want our religious organisations to be compromised or be damaged by the hurly-burly of politicking which occurs on the ground. This was in light of the email trail which shows a strong religious motivation for the takeover of AWARE by a conservative Christian group from the Church of Our Saviour. Given the choice of supporting gays versus supporting extremist christians who wants to control your life, most would choose the first option. Therefore, the new Exco would have wanted their religious motivations to be hidden and their aggenda vague but somehow could not kept quiet about the hidden involvement of Mdm Thio who outed herself contradicting all the denials by that it was a planned takeover.

It appears that the new AWARE Exco or Pastor Derek Hong of COOS did not get the advice and attributed the negative reaction to a Satanic attack. This was to be countered by fervent prayers and a call for the women in the church to join AWARE in view of the coming EOGM. In the email to COOS members, Mr Tay called for “all responsible females to sign up for membership with AWARE immediately, and also to attend this all-important EGM so as to vote against changing the Constitution.” In the church service, Pastor Derek Hong asserts that “We are in a season where things are being shaken. As a church, we believe in what the ladies are doing and Alan (husband of Josie Lau) of course is part of the process as well and so we want to just lift them up for what the Devil is trying to do, God will turn it in the glory of its name.”

It is a known characteristic of Fundamentalist religion to consider themselves as the aggrived party which is delusional since they were the main antagonist with a hidden aggenda. There is a certain element of being brain washed and not thinking rationally as they convinced themselves fully justified for their actions. Any opposition is considered as the work of the devil. Perhaps, that is where Satan wants them to be, at the point of self-destruction. The advice it seems from the Government is that their actions may end up compromising or damaging their own religious faith, and putting it in a bad light.

2) The second advice by the Minister was "Do not let one issue hijack the agenda and polarise Singapore."

ie do not be unduly obsessed by the GLBT issue to let it define your main aggenda. They have made it a one issue argument even though the facts were against their rethoric where they tried their best to paint a bad picture of gays. They picked the wrong fight and the wrong organization to push their anti-gay lobby:-

Rethoric Truth

I go round Singapore teaching, counselling. So when all these problems about Comprehensive Sex Education came forth, then I started thinking: Hey, parents, you better know what’s happening, you better know what’s happening…I talked to parents, I said, you better do something about this, otherwise your daughter will come back and say, “Mum, I want to marry my girlfriend” or your son will say, “Dad, I want to marry my boyfriend.”

Mdm Thio

THE Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) sexuality education training manual suggests that homosexuality should be viewed in 'neutral' terms, rather than positive or negative.

It goes on to explain why: 'Homosexuality is perfectly normal. Just like heterosexuality, it is simply the way you are. Homosexuals also form meaningful relationships, and face the same emotional issues that heterosexuals do.'


The schools that engaged AWARE found that the content and messages of the sessions conducted were appropriate for their students and adhered to guidelines to respect the values of different religious groups. The schools did not receive any negative feedback from students or parents who attended the workshops and talks.

Ministry of Education, SG

3) The third advice by the Minister was that "A rainbow coalition is vital for any group here to make meaningful change.",

ie if the new Exco was serious about making AWARE a succesful group, then it would need to be open and reflective of all points of views rather than be based on a very conservative approach. Therefore, even if COOS wins the day be stacking the EOGM, only a shell of an organization will be left. A new AWARE made up of a "Rainbow" coalition would soon be much more effective to make a meaningful change. The use of the term "rainbow" is rather ironic as it reflects a group that accepts diversity including GLBTs.

Marketplace Evangelism

It is unlikely that the coup plotters will follow the advice of the Minister even though outwardly they might concur because it will be against their new theology of market Place Evangelism which as been strongly pushed at City Harvest and Anglican Churches in Singapore to strongly assert influence beyond the religious sphere.

(Mat 5:13,14 NKJV) "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.

The question that has not been examined thus-far is the theological motivation when once upon a time, the churches involvement would be kept strictly within the religious shpere. What was the motivation behind taking over or exerting the influence in another sphere? The answer perhaps lies in the new move in the Christian Church for "Market Place" evangelism where Christians are encouraged to aggresively extend their influence beyond the traditional religious sphere to:-

a) Business

b) Education

c) Government

d) Arts

e) Media

An example is the Focus on Familily, and TBN in America which as placed themselves a strong influence in the Government and Media until they changed the course of history by using all their influence to ensure the re-election of President Bush even though he made a mess of the war.

(Luke 17:21 NKJV) "nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you."

The motivation here is to interpret Mat 5:14, as the "marketplace" being the "World". ie Christians are to push their "light" or influence into the World. They have also interpreted the "kingdom of God" within us as being related to our world in the market place, ie to make our market place the kingdom of God!. Jesus was said to do His ministry in the market place, performed most of His miracle there, and did not wear a clergy"dog-tag" preaching in the church. The disciples were also said to be running their own businesses as well. Therefore, it is argued that Christians should not compartmentalised their faith to the religious space but extend it to all of all other spaces of business, education, government, arts and media. Therefore, they have no intention of "keeping religion out of politics" but to be agressively be involved in all these areas.

The Marketplace Evangelism interpretation of Mat 5:13,14, and Luke 17:21 is to fit their own aggenda and is flawed. Mat 5, was spoken in the context of the sermon on the Mount. Jesus saw the multitude of the sick, the poor, the outcasts of the community coming to Him. He called them blessed even though in the eyes of the world they had nothing and are to be despised. In contrast to the Pharisees, who were at the upper class of society, these people saw their need for God, and came with brokenness of the Spirit. Jesus exalted them that although they have nothing, they shall be blessed because they will have the Kingdom of God, will be comforted, will obtain mercy, be filled with righteousness, be called the Sons of God. Jesus gave them hope that in His Kingdom (not the Kingdom of this World - aka market place), they will be blessed. They had something to look forward to even though their stay on earth has dealt them harshly.

(Mat 5:12 NKJV) "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Jesus then called them to be His disciples worthy to be persecuted and suffer for His sake but their reward is in heaven. They will be persecuted because they called themselves Christians or followers of Christ, and will become intrinsically salty that their very presence on earth will be a blessing. Christians are supposed to be the light of the World, attracting people to Christ to their sphere. We are not the "World", we are "in the World" but not "of the World" but attracting people to the "Kingdom of God" to the rule and reign of Christ within. It is our "light" that cannot be hidden ie our good works and character can't help but attract people to ask about our faith and our God! This light and saltiness is intrinsic. If it is indeed true, salt is salty not because we say it is salty because it taste so intrinsically. Therefore, the light cannot be hidden, because people will be attracted to us naturally, just as they were attracted to Christ, if we are indeed are salty.

Therefore, being the light and being salt ie a blessing of grace to the World is intrinsic and comes about naturally wherever we are and go, resulting in Christ being preached. It is not an action to "promote" our light to the market place of Business, Education, Government, Arts and Media. If we are indeed salty, just our very presence there will bring a difference, a light to God just where they are. The light spoken off, is not our light, towards our anti-gay aggenda, but is a light to reveal Jesus Christ, so that they will follow Christ. One reason why christians may try to force their aggenda through, is because there is nothing particular about their witness of Christianity that others find attractive. Its like the Joker in Batman claiming that he is handsome! perhaps only in the eye of the beholder! If we were truly salty, we cannot hide it even if we try and others will be attracted to the light of Christ through us. However, if we have lost that attraction, then nothing could be done, however we try and we be thrown out.

Is Jesus Christ revealed or shown forth in the Aware saga? Do they see Christ in our actions and want to glorify Christ? Do we bring blessings or confusion, hate and intimidation? There is a warning here in the bible, that if we behave like the Pharisees and "looses" our saltiness, a near impossibility, we will be thrown out. Are we trying to push our own light, own saltiness to the market place, because we are not salty nor do our light attracts people! We will be deemed as overtly pushing our religion into the public sphere by our strenght, wealth, and power. Jesus was speaking to a group of people who were the least in the community, who had nothing to show forth, but Christ in them. We took on these verses spoken to them, and changed the meaning and the context to force into our man made theology and then called it biblical.

How can our "light" attracts people when we appear to tell lies especially in public to the press. The New Exco and their feminist mentor public statements on the sexuality program were not based on facts as the stance of AWARE as per their handbooks was neutral in view of MOE regulations. Its important not to get emotional and start playing with facts because ultimately it talks about our faith, our Christian Faith. Always be mindful of love, grace, and mercy and be consistent in our biblical interpretation. Are we preaching our culture, tradition, or religion, or are we preaching Christ the risen Lord?

There is a lot of talk about E1, E2, and E3 evagelism - relating to different culture, religions and language group. But Jesus stayed within E1, to the same culture and language. He was showing us that the greatest barrier is not language or culture but different classes in society whom we despised and condemned as intrinsic sinners. The Pharisees, the people of the Word and the Law, who should know the bible best, did not see this because they could not see the heart of God beyond their own perception of what religion should be. The heart of God is the heart of grace to extend beyond those we deemed acceptable to us for a variety of religious, social reasons.

There is the part of the Holy Spirit involvement in the cross cultural ministry, to guide, lead, and empower us supernaturally to break down this barrier. The Holy Spirit extended the ministry of Christ on Earth, in that Jesus' ministry was essentially to the Jews with a detour to the half Jews of Samaria. The Holy Spirit also led Phillip beyond the the missions cultural, and language barrier, in that He provided another essential dimension which was the hall mark of Jesus' ministry, that was the outreach to the people of lower and somewhat despised status. What distinguished the Eunuch was not that he was only a Gentile but he was the least in society in terms of status and reputation. Jesus came to the least in society, to those without a "face", to give them a face, a common humanity and dignity that was denied to them in the society that they lived in. He gave them a new hope, and respect, and equality at the Cross of Calvary. At the Cross they will not be despised, and the message is that the Last in Society, will be the first in God's plan.

The same message given to Peter is still applicable in today's church. In a sense, the Gentiles were considered ritually unclean by the law and not worthy or from a seed of Abraham to received God's blessings. They broke the law by not adhering to the religious rituals and the customs such as eating certain forbidden animals. The message to Peter was that what God has made clean through the blood of the lamb, is clean indeed. There is no longer a need to perform a series of works, rituals and customs to attain cleansing such as animal sacrifices to atone for our sins. Similarly, in our modern context, it is said that the GLBT community has broken God's laws and therefore are sinners and not worthy to enter the kingdom of God. The church leaders must have the same revelation that their righteouness did not come from adhering to the Jewish laws for which modern christians do not religiously follow. Therefore, why the special demand upon the GLBT community?.

There is an incredible revelation in Christ ministry to the most despised of the population, to show us not only E1 missions within the same culture, but that the greatest barrier perhaps is not cross cultural or cross language, but the classes within each people group of the most despised. Therefore, the outreach to the ends of the Earth does not end in one dimension only where the last people group (as defined by the culture and language) has been reached, but that the most despised people group has been reached. Clearly, the GLBT are the modern day untouchebles in each of the peoples group, and is the only group in our modern Christian context which is considered unworthy and intrinsically sinners. We might go to the ends of the earth to find the most obscure tribe, yet the tribe in the middle of our cities goes unreached because they were considered unclean.

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