In Acts 19, we read of a supernatural move of God that began in the city of Ephesus in Asia Minor, the present-day country of Turkey. Ephesus was a major hub of false religion, commerce, and culture. Governmentally and geographically, it was of major importance. Paul visited Ephesus as recorded in Acts 19:1. Only a few believers were there, but because of the Apostle Paul’s discernment and ability to be led by the Holy Spirit, Ephesus was chosen to be a “City of Light,” if you will, for all Asia. As you read the rest of the chapter, several things emerge:
- The need for the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
- A commitment of time.
- Intentional strategic training and education.
As a result, after only a few years, all Asia heard the Gospel. Historians tell us Ephesus became a lighthouse for that part of the world. Timothy became the pastor there and John the Apostle followed at a later date. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was also a member there. Wow! It all started because someone saw the potential of a pagan city becoming a “City of Light.”
General Director of World Missions for the Church of God and the leader of our missions movement, Dr. David Griffis, has seen the potential of Bangkok, Thailand, to be the Ephesus of our generation. Bangkok is a hub culturally and an economic center for the whole region. It is also, as Ephesus was, a geographic hub for all Southeast Asia. All the surrounding countries look to Bangkok as the natural connecting point for the whole region. What happens in Bangkok affects many, many countries and people groups. One of Bangkok’s claim to fame is that there are more prostitutes than Christians. Buddhism and other false religions are firmly entrenched. Poverty and unreached people are the norm.
What potential! What a precedent we have in Acts 19 for a push into a dark area of Asia.
When we as Christians see God’s heart for hurting people and realize where sin abounds, grace much more abounds, and the light shines brightest in the darkest places. This becomes a mandate to send the LIGHT. Bangkok has the potential of becoming a hub of transformation for all Southeast Asia. When men and women of God, missionaries, donors, preachers, evangelists, pastors, and partners begin to focus their time, talent, and treasure on one geographic location where the need is the greatest, we will again see the phenomena that we saw in Acts 19 at Ephesus.
Lord, please let Bangkok become the Ephesus of the 21 st century!
—Ron Hepperly RIO Missions and Superintendent of Southeast Asia