Greetings in the name of the Lord.
The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization (Lausanne III) was held in Cape Town, South Africa, in October of 2010. The Congress, held in collaboration with the World Evangelical Alliance, brought together over 4,000 leaders from more than 200 countries to discuss significant global and Christian issues of our time such as other world faiths, poverty, HIV/AIDS, theological education, Christian leadership and persecution.
As reported on their website, “Cape Town 2010 is not just a one-time meeting, but God willing, will be a catalytic event in the life of the church – drawing leaders together in purposeful prayer, humble repentance, strategic dialogue and decisive action. Together we will continue to seek the Lord as we examine the world and our culture to discern where the church should invest its efforts and energies to most effectively respond to Christ’s call to take the gospel into all the world and make disciples of all nations . . . lives changed for all eternity, broken families mended, physical and emotional hurts healed, communities transformed.”
The Lausanne Movement began with a vision of the evangelist Dr. Billy Graham. As he started preaching internationally, he developed a passion to ‘unite all evangelicals in the common task of the total evangelization of the world’. In 1966 the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, in partnership with America’s Christianity Today magazine, sponsored the World Congress on Evangelism in Berlin. This gathering drew 1,200 delegates from over 100 countries. Then in July of 1974 some 2,700 participants and guests from over 150 nations gathered for what would become known as the first Lausanne Conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, for ten days of discussion, fellowship, worship and prayer. Given the range of nationalities, ethnicities, ages, occupations and church affiliations, TIME Magazine described this conference as ‘a formidable forum, possibly the widest ranging meeting of Christians ever held’. The Second Conference known as Lausanne ll was held in Manila, Philippines in July of 1989 and drew 3,000 participants from 170 countries including Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, but sadly not China.
For the Third Lausanne Conference, Overseas Council had seven of the Overseas Council staff present at the conference. Sixty out of our one hundred partner schools were also represented. I personally was not able to attend but was kept up to speed with stories from our staff that was there. One such account came from the OC President, Dr. David Baer.
“I introduced myself to Eleazar, a Nigerian man of about 40 years. I asked the basic questions, and we were off to the races. ‘I have two hundred pastors,’ Eleazar explained without a trace of pride, ‘and I pastor a church of about a thousand people’….‘I am really a missionary, but I work as a pastor. I am teaching my people to be missionaries. I go with them. I do not send an associate. They need to see that this is important to me.’ ‘Where do you go?’ I asked. ‘To the jungle,’ he said. ‘There are many people there who do not know of Jesus….We have trained them to be pastors. Now we are taking some of them to Bible institutes and seminaries.’
‘Did you study at seminary?’ I probed. ‘Yes!’ he explained with a sudden brightness….‘I got my first degree at JETSN in Jos. Do you know JETSN?’ I smiled. Eleazar knew nothing of my work. The conversation had not come around to that and, schedules being what they are, never quite did. I told him merely that his Nigerian alma mater is a partner of the organization I direct. ‘Maybe we even had a small part in your education there…,’ I said….[Eleazar smiled broadly.]”
The Lausanne Movement’s Executive Director, Doug Birdsall, suggested that Cape Town 2010 was the most representative gathering of the global church in history. He also singled out Overseas Council as critical to his vision for a global evangelical mission that is energized, fueled and oriented by vigorous biblical theology.
I have to believe that God smiles when he sees His people cooperating in such a dynamic fashion, with a sole purpose of spreading His kingdom throughout the world. Overseas Council is intricately involved in such cooperation through our partnerships with other ministries such as John Stott Ministries and Third Millennium, among many. Our partnership with over 100 schools in 63 countries, of multiple denominations and a wide variety of cultures, languages and customs, is a part of the overall effort to bring Christians together from all corners of the globe.
One of the affirming standards we ask of our partner seminaries is agreement with the Lausanne Covenant. To read this important Evangelical Statement, go to http://www.lausanne.org/covenant. It is published there in 16 languages. You can also explore this site and learn much more about the Lausanne Movement.
You can be a vital part of the continued work of Overseas Council and other ministries that work towards global evangelization with prayer, partnership and participation.
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20