But, back to the Lausanne update. It's a little long to read, so I'll post it in two parts. Here's the first part:
I, along with Dr. Duncan, was privileged to recently participate in the third-ever worldwide Lausanne Congress on World Evangelism held in Capetown, South Africa. The Congress brought together over 4,000 representatives from evangelical Christianity from 198 countries. This global church council came together to discuss pressing issues facing the spread of the Gospel worldwide. The Capetown 2010 website states that meetings like this “allow the body of Christ to come together on issues which impact the integrity of the gospel and the future of the life and witness of the church.” Some of the issues discussed included “responding redemptively to challenges to the gospel by other beliefs; HIV/AIDS; poverty; the need for in-depth discipleship, environmental concerns; and globalization and urbanization” among others. Capetown 2010 was designed to allow brothers and sisters in Christ to come together as leaders in the church, prayerfully seeking God’s wisdom for solutions to overcome the barriers to sharing the good news of the Gospel.” The theme verse of the week was 2 Corinthians 5:19, “God in Christ, reconciling the world to himself,” a fitting verse as it points us to the truth that it is through Christ that we are reconciled to God and that this reconciliation is for the whole world.
For those of you not familiar with the Lausanne movement, it was started by Billy Graham, when in 1974 he initiated the first worldwide Congress on world evangelism in Lausanne, Switzerland, gathering leaders from around the globe for discussion, fellowship, worship, and prayer, seeking to be “The Whole Church taking the Whole Gospel to the Whole World". Since 1974, dozens of Lausanne-related global, regional, and topical conferences have been convened all over the world, with a second worldwide congress held in Manila, Philippines in 1989. The Capetown meeting sought “to discern where the church should put its efforts and energies so that we can most effectively respond to Christ’s call to take the gospel into all the world and make disciples of people,” with three primary goals: a greater sense of unity in the body of Christ, a greater sense of clarity of the gospel, and a greater sense of ordered priority in the task before us.
It is impossible to sum up all we learned, experienced, and felt during 7 very full days of sitting under the preaching of God’s word; worshipping with believers of different nationalities, cultures, and languages; discussing global issues and how the Gospel applies to them; networking and strategizing for possible partnerships; and hearing how God is at work around the world. It was a stimulating, encouraging, challenging, and humbling time.
The Congress was structured around table groups of 5 and 6 people, allowing you to get to know a small group of people from different countries and discuss the specific issues and how they related to their individual contexts. My table included people from Hong Kong, Germany, India, and Papua New Guinea, and I was thankful for all I learned from them. We studied through the book of Ephesians (which, we have also been reading through here at First Pres.!) with those at our table and heard daily expositions from Ephesians from teachers from around the world, including John Piper from the US who challenged us that we are to care about all human suffering, temporal and especially eternal, and that to not care about human suffering indicated that we either had a defective view of hell or a defective heart. Challenging words indeed!