Our world has shrunk and we are all wired together. Technology, communication networks and international travel has made people and products more available. Our world has become smaller and smarter for some, yet for others more divided and distant. This undoubtedly has affected Christian faith, our way of being God’s people and the spread of Jesus’ Gospel of grace in our complex, changing world
It was my privilege to be involved in Cape Town, South Africa with Lausanne III – the congress on World Evangelization where over 4000 leaders were brought together from over 200 countries! Envisioned in 1974 by Billy Graham and shaped by theologians like John Stott, the Lausanne Movement is a global network of reflective-practitioners. ‘Evangelicals’ are fervently committed to the authority and proclamation of Biblical truth, the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as God’s only way of salvation and mission in the Spirit’s power to the end of the earth. We seek to inspire and equip ‘the whole Church to take the whole Gospel to the whole World’. Thus our Biblical mandate was made to engage with social concerns.
Lively presentations using hi-tech media and cultural art forms enhanced worship and challenged witness to the impoverished and in the public square. Stories and case studies of mission in hard places celebrated our theme: God is on the Move. Piper clarified how Evangelicals care about all suffering, especially eternal suffering of all who reject the Gospel and Christ does not want us choosing between them. Birdshall urged for reconciliation and a ‘culture of grace’ within our communities of joy that gives our message credibility. Eshleman showed us where the Church was not yet present and asked how much longer we are going to wait? Atallah and Fung underlined the need for a partnership where instead of being threatened by the other’s success we trust in our Father who knows and provides our needs.
So, what are the new winds blowing out of the congress? The once mission fields is the new mission force! It is evident that the day of the Christian superstar is over and high time we partner to get the Gospel to the most unreached people groups, as Wright put it, with humility, integrity and simplicity. It is crucial to actualize our aspirations beginning at our home base. Multiplexes and dialogue sessions helped mix regional expertise in discussing issues and working out strategic application.
My particular role in representing OTAN was to be informed, contribute to the discussions, network with organizations and bring back useful resources. It was good to connect with Ian Payne and colleagues from SAIACS, Bangalore. I had breakfast with Eshleman to review training material for Dynamic Church Planters and lunch with Tim Green to assess Theological Education by Extension (TEE). I’m networked with Garrison and Kent Park’s Church Planting Movements. My job is to decide and do; God’s is to show how and supply… whatever it takes!