04 Jun October 2010: Third Lausanne Congress
Here is an update from Doug Birdsall regarding the Lausanne Congress planned for October 2010 in South Africa. Four thousand participants have been selected from 200 countries. I will have the privilege of representing the United Brethren church. This will be the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization; the Second Congress was held 36 years ago, in 1974.
Doug Birdsall (right) is executive chairman of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. He grew up in a United Brethren preacher’s home, a son of Roger and Mary Lou Birdsall, and a sibling to Brent, Brian, and Connie. Doug has been working on this historic meeting for five years.
Greetings from 37,000 feet over the North Atlantic. As I write to you I am flying home from London to Boston on the final leg of a round-the-world trip for the Lausanne Movement. The trip began 17 days ago as I departed from Boston going to Hong Kong, with subsequent stops in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, and Dubai before going on to Cape Town, South Africa.
While in Cape Town, our Lausanne Global Lausanne Leadership and our Cape Town 2010 Congress Team – 120 gifted and highly motivated people – held a productive week of meetings. We were dazzled as leaders of each working team presented their reports and had a growing awareness of history in the making. At the end of the presentations at the Convention Centre, Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda, Honorary Chairman of the Congress, turned to me and said, “This is incredible, just amazing. This will go down as the most thoroughly planned Congress on world evangelization in history!”
Valdir Steuernagel, World Vision’s Theologian at Large and a Lausanne Board member from Brazil, came to me and said, “Doug, could you have imagined something so elaborate when you first began advocating the vision for a Third Lausanne Congress five years ago? The selection of speakers, the painstaking selection of the 4000 participants from 200 countries, the ground-breaking use of technology, and the thoughtful attention to every aspect of the Congress is beyond anything I have ever seen! We are blessed with great people and it is amazing how it is all coming together.”
We believe this Lausanne Congress will unite the global Church like nothing in our time, and that it will revitalize global evangelicalism with fresh vision and renewed commitment. We also have a growing conviction that it will embolden evangelicals to regain our nerve for evangelism in our globalized world.
At every turn we will have opportunity for inspiring interaction with gifted men and women from around the world. Every morning we will hear challenging Bible expositions from the book of Ephesians from a team of six of the world’s most gifted and insightful teachers. The days will be filled with plenary addresses, multi-plex sessions, and dialogue groups, where we will grapple with the issues of paramount importance to the Church. We believe that the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and the daily corporate worship will provide the most glorious display of the creative giftedness of the global Church that the world has ever seen, all to the glory of God.
Let me close by sharing with you the news of two gifts received on this trip. In Dubai, I met with a small group of businessmen to share the vision of the Congress. I sensed they were captivated by the vision for Cape Town, so I asked each of them to write down the amount of money they would like to give for the Congress. They all wrote quickly and put their little pieces of paper in a basket. As I began to thank them, one of them said, “Count it!” We did, and it came to US$95,100. They then said they plan to raise a total of US$250,000 from the United Arab Emirates for a Congress on World Evangelization! Only God could bring about such a miracle.
When I arrived in Cape Town, a pastor from Jos, Nigeria presented me with a letter from his church with a gift of US$15,000 for the Congress. Jos has been in the news in recent months because of martyrdom and violence among Muslims and Christians. As the Apostle Paul said of the Macedonians, “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability” (2 Cor. 8:2-3). We are truly seeing that same sacrificial spirit from the Church in Nigeria.
We are now on the final leg of a five-year global journey to Cape Town 2010. My personal prayer is that the Church will be characterized by unity, humility, generosity, and a sacrificial commitment to do all that our Lord and Savior requires of us, so that, like King David, it will be said of us, “They fulfilled the purposes of God in their generation.”