Notes from Cape Town: Nurturing Future Missions Leaders

L-r: Jeff Bleijerveld, Doug Birdsall, and Brian Birdsall

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries

Doug Birdsall spearheaded Cape Town 2010 as executive director of the Lausanne Committee. Doug grew up in the United Brethren church, the son of Dr. S. Roger and Mary Lou Birdsall, a long-time minister in the denomination. His brother Brian, a Global Ministries endorsed staff who heads up the Campus Crusade work in Ukraine, also came as a delegate.

Doug did phenomenal job. He was on the go morning, noon, and night. As I left at the end of the day’s events to head back to the hotel to chill out, he was making the rounds of various receptions throughout the evening.

I think Doug and some of the people who worked with him really had a vision for making the congress more than just missions thinkers getting together and hammering out these issues. Their vision was to open this up to the entire church.

One of their goals was to nurture future missions leaders. With that in mind, they focused on inviting people 50 years or younger. I’m 49, so I barely squeezed in. They really weighted their decisions toward getting younger people who might emerge in the future as missions leaders.

Many people were invited to apply for an invitation to the conference, but then they went through a selection process. Each country had its own selection team to determine who would represent that country. About 4000 persons from America applied, and only 400 were invited; I was privileged to make the cut. In Canada, 6000 people applied for only 60 spots. So the selection teams had a difficult job.

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