Cape Town 2010
Oct 28, 2010 by Mark Young | 2 Comments
The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Cape Town, South Africa, brought together over 4,000 believers from 197 countries. Inspiring? Absolutely. Challenging? Every day. Historic? No doubt. Check out http://www.lausanne.org/cape-town-2010 for access to videos, documents and news from this event. You can also join the “global conversation” that it has spawned at http://conversation.lausanne.org/en.
Some impressions and reflections:
- The scope of God's work around the world and the creativity and commitment of his people were evident every day. So was the sobering reality of suffering and persecution. A particularly poignant moment occurred when an American widow shared the story of her husband's martyrdom in Afghanistan this past July. He was a part of the team of ten that was ambushed while returning from a medical mission to a very remote region of the country. All ten were murdered. She and her husband had lived in Kabul for thirty years. They raised their kids there. He's now buried there. She read from the journal that was recovered with his body. She spoke with strength, composure and resolve about their calling to minister in that dangerous place and her plans to stay in Kabul to continue their work. I don't meet a lot of folks like her and I wonder if I'm there myself. Perhaps there are many who would demonstrate the same faith, courage, and commitment, if they were called upon to do so. I wonder. Sometimes I feel that we've immunized ourselves from having to deal with total abandon for Christ and simply spend our days taking little doses of Jesus to make ourselves feel better about it.
- The old tension between making engagement in social justice and verbal proclamation of the gospel the defining element in mission continues to this day. How can that be? Both have been affirmed as a part of the mission of God’s people for centuries. The Lausanne Covenant, drafted at the First Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in 1974 addresses and resolves the tension well. Yet the tension remains among evangelicals today. Those primarily engaged in social justice and development ministries quote St. Francis, "Preach the gospel at all times -- If necessary, use words." Those involved primarily in preaching wish that St. Francis had said, "Preach the gospel at all times -- If necessary, don’t use words." Yet, the gospel mandate calls us to rescue the victims of injustice from the suffering of this world and to rescue those dead in their sins from eternal suffering in hell, a sentiment heard long before John Piper voiced it in Cape Town last week. That evangelicals are engaged in both endeavors is a blessing; that some evangelicals continue to suspect that one side or the other “just doesn’t get it” is a shame.
- The enormous magnitude of the need for the gospel cannot be ignored and the stifling indifference of most of the Church to that need cannot be excused. Many estimate that over two billion people will live and die without access to a meaningful presentation of the gospel. These two billion are sometimes called the “Missing Peoples” who live in places where there is little, if any, Christian presence. The total number of people with no personal faith in Christ may be more than five billion. How can we claim to worship the One who came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10) and be indifferent about the destiny of those five billion?
Let me encourage you to linger on the Lausanne website (www.lausanne.org). Watch several videos. Read the Lausanne Covenant. Enter the global conversation. And then gauge your response. You’ll learn a lot about yourself, your theology, and your love for the Savior.