The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization closed with a ringing call to the Church. Perhaps the most diverse gathering of Christians in history, the congress brought together more than 4,000 people from 198 nations in Cape Town, South Africa in October. On November 4, Azusa Pacific University hosted a celebration for those who attended on behalf of APU to share their experience with the audience.
Scott Daniels, Ph.D., dean of the School of Theology, at APU, was moved by the transformation of Christianity. “It’s no longer the West taking the Gospel to the worldit's everyone taking the gospel everywhere,” said Daniels. “One of the things I thought was so beautiful was the wonderful sense of unity over the eight days.”
Don Thorsen, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Theology and Ethics, at APU, was deeply impacted by the interaction at the Congress. “Every day you would sit next to the same people who spoke the same language, but were from different continents,” said Thorsen. “At my particular table, there were people from Zimbabwe, Costa Rica, South Korea, Finland, and Bulgaria.”
Thorsen couldn’t help but share the joy of the Congress with his family, and would frequently write postcards to his children.
“I would write postcards to my daughters talking about the Congress, and I would tell them I love the diversity of the Lausanne Congress,” said Thorsen. “North Americans at the Congress were clearly in the minority, and I see that as a taste of heaven.”
About 40 percent of the participants in this year’s Congress were in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, to represent a younger generation of Christian Leaders and thinkers. Andrew Richards, associate pastor of Rock Harbor Church in Costa Mesa, also attended and represented the future of Christian leaders. “Our generation looks quite skeptically on institutions,” said Richards. “We see moral failure; we see mixed messages being sent by the media, which has created a distrust of institutions.”
With this distrust in place, Richards stepped into the Congress wanting to see if the walk matched the talk. He was pleased to see that it did. “It brought great joy to my heart to see God’s family there,” said Richards. “Everyone was there to uplift the name of Jesus. I’ve been burdened to invite the younger generation into the movement of Jesus, a movement that actually embraces all of us in the different aspects and backgrounds that we represent.”
The Congress left a lasting effect on those who attended, as they reflect on the things they could do better to represent Christ in their communities. “They asked us to pray prayers of confession for our nation. I think it’s important for us in the West to acknowledge some of the giftedness of the West, but to also confess some of the sins of our history and our heritage,” said Daniels. “There are no closed countries. There are only countries where Christians are not willing to pay the price to take the Gospel there.”
For more information on the Lausanne Congress, visit www.lausanne.org.