Lausanne Conference Ends with Message of Hope

2007 is a "happy new era for world evangelisation". This was the closing message for the 400 delegates gathered at the Lausanne Bi-Annual International Leadership Meeting which concluded in Budapest, Hungary, on Friday.

Lausanne members have been in the Hungarian capital since Monday to pray, plan and work together for Lausanne III, a major world mission congress to take place in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2010.

In his farewell address, the Rev S Douglas Birdsall, Executive Chair of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelisation, reminded conference delegates of the great need for the Gospel in light of such problems as an increasingly secularised youth in Europe and the fresh conflict in Gaza.

He challenged conference delegates, however, to be people of hope in the world. "What we have been about this week is a message of hope for Asia, Latin America, North America, the Middle East, Australia, for the whole world."

Earlier in the week, Rev Birdsall outlined some of the challenges facing Christians committed to world evangelisation, including what he described as the "scandal of fragmentation" within the body of Christ. He called instead for "authentic unity" to pave the way for genuine prophetic witness.

Dr Chris Wright, who recently took over leadership of The Langham Partnership from one of Lausanne's founding fathers, the Rev John Stott, urged Christians not to forget the teachings of the Bible in their zeal to evangelise.

"It is the Lausanne purpose not only to see the world church become more evangelical but, more importantly, to see world evangelicals become more biblical," he said.

Dr Todd M Johnson, Director of the Center for Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, meanwhile, highlighted that there are still around 3,000 unchurched people groups worldwide.

Rev Birdsall recognised the enormity of the task ahead but re-committed Lausanne to its aspiration to bring the Gospel to the whole world. "He (God) has given us an impossible task but He has met us here in a miraculous way. We commit ourselves afresh to the whole church taking the whole Gospel to the whole world."

This is a "happy new era for world evangelisation," he concluded.