Traveling the World to See the Movement of Lausanne

These past few months have been wonderfully productive and encouraging times for the Lausanne movement. I have had the privilege of traveling to several continents to meet with Christian leaders in order to better understand the developments and concerns in various regions of the world. I am greatly encouraged by what I have seen.

In August I met with leaders and friends in seven countries in each region of Africa who share the vision and spirit of Lausanne. While in Nairobi, Kenya, I had the opportunity to meet with Judy Mbugua, the director of the Pan-African Christian Women’s Association. Her vision and dynamism is a tremendous gift to Lausanne, where she serves as a member-at-large on the Administrative Committee.

Lausanne’s International Deputy Directors for Francophone Africa and Anglophone Africa, Dr. Daniel Bourdanne and Dr. John Azumah, are planning consultations to bring together leaders to discuss the findings of the 2004 Forum for World Evangelization and to refine priorities for evangelization with respect to the African context and the African church. Dr. Kwame Bediako, considered by many to be the leading evangelical theologian on the continent, is planning to convene a consultation of between twenty-five and forty theologians who will examine missiological issues from a solid theological perspective.

In September, I was in Sydney with the Australia Lausanne Committee. They installed a new chairman, Dr. Ross Guilford, a leader in the Baptist Union in Australia. We were pleased to be joined that evening by Leighton Ford and John Reed, a long-time leader for Lausanne in Australia. Former international director, Dr. David Claydon, and Mrs. Robyn Claydon, vice chairman for the Lausanne Administrative Committee were there as well. The meeting was hosted by Glenda Weldon, chair of the Lausanne Intercessory Working Group. The meeting was organized by Daniel Willis, International Deputy Director for Australia and Oceania.

We also recently met with Lausanne leaders and friends in Frankfurt, Germany; London, England; and Helsinki, Finland. The German Lausanne Committee, a bedrock of strength for Lausanne over the years, has also installed a new chairman, Rev. Mrs. Birgit Winterhoff. We were joined by outgoing chairman, Rev. Ulrich Parzany, leader of the YMCA (German’s largest Christian organization). The meeting was organized by Mrs. Elke Werner, International Deputy Director for Western Europe.

In London, Dr. John Stott, honorary chairman for the Lausanne movement, hosted a luncheon which included Dr. Chris Wright, chairman of the Theology Working Group, and several other evangelical leaders in the United Kingdom, including Rev. Nicky Gumbel, founder and president of ALPHA, and Dr. David Coffee, the new president of the Baptist World Alliance. Dr. Wright will be hosting a planning session for the Theology Working Group in February 2006. Also in attendance were Dr. Fergus MacDonald, former International Chairman for Lausanne, and Dr. Thomas Wang and Dr. Gottfried Osei Mensah, both of whom have served as International Directors for the Lausanne movement.

Lausanne has a rich history of godly leadership. As we move ahead in the coming months and year, in addition to the leadership provided by the Lausanne Administrative Committee, we are harnessing the wisdom and experience of those who have formally served as Chairmen or as International Directors for Lausanne. These individuals will serve as Senior Advisors to Lausanne. They include former Chairmen Leighton Ford, Fergus MacDonald and Paul Cedar, along with former International Directors, Gottfried Osei Mensah, Thomas Wang, Tom Houston and David Claydon.

During my time in Europe, I was also privileged to participate in meetings in Helsinki, Finland that brought together Lausanne leaders from the Nordic countries. Once again it was encouraging to be with leaders who have provided vision and strength for the past thirty years for the ministry in Northern Europe.

I am also planning a trip to Latin America, during which time I will meet with Lausanne leaders such as Dr. Norberto Saracco, our International Deputy Director for Latin America, as well as leaders from Argentina and Mexico. A focal point will be a five-day consultation in Guatemala, during which I will talk with evangelical leaders from South America, Central America and the Caribbean.

From 10-12 November, the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization will co-sponsor a North American Consultation on the Role of the Church in the HIV/AIDS Pandemic,, at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY, USA. This will be under the leadership of Dr. Ted Yamamori, Lausanne International Director. It is my hope and prayer that as global leaders gather to focus on the HIV/AIDS epidemic that we may more effectively reach out to a hurting and dying world. And that we will do this with Christ’s compassion, truth and hope.

I thank you for your partnership in the gospel and for the fellowship we enjoy through the Lausanne movement. At a time when the church has experienced a trend towards fragmentation, now more than ever it is important to work for the unity of the church and the advance of the gospel. We pray that this joint venture of is a blessing to you as together we commit to the vision of Ì¢‰âÒthe whole Church taking the whole gospel to the whole world.Ì¢‰âÂå

May God continue to wonderfully bless you.

Doug Birdsall is executive chair of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. He served as president of Asian Access from 1991 to 2007 and continues to serve on their board of directors. Birdsall is a graduate of Wheaton College, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Harvard University. He is co-publisher of Lausanne World Pulse.