In the shadow of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue, nearly half of the Brazilian delegates to Cape Town gathered in June 2010 for meetings and prayer for the upcoming Lausanne III Congress. The assembly was held in conjunction with the national conference of the Latin American Theological Fellowship (FTL-Brasil) and we were hosted by the staff, deacons, and pastors at Rio’s Presbyterian Cathedral.
For many of the participants it was the first opportunity to meet with other Brazilians who are also part of the Cape Town delegation. We met to learn, think, and pray together about our histories and the Brazilian presence in Lausanne I, II, and now Lausanne III.
During our time together we discussed many things. Among them, three big questions kept coming up:
- Why has the Lausanne Movement so often gone unnoticed in the Brazilian Church and how can this be changed after Cape Town?
- What are some of the lessons from Lausanne that Brazilian churches need to learn?
- What are the main gifts and contributions the Brazilian delegates can offer at Cape Town?
While we did not come up with clear, simple answers, there was a general feeling of excitement and apprehension about the huge responsibility being placed on this group of leaders and its work and ministry both during Cape Town and especially after.
Delegates were reminded of the importance of reading and studying Ephesians and doing all of the pre-conference required reading. One major challenge for many in the group is that most of the Lausanne reading currently available, along with the Global Conversation forum, is primarily in English. Given this situation and understanding that so many in the planning groups for Cape Town are already overburdened with work, some of the participants volunteered to start a forum for the Brazilians in Portuguese and to provide loose translations of some documents that have not yet been translated.
Together we discussed the challenges of carrying out the Lausanne vision for global evangelism in our own cities, states, and country with all its diversity, problems, and joys. It was agreed that churches in Brazil have a lot to learn from Lausanne, especially in terms of how the movement can help Brazilian evangelicals fight against complacency and nominalism. Delegates also noted that Brazilians can help other Christians learn about ways to be the church amidst urban violence, corruption, and socio-economic inequalities.
During the times of sharing and prayers, delegates were inspired by the diversity within the Lausanne Movement and were reminded that at Cape Town, all participants will be exposed to viewpoints and perspectives with which we might not agree. And yet, at the same time, that is part of the beauty of God’s kingdom, and a unique gift Lausanne has to offer—that it is the place where evangelicals from all around the globe can gather to learn, teach, debate, disagree, and sometimes agree.
It is not about winning the argument or having the best idea, but about participating in the Kingdom of God; it is about the whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world and about learning with others what it means to be on that journey together. The Brazilian delegates are humbled and excited to play their role toward this grand objective.