Church Leaders in the Global South Speak on Mission and Evangelism

Today we are unable to look at our world without seeing the tremendous and growing contributions of the Global South. Geopolitics, economics, finance, education, sports, fashion—not a day goes by without touches and influences from the Majority World. We are truly living in a global age.

This is especially true in the Church. For some time now, we have heard and felt the increasing influence of the Global South. Not only has it been well documented from Western scholars such as Andrew Walls, Philip Jenkins, Dana Robert, and Todd Johnson, but from Global South scholars, such as Samuel Escobar, Wonsuk Ma, and U. Obed, themselves.

No longer are the voices of the Global South in the periphery. They are the very center of the world in which we live today. We must integrate and incorporate the voices, thoughts, and ways of the Global South. Moreover, we must not only encourage these voices, we must listen as well.

This past February the Lausanne Theology Working Group met in Chiang Mai, Thailand, to discuss key issues facing world evangelization. Thirty-five participants from over twenty countries from every continent of the world came together to concertedly listen to the voices of the Global South and North and give integrated voice to the whole Church with the whole gospel to the whole world. This theological consultation is part of a series in preparation for the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization to be held in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2010.

In Lausanne World Pulse, we regularly have voices from the Global South; however, in this particular issue we wanted to focus our readers’ attention on Global South church leaders and missions and world evangelization. From Asia, we hear from Wonsuk Ma on the huge influence of the Pentecostal Church worldwide. From Africa, U. Obed speaks to the topic of discipleship and evangelism. Samuel Escobar describes developments of theology of evangelism in the Global South and Valdir Steuernagel discusses lessons on discipleship and evangelism.

I hope these articles provide you with much food for thought, discussion, and understanding. I have been privileged to hear in person from leaders like these around the world over the past two years. They have challenged and sharpened how I see and understand the whole Church, the whole gospel, and the whole world. I commend these voices to you and pray the Lord will use them to both challenge and sharpen your own view.

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.