Dave Guiles, Grace Brethren International Mission’s executive director, Mike Yoder, GBIM missionary to Germany, and Jorge Nunez, national church leader in Argentina, are representing the FGBC at the 2004 Forum for World Evangelization (Lausanne) in Bangkok, Thailand. Held each decade, the purpose of this encounter is “to examine through unprecedented global inquiry, the trends and needs in evangelism, and in response, develop specific action plans for Church leaders to use in addressing our most difficult local and global evangelism issues.” Here is a more complete news release on the meeting and some of its key personalities:
By Naomi Frizzell, LCWE Director of Communication
THAILAND (ANS) — The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization 2004 Forum opened Wednesday night September 29, with a taste of Thai culture from the Royal Cliff Beach Resort kitchen and the Thai Christian Community. While enjoying a dinner of wonderful Thai food, Forum participants experienced poignant performances by the Thai Classical Orchestra, Christian school choirs and Thai traditional dancers.
Forum Program Chair Mrs. Robyn Claydon officially opened the Forum with the Thai custom of cutting a ribbon of flowers and banging a gong. Participants then joined in praise and worship songs led by Mr. Dave Pope.
Dr. Paul Cedar, Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization Executive Chair, told the gathering that “we have come together from the North, South, East and West” to participate in the Forum “under the leadership and lordship of Jesus Christ.” Dr. Cedar emphasized that the Forum is not just a Lausanne conference but one where every international network of Christian leaders was invited to participate.
More than 1,500 leaders from around the world are at the Forum — representing nearly 130 countries and 58 languages. Rev. David Ruiz, International Coordinator of the Great Commission Roundtable, encouraged the participants to “share, learn and dialogue” as they experience “A new vision, a new heart and a renewed call.” While unable to attend the Forum, Rev. Gary Edmonds of the World Evangelical Alliance sent a message of encouragement. Rev. Edmonds referred to the African proverb “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Rev. Edmonds stressed that “We are committed to take the gospel far – to the ends of the earth. Therefore, we must go together.”
Keynote speaker for the evening, Dr. Roger Parrott, 2004 Forum Chair, urged participants to catch hold of the fresh wind of the spirit. He acknowledged that it takes certain skills “to sail where God leads us.” Dr. Parrott stated this willingness is expressed by six benchmarks: unwavering trust; outward vision; constant preparation; gentle patience; navigational sensitivity; and complete effort.
Much like the global weather patterns, he said, this wind is interconnected around the world in ways that we don’t understand or often see, starting with a slight breeze that becomes so strong it topples everything in its path. Dr. Parrott reminded participants that this same wind of the Spirit blew at Pentecost, blew again at Lausanne 1974 and can once again blow across the 2004 Forum. He concluded by saying that the wind will blow here in Thailand if participant’s sole desire is to live, work and relate to each other at the 2004 Forum in a way that catches the wind of God.
Mrs. Vonette Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, International, offered prayers for God’s guidance for participant discussions and for the long-term impact of the Forum on global evangelization. Today Issue Groups also began their face-to-face meetings—seeking to prayerfully complete the development of their issue-specific strategic plan.
On Thursday the 2004 Forum for World Evangelization Issue Groups met face-to-face for the first time. Though many of the members of the 31 groups have never met personally, they have been actively corresponding for months via the Internet, telephone and mail. Many groups used their first meeting in person as a chance to get to know one another — with members introducing themselves, sharing the particular challenges they face in ministry and how God has been working through their ministry toward advancing the gospel.
Members of the Reconciliation Issue Group (IG #22) revealed personal stories of hurt or discrimination or experiences as victims of conflict. Testimonies of personal tragedy as the result of genocide in Rwanda, Burundi and Cambodia were shared, as a bond of fellowship and prayer developed among members. In the two subsequent sessions of the day, Issue Groups transitioned into the next phase of strategy development. Guided by the 2004 Convergence Team, several Issue Groups defined why their issue is important to the task of world evangelization. They also addressed what they felt were the most important ideas for action or understanding that Christian leaders should implement or influence others to implement in the cause of world evangelization.
LEADERSHIP TRANSITION ANNOUNCED: PREPARING LAUSANNE FOR 2005 AND BEYOND
The 2004 Forum marks a leadership transition for the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. Dr. Paul Cedar, Executive Chair, and Dr. David Claydon, International Director, will step down from their posts at the end of the Forum. In making the announcement, Dr. Cedar confirmed the election of Rev. Doug Birdsall as Executive Chair and the appointment of Dr. Tetsunao (“Ted”) Yamamori as International Director.
Following the Forum, Dr. Cedar will serve as a Lausanne Senior Advisor. Dr. Claydon has been named Lausanne Ambassador at Large. “These past six years have been times of prayer, transition, blessing and growth in the Lausanne Movement, leading up to the 2004 Forum,” Dr. Cedar said. In reflecting on the impact of Lausanne over the past 30 years, Dr. Cedar affirmed that he believes the Lausanne Covenant has been the most significant contribution of Lausanne to the cause of global evangelization. He added that the LCWE Working Groups have also impacted the mission of world evangelization especially the Theology and Strategy Working Groups and the various Lausanne Occasional Papers. Dr. Cedar also recognized the contributions made by the many international consultations and convocations.
Rev. Doug Birdsall has been a missionary in Asia for 25 years. From 1980 to 1999, Doug and his wife lived and worked in Japan, serving with Asian Access/LIFE Ministries, a mission organization focused on leadership development and church multiplication in the twenty countries of Asia. Since 1991, Birdsall has served as president of Asian Access. In accepting the position with Lausanne, Rev. Birdsall related his great appreciation for the spirit and vision of Lausanne for “bringing leaders together from around the world to wrestle with the substantive issues dealing with world evangelization.”
Rev. Birdsall expressed a strong sense of God’s leading to be part of Lausanne and “an awareness of personal indebtedness for the way in which my own life and ministry has been enriched by Lausanne through the influence of Dr. Donald Hoke, director of the 1974 Lausanne Conference.” In 1987, Rev. Birdsall participated in the LCWE Singapore Conference for Younger Leaders which he called “a watershed experience” that expanded his horizons, deepening his understanding and commitment to the issues related to world evangelization.
LCWE INTERNATIONAL DIRECTOR Dr. Ted Yamamori is president emeritus of Food for the Hungry International (FHI). He is Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California. Since 2001, he has served as President and CEO of Global Holistic Mission and Research, Inc. Dr. Yamamori was born and raised in a Buddhist family in Nagoya, Japan. Upon accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior, he began preparing his life for the ministry—with a passion to be utilized by God in the cause of world evangelization. He was first introduced to Lausanne through his mentor Dr. Donald A. McGavran, pioneer in modern church growth thinking. Since that time, he has attended Lausanne I (1974) and Lausanne II (Manila 1989) and participated in many of the consultations held to explore critical issues related to global evangelization.
By agreement with Lausanne, Dr. Yamamori will serve the full four-year term, as International Director and then as Representative-At-Large. Dr. Yamamori, along with the Lausanne leadership, firmly believes that LCWE should have, in the position of International Director, someone from a non-western country who is young enough to bring fresh ideas and future leadership to Lausanne. During his term as International Director, Dr. Yamamori will seek to find someone who can fulfill those requirements.