The father of modern missions, William Carey, was a man ahead of his time. In 1810 he proposed a world missions conference, and he suggested Cape Town as the ideal venue! It was 100 years later, in 1910, that the first world missions conference was held in Edinburgh. 200 years after William Carey had proposed it, Cape Town hosted the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelisation.
With over 4,200 invited participants from 198 countries, and extending through Global link sites to another 700 venues across 95 countries, this was the largest and most representative missions conference in history.
The theme of the Cape Town 2010 Congress on World Evangelisation was:
God in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself
(2 Corinthians 5:19).
The organisers undertook extraordinary efforts to make sure that every region in the world was represented in proportion to the number of Evangelicals in that country. There were 1,200 missionaries, 1,200 pastors and ministry leaders, 1,200 academics and students and 600 in secular professions as participants in the congress.
This largest missions congress in history was targeted by the most massive, malicious cyber attack ever seen. The sophisticated computer network developed for live broadcasting to the world was targeted by millions of malicious external hits coming from multiple locations, most from Asia. There was no doubt that the co-ordinated cyber war against Cape Town 2010 originated from China.
The communist government of China prevented hundreds of Christian leaders in their country from attending the missions congress in Cape Town. Many Chinese Christian leaders had their passports confiscated, some were detained and many were subjected to intensive interrogation.
Threatened by Freedom
Some of these pastors were told that the Lausanne Covenant undermined the Chinese state in its section on ‘Freedom and Persecution’: “It is the God appointed duty of every government to secure peace, justice and liberty in which the church may obey God, serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and preach the Gospel without interference. We also express our deep concern for all who have been unjustly imprisoned, and especially for those who are suffering for their testimony to the Lord Jesus Christ. We promise to pray and work for their freedom.” According to some Chinese state officials this is “subversive”.
North Korean Testimony
One of the most moving presentations at the congress was presented by an 18 year old North Korean girl, Gyeong Ju Son. Her father was a high-ranking communist government leader, but, when he fell out of favour with the political leadership, the family fled to China - where they were converted to Christ.
Gyeong related how her pregnant mother died of leukemia and her father returned to North Korea as a missionary. He was imprisoned for 3 years. Later when he determined to return to North Korea to share Christ’s message of life and hope among the hopeless people of his homeland, he was arrested and executed.
Gyeong Ju Son testified of how she surrendered her heart, soul, mind and strength to the Lord Jesus Christ to do His will. She is determined to follow the example of her father, to study to be able to speak up for the suffering people of North Korea and to take the Gospel to her people there.
Operation World Launched
Operation World is the most important missions book available today. Yet, when Patrick Johnstone first approached Christian publishers his manuscript was rejected as “unmarketable!” However, millions of copies have been printed of the 7 editions of Operation World and they have been translated into 15 languages.
The first Operation World was compiled by Patrick Johnstone while he was an itinerant tent evangelist in Rhodesia. The first comprehensive missionary survey of every nation was published by the Dorothea Mission in Pretoria. George Verwer of Operation World was so impressed by it that Send the Light (now Biblica), undertook to publish the future editions. The 7 th edition of Operation World was launched at the Cape Town 2010 Congress. Not only does OW offer the 1,000 page handbook, the definitive guide to every nation on earth, but a CD-Rom edition and enhanced e-book in DVD-Rom format and an Operation World Prayer Map.
Vision and Mission
As with the previous Lausanne Congresses, the focus was on the whole church, taking the whole Gospel, to the whole world. The congress focused on the truth of Christ in a pluralistic, globalised world, building the peace of Christ in a divided and broken world, bearing witness to the love of Christ with people of other faiths, and discerning the will of Christ for 21 st Century world evangelisation, calling the Church of Christ back to humility, integrity and simplicity and partnering in the body of Christ to fulfill the Great Commission.
Confronting the Issues
Each morning the plenary Devotional sessions worked through the book of Ephesians. Each afternoon included study groups, regional gatherings and multiplexes focusing on different issues and challenges for world evangelisation. One speaker declared: “Most prominent Christian leaders have clearly articulated the problems, but are very unclear on their Christian answers to these problems. In fact, the world has never before seen such compromise, cowardice, heresy and apostasy as is being evidenced in, for example, the Episcopal Church in the USA.”
Christians form part of the largest, most diverse and most international movement ever seen in history. When we consider the vast resources available to the church worldwide then it is clear that the potential to change the world is enormous. Yet, plainly most of this potential is not being realised. With all the buildings, vehicles, printing presses, radio stations, websites, publications, computers, manpower and money available, the Church of Jesus Christ should be having a far greater impact on culture and world events than it is.
Over the last 50 years there has been tremendous church growth, globally, particularly in Asia, Africa and Latin America. However, these Kingdom successes have been largely achieved despite the fact that Christians are, on average, giving less than 2% of their total income to the church, and the average church is giving much less than 10% of its income to missions and evangelism. If we could increase and focus Christian giving for the fulfillment of the Great Commission, we would literally see the world transformed. It is a fact that most church members are not giving much of their time, or talents, or treasure, towards the fulfillment of Christ’s Great Commission to make disciples of all nations and to teach obedience to all things that He has commanded.
To Every Nation
God promised that all the families of the nations would be blessed through the seed of Abraham (Genesis 18:18). The Church must bless the nations. We need to recognise that the Biblical term for nations is ethne (from which we get our word ethnic). Biblically, what we often call a nation is a country, composed of many nations. They are 220 countries in the world, but over 9,000 ethno-linguistic people groups. The Great Commission is not fulfilled by sending a missionary to a geographic country. The Great Commission requires making disciples of every ethno-linguistic people group on the earth.
Idolatry or Integrity
The plight of today’s church was compared to the pre-Reformation church of the 16 th Century. The main stumbling blocks that hinder others coming to Christ are not found outside the Church. It is neither persecution nor false religions, but the integrity of Christian leaders which is hurting the Christian cause the most. Idols which need to be confronted, toppled and destroyed within our churches and lives include: The idol of power and pride, the idol of popularity and success, and the idol of wealth and greed.
A New Reformation is Needed
As one speaker declared: “Reformation is once again a desperate need.” He called for “humility, integrity and simplicity” and “a radical return to the Lord”. We need to teach the hard truths of the Gospel. The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, as clearly proclaimed in the Bible, must be proclaimed and practiced. Not compromised and edited. We must be Bible people and work for a new Back to the Bible Reformation, or we will enter into a new dark age.
P.O. Box 74
Cape Town South Africa