Some reflections on Lausanne
I had the enormous privilege of being able to be at the closing ceremony of the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelisation at the Cape Town International Convention Centre last Sunday evening. (http://www.lausanne.org/cape-town-2010)
It was one of the most exhilarating, moving and beautiful acts of worship I have ever experienced. This gathering of some 4,500 participants from 198 countries was the most globally representative assembly of evangelicals in history representing a broad spectrum of denominations, organisations, academic institutions, and the worlds of business, government and the arts.
Our Parish choir were part of the mass 150 person choir which along with a full orchestra lead us in the most wonderful worship using music much of which was especially written and composed for the occasion. The service was beautifully choreographed – leading over 5,000 people (participants and volunteer staff serving them) in worship is no easy task. It flowed seamlessly from worship and praise, to prayer and repentance, to Scripture and sermon and to a magnificent celebration of Holy Communion. Having the Scriptures read in Russian, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Arabic and Chinese and using an African liturgy (the Kenyan Liturgy – with which we are familiar at Christ Church) made one aware that we are part of the world wide church. There was wonderful use of colour and graphics with images projected on the large screen behind the Communion Table and Pulpit. The communion elements of bread and wine were carried in huge African baskets and calabashes. I am not one who goes in much for flags in worship but the way they were used added rich colour and gravitas to the occasion. In the middle of it all Trevor Pearce turned to me and said, “Do you think heaven will be better than this?” The answer of course is yes, but this was the closest I have ever experienced.
But perhaps what made it all the more moving was the message given by Lindsay Brown, the international director of the Lausanne Movement. He finished his sermon “Facing the unfinished task” with the most moving illustration out of the life of Adoniram Judson who left the city of Boston for Myanmar (formerly Burma) in 1812. Judson served in Myanmar for 38 years, during which time his wife and seven of his children died. He was also hung upside down, beaten, ridiculed and finally killed by being tossed in the sea. At the time of his death, there was no church and no more than 12 to 25 converts to Christianity in the country. He had, however, accomplished translating the Bible into Burmese. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of believers who all trace their spiritual heritage to Judson. But Judson never saw the fruit of his labour.
Lindsay Brown concluded his sermon saying, “That may be your experience too. Some of us may have the joy in seeing significant fruit, but for others our calling is not to give up, not to lose heart knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” He then reminded the congress that within months of the previous Lausanne Congress some delegates that had shared with them in it had been martyred for their faith. “That may be what awaits some of us”, he said.
Earlier in the week we were reminded of how early missionaries packed their possessions and the essentials they would need into a coffin to be shipped out for the mission field to which God was sending them. They were going to labour and to die for the work of the Lord.
You can imagine that in that context to was difficult to sing “In Christ alone” without a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes…
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.
Duncan Mclea, 31/10/2010