The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
Young evangelical leaders from around the world brought together by the Lausanne Movement, shared eight days in Jakarta (Indonesia). Thinkers like Os Guiness, Ravi Zacharias or Anne Zaki were part of a meeting in which participants from 150 countries talked face to face and initiated projects.
Indonesia, a country of 17,000 islands, with the wider Muslim population, hosted a meeting from 3 to 10 August in Jakarta (Java), to encourage a new generation of Christians around the world.
The Younger Leaders Gathering 2016 (YLG) pointed to God as the "main charcter" and the ultimate goal of the "big story". "If Jesus isn't the hero of your story, you haven't told your story properly", said the theologian Richard Chin in his first biblical exposition of Genesis.
At the opening, the chair president of the organising committee, Sarah Breuel, called the participants to courageously take over, to assume the mission ahead and rely on God, who "orchestrates divine connections" between people from different continents. "Fix your eyes on Jesus, do not let them depart from Him", because it is the only way to live a life of sacrifice, she said to participants from countries where persecution is a reality.
The 'DNA 'of the Lausanne Movement (which started with its first congress in 1974 in the Swiss city, where Billy Graham, John Stott and many other evangelical leaders called to to make up for lost time, and take the initiative in world mission) was transmitted many times.
"We will only fulfill the mission, if we are led by the Holy Spirit, we have strength in the Word of God and we are active in society", the program director, Dave Benson said.
FROM THE GARDEN OF GENESIS TO THE CITY OF REVELATION
Each YLG plenary session had several contents. Lectures, interviews, music and art gave rhythm to a week that progressed throughout the biblical story, from the Garden of Eden to the city of God, through the Tower of Babel, the transfiguration of Jesus and Pentecost. The call was different each day: to frame, understand the history, create, repent, reflect, love, reconciliate, praise, and join others in the mission.
Besides Richard Chin, Anne Zaki (Egypt) and René Breuel (Brazil-Italy) also presented the biblical texts. In all expositions, it was emphasized that the beauty of the gospel transcends cultures and ideologies and ends up making sense in Christ.
FIRST HAND STORIES FROM CHINA, IRAN, NORTH KOREA ...
The Chinese delegation, with 30 representatives, received a standing ovation in its presentation, when it was recalled that during the last major meeting of the Movement Lausanne, in Cape Town 2010, the entire delegation was stopped by authorities at the last moment " we were stopped at airports and when we were leaving our homes. "
One of the nights, which was focused on the sacrifice of a life centered on the cross, two experienced pastors who have planted more than 200 churches in houses, explained how thousands have converted to Christianity in China, despite religious persecution in many regions. Even the Communist Party authorities recognize that "every time we incarcerate a Christian, we created a hero", one speaker explained.
The growth of the Chinese Christian church is unstoppable and the dream, they explained, is to send 20,000 Chinese missionaries to the world in the coming years.
A young man who fled from North Korea, also explained his relationship with his parents who remain in the country, and how he managed to communicate with his family and told them about her new faith in the God of the Bible.
Another shocking testimony was that of a man from an area dominated by the most radical Islamism (in Africa), who met Jesus Christ through several dreams. "The third time I dreamed with him, he showed me a wound in his hand and 'forced me' to follow him", he recalled. After rejecting Islam, his family made him a servant of the house for 5 years and revoked all his rights. However, he explained with enthusiasm that "nothing can stop Jesus", and he believed thousands have seen the same Jesus in dreams, and are willing to die for him.
The last testimony came from an Iranian woman who became Christian after leaving her country, and decided to return with a mission team. After promoting six clandestine house churches, a police raid jailed 60 Christians. She spent 25 days in an isolation cell of 1.5 by 2 meters, in which the light was on 24 hours a day.
In the midst of despair, God brought biblical verses to her memory, that she wrote in the walls. "If God calls you to suffer for his name, He will give you strength to, she simply affirmed and encouraged all participants to know the Bible well and memorize it.
The cultural diversity of an encounter like this helped to understand the impact of biblical faith in such different places. "Our diversity is not a problem, but rather the strength of the church."
This "unity in diversity" was emphasized during praise time, with African rhythms with lyrics in Korean, or Caribbean rhythms with Russian words .
The more than 1,000 participants and 150 mentors attended the last session of the meeting wearing typical costumes of their home country, and they sang and danced to celebrate the unity in mission.
A MOBILE APPLICATION TO CONNECT
Lausanne aims to "connect influencers for the mission." Therefore, they developed specifically for this meeting the mobile application "Connector", which put in touch those who have projects and interests in common. Besides including schedules, maps, announcements, etc , it allowed to search by area ministry, have a brief biography, know more about the ministry and get the contact details of the participants in Jakarta.
The use of this technology prompted hundreds of face-to-face conversations during meals and free time. Many different people shared their story: an evangelist among native people of Panama, a radio journalist in Vietnam, a Nigerian student leader, a church planter in Spain, an activist for ethnic reconciliation in Sri Lanka, a South Korean artist...
SMALL GROUPS TO SHARE AND DISCUSS
Small groups of 5 people joined each day to discuss the passage of the day, pray and share their life story. During this time of "telling how my personal story fits into the great story of God", participants were encouraged to reflect on how the life of every Christian fits into the framework of the gospel: creation, fall, redemption, and future.
In the evenings, the participants were free to choose between workshops for beginners and advanced workshops, related to the thirty action networks that define the Lausanne Movement (among others: cities, technology, unreached places, work with children, media, apologetics ...).
Additionally , other unscheduled transversal meetings were organised by he participants, such as that of all members of Pentecostal churches, one for those interested in missionary China-Africa relationship, ministry with gay people, faith and politics or single women in leadership.
NIGHTS: ANALYSIS OF INTERNATIONAL SPEAKERS
The last plenary session of the day, was dedicated to some of the most influential evangelical thinkers.
International apologist Ravi Zacharias called participants to not conform to temporary ideologies that quickly fade, and spoke of the importance of preaching the wounded Savior to a wounded world.
The author Os Guiness outlined the big questions to be submitted in the next few years in the world and the challenges Christian youth will face, he emphasized the need to present the timeless gospel as the last hope in the midst of a worldwide crisis.
Theologian David Platt reminded participants the importance of sacrifice in reaching all people, and urged them to not forget the serious reality of hell for those who have not known God.
Rebecca Manley Pippert talked about a comprehensive mission, which is shown with actions and love but it should also be declared with words. She shared stories of his own family, to conclude that it is necessary to prioritize personal relationships, which may lead our neighbors to the gospel.
The former Brazilian presidential candidate Marina Silva, connected the Christian faith and the care for the environment and called for a simple life to protect God's creation.
DISCIPLESHIP AND COURAGE
The evangelist Nana Yaw Offei Awuku talked about the need for discipleship in a continent like Africa where the growth of the Christian faith is huge, but often shallow. He also called for fidelity to the Bible against heretical movements like the theology of prosperity.
Finally, in the last session, the international director of the Lausanne Movement, Michael Oh, closed the meeting, calling the new generation of Christians to assume their role, return to their countries knowing that God's mission is unstoppable and the coming of Jesus Christ it is a reality that gives hope to a world that desperately seeks answers to evil.
This chronicle is the first of a series of articles to be published in Evangelical Focus about the "Younger Leaders Gathering 2016".