LESSONS FROM LAUSANNE: Reflections on the work o the Lord at Cape Town 2010 Third Congress on World Evangelism by Mike Milton, Chancellor/CEO Elect. Reformed Theological Seminary
“Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29.6, 7,11).
I was honored with my friend Dr. Don Sweeting, President and Professor of Church History at RTS Orlando, and Dr. Elias Dos Santos Medeiros, Professor of Missions at RTS Jackson, to represent our seminary and American evangelical Christianity here at Cape Town 2010: The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. I left with a prayer that I would listen and learn and bring back insights to share with colleagues on how to advance the Kingdom, through Reformed Seminary, to reach world evangelization. I assumed one great thing in that goal: most if not all that I would learn would come from churches where revival is moving like wild fire: places like India and parts of Africa and China (even though their government officially forbid their leaders to come) and Indonesia. What I did not expect is what I got today.
My flight took me from Charlotte to Minneapolis, a long lay over there, then a nice but very crowded and tight flight to Amsterdam. Then, still in that inexpressible twilight of jet lag that can only be understood by those who have experienced it, I boarded, as best I can remember, a plane for a 12 hour flight straight down the continent of Africa to our destination at beautiful Cape Town. While nestled in my rear area of the plane, I found that God had put me in the middle of a whole bunch of very wonderful and inspirational Norwegians. This is what surprised me: I had imagined that I would learn, my goal in this experience, from those third world Christians, but never from Europeans. They are in nothing more than dead churches, right? They are spiritually worse off than Britain and America and Canada, right? My first lesson: Don’t assume in the Kingdom of God. The Lord is bigger than our petty assumptions made on human ways of looking at things. In fact, just as God would prosper the Jews in Babylon, God is doing that with the European Christians who are wrestling, praying, strategizing and planning to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth and to reclaim old Christendom. What I learned from my cheerful Norwegian pastors, mission workers, and professors was that they are eagerly doing missions work in Europe by teaching Christian world view in universities and sending out journalists and other culture influencers with that old Kuyperian view that every square inch of the earth is His. Moreover, I learned that they are ambitious and have been very busy in translating the Christian works of Western Civilization into Chinese and have introduced these courses into universities in Hong Kong and other major areas. I learned that many are coming to Christ because of the work of Norwegian missions. Moreover, because of a particular evangelical alliance, they are able to work within the Lutheran state church and are bringing many of those churches alive with Luther’s theology come alive and with Biblical fidelity in doctrine, good preaching, strong worship and intentional discipleship and outreach.
I thought I would hear all of those things from brothers and sisters in the Global South and the Global East—and I suspect that I will. In the meantime I have learned, “Don’t assume that God is not at work in places like Norway. We should be very careful when we talk about “old, spiritually dead Europe.” It just is not a completely true statement. That is one thing I learned. That is why I am here.
More lessons to come, I am sure.
“Lord Jesus give me a posture of learning from Your people so that I may return to the work You have called me to with a greater vision of Your glorious mission in the world. Grant a greater passion for souls to be saved, lives to be transformed and cultures to be transformed by the Gospel, until a new heavens and a new earth come in full. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”