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Greetings from the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization

Delivered by Dr Michael Oh, executive director/CEO of the Lausanne Committee, during the WCC 10th Assembly Unity Plenary.

05 November 2013

Delivered by Dr Michael Oh, executive director/CEO of the Lausanne Committee, during the Unity Plenary at the WCC 10th Assembly.

I want to express my heartfelt thanks for this very kind invitation to bring you greetings from The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, commonly known today as The Lausanne Movement.  It was a joy to have Dr Olav Tveit and other guests with us in Cape Town, South Africa at the Third Lausanne Congress in 2010.

Many of the participants at Cape Town are leaders in churches that are a part of the WCC including some of our key leaders from the Majority World where the church has experienced its most dramatic growth including Methodist Bishop Hwa Yung from Asia, Anglican Archbishop Henry Orombi from Africa, and Lutheran pastor/theologian Valdir Steuernagel from Latin America.  These are leaders with a tremendous love for the gospel of Jesus Christ and a tremendous heart for world evangelization.

One of my great joys as the new executive director / CEO of The Lausanne Movement is in being able to bring the headquarters of Lausanne here to Asia!

My appointment as the first Asian leader of The Lausanne Movement was a bold statement about the strength of our commitment to the partnership of leaders from every corner of the globe… not to mention our strong intention of developing and incorporating younger leaders choosing a 41 year old CEO like me who looks like he’s 30!

As some of you may know, The Lausanne Movement was founded under the leadership of Dr Billy Graham.  Billy’s 95th birthday is in two days, on Thursday.

The Lausanne Movement is thankful for the legacy of truth and trust that the Lord has established through the leadership of Billy Graham and John Stott who have been among the greatest evangelical leaders of our time.  They shaped the Lausanne Movement and personified its vision and values.

Our vision is to see the whole church bring the whole gospel to the whole world.

It is a vision that emphasizes unity - a unity that recognizes our own failures, a unity grounded upon the gospel of Jesus Christ and enshrined in the unchanging word of God, and a unity for world evangelization and discipleship of the nations.

The Lausanne Covenant opens with these words that apply very much today:

“We are deeply stirred by what God is doing in our day, moved to penitence by our failures and challenged by the unfinished task of evangelization. We believe the Gospel is God's good news for the whole world, and we are determined by his grace to obey Christ's commission to proclaim it to all mankind and to make disciples of every nation.”

In this I believe we have common roots and opportunity to dialogue and influence one another - the Lausanne Movement and the World Council of Churches.

The so-called “Father of the Ecumenical Movement”, John R. Mott, stated that:

"Evangelism without social work is deficient; social work without evangelism is impotent."

The Lausanne Movement has been influenced by the vision for Christian social responsibility.  The Lausanne Covenant states that:

We should share God’s concern for justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men and women from every kind of oppression.

Thank you for the influence of your commitment to justice and for standing against violence and oppression.

An area of dialogue and influence that we would seek to encourage with your assembly is another point of commonality in our history.  At the 1910 Edinburgh Mission Conference John Mott (who was the first honorary president of the WCC) shared these words:

"It is a startling and solemnizing fact that even as late as the twentieth century, the Great Command of Jesus Christ to carry the Gospel to all mankind is still so largely unfulfilled. … The church is confronted today, as in no preceding generation, with a literally worldwide opportunity to make Christ known."

The WCC is the organizational heir to the 1910 Edinburgh Mission Conference; but it could be said that The Lausanne Movement is among its spiritual heirs.

In light of this shared heritage, The Lausanne Movement would very much welcome dialogue on the glorious nature and wonderful mystery of the gospel; what the Bible teaches about our enjoyment and stewardship of the gospel; and the impact of the gospel through our Savior Jesus Christ in the church and among all the nations.

I hope that you would find The Lausanne Movement to be a rigorous but gracious partner in dialogue and interaction.  We believe in speaking the truth in love; we also believe that love softens truths that can become hard.  And that truth strengthens love that can become merely sentimental.

Thank you again for the kind invitation to be with you.  With more “worldwide opportunities” today than Mott could have ever imagined a century ago, I am prayerfully looking forward to what the Lord has in store for His church global in this gospel that we so love.