An Exchange of Joy

Recently our Lausanne III: Cape Town 2010 Programme Committee Chairman, Ramez Atallah from Cairo, and our Program Director, Joshua Wathanga from Nairobi, convened a consultation in Oxford, England.  That same week our Lausanne International Director, Lindsay Brown, gathered together the International Deputy Directors from twelve regions around the world.Two things struck me during the days that the 30 of us were together from Africa, Latin America, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Europe and North America.  The first factor would have been obvious to anyone in the room.  The leadership for Lausanne has become truly international.  The second factor had to do with the quality of careful listening and mutual respect that characterized the time of interaction.  This was true during our times of scheduled meetings as well as during the times around the meal tables and in the spontaneous and informal connecting that took place all week.

Why is this so significant?

We are living at a watershed time in church history.  For the last several hundred years the leadership for church has been in the West.  However, with the tremendous growth of the church in the majority world, tensions have naturally developed between leaders from the West, who had become accustomed to being in leadership, and leaders from the South who had emerged as very significant leaders but who were not being properly included in leadership roles in international organizations and movements.

In Lausanne it is our stated intention to develop leadership and global participation for the movement that reflects the demographic, cultural and theological composition of the church.  As we were together in Oxford, I saw this reality unfolding.  Not only was it deeply gratifying to me, I think it must be a source of joy to Christ to observe leaders of the church striving to function together as one body under His headship.

Following our meetings in Oxford, I received an encouraging note from a gifted leader from Nigeria.  Rueben Ezemadu, who is the Continental Coordinator of the Movement of African National Initiatives (MANI), came to the Oxford meetings somewhat reluctantly.  However, upon his return home from the consultation, he sent these words:

“I want to assure you that I was very much satisfied with the process I participated in at Oxford. Most of my fears and apprehensions based on past incidences were allayed by the different attitudes, openness, transparency and sincerity of heart which I saw and experienced with the current crop of LCWE leadership and the committee members.

I must commend you for this new ‘Lausanne’ spirit. May I also reiterate my promise that MANI will fully stand with Lausanne to prosecute the coming Lausanne III so that a new united and focused Church of Jesus Christ will be unleashed on the remaining task as we step into the next decade after 2010.”

As we move towards Cape Town 2010, it is our prayer that we will experience and model life in the “new humanity.”   As leaders from the north and south, east and west interact with one another in a spirit of listening, sharing, praying and working together, the result will be “an exchange of joy” – a joy which I pray will increase to the glory of God.


S Douglas (Doug) Birdsall, Honorary Chairman of The Lausanne Movement, served as Executive Chairman from 2004 to 2013. He led the Movement through a process of global revitalization, culminating in the convening of Cape Town 2010: The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. He is a graduate of Wheaton College, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Harvard University, and the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, UK.