Christian leaders from the house church networks in mainland China overcame tremendous hurdles in their attempt to attend the Asian Church Leaders Forum (ACLF) in Seoul (25-28 June 2013). Disappointing memories of the 200 Chinese participants blocked from attending the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization (Cape Town 2010) lingered among those gathered in Seoul at the start of the ACLF. As groups of leaders arrived from all across China, celebration filled the registration hall at the Presbyterian College and Seminary. By God’s grace, over 100 Chinese leaders representing millions of China’s Christians were able to join together with 200 Asian and international evangelical leaders for the ACLF, hosted by the Asia Lausanne Committee (ALCOE) and the Korea Lausanne Committee. The Chinese participants’ involvement fulfilled their longstanding desire to participate in the global Christian mission movement. After sixty years of separation, China’s participation with the global church family at the ACLF marked a truly symbolic moment in church history.
Highlights of the ACLF
- During the Church in China morning plenary, professor Liu Peng (Chinese Academy of Social Science) spoke of Christianity’s potential to have a tremendous positive influence in China. There is a need for China to updates its outdated religious policies ‘to adapt to a new modern era’ he said, concluding ‘Christianity is well suited to help resolve China’s current society ills and moral crisis’. The primary responsibility in seizing this opportunity lies in the Chinese church itself.
- Beijing Pastor Daniel Li (former pastor of Beijing City Revival Church) shared a vision to see China send out 20,000 missionaries by the year 2030. For the last 200 years since the days of Robert Morrison, an estimated 20,000 missionaries have been commissioned to China from around the world. Reaching this vision would ‘pay off’ the gospel debt the Chinese church has owed to the global church. Only then could China truly be considered a mission sending country.
- The theme of reconciliation resonated throughout the conference with Japanese Bible Expositor Dr. Eiko Takamizawa (Torch Trinity) bringing many to tears with her powerful message of the gospel and reconciliation between Japan, Korea and China.
- Another significant moment took place when Rev Joshua Ting (Chair of CCCOWE) sincerely apologized and then bowed to the mainland Chinese participants on behalf of the overseas Chinese. House church leaders had been hurt by criticisms and what they felt was a lack of understanding from many overseas Chinese leaders for the obstacles the Chinese delegation faced during Cape Town 2010. This apology has opened the door for the process of healing and reconciliation.
- Dr. Rev. Jae-Hoon Lee (Senior Pastor of Onnuri Church) led the celebration on behalf of the Korean church of Dr. Michael Oh’s installation as the new Executive Director/CEO of Lausanne.
- Dr. Michael Oh (Executive Director/CEO of Lausanne) challenged participants to prayerfully envision “What could the world look like in ten years?” He emphasized the importance of raising up and involving younger leaders in world evangelization.
- The opening ceremony began with James Hudson Taylor IV, the great great grandson of Hudson Taylor, translating in Mandarin for English-speaking overseas Chinese leaders Dr. Hwa Yung and Rev. Thomas Wang. As someone not from China, Taylor’s flawless Mandarin surprised many and set a wonderful tone for the historic nature of the ACLF.
- The worship team was made up of Korean, Chinese and Japanese younger leaders demonstrating a powerful regional East Asian unity in worship.
- Plenary moderators included Latin American leader Valdir Steuernagel (WEA and Lausanne), African leader Daniel Bourdanne (General Secretary of IFES), along with Patrick Fung (OMF) and Joshua Ting (CCCOWE).
- Dr. Sou-Young Lee, Chair of the Korea Lausanne Committee, welcomed the participants at the opening ceremony and led a closing communion service.
- Dr. Jong-Yun Lee (former Chair of Asia Lausanne Committee) gave a Bible exposition and Senior Korean church leaders Dr. John Cho, Dr. Kwang-Soong Lee and Dr. Bo-Kyung Park spoke in plenary sessions.
- Korean church and mission leaders presented a mature image of the Korean church. Rather than highlighting the numerical triumphs of the Korean mission-sending movement, Dr. Steve Moon and Dr. David Lee chose to speak on the current challenges and lessons learned from their mistakes. Similarly, Dr. Bo-Kyung Park focused on the 80% of churches with 100 members or less rather than the Korean mega-church model. Several interviews and videos of smaller dynamic Korean churches were highlighted.
At the final session in Seoul, Ezra Jin (Beijing Zion Church) led the Chinese leaders in drafting and signing their own commitment called the “Seoul Commitment” as a Chinese response to the Cape Town Commitment released from the Cape Town 2010 Congress. The “Seoul Commitment” calls the church in China to commit to loving the gospel of Christ, to maintaining unity of the Spirit, to joining hands in partnership with the global church and to raising up younger leaders in the spirit of Lausanne to pass on the vision of world evangelization.
Following the Asian Church Leaders Forum, the Chinese participants met on 29 June. Among many tangible outcomes, the participants committed to raising up 200 Chinese younger leaders to join the Lausanne Younger Leaders network, many of whom may participate in the next Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering planned for 2015.
In the spirit of Lausanne, let us prayerfully anticipate the fruit God will bring as the global church partners together with the Chinese church towards world evangelization.
ACLF Program Schedule
25 June– Opening Ceremony (Hwa Yung, Thomas Wang and James Hudson Taylor IV)
26 June – The Lausanne Movement
*Bible Exposition: Dr. Lee Jong-Yun (former Chair of Asia Lausanne Committee)
*Morning Plenary: The History and Theology of the Lausanne Movement (Dr. John Cho)
*Afternoon Workshops: Workshops and Multiplex panels
- (Including: James Hudson Taylor IV on “Missions to China; Missions from China”)
*Afternoon Plenary Panel – The Lausanne Movement
- Blair Carson (Cape Town 2010 Congress Director)
- David Bennett (Lausanne Chief Collaboration Officer)
- Dr. Valdir Steuernagel (Member-at-Large, Lausanne Movement Board)
*Dinner and worship at Myung Sung Presbyterian Church
27 June – The Church in China
*Bible Exposition: Dr. Eiko Takamizawa
*Morning Plenary: Prof. Liu Peng (CASS)
*Morning Plenary: Pastor Daniel Li (Beijing Revival Church)
*Afternoon Workshops: 8 Workshops on the Church in China
*Afternoon Plenary Panel on China
*Evening Testimonies: Rural, urban and minority churches in China
28 June – The Global, Asian and Korean Mission Movement
*Bible Exposition: Pastor Ezra Jin (Beijing Zion Church)
*Moderators: Joshua Ting (CCCOWE) and African leader Daniel Bourdanne (IFES and Member-at-Large, Lausanne Movement Board)
*Morning Plenary: The Global Mission Movement (Patrick Fung and Rose Dowsett)
- The Asian Mission Movement (Dr. David Lim)
- The Korean Missions Movement (Dr. Steve Moon and Dr. David Lee)
*Afternoon Plenary: The Korean Church Today: Issues in Pastoral Ministry (Dr. Lee Kwang-Soong & Dr. Park Bo-Kyung)
*Closing Sessions, The Seoul Commitment
*Communion: Dr. Sou Young Lee (Korea Lausanne Committee)
29 June – Chinese Leaders Next Steps
*Morning Sharing: Rev Thomas Wang, Rev Luis Bush and Rev David Ro
*Next Step Commitments