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Welcome to the September issue of Lausanne Global Analysis. We look forward to your feedback on it.
In this issue we focus on four highly topical issues of importance to the global church. The UK vote to leave the EU (BREXIT) has major implications, not least for mission in Europe. The Middle East refugee crisis presents the global church with great opportunities as well as challenges. Meanwhile, amid all the negative news about North Korea, many Christian organisations are making an impact by working transparently there as Christian entities. Finally, an understanding of mission that marries evangelism and apologetics can be an effective and biblical way of reaching the world for Christ.
‘Missionaries and mission agency leaders across Europe in the wake of the referendum have encouraged European Christians not to lose hope in a God who continues to call men and women to serve him in advancing the gospel to the ends of the earth’, writes Darrell Jackson (Senior Lecturer in Missiology at Morling College in New South Wales, Australia). They have urged those who support, those who pray, and those who are sent, to rediscover their true identity in Christ, to condemn xenophobia, to continue to support vulnerable refugees, and to work for open and welcoming societies. ‘If the current situation has encouraged mission agencies in Europe to ask questions again about their core business and the values of service, radical availability, and sacrifice that shape this, then God will continue to be glorified, even in the midst of political turmoil and uncertainty’, he concludes.
‘Refugees, regardless of religious background, are arriving at the doors of churches in Syria, in Lebanon, across Europe, and around the world—often in significant numbers’, writes Arthur Brown (Middle East Consultation Coordinator at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Beirut, Lebanon). In many cases they have found a welcoming community ready to provide help. As a result, many churches are growing significantly, not only numerically but also in their understanding of holistic or integral mission. The church should be working with refugees, not for refugees, showing unconditional love through listening to their stories. The church should also be a prophetic voice, led by the Holy Spirit and not by media or political views. Middle East churches continue to face significant challenges and face very difficult choices on a daily basis on how best to respond. ‘They are in need of loving fellowship with the global church—on equal terms’, he concludes.
‘Although North Korea seems impenetrable and impregnable, with no apparent religious freedom, there are signs of hope’, writes Jamie Kim (Executive Director of Reah International). Throughout the country’s history, God has used Christians, both foreign and indigenous, to woo the people of Korea with his irresistible grace. Korean history associates Christianity with progress, education, and liberation. As a result, Christian organizations can and should engage North Korea transparently as Christian entities. They are welcomed because of their integrity and benefit to the nation. Therefore, a disproportionate percentage of people working inside North Korea (as well as with North Koreans outside the country) are Christians. ‘In God’s sovereignty and timing, he will allow Christian goodwill to bring spiritual dividends to the nation in ways we cannot fathom’, he concludes.
‘There is a real confusion in the global church concerning the relationship between apologetics and evangelism’, writes Tom Price (Academic Tutor at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics). The Apologetics Spectrum provides an understanding of mission that marries evangelism and apologetics. It is a conceptual model which clearly matches the biblical directives. It involves three kinds of outreach activity from the believer to the not-yet believer: Subversion, Persuasion, and Proclamation. However, this is God’s redemptive love story, not ours, highlighting the need for prayer, as the Holy Spirit can unlock the person from the inside. The global church needs our mission work to be friendlier, more convincing, and more biblical. ‘The Apologetics Spectrum is an effective and biblical way of understanding how we should be reaching the world for Christ’, he concludes.
Last month the 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering took place in Jakarta, Indonesia, with more than 1,000 younger leaders and mentors from over 140 countries. We will be publishing an article in our November issue reflecting on the implications of this event, with a particular focus on the ten-year initiative called Younger Leaders Generation that was launched there.
Whether you are planning to read the full articles or just the executive summaries, we hope that you find this issue stimulating and useful. Our aim is to deliver strategic and credible analysis, information, and insight so that as an influencer you will be better equipped for the task of global mission. It’s our desire that the analysis of current and future trends and developments will help you and your team make better decisions about the stewardship of all that God has entrusted to your care.
Please send any questions and comments about this issue to [email protected]. The next issue of Lausanne Global Analysis will be released in November.