The 27 countries I visit as an International Deputy Director of The Lausanne Movement are those I cover as Regional Secretary for the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES) in English and Portuguese Speaking Africa. I'm happy to be corrected, but I think there are about five Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa – Angola, Cape Verde Islands, Guinea Bissau, The Island of Sao Tome and The Principe and Mozambique. There is only one Spanish-speaking country - Equatorial Guinea.
IFES is an exciting campus-based student ministry which reaches out to students in the Colleges and the Universities. The vision is completely student-driven and I love young people. I have been working with this group since graduating from College myself some 26 years ago. Why do I love young people? They are the leaders of tomorrow. They are the future church evangelists, missionaries, pastors, bank managers, college professors, high school teachers, governors, parliamentarians and presidents of companies and nations. They will be the high flyers of tomorrow. This means we must treat them with respect and dignity today. We must do all it takes to engage them effectively and productively for the future. Proverbs 20:29 says, “The glory of young men [women] is their strength...” This is a call for us to help them maximize those strengths to the glory of God and not to the service of the evil one.
My involvement with Lausanne as I work with IFES is two-fold:
Firstly, IFES is very concerned about the future today, so also is Lausanne concerned about the Church today and the Church tomorrow. Young people are the best medium through which both Lausanne and IFES can effectively express this kingdom concern of investing in young people today in order to guarantee a better tomorrow. I am very passionate about young people. In saying this, I also realize that we cannot afford to ignore the children, for without the children, there can be no young people and by implication there can be no future generation of believers to guarantee the continued existence of the Church. Jesus is surely coming back and he expects to meet his Church. So, we are all about preparing the bride - the Church - for Christ.
The second reason is, IFES is also all about mission and evangelism in its wholistic implication, and this is at the heart of why The Lausanne Movement came into being. I am very much at home with both. They are both vehicles through which the good news of the gospel is conveyed around the world.
In early December 2008 my joy knew no bounds when young people from four West African countries (Ghana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Liberia) got together in Abuja, Nigeria for a Lausanne Younger Leaders event. Two things touched me most: firstly, they paid their way to and from the event, and secondly, they were as passionate about securing the future of the Church and society today as some of us “older” leaders are. This gives me hope and courage to face the future. Ours will neither be a wasted generation in the Church nor in society. Through our young people we will make a difference both within the Church and society. We will keep the torch of the gospel of love and peace, the banner of truth, and the flag of commitment to Kingdom goals, unashamedly. I like the South African Airways advert which states: “Proudly South African.” In this case, “Proudly Christian,” and very happy with our Christian identity in the 21st century. It is very possible to be Christian in this post-modern age and not be ashamed of it through our belief, the expressions of those beliefs and our actions. Christ modelled Christianity at its best, by his uncommon actions in real life.
Recently, I have been enjoying some life lessons from the book of Proverbs as I have made it a habit to read one chapter of the Bible everyday during my morning devotions. I read and enjoyed Proverbs Chapter 20 and felt like sharing some of the verses with my 21-year- old son to learn what his own perspective might be as a guy growing up in hip-hop youth culture. What he emailed me back encouraged my heart greatly. Let’s see what you think of it and may be share yours to help us all in the journey of life from Proverbs 20.
My son Nomsey shares: “I think the general theme from Proverbs 20 urges us to be patient to listen to the counsel of our parents and God's wisdom, and then to act on it. I feel this definitely applies to me as an individual. I am not sure how exactly verse 3 relates to me. But I think the fool who gets into an argument gets into one as a result of pride in thinking he or she alone knows what is best. I can relate to that. I have claimed verse 7 for my life because I know that both you and mumz have lived with integrity. I do know, however, that I too need to live with the same values to inherit that happiness. Verse 10 I feel is the most serious, I feel the differing weights and varying measures refer to an individual not living a straight life straightened by God's counsel and commandments. In my life it means I need to choose do what is right in God's eyes. Trying to please God on one hand yet refusing to let go of other sinful desires on the other is detestable to God. I have likened it to the Bible passage that says it is better to be hot or cold than to be lukewarm for I will spit you out of my mouth. Verse 13 discourages laziness and complacency "open your eyes and you will eat" for me means have a vision/goal and you will be successful. Verse 18 encourages me not to be hasty in making decisions but to prayerfully wait on counsel from God and from my parents. Verse 20 is a direct reflection of the commandment honour your father and your mother. The rest I was not too sure about so maybe you can offer your thoughts on them.”
What do you think?
Rev. Gideon Para-Mallam of Nigeria serves as the Lausanne International Deputy Director for English, Spanish and Portuguese-speaking Africa.
Gideon is also the Regional Secretary for the International Fellowship
of Evangelical Students in English and Portuguese Speaking Africa