A Once-in-a-Generation Gathering

Among the 3,000 nominees for the 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering (YLG2016) is a young pastor from Sierra Leone named Matthew Brima. I spoke with him several weeks ago to learn more about what is happening on the ground with the Ebola outbreak and to have the opportunity to pray with Matthew. Matthew had written to me a few months before that he would be trying to mobilize churches in Sierra Leone to join in Lausanne’s Global Mission Sunday despite their life and death struggles with Ebola.

Four local pastors, Matthew’s friends, did what they loved and felt called to do. They laid hands in prayer on their congregation members and on strangers suffering around them. They brought words of comfort and showed acts of kindness to many. But that kindness cost them their own lives. ‘They had a heart of prayer, but it led to their infection and death’, Matthew shared.

It cost me nothing to pray over the phone for my brother Matthew. It cost his friends everything to pray for their sheep. But even such high cost did not discourage pastors like Matthew from shepherding their flock and the lost. Three times Matthew and other Christian leaders have met with the president of Sierra Leone (even at his invitation) to give counsel and spread information through the vast network of churches (which the president acknowledged is more widespread than the government’s influence). I was amazed to hear about them receiving permission to install speakers in the walls of clinics that enable weekly Sunday worship services to be broadcast to the suffering and their loved ones. The clinics have become places where the preaching of the gospel, prayer, and singing are heard!

On 3-10 August 2016, Lausanne will gather 1,000 younger leaders like Matthew, from over 150 countries, at the Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering (YLG2016) in Jakarta, Indonesia. Occurring once a generation, this is Lausanne’s third Younger Leaders Gathering.

Lifelong friendships and ministry partnerships were made at the previous two YLGs, in Singapore 1987 and Malaysia 2006. And over the decades, we’ve witnessed the impact that these evangelical influencers have had together in global mission. We are in great anticipation of what God will do at this next YLG with this next generation.

As many of you already know, YLG2016 was originally planned for 2015 in Kiev, Ukraine. However, due to the ongoing instability in the region, and after much prayer and consideration, we determined that it would not be possible for us to host the gathering in Ukraine. But as we discerned a location change for the YLG, God started to open a surprising new door in Jakarta, Indonesia. We praise God for his leading and provision!

Next month, the regional selection teams will finish reviewing the 3,000+ nominations that came in for the YLG and start sending out invitations. But the YLG is more than a gathering for the 1,000 invited. We’ve expanded the vision of the Younger Leaders Gathering to the Younger Leaders Generation (YLGen).

YLGen will be a ten-year process of engaging, mentoring, and mobilizing emerging influencers beyond the participants of the gathering to connect an entire generation passionately committed to God’s mission. We’ll be sharing more about this exciting initiative in the months ahead.

Please join me in praying that God will use this gathering for his purposes and for his glory. Please also watch this brief video introducing the Younger Leaders Planning Team, and pray for them as they faithfully prepare for this gathering. May Christ be known across the world and across the generations!

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Michael Oh serves as the Global Executive Director / CEO of the Lausanne Movement.