CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA—The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelism, Cape Town 2010, began on Sunday evening with a multimedia, music, and dance presentation welcoming the 4,000 participants from 198 nations to Africa. More than 100,000 people at Globalink (remote) sites in 600 venues in 92 nations will also be able to watch the opening ceremonies.
Executive Chair Doug Birdsall presented letters from Billy Graham, who convened the first International Congress in Lausanne, Switzerland, and John Stott, UK pastor-theologian who served as a chief architect of the Lausanne Covenant. Graham reminded participants to never lose sight of the calling, while Stott expressed his joy that the Congress was being held in Africa.
Greetings also came from Congress organizers as well as representatives from the previous congresses held in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1974; and Manila, Philippines, in 1989.
Birdsall told participants that this Congress will be global in scope but African in flavor and nuance. His hope was that this will not only be the most diverse gathering ever, but also the most united gathering of Christian believers ever.
Historically, the Church has gathered to discuss external pressures and internal problems. Birdsall said that today, we do this again. The effects of globalization on the Church will be a primary theme. Included in this theme will be several key issues such as the challenge of other religious faiths, the impact of secularism and a call for authenticity in the Church.