The following “thoughts” were written on the 24-hour trip home from Manila as I read back over my journal notes from the 10-day conference in Manila sponsored by the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. They are very personal, but also full of information that we as a church need to know.
I am praying that the combination of personal prayer and confession and aspiration, along with global mission facts and evidences of God’s power today, will stir us up to radical obedience and zealous commitment to the greatest cause in the world and the most significant movement in world history and in the world today—which you will never hear about in our myopic media.
I want to thank the members of Bethlehem Baptist Church (BBC) for funding my attendance and for letting me be away these extra weeks in the summer. I hope these “thoughts” will be a partial return on your investment and encourage you that it was well spent. I am deeply grateful for such a generous church.
1. I came back with a strong reaffirmation to weave “waiting prayer” into my life, and especially the decision-making process at BBC for staff and deacons. By waiting prayer I mean asking for specific guidance on ministry matters where we are confronted with multiple good options with too many complex factors weighing in to decide by a straight out reasoning from biblical principles; and having asked to wait in silence for what God may bring to mind. (#3)
2. A new commitment to fasting in search of guidance and power for the manifold possibilities of ministry before us. God seems to meet men who seek for him with this extraordinary earnestness (Korea, Argentina).
P … Praise
R … Repent
A … Authority over Satan
I … I die to self
S … Silence
E … Ekri (Creole for write)
G … Gratitude
O … Obedience
D … Do it
4. God got hold of Roger Peterson during a 44-second rollover and dive of a jet in 1979. This and other stories (Life Out of Death in Mozambique; China, etc.) reminds me that apparent defeat and doom and setback is often prelude to victory and spiritual breakthrough.
5. Manila jolts the first time you see it, with its dirt and disorder and dilapidation and people sleeping on pads and boards and children begging and smoky smells and humidity and garbage piled on the sidewalks. But the foreignness that causes anxiety and flight soon begins to fade with time and familiarity.
I jogged four mornings through the streets and along Manila Bay. I felt (and saw) the foreignness less and less. God has given us a wonderful and dangerous capacity to get used to new things. So missionaries survive and middle American Christianity feels at home with Western paganism.
6. At their own expense, about 45-50 prayer warriors from around the world came to Manila to pray for the conference 'round the clock in teams of about six or so in four-hour stints. They did not come to most of the sessions but prayed and rested. This kind of commitment to go into the “closet” and not come out for a round of applause stirs me to want to be so real with God in solitude that it matters not at all if men applaud or even know of my devotion.
7. John Stott’s three expository message on Romans 1-5 were so faithful to Scripture and so penetrating and so orderly and so powerful that I felt a deep desire to press on with the great work of preaching – and preaching in the way of careful exposition. It was Stott in 1967 at Urbana that confirmed my longing then to study Scripture seriously.
8. Seven percent of the world’s missionary force is working with the unreached half of the world’s population. This was said and there was a workshop track on unreached peoples, but there was not a lot of focus on the 12,000 people groups still unreached. Nevertheless, this is a staggering thing that the churches—and the missions—are not yet pouring massive manpower into the unreached peoples. We must pray and adopt and send and send and send. We must not become part of the ocean of obliviousness in America. The Lord has commanded us to disciple the unreached nations.
9. Noel and I and the boys were reading the same chapters in Isaiah each day in our separation from each other while I was in Manila. This led us to read great promises for the triumph of the church at the beginning and ending of the conference. In Isaiah 11 I read, “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (v. 9). And “the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples; him shall the nations seek and his dwellings shall be glorious” (v. 11). And today in Isaiah 21 I read, “‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon; and all the images of her gods he has shattered to the ground.’ O my threshed and winnowed one …” (v. 10). The Lord will triumph over all his enemies. Jesus, the root of Jesse, will be a flag for all the peoples. This note of triumph was sounded at Lausanne. O that our generation may have the awesome, unspeakable privilege of waving that banner to all the peoples. Forbid, Lord, that we feel no surge of kingdom courage and zeal for the banner of the Lord and be left sleeping in the barracks.
10. The King’s Kids of YWAM sang and danced several times in Manila. They are very good. What moved me most was their authentic Christ-exalting exuberance. You could see it in them even when they were not performing. Their singing and dancing was free of sexual innuendo and even of sentimentality, because they are front-line missionaries and they sing of God’s spreading light and glory. It was probably the most pure, powerful, God-centered, and truth-honoring dancing I have ever seen. I thought, “How I would love to see one of my sons in that group!”
11. Prayer early morning at Lausanne II: And the Lord speak to me about my life and calling. Yes, Lord, and not just about it: speak it into new form and power and beauty. Touch me to purify and empower my testimony to your glorious grace. Show yourself to me in new and fresh and deeper ways. Let me see your glory. The light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. Guard me from small things—small, ugly, cynical talk. Guard me from lust. Guard me from being accustomed to the world’s pleasures and comforts. Make the significance of your call and mission the decisive joy of my life. Let there ever be a crack in the billion-ton mudslide of the world so that I can always see the surpassing glory of the never-ending blue sky of your kingdom and not turn and surf to hell on the crest of the mud. O help me stand.
12. I got to know Greg Livingston, the founder of Frontiers, and his #2 man, Tim Lewis. Tim and I bumped into each other often, which he said was a sign God was calling me to the Muslims. Of course, I’m open to that. But I suggested it might be a call for him to come to Minneapolis. He disagreed.
13. Leighton Ford announced the first night that the 100 participants from China were forbidden to come. The June 4 massacre was still fresh and very painful in the hearts of many. But the 70 or so participants from the USSR made it late and were warmly received. Much thanksgiving was given for the current religious implications of Glasnost (openness) and Perestroika (change). Virtually all religious prisoners are released and more freedom is given. But there is caution, especially in view of the China setback. The future is not guaranteed—except in the long run!
14. First night impression at Lausanne II: Why did tears come to my eyes at the opening evening session tonight in Lausanne II? Was it the fact that Ken Medema is blind and filled the hall with praise? Was it the magnificent sound of the 100-voice choir of Filipino women? Was it the spangled array of clothes representing the 170+ countries who are here? Was it the announcement that 100 Chinese delegates could not come because of the crackdown? Was it the stir of youth’s potential as I watched the video of YWAM’s torch run from Jerusalem to Manila and heard their youth team from many nations dance and sing songs about the light piercing the darkness of the nations? Or was it the hymns? Or Leighton Ford’s and my memory of Sandy, his son, and the thought of my boys 10,000 miles away?
15. John Stott: “Religion is a refuge for fugitives from God.” The gospel is not a religion but a proclamation of how God has reconciled us to himself.
16. There was a strong emphasis on mobilizing the laity for world evangelization. An Asian woman bore testimony of God’s sovereign work in her life for the cause of evangelism. She gave birth to an autistic (severely retarded) child. The question why? she said gave way to the question who? and she was able to leave it to God “to order and provide.” Ten years later this woman wrote a paper on Christ and the mentally retarded. She was then part of a delegation to China to discuss retarded children’s issues. During the time she was able to give her paper in the hearing of the son of Deng Xiaopeng, who is permanently crippled from mob violence. She hoped the witness to Christ would bear fruit and enter even to the head of state. Now she saw one—just one—of the whys.
17. The poor of the world were a strong focus. 800,000,000 people live in absolute poverty. 70,000,000 are on the threshold of starvation. Another 400,000,000 consume less than the “minimum critical diet.” Half of the children of the absolute poor do not live to be five years of age. There are 125,000,000 infant deaths a week—most preventable. 195,000,000 of the poor are Christians. Among the 40 least developed countries, the life expectancy is an average of 46 years; 45 percent of this population is under 15 years old. Only 33 percent of their adults can read. Half of these countries are the least evangelized; the rest have very few Christians. One can generalize and say that vast numbers of the lost are also the poorest. Ways to evangelize the poor must be found. It will imply more identification (incarnation) and simplification. Those who claim to be Christian earn 68 percent of the world’s income. They gave 3 percent of it to the church, of which about 5 percent is invested in any international ministry. We must continue to test our inoculation to massive world need.
18. I ate lunch with a missionary who argued that far more is needed for Third-World poor than handouts. There are thought-forms and social structures that strengthen cycles of poverty. At root the gospel of the glory of Christ is the need. Not only because life hangs on it, but also because the truth of God in Christ changes (perhaps over several generations) the thought-forms that secure poverty—for example, the unwillingness to plan beyond the foreseeable future. The God of plans and purposes and strategies gradually changes the hopeless, shortsighted, cyclical mindset that breeds poverty. This also implies teaching new means of productivity. But virtually all hangs on the will to achieve. No mere handout can give that. But Christ can, and a handout in time of desperation may make Christ very attractive. So there was much talk at Lausanne II about “adorning the doctrine” with works of compassion. One of the mind-boggling, shocking, hope-giving books sold at Lausanne is Target Earth, edited by Frank Koleb Jansen.
19. A timely warning to us who are well off: “The message of Jesus is daily less palatable to the followers of Jesus as their prosperity increases.” (Tom Houston, the new executive director of Lausanne committee.)
20. I went to a workshop given by Robert Schuller. He told his story of how Garden Grove Community Church was born. His passion was to start a mission, not a church. Everything, therefore, was calculated to speak to the utterly unchurched. This is radically different than the strategy of Jack Hayford at Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California, who builds a service with a focus on Christ-exalting worship that has won thousands not by its familiarity to the lost, but by its winsome strangeness. There are many ways to do the job. The key is to ask who we are trying to reach for Christ and then how?
21. I heard pastors of three of the largest churches in the world from Korea. I was amazed at two wooden and academic presentations. It seems mammoth church growth in Korea is not owing entirely to charismatic preaching ability.
22. The focus on “signs and wonders” in world evangelization was prominent. A whole track was devoted to it (where I went most of the time) and Jack Hayford led one plenary session and spoke at another.
Clearly one of the major differences between Lausanne ’74 and Lausanne ’89 was the presence of large numbers of charismatics and the spirit and tone of worship in that direction. It caused quite a lot of complaints behind the scenes I'm told.
Peter Wagner suggested that history may show that the most significant event of Lausanne I was not the introduction of the unreached people concept by Ralph Winter—as crucial as that has been—but rather the opening of the Lausanne movement to all the gifts of the Spirit, which the Lausanne Covenant does explicitly in Article 14.
Whatever one may think, the Pentecostal/charismatic movement cannot be ignored. In 1945 there were 16 million;
1955 – 27 million;
1965 – 50 million;
1975 – 97 million;
1980 - 268 million;
1989 – 351 million.
23. Hayford, whose parents were converted when their 3-year-old Jack was healed through a church prayer meeting, and who was healed of polio later when elders prayed over him, suggested in his message to the conference that we should perhaps all be called “pleromatics,” from the Greek word pleroma in Ephesians 3:19 (“filled with all the fullness of God”). We should all want all the fullness God has to give.
24. The praying and fasting and Bible-reading Koreans continue to challenge me. Paul Cho said he prays on the average of three hours a day. Sometimes one, if very busy; sometimes five if a great challenge lies before him. Another pastor said the lay people are told to read five chapters of the Bible a day and pastors 20 chapters a day.
25. One of the best messages was by Os Guinness, on the challenge of modernity. He spoke of the modern secular spirit and its infiltration into the church (“even into this conference”). He warned that we could take on so much of the world that we could “win the world and lose our own soul.” Typical of most American church-goers is the sentiment of the founder of McDonald’s: “I believe in God, family and McDonald’s. And when I get to the office I reverse the order.” This is not the lordship of Christ. Guinness quoted Abraham Kuyper: “There is not an inch of any sphere of life over which Jesus Christ does not say, ‘Mine.’” He said he did not know a country like America where the churches are more full and the sermons more empty. The loss of transcendence in American religion is appalling. This gave me a new zeal to press on with my book, The Supremacy of God in Preaching. It also made me want to know God and preach God.
26. Just had lunch with a man who lives in Denmark and for 25 years has ministered to people behind the Iron Curtain. He has been arrested eleven times and once went four days without food and water. He came to a new commitment in that low time as God tested his primary allegiance. Again and again, as he brought his family and books and rose garden to the Lord as reasons to be freed when they had threatened him with fifteen years in Siberia, the Lord reminded him of Soviet Christians who have the last word in court after sentencing and say, “Christ suffered so much for me, it is a great privilege to suffer now for him.”
He deplored the easy, worldly Christianity in the West. He said he knew believers in China recently who thanked God for the new repression because a new revival and cleansing would probably follow.
27. I went to a John Wimber workshop. He argued that Matthew 28:19-20 (“teaching them to observe all I command you”) included the command to heal, and therefore a healing ministry is part of successful world evangelization. He listed fourteen times in the Book of Acts where preaching of the Word was accompanied by some demonstration of the Spirit’s power followed by people coming to Christ. He said he sees the next 20 to 30 years as the time when more signs and wonders will be done than ever in history and when the secular media will be overwhelmed and have to report it every day as great revival spreads.
28. Hayford’s workshop on worship: 1) The priesthood of believers implies a regular ministry to Him of worship. This was the calling of the priest. 2) Bathe all your work in worship to cleanse it from the smell of the flesh (Ezekiel 44:18). 3) People did not understand all the worship (Acts 2:11) at Pentecost, but they were attracted by it. 4) Mission was discovered in worship (Acts 13). 5) Abraham’s life was a trail of worship (eight times at the altar of God). 6) At Mount Sinai God gave the Ten Commandments in minutes, but the people stayed there fifteen months learning how to worship unlike the nations. 7) Worship thrives on the doctrine of justification and adoption—we must feel that God welcomes and rejoices over us. 8) Hayford uses the Lord’s Supper as an invitation and 30-40 people per month meet Christ there in salvation. 9) Satan was once the principle worship leader in heaven and now he hates worship and works to destroy it. 10) Keep the congregation growing as a choir.
29. In our present context of debate over the necessity of repentance and Lordship for salvation, it was a joy to hear from John Stott and Ajith Fernando and many others, “A gospel without repentance is no gospel.” And “The obedience that must issue from saving faith is the evidence of faith’s reality.” This was Stott’s treatment in Romans 1 of the term “obedience of faith.”
30. Joni Eareckson Tada spoke concerning outreach to the handicapped. Her theology of suffering is bracing in its clear strength. “There are no accidents in a Christian's life.” She held up her braced arms and floppy fingers and said with a triumphant voice, “This is the prison where God set me free.” How is her paralysis a gift? 1) It chastises her for sin (1 Corinthians 11:29); 2) it drives her to God, makes her look to “things that are above” (Colossians 3:1-3); 3) it helps her empathize and console others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4); 4) it makes her trust in God (2 Corinthians 1:9); and 5) it helps her submit to God’s will (James 5:14).
We closed the session that night with “O, For a Thousand Tongues.” I opened my mouth with 3,000 others to sing the last verse and could not, as tears welled up at the sight and sound. The text says, “Hear him ye deaf, his praise ye dumb, your loosened tongues employ. Ye blind behold your Savior come and leap ye lame for joy.” As we began to sing, Joni, the lame, lifted her arms in praise with a glorious smile and Ken Medema, the blind, leading us from the piano, lifted his voice mightily as his eyes rolled mischievously in his head and his muscular neck strained in sinewy strength to the Lord.
31. On July 15 I spent the free afternoon at Metro Manila Bible Community with the pastors and board and interns. I simply took my Bible, opened it to Acts 20, and talked about Christian leadership and eldership for three hours. That group is so absorbent they draw it out of you. But I even surprised myself how much the Lord had opened to me during my reflections on this text for the sermon series. O how important it is to be biblical in our church leadership!
32. One of the Russians spoke to us for six minutes about his sufferings. He had been in prison for nine years for his evangelism. Six months of that he was in solitary confinement and darkness. In his distress he cried to the Lord, who came to him in a vision with hands full of warm manna, reminding the evangelist of all the prayers of the world church for the suffering church. This and numerous other accounts brought the prospect of suffering, torture and martyrdom right up to date. I am resolved to think more of the suffering church today in repressive places when I have a few troubles or am tempted to settle into an easy life.
33. Ron Carlson, an expert in cults, ate lunch with me and others one day and spoke of the amazing inroads of the Masonic Lodge in America. He has made a tape exposing the cultic, Eastern, counter-Christian elements of the Lodge. Fifteen thousand men have left the Lodge because of this tape. Ron has been threatened. He said 40 percent of Southern Baptist pastors belong to the Lodge. The whole elder board at a well-known Twin Cities Presbyterian church belonged to the Masons at one time recently. When you join you must take an oath that you will slit your throat before revealing the secrets of the Lodge. The IRS investigated recently and discovered that none of the money raised by the circuses went for the children’s hospitals. The red Fez with the Islamic sword and crescent is based on the bloody slaughter of 10,000 Christians by Muslims in the city of Fez. Norman Vincent Peale, who is high up in the Masonic order, told Ron that Masonry is the most important thing in his life. One board chairman in the Twin Cities who railed at Ron answered his question of why he should be accepted into heaven by saying, “I guess I’ll say I was a good Mason.” How vigilant we must be about the subtlety of sin and error.
34. Response to an evening of prayer and worship at Lausanne II. I came away again filled with longing to be a devoted and prayerful and worshipful man. I came back and knelt at the bed and asked for all God’s fullness. How I long to be a man radiant with the presence of Christ instead of a cool organizer or suave motivator. I want to be so full of the beauty and glory of Christ in solitude that when I appear before people (family, neighbors, strangers, staff, committees, congregation, etc.) I have the aroma of Christ about me. I want to be free from a spirit of bitterness or anger or confusion or doubt about so many things. I want gratitude to fill me and praise of God’s wonder to overflow from me.
Surely the secret here is what happens between God and me in solitude. O Lord, draw me in and do a new revealing to me. Give me a deeper, more steadfast hunger for your Word, so that I pant after it. Grant me, Lord, not to get angry at others if they are not responsive immediately to my new desires and longings. I want to be filled with longing and love for them, not anger and bitterness. Do a new breaking, humbling, filling work in me. Lord, make me more of a singer to you and to my family. Put a song on my lips to Christ. I am so tired of being a burdened, oppressed pastor. My sons need to see me sing! My people need to hear me sing. My wife needs to see me happy and singing to you. Open my eyes and deliver me from the spirit of confusion and frustration and discouragement and weariness I pray.
35. There was one brief allusion to abortion in the plenary sessions. It came from David Wells who referred to “the trashing of millions of unborn human beings.” Thank you, David.
36. Os Guinness led a track of workshops on evangelizing the post-Christian world and spoke of the difficulty of even winning a hearing from secular people who not only do not believe in God, but do not believe in truth. One seminar dealt with creative persuasion—a use of parable, story and questions that draw in the listener, then turns the tables so that they see themselves differently (as Nathan did with David; or Jesus with the Pharisees).
37. Lucien Accad, who lives and ministers in Jordan, is another representative of the suffering and threatened church. He lives amid sounds of bombing. He crosses dangerous checkpoints. He has seen the wounded from car explosions. He has seen some of his ministerial colleagues be lured out of Lebanon by safe, lucrative positions in the West. He said, “We are learning to use things and love people, not the other way around.” Another rebuke to our attraction to comforts and our assumption that we Christians should live in safety.
38. Brother Andrew (God’s Smuggler) spoke of the church in Marxist lands. Marxism is worn out. The populations do not now chant his slogans. The system is a failure. Instead, the Church of Jesus Christ is the voluntary force growing in these lands. But he expects great suffering ahead and the end of this age for the church the way Jesus’ life came to an end: Triumph in apparent defeat (Revelation 17:6). He is not naïve about what terrible effects war can have on the church. Iraq in 1900 was 30 percent Christian; today one cannot find a national pastor there.
39. Pastor Chen is another sufferer for Christ. For 18 years in China he was imprisoned for his faith. They assigned him to the cesspool of human excrement. He said, “I enjoyed working in the cesspool because I was alone. I could recite Scripture and sing praises aloud!”
Ken Medema sang powerfully a spontaneously composed song with these words:
Here come the bombs
Here come the shells
Here come the cesspools
Straight out of hell.
We walk in the garden
Don’t be moved!
‘Cause we’re going to meet this war with love.
Pastor Chen had said his favorite song in the cesspool was “In the Garden.”
40. A young black Christian from a Muslim African country spoke of three months in a cell too small to kneel in with only salty rice to eat. Christ came to him and met his need. On his release he won 107 Muslim converts.
41. George Otis called us to know the times and be alert for unexpected changes. Ten years ago who would have foreseen Glasnost and Perestroika, hyper-inflation, two-thirds of the unreached world in restricted-access countries and a fundamentalist Muslim resurgence that impacts the superpowers?
42. Otis called for extraordinary prayer focused on “spiritual convergence points”—areas where an ideology is in crisis and demonic forces are streaming to fill the void. Examples: China, USSR, Afghanistan, Mozambique.
43. Our terminology is in flux. We once spoke of “closed countries,” then “restricted-access countries.” Perhaps we should move, Otis suggests, to “creative-access countries.”
44. “Far away is far away only if you don’t go there” (Otis).
45. Otis asks: Is our failure to thrive in Muslim countries the absence of martyrs? Can a convert church grow in strength? Does a young church need martyr models?
46. “Jesus will judge us not only for what we did, but also for what we could have done and didn’t” (Otis).
47. “In America, the most important thing is that people have freedom. In restricted countries the most important thing is what people do with freedom” (Otis).
48. “God almost never calls his people to a fair fight” (Otis).
49. “No local church can afford to go without the encouragement and nourishment that will come to it by sending away its best people" (David Penman).
50. "We cannot preach good news and be bad news" (Tokunboh Adeyemo).
51. Philemon Choi, with great heaviness, said the Beijing slaughter of June 4, 1989 “totally shattered” the confidence of Hong Kong in China. Hong Kong is scheduled to revert to China in 1997. Choi and others took a petition to Britain with 1 million signatures expressing concern.
52. Illiteracy and pre-literacy have tremendous implications for evangelizing the world. For example, there are 600 million non-readers in India and 100 million in Bangladesh. Most of the unreached are non-readers. Even in Europe 22 percent never read any books or articles. Estimates are that only five percent of the New Testament world were readers. In the USSR there may be 40,000 isolated radio churches.
53. In Budapest, Hungary, there are 30,000 registered drug users. The situation is so out of hand that the government, which is not ordinarily sympathetic to the church, asked the church for help and is allowing open-air evangelism.
54. Two illustrations of cooperation in world evangelism. The four friends of the paralytic who brought him to Jesus—they could have had other differences, but they agreed to work together on getting the man to Jesus. Another illustration was the hand—no one finger can pick up a ball, but together they can.
55. “Followers of a cross-bearing Christ should not be cross-evading disciples” (Eva Burrows).
56. A Global Prayer Network was begun on July 20th in the first time zone (Island of Tonga). This, Lord willing, will be a wave of prayer encircling the globe every day as people rise at dawn in each time zone and meet the day with prayer for awakening and world evangelization. The aim is to continue this until AD 2000 or until the Lord comes. We will get details on it for participation.
57. A call for radical integrity. David Penman told of a South African convert who resolved not to give or take any bribes. He has been imprisoned and one litigation against him has lasted ten years, but he will not pay a bribe to settle it. This is the high cost of integrity.
58. Another illustration of witness by caring integrity. Three businessmen were late for a train and running. One of them accidentally kicked a table of apples and they spilled. The two ran and caught the train, but he stopped and returned to help pick up the apples. The boy selling the apples was blind. Some of the apples were bruised, so the man pulled a ten-dollar bill from his pocket and gave it to the boy and apologized. As he walked away the boy called out, “Sir, are you Jesus?”
59. Luis Palau very soberly reaffirmed the warning of some: There are participants here who will almost certainly be killed for your faith, so remember the words of Henry Martyn: “I am immortal until God’s work for me is done.” The Lord reigns.
60. We ended with Leighton Ford calling us to “Proclaim Christ until he comes.” He asked three stirring questions as we take up the immense challenges of world evangelization and planting a church for each people by the year 2000: 1) Will we risk? 2) Will we last? 3) Will we burn?
61. The concerns and commitments of the conference are summarized in the Manila Manifesto, drafted by a committee chaired by John Stott. It was overwhelmingly affirmed by the participants and will be available for us to read as a church in some weeks.