Report from the 3rd Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization
EPC pastor: Lausanne tilted
his whole world sideways
By Carmen Fowler LaBerge, The Layman, June 27, 2011
Former minister members of the Presbyterian Church (USA) are serving in high profile, significant positions of leadership in their new denominational home in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC). Bill Dudley from Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church in Tenn., is on the Committee on Administration, Garnett Slatton from Bay Village Presbyterian Church in Ohio will be the first moderator of the new Allegheny Presbytery and one of the preachers at this year’s General Assembly (GA) was Rev. Dr. David Henderson from Covenant Presbyterian Church in West Lafayette, Indiana.
To lead off his GA message (read full text here) Henderson shared on behalf of three EPC teaching elders who participated in the 3rd Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Cape Town, South Africa in October 2010. The event Henderson says “tilted (his) whole world sideways.”
At Lausanne, Henderson considered with 4,000 brothers and sisters in Christ from 198 different countries, how the whole church can more effectively take the whole Gospel to the whole world.
In his own words, “I came home with a suitcase of ideas.”
Topping Henderson’s list is a call to become a people of prayer. Using Operation World, the Covenant Church is praying each week for a different nation. The process will take four years. The concerns of the featured nation are included in the Sunday bulletin, identified on a world map in the church entry hall and families are encouraged to pray for the featured nation throughout the week.
Second, Henderson says, he is now “convinced that the greatest single strategic opportunity is captured in the diaspora, I came back committed to finding and reaching the international communities in our own backyard. For us in West Lafayette, that’s the international students or immigrant communities surrounding Purdue University. We have adopted students in partnership with the International Friendship program.”
Then, he says, congregations must continue replacing their former understanding and mission methodologies.
“We desire to shift more and more to identifying, serving and equipping indigenous leaders as they serve their own people.” Henderson is experimenting with an idea he terms “Seminary in a Suitcase” which involves a retreat model for indigenous pastors and their families.
Additionally, Henderson shares a commitment to reciprocal mission. “What does God intend to bring us from the Christians in the rest of the world?” Henderson asks.
He says that Christians often downplay or overlook altogether the strengths of faith and character that the global church can bring to the West while elevating the gifts, talents and resources that they have to share. Reciprocal mission would more fully acknowledge the need for the faith, hope, confidence, prophetic voice, willingness to sacrifice for Christ and genuine joy in all things – gifts possessed in abundance by the global church. Henderson reminds the commissioners that “God desires to use them to strengthen us in our faith.”
Henderson’s message then turned intensely personal. “What I discovered in Cape Town was that there was a holy conspiracy afoot and I was the unwitting victim! I felt deeply probed and exposed as I heard stories of faithfulness and sacrifice on the part of my brothers and sisters in Christ.”
With rapt attention, the EPC audience listened as one of their newest members shared, “my prayerlessness was exposed in the testimony of prayerful people. I was challenged deeply by the testimony of a Turkish pastor who told me of being ambushed by five men who attended a worship service and they surrounded him, [saying], ‘at the end of this day you will either renounce Christ and become a Muslim or be dead.’ After hours of torture, they left him for dead in the street. The next Sunday he was back in his pulpit preaching. ‘This is Turkey. You know that this is just part of what it means to be a pastor.’”
In conclusion, Henderson shared, “Cape Town was for me a time of rich confrontation and personal challenge. I came back from Cape Town a zealous man.”