An evangelist extravaganza

Julia Duin reports in Washington Post:

The first one was in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1974. The second was in Manila in 1989. The third will be in Cape Town in 2010.

I’m talking about the massive worldwide conferences on evangelism that began as the brainchild of evangelist Billy Graham, along with British Anglican theologian John Stott and Australian Anglican Bishop Jack Dain. They have since taken on a life of their own. One year from this week, the Third Lausanne Conference on World Evangelization will take place from Oct. 16-25 in South Africa.

Its Web site, www.lausanne.org, says the event will draw 4,000 people from more than 200 countries, an intriguing goal as there are only 195 official independent countries in the world. The event will be translated into Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swahili.

The United States is providing 400 delegates and Canada is contributing 50.

I first heard of the conference when I got word this spring that U.S. organizers were looking for candidates. Some 1,322 applied to go. What made things a bit tricky is that organizers wanted 50 percent of the delegates to be under 50 years old. No doubt this is frustrating for top-tier American church leaders – most of whom are well past 50 – who weren’t invited to the Manila conference 20 years ago because they were considered too young.

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