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CCCOWE Hopes for Frank Conversations After Chinese Reps Barred from Travel

( [email protected] ) Oct 20, 2010 02:33 PM EDT

The third Lausanne Congress has officially kicked off yesterday in Cape Town, South Africa. However, the majority of the two hundred China delegations were barred by China authorities from attending the conference.

Rev. Morley Lee, the General Secretary of Chinese Coordination Center of World Evangelization (CCCOWE), serves as the International Deputy Director of Lausanne Movement for the Chinese World. Prior to the beginning of the conference, he issued a statement expressing deep regret towards this happening, but still actively urged the Chinese from around the world to seek for more earnest conversations with the China’s churches from now on.

On behalf of CCCOWE, which mobilizes the world Chinese evangelism movement, Lee expressed the stance towards this incident through a statement titled “Regarding the Events of China Believers Participating in the Third Lausanne Congress of World Evangelism” through Hong Kong Christian Times.

Lee said that the majority of the China delegates missing this opportunity to participate with Chinese members from around the world in this global evangelism conference were truly “a matter of regret”; however, he testified and expressed “heart-felt respect” towards the delegates from China, who “obeyed the arrangements of heavenly father” despite the block, and encouraged them, “We believe God still sits on His throne and that 'He works all things for the good of those who love Him."

After this block took place, various overseas individuals raised their concerns towards China’s religious freedom situation, and spoke out for the rights of house church believers to participate in the international Christian conference.

In response, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused the Congress’ organizers have interfered with China’s religious affairs, saying “Congress organizers failed to formally invite the legal representatives of China’s Christians – leaders of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement and the China Christian Council (TSPM/CCC), the network of state-registered Protestant churches in China, but secretly extended multiple invitations to Christians who privately set up meeting points”.

Through the statement, Lee admitted that because China’s government-sanctioned churches (TSPM/CCC) weren’t able to sign the Lausanne Covenant, which has caused much inconveniences and is a big negligence in the preparation work. Despite this, to give TSPM/CCC the opportunity to participate in the conference, the Congress has setup seats for observers, and sent out an official invitation to China’s representatives of State Administration for Religious Affairs and TSPM/CCC. The TSPM/CCC leaders, however, replied with their refusal to participate in August. He said, in reality, TSPM/CCC can “participate in the conference without signing the Lausanne Covenant”.

According to Lausanne, representatives from Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and the World Council of Churches is attending the conference as observers.

In the end of the statement, Lee urged that starting from today all of the world Chinese members of the body from around the world must definitely strive to establish a more frank conversation with China’s church under the pretext of the country’s aim for “Economic Reform” and establishing a “harmonious society”.

{Editor's note: Eunice Or contributed to this report.]