Nearly 1,800 Christian leaders from around the world are gathering in Thailand for the 2004 Forum for World Evangelization, which made its grand opening today, Sept. 29. The gathering, convened by the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization in partnership with the Great Commission Roundtable, will be only the fourth time in the past thirty years that Lausanne has called such a comprehensive global gathering.
Over the past couple of days, busloads of church leaders from over 127 nations, arrived from Bangkok, to gather at the 2004 Forum for an opportunity to form strategies for overcoming 31 significant roadblocks to evangelism. “This is the purpose of the 2004 Forum in Thailand…to remove the barriers to the fulfillment of the Great Commission,” said Andrew Brumme, a member of the Media and Communications Team at the 2004 Forum.
After the Forum officially began this evening, Dr. Roger Parrott, the 2004 Forum Chair, gave a stirring call to the hundreds of world church leaders to let the wind of the Holy Spirit guide the direction of their ministries and their work at the Forum.
Thirty years ago, at the original Lausanne gathering in Switzerland, Billy Graham gave the opening address and stated the simple purpose of the gathering: “…to seek how we can work together to fulfill Christ’s last commission as quickly and as thoroughly as possible.”
Since then, numerous Lausanne-Related Consultations, Congresses, and Conferences have been held throughout the world, including two international gatherings.
In his daily report of the gathering, Brumme compared the Forum to a similar gathering in Acts 15—the Council at Jerusalem—where apostles and other church leaders came together to tackle several barriers to the spread of the gospel to the gentiles.
This year’s Forum will be the culmination of work done over the past year by 31 groups of leaders addressing thirty-one specific issues have been identified as roadblocks to evangelism with the goal of developing an action plan for the global church. The issues, compiled through a comprehensive worldwide research effort include topics such as:
- The Persecuted Church
- Holistic Mission
- Hidden And Forgotten People
- Partnership And Collaboration
- The Local Church And Great Commission
- Future Leadership
- Prayer In Evangelism
- Media And Technology
- Reaching The Youth Generation
- Funding For Evangelism And Mission
- Effective Education For Evangelization
The Forum will take place in Thailand until Oct. 5, and includes attendance by prominent Christian figures such as Steve Douglass, President of Campus Crusade for Christ International; Voinette Bright, wife of the late Billy Bright; Johan Companjen, President of Open Doors International; Pete Hammond, Vice President of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship (USA); and Mike O’Rear, CEO of Global Mapping (USA). The Bill Graham Evangelistic Association informed the Christian Post that Rev. Graham would be unable to attend the conference as he will be preparing for his upcoming evangelistic crusade in Kansas City slated for Oct. 7-10.