Lausanne III, the heavily-recognized global evangelical leadership conference, will begin later this week on the 16th. Just as the world’s regional church leaders are making their ways to the Cape Town, South Africa, numerous representatives of China’s house churches were blocked from leaving the country to attend the congress by authorities.
The most recent incident involved members of house churches in Beijing. According to Oct. 11 local time report by Ming Pao Hong Kong, five volunteers from Beijing house churches had embarked on their trip to the congress, but after they’d finished their boarding procedures at the Beijing International Airport, board guards blocked them from leaving the country - four passports were confiscated, one person was detained. The officers said the confiscated passports will be returned on the 25th, which is after the conference has concluded. This event has brought wide-spread media attention.
Furthermore, according to Texas-based China Aid Association (CAA) reports on October 11, local time, a Chinese church representative has successfully pass through the gates in Shanghai and is on his way to the congress, yet another was blocked from leaving the country.
CAA stated that they will continue to closely monitor the development of this incident; they urge the organizers of Lausanne Congress to speak out for these Christians who are persecuted for being invited to attend the conference by local authorities, condemning the Chinese government for persecuting these house church members.
CAA spokesman Mark said in an interview with Radio Free Asia, “According to our understanding of the situation, all of these 200 representatives have been approached for talk or threatened in the last two months.” He hopes to see representatives from mainland China to be able to attend this year’s Lausanne Congress of World Evangelism (LCWE).
“The conference begins on the 16th; visas are just being issued now, so it is estimated that they are the first group of guests; it is unknown whether the remaining others will be able to go. Ever since September, the series of attacks towards the house churches in China have continued to escalate, and these attacks also encompass the attacks toward government-sanctioned three-self churches, which reveals whether or not there are signs of openness in the aspects of religious freedom,” he said.
According to Beijing Shouwang Church’s website news published issued on October 11, a pastor from Inner Mongolia was detained on October 9th for 15 days, which means he won’t be able to attend the Lausanne Congress.
Shouwang Church has eight official representatives and four volunteers invited to attend the Lausanne Conference. They believe that although China’s church Lausanne participants are facing much pressure and blockage, there is God’s guidance and good will, promoting the unity and revival of China’s churches through Lausanne. The church forwarded the “Lausanne Movement Handout” to introduce the significance of the Lausanne Conference from its founding till now, urging all Christians to pray for the participants.
In an earlier interview conducted by The Gospel Herald, Rev. Liu Tong-su, one of China’s house church leaders, said that this will be Lausanne Congress’ third conference and the time has come for the house churches to give some testimonies.
Liu encouraged, “Do not be cowered, it isn’t a personal or individual church matter for the representatives to join (Lausanne III), but it is the testimony of the greatest degree of representation of the entire church of China. In the next month, the most important thing is to guarantee that those invited can all go and participate.”
With the theme “God in Christ, Reconciling the World to Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19), Lausanne III will be held from Oct. 16-25 in Cape Town, South Africa. Over 4,000 Christians from 200 countries will convene for the conference. This year, the congress will primarily explore the six major challenges that the global church and mission field are facing, including the challenge of new atheism, the impact of hedonism, the reality of Islam, the globalized world, the brokenness of our world, and the seismic shifts in global Christianity.
LCWE was initiated by world-renown evangelical preacher Dr. Rev. Billy Graham in 1974. At the first congress, around 2,700 evangelical leaders from 150 countries convened in Lausanne, Switzerland. Around 60 Chinese representatives participated. At the end of the first conference, one of the most influential Christian documents, Lausanne Covenant, was drafted, which left a long-lasting impact towards the vision of world missions.