Sunday Oct 17 the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Cape Town South Africa begins with 4,000 church and mission leaders from around the world. Columbia Intl University will have some faculty and students involved and also have a satellite experience here on the Columbia, SC campus. Go to www.ciu.edu/lausanne for more information.
In 1974, at the time of the first Lausanne Congress, I was a college student involved with Campus Crusade for Christ. I heard of the Switzerland event but it did not significantly impact my thinking until arriving at CIU in 77 I began to read the Occasional Papers in some of the courses. But during those last two years of College God did deeply reshape my heart. Vonette Bright, who with her husband, Bill, founded Campus Crusade, led hundreds of events in Christians being trained to pray. Praying for the lost, and praying for the spread of the Gospel to those with no access to the Gospel was built into a framework of praise, worship, thanksgiving, confession and coming to God in faith. God used the Great Commission Prayer Workshop like a key to unlock and free my heart to begin to soar with him.
Praying Scripture and praying for more than my own needs called me into identification with those outside of Christ and a desire to see the church of Christ bold and intentional in spreading God’s good news. A disciple is made by expanding their vision of God and modeling a bold and yet humble prayer life. After tasting how prayer changed me I began to teach others to pray. I began to see that what a person or a congregation prays shapes motives, priorities, attitudes and actions. Prayer is one of the first seeds to growing a follower of Christ.
DAWS, the biography of Dawson Troutman the founder of the Navigators, recount him gathering young soldiers and veterans in prayer over a world map. I witnessed dramatic change when believers began to pray for missionaries they knew. From a visit to Korean I was a part of tremendous passionate prayer meetings often centered on praying Scripture back to God. I am convinced that my prayer life is the number one indicator of the alignment of my heart with God’s.
I do not dismiss the importance of research and planning for engagement in the work of world evangelization. But they are not the end or the critical means to God’s work being accomplished, in God’s way, by his power. Prayer is the critical foundation. Hebrews 11:6 teaches we can only please God as we live with expectant faith. Prayer is to be faith in conversation. Prayer is to be hope in enduring seeking. Prayer is to be love flowing out to others.
Perhaps we should see the Cape Town 2010 event as a call to prayer and be intentional in training every Christian we know to see the harvest, the need for laborers, and how prayer in faith brings partnership with the global work of the Spirit in planting a church among every people.