Plenary 3: Lausanne and Latin America - Samuel Escobar and Rene Padilla - Cape Town 2010

Uploaded by lausannemovement on 28.09.2011

>> Well, Rene, they have given us a few minutes to talk about the Lausanne Movement and Latin
America. And I think we need a little bit of history, because the story for me starts
in Berlin 1966. As a worker among university students, as an evangelist and a disciple
maker, I was very aware of the need to have answers to the social questions of Latin America.
When I came to Berlin I heard Mike Cassidy from South Africa talking about obstacles
to evangelism, and he mentioned apartheid as one of the obstacles. At the same time,
John Stott presented his lecture about the Great Commission in the Gospel of John which
coincided with some of the things we had been exploring in Latin America. Michael Cassidy
was accused of being a communist for his reference to apartheid in South Africa, and some people
wanted his speech to be eliminated from the book of the Congress.

>>That's right. Then we had several congresses, regional congresses. There was one in Singapore,
another one in Minneapolis, another one in Amsterdam, another one in Pattaya and then
we had our own congress in Bogotá, Colombia, November of 1969. Now, that congress was very
significant. Both Samuel Escobar and myself, together with others had been involved in
student work, and all through the 1960s we had been doing a lot of thinking on the social
responsibility of the church. Samuel was asked to give a paper on that subject. The social
responsibility of the church at that congress. I think it was a wonderful, wonderful opportunity
to express that which was very much a concern for many, many people, so much so that most
of the people who were present at that congress stood up at the end of the lecture and applauded
and applauded and applauded for six, seven minutes. We realized that this was a real
concern for people in Latin America, the leadership, pastors, and so out of that conference came
a real concern to reflect on that subject. We planned to have a conference just to do
that, and it was held in Cochabamba one year later and that was the birth of the Latin
American Theological Fellowship.

>> And then came Lausanne ‘74, which was
preceded by these regional conferences. I had the privilege of presenting a paper but
also the great privilege of being part of the committee that drafted the Covenant and
all of you are aware of the Covenant, you have studied the Covenant. It is interesting
for me to recall the struggles we had in the writing, in the drafting of the Covenant.
Just to mention one. You know that paragraph 9 from the Covenant speaks about the urgency
of the evangelistic task. And it says this. “Missionaries should flow evermore freely
from all and to all continents in a spirit of humble service. The goal should be by all
available means and at the earliest possible time that every person will have the opportunity
to hear, to understand, and to receive the good news. We cannot hope to attain this goal
without sacrifice. All of us are shocked by the poverty of millions and disturbed by the
injustices which cause it.”
There is this statement denunciation and proclamation, but
many people wanted us to eliminate the references to the causes, the injustices which cause
poverty. That was a difficult task of writing the Covenant expressing a biblical perspective
but also being under the pressure of so different opinions.

>> After Lausanne ‘74 there were several consultations. There were two groups that
were formed as part of the continuation committee, one was on the strategy for evangelism, and
the other one was a group for exploring some of the things that had been raised in the
Covenant that had to do with theological questions for practical life.

I had the privilege
of attending those four consultations organized by John Stott. One of them in cooperation
with the World Evangelical Fellowship at the time. One was in held in Willowbank on a Gospel
in Culture, 1978. Well, before that there was one on The Homogenous Principle held in
Pasadena, and another one there was in Caledon, England on Simple Lifestyle, and then finally
one in Grand Rapids in 1982 on Evangelism and Social Responsibility. I think those conferences
were very, very important for the Lausanne Movement, and they really emphasized the importance
of a holistic mission, what we in Latin America called Integral Mission. Not trying to specialize
in evangelism or specialize in social action, but combining all that the church is supposed
to be about.

>> Lausanne itself, as we said, was the result of a process, that went
through the regions. In 1974, in January, John Stott traveled all over Latin America
and some of the papers of the Lausanne conference had already been distributed around the world
and in his presentations in several Latin American countries, organized by the Latin
American Theological Fraternity, John Stott and Latin Americans discussed some of the
issues that later on were going to come in the Covenant. And John said that this trip
to Latin America have helped him to change some of his views in light of the way in which
the church was reading the scripture in Latin America. The Latin America Theological Fraternity
has been probably the Movement that has done more to promote the Lausanne spirit by publications,
by consultations, by trips of people, like John Stott, Safia Theal(?), Carl Henry, and
others. And we have been blessed by the fact that while it was so difficult to draft, have
acceptance and responded to the means of the region.

>> There is no time to elaborate the point of what do we expect from Lausanne 3. I just
want to mention three special concerns I have, and I think this is shared by many people,
at least in Latin America. One concern is the question of discipleship. Jesus did not
send us to make converts. He sent us to make disciples who would learn to obey everything
that the Lord Jesus Christ taught.

Second concern is a concern related to globalization.
Globalization of what? Globalization of an unjust, economic system that is destroying
humankind. It's affecting people all over the world, but especially the poor all over
the world.

And in the third place, the whole question of the destruction of the ecosystem.
If things continue to be the way they are now, who knows what comes, for our children,
and our grandchildren.

>> I have to thank you, René, for the book "Mission Between
the Times," which is a book that follows this itinerary we have mentioned. Let me say that
we expect to have in 2012 the Latin America Theological Fraternity, the fifth Latin America
Congress on Evangelization. The four previous ones, three of them were organized by those
that in the spirit of Lausanne wanted to have integral mission. Today I live in Spain, and
I realize now two interesting things. One is that Christendom, the role of the church
in Europe is declining and the same time, the presence of a missionary force in our
case coming from Latin America, expressed in the COMIBAM Movement in the fact that there
are thousands of Latin American missionaries now working in Africa, in Asia, in the Muslim
countries, and that in many cases it is integral mission, it is holistic mission, it is mission
done in the spirit of Lausanne. The only possible way to do mission in those places. We praise
the Lord, and we ask his Spirit to move us as we move into this, in this third Lausanne.