The last week of September was Global Mission Week at Ridley. The flags of fifty countries hung around the college. The caterers served exotic dishes. Staff and students stepped out in style and splashed some global colour around the campus. A display in the library reminded us of the needs of Christians who do not enjoy the benefit of a theological library. We placed new faces on the map wall in the chapel, reminding us to pray for our graduates who serve in mission around the world. The college was peppered with inspiring mission quotes. At the end of the semester, one quote from David Platt remained in the dining room. It closes with this challenge: “We are not the end of the gospel; God is.”
We began Global Mission Week with a special double-billing to launch a book about local mission and inaugurate a lecture about global mission. The book was Ridley Vice Principal Tim Foster’s The Suburban Captivity of the Church. The lecture was the Alfred Stanway Lecture in Global Mission.
Alf Stanway was an outstanding evangelical leader in the twentieth century. Born in country Victoria, he spent his formative years in Melbourne and received his theological education at Ridley, where one of our classrooms bears his name. He served as a missionary with CMS in East Africa, in Kenya and then Tanganyika (now part of Tanzania), where he was consecrated as a bishop. He was subsequently Vice Principal of Ridley and later helped found Trinity Pittsburgh, an evangelical Anglican theological college in the USA. So, as we inaugurated a new lecture, we also celebrated a missionary heritage.
The inaugural lecture was delivered by our guest for the week, global evangelical statesman Lindsay Brown. Lindsay has worked with the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students since 1981, including 16 years as International Director. He is currently the Director of FEUER, a network of university evangelists in Europe. Since 2008, Lindsay has also served as International Director of the Lausanne Movement.
Lindsay spoke about the remarkable growth of evangelicalism around the world in the 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Lindsay argued that this period of growth (particularly in Eastern Europe and parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America) was unparalleled since New Testament times in terms of the spread of biblical Christianity. Later in the week, a visiting speaker from Egypt reinforced that impression when he told us that more Muslims had come to Christ in the last fifteen years than in the previous fifteen hundred years.
In a wide-ranging lecture, Lindsay also spoke of the external threats of pluralism, fundamentalism, persecution and hostile atheism, as well as the internal threats of ethnic divisions, a failure to live in a manner worthy of the gospel, and the lack of evangelical statesmen. The lecture concluded by canvassing some of the missiological challenges facing evangelicalism, including unreached people groups, Bible translation, oral learners, diaspora populations, megacities, and the need for new models of gospel partnership in the changing context of global Christianity.
Despite the threats and challenges we face, the overwhelming impact of the lecture and the week was a sense of excitement and expectancy about the cause of the gospel around the world.
Dean of Global Mission