At the age of 97, the great evangelist Billy Graham’s influence is nowhere close to waning. To be sure, the voice of the ‘pastor to presidents’ and the harmonious chorus of ‘Just as I am’ no longer shake stadiums as it once did. Nonetheless, his legacy continues to be evident throughout the world.
His influence continues through the various ministries and organizations that bear the celebrated name of ‘Billy Graham’ such as the ‘Billy Graham Center for Evangelism’ at Wheaton College and the ‘Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’. Yet, none of these compare to a global movement sparked by Graham in the 1970s, that is, the Lausanne Movement.
The movement’s influence cannot be overstated. From the drafting of the Lausanne Covenant by a committee chaired John Stott to Ralph Winter’s introduction in 1974 of the concept of ‘unreached people groups’, Lausanne continues to gather thousands of leaders worldwide to think, pray, and, and mobilize missionaries to be sent to the ends of the world. For Graham, preaching and evangelizing to tens of thousands was not enough. More importantly, he desired to inspire tens of thousands to engage in God’s mission and to build the church of Jesus Christ. It is thus little surprise that Graham is known for saying ‘I don’t need a successor, only willing hands to accept the torch for a new generation’. Consequently at these global meetings, partnerships are formed, strategies are designed, and men and women are inspired to make Gospel-shaped impact in the world.
As such, it is always exciting when these valuable congresses are held because they are always catalysts for change (one thinks of the Cape Town 2010 Congress which the magazine Christianity Today described as ‘the most representative gathering of Christian leaders in the 2000 year history of the Christian movement’ which produced the Cape Town Commitment and particularly emphasized the voice of the church in the majority world), and it is because of this that I am thrilled about the upcoming Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering (YLG) 2016 that will convene in Jakarta. This is the third gathering of its kind, the first being in Singapore in 1987 and then in Malaysia in 2006, and these are influential meetings that have shaped evangelical leaders that we are familiar with today (for example, in a video to the delegates of the conference, the CEO of the Lausanne Movement Dr Michael Oh recalls his experience of his attendance at a YLG conference).
Therefore, this coming August, the YLG will see 1,000 younger leaders from over 160 countries gathered to ‘discern together God’s leading of their generation for his global mission’ by connecting young leaders across the world to brainstorm, pray, and learn under seasoned mentors and world class speakers. Consequently, I would like to invite you to partake in this historic event by praying for the team that will represent Australia. We (New South Wales) recently had a videoconference meeting with members from Victoria, South Australia, and Queensland to consider the bridges and barriers for evangelization in Australia and we are excited about bringing these ideas to the gathering to be tested and refined by men and women who are engaged in Gospel ministry in contexts radically different to ours and who adopt ministry philosophies different to our own. So please pray that the team will be marked by humility and a willingness to learn from our brothers and sisters from across the world, and that we will be able to partner together in directing the worship of the nations to the one and only true Creator God. Our hope is that we will be able to stand on the shoulders of giants like Billy Graham, John Stott, and others to continue their legacy of reaching the nations in the name of Jesus Christ.
For more information about the gathering, please visit the Lausanne YLG website.
 To be sure, Graham is not beyond critique. His use of the ‘invitation system’ in particular has been subject to some scrutiny, some of which are helpful and necessary. For a brief engagement on the topic, you can check out ‘Dr Billy Graham Reviewed’, Banner of Truth, issue 413, February 1998 written by my dear mentor, Rev Dr Peter Barnes. For a more extended read, check out ‘The Invitation System’ also published Banner of Truth and written by Rev Iain Murray – you can access the pdf version here: http://rediscoveringthebible.com/InvitationSystem.pdf. My goal in the following article is not to condone or criticise Graham’s evangelistic methods, but to promote the work of Lausanne in particular.