Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Greetings in the name of our resurrected Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! I trust you enjoyed a glorious Easter celebration.
I am writing to you on April 27th. Today is the 90th birthday of John Stott, the Honorary Chairman of The Lausanne Movement. I hope you’ll join me in wishing him a happy birthday and in t hanking God for the model and impact of his remarkable like. (You may post a birthday message to him online here.)
I remember a wonderful evening with John Stott in February 2006 as we were talking and dreaming about the future of The Lausanne Movement. Over dinner at a Greek restaurant near his home in London, “Uncle John” discussed plans for the 2006 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering in Malaysia and the prospect of a Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. It was an inspiring and unforgettable evening.
As we walked back to his home after dinner, Uncle John was walking slowly. He was steadying himself with a cane in one hand and holding my elbow with the other. He stopped as we neared his flat and said, “I just hope I live long enough to see all that we have talked about tonight come to pass.”
By God’s grace he has lived long enough to Lausanne III come to pass. Though he is very weak and is nearing the end, he followed the planning of the programme, the selection of the participants and the unfolding of Cape Town 2010 with great interest. He was particularly interested in the work lead by Chris Wright on The Cape Town Commitment.
I contacted him a few weeks ago, just after the full Cape Town Commitment had been published. When I called, one of his old friends was there reading the document to him, slowly and carefully, so that he could take in every phrase. The friend passed the phone to John Stott and we spoke briefly for what will likely prove to be our final conversation. In a weak and halting voice he said, “It’s a beautiful and profound document. With it, you seem to have achieved an astonishing degree of unity.”
This was of utmost importance to John Stott. You may remember that in his letter of greeting to Cape Town, he closed by quoting the Apostle Paul’s words to the Ephesians: “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
Happy Birthday “Uncle John” and thank you for the model of your life and for your life-long commitment to the unity of the whole church, the preaching of the whole gospel, and the evangelization of the whole world.
Yours in Christ,
S. Douglas Birdsall
Executive Chair, The Lausanne Movement