New Pope once taught at Lausanne conf

10 04 2013

Pope Francis I, A Past Bible Expositor for Lausanne Global Leadership

Taken from the Mission America Newsletter April 2013

At Lausanne global leadership meetings in Buenos Aires in 2008, one of the Bible expositors was Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio, now named Pope Francis I. Doug Birdsall, honorary chair of the Lausanne Movement recalls, “He spoke from John 21:15-19, Jesus’ encounter with Peter, ‘Do you love me? Feed my sheep.’  At the time, I remember thinking to myself what a godly, brilliant and humble servant of Christ this is.”

Birdsall met the archbishop a year before in Argentina. “We had a wonderful meeting as we talked about the Church and about the priority of evangelism….He is brilliant, prayerful, and pastoral, and he also was living a simple lifestyle in a modest office and apartment… In the course of our conversation he said, ‘Fifty years ago, I would have thought of you as an adversary.  Today, I welcome you as my brothers.'”

Birdsall urges evangelicals to pray for Pope Francis I, the most visible Christian leader in the world. “He takes the office at a time…when many in the western world are treating the church and the papacy with contempt….He is aware of the great challenge to re-evangelize Europe….There are fresh winds blowing in the Catholic Church and there is a new pope who I believe represents great promise for the witness of the gospel and the mission of the church in the 21st century.”

In spite of theological differences between evangelicals and Catholic Church, Birdsall says, “I believe that at this time in history when we deal with the challenges of secularism, pluralism and hedonism, our common lot as Trinitarian Christians should provide the occasion for us to pray for this man who came and shared God’s Word and who came to enjoy fellowship with us in Buenos Aires.”

MAC chairman Paul Cedar agrees with Birdsall’s call for prayer. “I have been touched by [the new Pope’s] humble spirit and by his compassion — especially for the poor and the marginalized. We certainly want to be praying for him,” Cedar says. “He could be used of God to bring significant changes to the Catholic Church and beyond in this generation.”


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