C.T AUS: Can you please give an outline of the Langham Partnership ministries?
W.T: The Langham Partnership International (LPI) was formed as a result of listening and responding to the growing need of the church in the majority world. John Stott, founded the ministry, as a result of his dialogue with leaders from the majority world churches over many years.
Langham Partnership Australia (LPA) is part of the global Langham network. Like the other partners LPA focuses on three ministries.
The first ministry is the Langham Literature program which supports the distribution of literature through Bible colleges and seminaries throughout the majority world. There are close to 800 seminaries and Bible college libraries, in around 80 countries, which receive an annual grant from Langham Literature. These grants are used to purchase evangelical books, available through the Langham catalogue, to develop their library facilities. Langham also provides books to individual pastors in the majority world.
We have a creative side in the literature program that encourages writers, through grants, to publish books written for the local context and in the regional language. One result of this program has been the Africa Bible Commentary (ABC), which was sponsored jointly by LPI and SIM. The ABC was produced by 70 African scholars and has become a wonderful resource and model for both the African church and the worldwide church. LPI is now sponsoring the translation of the commentary in Swahili, Portuguese, and French.
The second ministry is the Langham Scholars program. This program enables young evangelical leaders with academic ability to enrol in a doctorate level theological program. There are currently 90 scholars participating in this program throughout the world. There has been a total of 260 scholars in the program. The program has had a huge impact on the majority world since its inception 30 years ago.
The third and youngest program of the Langham ministries is the preaching program. This program is based at the grass-roots level and is focused on equipping pastors and teachers from the majority world. It is aimed at people who teach and preach on a weekly or a daily basis who have had no training. This is the program which we are launching in the Pacific in 2008. At the moment, the program is running in 40 countries and there have been requests from churches in another 40 countries for the program to be launched in their area. This is a real grass-roots program.
C.T AUS: Can you please explain a 'member' country in the LP network?
W.T: LPI comprises a number of nationally based member organisations whose purpose is to assist the church in the majority world.
Australia is a member country and Langham Partnership New Zealand has recently been established. The other members comprise: Canada, East Asia, UK and Ireland, and the USA. These members fund and support the ministry. For over 30 years now, at Dr Stott's original invitation, Australia has assisted in carrying the mantle for this strategic ministry.
Another interesting feature of LPI is the 10 regional councils that have been set up around the world. A Pacific regional council will also be established in the near future. The councils are comprised of Christian leaders who come from the region concerned to help guide and advise LPI. The council also acts as a network for the evangelical leaders in the region.
LP does not go to a country and 're-invent the wheel'. Rather LPI is trying to pull together evangelical leaders in a particular country or region so they can work together for the good of the church in the region.
C.T AUS: What has been a highlight for LP Australia in 2007?
W.T: We have been encouraged that the Christian community in Australia is catching the vision of LPI's strategic ministry in the majority world. People are interested in knowing more about the ministry so they can support LPA through giving and prayer.
There are various activities in which people help us out such as being a facilitator in the preaching ministry. The ministry is conducted throughout the world, sometimes in remote locations. Australian Christian leaders have participated in preaching seminars in Pakistan, the Pacific and Turkey. This has been a source of real excitement for LPA.
On the international front, a highlight for me was the amazing legacy John Stott left behind when he delivered his final public address at the Keswick Convention in the UK. John spoke of turning the world upside down, challenging Christians to become more like Christ, to enter other people's worlds â 'incarnational evangelism'. In addition, there has also been an amazing impact from the Langham ministries in many regions in the world.
C.T AUS: What is 'incarnational evangelism'?
W.T: Incarnational evangelism means entering into other's people world as Christ entered ours. Jesus said in John 17 'As the Father sent me into the world, so I send you.' The most effective preaching, said John Stott, is to embody the message you preach. Christians are their message. Christians need to look like what they are talking about - personal authenticity. Simply, we have to be more Christ-like.
C.T AUS: Can you please explain how the Langham preaching will launch in the Pacific?
W.T: Langham preaching in the Pacific region will start in Vanuatu after the local churches, in particular members of the Presbyterian Church in Vanuatu, invited Langham to come and begin the ministry there. However, the literature program has been operating for many years within the region. Many bible colleges such as those in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Island, Vanuatu and Fiji, are participating in the Literature program.
We have also sponsored the first Pacific Langham Scholar, Ma'afu Palu, who is from Tonga to study for his PhD at Moore College. Ma'afu's studies will not only help his own church but also other churches in the islands. The purpose of such sponsorships is essentially the reflection of the sermon preached by John Stott. The students will not only accumulate knowledge but will also embody the message to really challenge the Christians and leaders in their regions.
There will be 70+ pastors and church leaders from Vanuatu, along with observers from other Pacific Island nations, coming to Vanuatu for the first Pacific preaching event in March this year.
C.T AUS: Are there any plans that LP is looking forward to implementing in 2008?
W.T: For LP Australia, we really look forward to the LP Pacific preaching program starting in March, this year. The program will really help the church in Vanuatu and assist it to become even bolder in its preaching. An additional dimension to this program will be the extension of the Langham Literature program in the region.
We are also sponsoring the Bislama, (the most broadly spoken language in Vanuatu), bible commentary along with the writers workshops.
The Pacific region is a vast area with a relatively small population so it is often neglected due to the cost in flying from island to island. There are around 25,000 islands scattered over 88 million square kilometres of ocean. Apart from Australia and New Zealand, there are 8.5 million people living in 14 nations and 13 territories. Half of these live in Papua New Guinea. There are over 1,200 languages spoken in the region.
On the international front, LPI is moving ahead with a Middle-East Arabic Commentary to be launched within the region. There are also other large projects beginning in South Asia, in which LPA is involved in. We hope the Preaching Program goes from strength to strength and we look forward to seeing an increase in the number of participants in the scholarship program so those graduates from the program can have a voice of authority and reflect Christ in the way they serve in their regions.
C.T AUS: Is there a message which you wish to send to Australian Christians?
W.T: We need to remember the incarnation of Jesus we have recently celebrated. As he came and lived among us we are to do likewise â turning the world upside down, being transformed into the image of God's Son and co-operating with God's purpose for His people to reflect Christ's image in our world here in Australia.