Evangelicals from around the world prepared to make their way to Berlin this month for the ten-day World Congress on Evangelism beginning October 26. Some 1,200 delegates and observers are expected to be on hand. More than 100 editors and newsmen from throughout the globe have been accredited to the press room.
Evangelist Billy Graham, honorary chairman of the congress, is scheduled to bring a major address and to preside at several sessions. Graham will also hold a public evangelistic crusade in Berlin the week prior to the opening of the congress.
The flood of interest in the congress required a moratorium on delegate and observer invitations in mid-September, six weeks before the start of the meeting. Representatives from virtually all Protestant denominations will be on hand, and there will also be Roman Catholic and Jewish observers.
According to Gil A. Stricklin, director of information for the congress, participants will include representatives of what are probably the oldest and newest Christian churches in the world. Bishop Alexander Mar Theophilus of Adoor, Kerala, India, will attend from the “oldest” church, the Mar Thoma Syrian Church, said to have been founded by the Apostle Thomas in the first century. From what is believed to be the “newest” church, that of the Auca Indians in Ecuador, will come Gikita M. Komi and Yaeti K. Kimo, who participated in the slaying of five American missionaries in 1956 but have since been converted to the Christian faith.
Attendance at the congress is by invitation only. A key basis of selection was the degree of involvement in evangelism, and congress organizers have tried to ensure the widest possible representation. Invitations were extended to persons in 106 countries, including several in Communist lands whose availability is still uncertain. Priority was given to professional evangelists and to those in related teaching and administrative fields.
Editor Carl F. H. Henry of CHRISTIANITY TODAY, which is sponsoring the congress as a tenth-anniversary project, says that “this is no stage-managed conference. No secret strategy has been drawn up for ratification by the delegates, no public declarations have been devised in advance, and there are no projections for the last-minute plotting of organizational maneuvers. The congress will be in the hands of the delegates.”
A special commemorative service is planned for Reformation Sunday, October 30. It is expected to have special significance because of the Berlin locale—near historic sites that the Reformation made famous 4½ centuries ago.
Computers For Christ
“Is it too much to believe,” asks World Vision President Bob Pierce, “that the tools now being used to put man on the moon could have their ultimate purpose in bringing the Gospel to every creature?”
Under a $25,000 grant from World Vision, a group of scientists and churchmen are studying the possibility of doing just that. Their eyes are on the applicability of PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique). PERT, originally developed for programming a U. S. missile project, has proved itself a valuable tool in numerous government, industry, and engineering tasks.
The prospects are spelled out in the special October issue of World Vision Magazine, built around the topic “New Tools for World Evangelism.”
Crusade In The Corral
In booming Calgary, the big cowboy capital of Canada, a rodeo stadium known as the Stampede Corral was put to sacred use for two weeks of evangelistic meetings with Leighton Ford. The crusade attracted clergy and laymen from virtually all denominations. Ford, 34-year-old associate of Billy Graham, urged them “to affirm again with courage and clarity and joy the great verities of our faith.”
While the touring Archbishop of Canterbury was telling newsmen in Calgary last month that he didn’t think the Graham type of evangelism was what was needed at present, a Roman Catholic priest was in his church offering prayer for the crusade. And the Anglican bishop of Calgary, the Rt. Rev. George R. Calvert, purple robes and all, was participating in a service at the corral.
The crusade opened under sunny skies with the temperature in the eighties. Some 8,000 persons turned out for the first meeting.
Evangelist Billy Graham conducted unprecedented follow-up meetings last month for some of the 42,000 inquirers from his London crusade in June. At Royal Albert Hall, London, more than 5,000 persons gathered on each of two nights to receive encouragement and guidance for their new lives. “The greatest weapon the Devil has in his arsenal is to get you discouraged,” said Graham.
An eight-day “All-Britain Television Crusade” is being planned for next summer, Graham told his audience. The crusade is to reach out from Earls Court Stadium to at least twenty-five closed-circuit television projectors with screens up to thirty feet wide.
After the follow-up meetings, Graham was admitted to the London Clinic for treatment of an infection that had been causing discomfort for about three weeks and had caused doctors to advise him to cancel a trip to Scotland. Statements from Graham’s aides indicate that the infection has been brought under control, and that “doctors feel certain that … after a few days of rest he can resume his normal schedule.”
The canceled Scotland trip was to have been a substitute for a “postponed” visit to Poland. Graham said the Polish government had denied his request for a visa “at this time.” “It would have been a great privilege to help them celebrate a thousand years of Christianity,” he said. “I hope we may be permitted to go at a later time.”
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