Evangelization movement appoints young Korean-American as leader

(Photo: Lausanne Movement)Michael Oh will begin leading the Lausanne Movement as Executive Director/CEO on March 1, 2013.

Lausanne Movement has appointed a young leader to take the helm of its global evangelization network to inspire the next generation to take the gospel to the whole world.

Dr. Michael Oh, a 41-year-old Korean-American who is president of a seminary in Japan, was appointed last week as the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of The Lausanne Movement.

The movement is the largest network of evangelical Christians from around the world dedicated to world evangelization.

On March 1, he will replace outgoing leader Doug Birdsall who will take up the post of president at the American Bible Society in New York City, the nation's largest organization dedicated to Bible distribution and engagement.

Oh joined Lausanne in 2004, the same year Birdsall took was installed as executive director. He has helped plan the Lausanne's Younger Leaders Gathering in 2006, and served as a member of the Lausanne Board since 2007.

He is president and founder of Christ Bible Seminary in Nagoya, Japan, which has an emphasis toward educating young Japanese Christians.

Birdsal, who remain on the Lausanne Board as Honorary Chair, said he is leaving the organization in "good hands."

"Michael is an exceptionally gifted younger leader who will serve the movement with vision and passion in the years to come," he said.

"As a reflective practitioner, he embodies the essence of the 'spirit' of Lausanne – humility, friendship, study, prayer, partnership and hope."

In a statement, Oh pledged to follow the godly legacy by his predecessors, including Billy Graham, Leighton Ford, Gottfried Osei-Mensah, Paul Cedar, and Doug Birdsall.

However, the landscape into which Oh is entering Lausanne has changed. The make-up of the global movement has become younger as evangelical leaders, including celebrity preacher Billy Graham, who helped launch the first Lausanne gathering in 1974 are aging.

About 25 percent of the 4,000 leaders representing 198 countries attending The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2010 were under the age of 40, reported the group.

Oh said mobilizing and connecting global younger leaders for world evangelization will be among his top priorities.

"Lausanne is getting younger, stronger, and more representative of the rich diversity and depth of the global church," he stated.

The mission of churches and organizations working with the Lausanne Movement is to "bear witness to Jesus Christ and all his teaching, in every part of the world—not only geographically, but in every sphere of society and in the realm of ideas." At the Cape Town 2010 gathering, leaders outlined a blueprint for world evangelization that will be followed by Oh.

Oh's East Asian background will also help engage more diverse participation in the Lausanne Movement.

"Michael is a cross-cultural bridge-builder, from East to West and across generations; he knows the overall Movement well and understands the complexity of this leadership calling," said Ram Gidoomal, Chair of The Lausanne Movement Board of Directors, in a statement.

Oh has a Doctor of Philosophy with a specialization in Cultural Anthropology and Education (University of Pennsylvania), a Master's Degree of Arts with a concentration in East Asian Studies (Harvard University), a Master's Degree of Divinity with an emphasis on Missions (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) and a Master's Degree of Science (University of Pennsylvania).

He will be formally installed at The Lausanne Global Leadership Forum in South Asia in June.

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