Lausanne Movement Appoints New CEO

LONDON—The Lausanne Movement announced today it has appointed Michael Oh, a 41-year-old Korean-American serving in Japan, as its new executive director/CEO, effective March 1.

“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,” Ram Gidoomal, chair of The Lausanne Movement board of directors, said regarding the unanimous selection confirmed last week by the board. “He will be able to build on the firm foundation that Doug Birdsall and the global leadership of Lausanne have established, to the glory of God.”

Oh is president and founder of Christ Bible Seminary in Nagoya, Japan, a vibrant and growing seminary that is making an impact among young Christians seeking a renewed vision for the next generation of Christianity in Japan. He has been involved in Lausanne since 2004, serving as keynote speaker and part of the planning team for Lausanne’s Younger Leaders Gathering in 2006, and as a member of the Lausanne board since 2007. He will be formally installed at The Lausanne Global Leadership Forum in South Asia in June.

Oh succeeds outgoing CEO the Rev. S. Douglas (Doug) Birdsall, who becomes the president of American Bible Society on March 1.

“Michael is an exceptionally gifted younger leader who will serve the movement with vision and passion in the years to come,” Birdsall said. “As a reflective practitioner, he embodies the essence of the ‘spirit’ of Lausanne—humility, friendship, study, prayer, partnership and hope.”

Birdsall further indicated that he believes Oh understands the value of Lausanne’s rich history, and as a younger leader, has demonstrated the ability to inspire and enlist a new generation of men and women around the globe who share Lausanne’s commitment to “the whole church taking the whole Gospel to the whole world.”

“Lausanne is in good hands, and the future is filled with promise,” Birdsall added. After passing the baton of leadership to Oh, Birdsall will continue to serve in leadership with Lausanne as an honorary chair.

“I am humbled by this appointment as I follow in the footsteps of the legacy that God started in the movement through godly leaders like Billy Graham, Leighton Ford, Gottfried Osei-Mensah, Paul Cedar, and my predecessor and friend, Doug Birdsall,” Oh said. “My own development as a leader, along with countless other younger leaders within Lausanne, has been significantly impacted by the mentorship of Doug, the Lausanne board, and other Lausanne leaders. Lausanne is getting younger, stronger and more representative of the rich diversity and depth of the global church. Mobilizing and connecting global younger leaders for world evangelization will be a great joy and priority as I take the leadership of Lausanne.”

Oh’s appointment was welcomed by leaders in Japan who expressed pleasure that Oh will live in Japan while serving Lausanne. “We are committed to expanding the network of support and prayer among churches in Japan for Michael,” stated the Rev. Satoru Kanemoto, chair of the Japan Lausanne Committee. “As a board member of the Japan Evangelical Association, I know that General Secretary Kenichi Shinagawa has shared a longtime friendship with Michael. I am strongly encouraged that, upon hearing the news of his friend’s new appointment, Rev. Shinagawa has indicated his willingness to lead the Japanese Church in our serving together for the advancement of the kingdom of God.”

The search committee that recommended Oh was chaired by Roger Parrott, president of Belhaven University, who said the committee was very impressed by the overall quality of candidates it considered, indicating how much Lausanne has grown in global breadth and depth.

“I found in Michael a penetrating vision for world evangelization, a richness in his understanding of the complexities of our world both globally and locally, and a godly humility in service and passion for Christ that is contagious,” Parrott stated.

The Rev. Esme Bowers, chair of African Enterprise of South Africa, and a member of the search committee, said, “Michael’s appointment is part of Lausanne’s ongoing commitment to identify and equip new and younger leaders in mission and evangelization around the world.”

Lindsay Brown, Lausanne international director, is also encouraged about the future because of Oh’s selection. “I look forward to working in partnership with Michael with the goal that ‘all the earth may hear His Voice,'” Brown said. Brown has committed to continue serving as international director until 2015 to assist in the leadership transition.

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). Michael and his wife, Pearl, have been married 18 years and have five children.

Lausanne is a global movement that mobilizes evangelical leaders to collaborate for world evangelization. It grew out of the 1974 International Congress on World Evangelization convened in Lausanne, Switzerland, by Billy Graham and Bishop Jack Dain. The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization (October 2010) in Cape Town, South Africa, brought together 4,200 Christian leaders, representing 198 countries.  The resulting Cape Town Commitment serves as the blueprint for the movement’s activities. Lausanne is convening four to five consultations each year around the issues articulated in The Cape Town Commitment.