The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, also known as Cape Town 2010, was reportedly the target of an cyber attack. The official statement from the congress says, “The sophisticated computer network developed for sharing Congress content with the world was compromised for the first two days of the Congress.”

“We have tracked malicious attacks by millions of external hits coming from several locations,” said Joseph Vijayam, IT Chair of The Lausanne Movement, sponsor of the gathering. “Added to this was a virus brought into the centre on a mobile phone.”

Officials are holding off making public claims about the source of the attack. “We have a pretty strong indication, but one can never be absolutely certain, so we prefer not to share our suspicions,” said Vijayam.

But a prominent evangelical blogger, Andrew Jones, who is attending the conference speculates regarding the attack: “…now we have heard that 95% of these internet hits came from the country of China, and the 66 locations were also situated in China, and that account of a Chinese fellow taking photos of Congress participants before running away, and this has caused us to consider China at least as a potentially suspicious candidate.”

This is on the heels of roughly 200 Chinese Protestants having been denied departure from China to attend the congress. More on that story below the break.

Evangelical group regrets no show of China’s Christians in Cape
By Munyaradzi Makoni

Cape Town, 18 October (ENI)–The World Evangelical Alliance has expressed disappointment at the failure of a Christian delegation from China to attend its third world gathering in South Africa.

“The presence and contribution of Chinese delegates would have enriched all the Congress participants and contributed to a more complete understanding of our common humanity and the diversity of ethnicity and cultural expression that enriches us all,” said the grouping in a 17 October statement made available to ENInews.

Up to 4500 participants from around the globe are gathering in Cape Town from 16-25 October for the 3rd Lausanne Congress for World Evangelization.

The first such congress was held in 1974 in Lausanne, Switzerland on the initiative of the U.S. evangelist, the Rev. Billy Graham, and the second congress took place in Manila in 1989.

The World Evangelical Alliance, a global ministry working with local churches said it was praying that, despite the disappointment of missing the congress, all Christians in China will continue to make a very significant contribution to the welfare of their nation and the world.

At least 200 Protestant Christians were barred from travelling to Cape Town by authorities in Beijing says a report carried by the Roman Catholic news agency AsiaNews.it. The churches are said to oppose membership of China’s Three-Self Patriotic Movement, a group gathering state-approved Protestant denominations.

Police warned Christians in China over the last two months not to attempt to attend the congress, the Catholic news agency reported. It said many of them were prevented from leaving China even though they had visas for South Africa. Some were brought back home from airports while others had their passports confiscated.

Officially China has 23 million Protestant Christians, but numbers differ as some believers say there are over 100 million as many communities shun the State Christian organization.

The WEA statement said it welcomed the growing freedoms that Christians in China have enjoyed in recent years and were encouraged by the continuing growth of the Church in China.

“Christian people everywhere make good citizens by contributing entrepreneurial energy to the social, economic and moral life of the nation. Christians in mainland China make an important contribution to the welfare of China,” the WEA statement said.

The participants to the congress are expected to discuss evangelisation, poverty, HIV and AIDS, and persecution.

In Hong Kong, ENInews correspondent Francis Wong reports that the Rev. Morley Lee, the Lausanne international deputy director for China, regretted that Chinese delegates were unable to join the evangelical congress.

The Chinese government’s foreign ministry told media on 12 October that the organizers of the Lausanne Congress did not invite representatives from the official China Christian Council to attend the congress, but secretly contacted the house church members.
It said that such an act was a disrespectful intervention in the religious affairs of China.

The China Christian Council works closely with the Three-Self Patriotic Movement.

In a statement, Doug Birdsall, executive chair of the Lausanne Movement, said the planners for the Cape Town event had “no intention of challenging the Chinese government’s principle of independent, autonomous and self-governed churches … We very much regret that our intentions and the decentralised invitation process to our Chinese brothers and sisters have been wrongly perceived.”

The Rev. Morley Lee, general secretary of The Chinese Coordinating Center of World Evangelization, who is the international deputy director of The Lausanne Movement for the Chinese World said in a statement on 17 October, “We are shocked that the China participants cannot join the congress, but we are blessed by their peaceful and calm trust in God.”

He said that members of the official church council were unable to join the congress because the church body had not signed the Lausanne Covenant before the meeting.

Lee said that Chinese Christians worldwide would help Christians in China to engage in a sincere dialogue with the Beijing government.