Amsterdam 2000, the nine-day conference for preaching evangelists convoked by evangelist Billy Graham, is being called the most internationally representative gathering ever. Though the attendance of 10,287 is similar to the count at the Amsterdam 86 conference for itinerant evangelists, 37 more nations are represented at this year's meeting.The United States sent five times more attendees than any other country, at 2,767. But three-quarters of the evangelists come from the developing world. The other countries in the top five were India (495 attendees), Ghana (249), Kenya (204), and South Africa (182)."There is a great diversity here in Amsterdam," said John R.W. Stott, rector emeritus of All Souls Church in London. "But the unity here is even more remarkable."The attendance figures include 490 staff members and 693 stewards.But though the number of attendees is similar to the 8,160 evangelists and 2,000 others who attended Amsterdam 86, the $40 million cost is nearly double that of Amsterdam 86's $21 million budget. More than half of the difference, however, is due to inflation."It's a different world, and in many ways a more expensive world," says Franklin Graham, who delivered an address from his father, Billy Graham, Saturday night after the evangelist said he was too tired to speak to the conference via an exclusive satellite hookup.Meanwhile, Amsterdam continued its theology-heavy plenary sessions. Ajith Fernando, national director Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka, preached on the exclusivity of Christ. The belief is often confused with arrogance, he says, "but real arrogance is to reject what the Lord of the universe says about himself."Gerry Gallimore, a Jamaican who pastors Metropolitan Baptist Church of Miami, Florida, followed Fernando with an energetic sermon on effective preaching and personal integrity. While most speakers so far have coolly delivered their messages from manuscripts, Gallimore was the first to visibly break a sweat as he engaged his listeners."The message must be right," Gallimore shouted, referring to earlier theologically focused addresses. "And the messenger must be righteous."Gallimore also was the first to directly challenge prosperity gospel preaching, which many evangelical preachers have lamented as a major problem in the developing world."Are we servants," Gallimore asked, "or are we showmen?"Tuesday evening, however, it was back to a more restrained, Western style as Delano Adedevoh, a Campus Crusade for Christ vice president, preached quietly on spiritual awakening.
See our earlier coverage of Amsterdam 2000:Drilling the Evangelists on the Evangel | Doctrinal training takes center stage at Amsterdam 2000, while staffers work against theological controversy. (Aug. 1, 2000) Billy Graham a No-Show at Amsterdam 2000 | Evangelist, watching from Minnesota, bows out of satellite address, will probably forgo later remarks as well. (July 31, 2000) Billy Graham Too Ill For Amsterdam 2000 | Evangelist will deliver address via satellite. (July 21, 2000) Graham Unveils Evangelism Conference (Nov. 16, 1998)Video feeds of press conferences and plenary sessions, and more information about Amsterdam 2000 is available at Amsterdam2000.org.
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