CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- Thousands of Christians have concluded a major global gathering in South Africa. Their aim is to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire world.
For 10 days, they gathered to pray, worship, hear testimonies of God on the move around the world, and to seek God's face for those who've yet to personally know Jesus of Nazareth.
"The moments we've had here is a foretaste of heaven," said Ali Ahrab, a Christian from France.
"When we come together and we're not even looking out at each other necessarily," said Judy Baily from Germany. "But we are looking up to God and in doing that it pulls us together."
"It leaves me with the impression that the church is growing in Christ in remarkable, remarkable ways," said Stina Busman, an American who attended the conference.
"The church is not in the pulpit," saud Liza Tulkder from Bangladesh. "Church is out in the community among the people."
More than 4,000 Christians from 198 countries met this past week for the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization, known as Cape Town 2010. They reaffirmed their commitment to Biblical truths and spreading of the gospel message.
Participants spent time wrestling with a host of issues facing the global church -- from poverty, AIDS, and human-trafficking to the challenges of sharing God's truth in an increasingly secular world. Throughout the week, they heard testimonies from those suffering for their faith and what it meant for them to be part of the global gathering.
"We are not alone," said Peter, who attended the conference. "We are a big family of a big father, King Jesus Christ!"
Many informal meetings took place behind closed-doors, such as the one between Messianic Jews from Israel and Iranian Christians.
The magnitude of the gathering was an inspiration to many who came to answer God's call to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.
"This is the first time that I have seen so many people from so many different countries and so many different ethnic groups," said Javed Samson from Pakistan.
Also, for the African Christians, the chance to host the first Lausanne Congress on the continent was especially gratifying.
"And what excites me more is that Africa is now sending missionaries all over the world," said Azenga Musanyi of Uganda.
One group absent from the congress were the Chinese. Almost 200 of their group were supposed to attend, but the Chinese government banned them from leaving the country. A few, however, did manage to make it out.
"To hear the stories of the pastors that would sell their houses in order to support delegates from that place it really moved me," said Fyodor Raychynets of the Ukraine.
It cost almost $16.5 million to put on the third Lausanne Congress. The top three countries that contributed were the United States, South Korea and China.