Revolution Through Restoration III: From Babylon to Zion

To my brothers and sisters in all the congregations of the International Churches of Christ: PART I: BABYLON By the Rivers of Babylon We Wept By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!" How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy. Remember, O LORD, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. "Tear it down," they cried, "tear it down to its foundations!" Psalm 137:1-7 Tears flow as my heart is crushed with pain and anguish at the condition of most of our churches around the world. We are fragmenting as a fellowship. Many disciples are in agony, caused by years of feeling unable to measure up to the "law" and judged as not "doing well spiritually." They have been weakened by spiritual malnourishment, fulfilling Paul's words, "the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." Surely the hand of God is against us for not taking care of the weak. Many of God's evangelists have grown weary and are losing heart because of criticism from those they have loved, served and baptized. In most of our larger congregations in the United States, over half of the full-time ministry and administrative staff have left the ministry in the past year and a half. God has also allowed churches in other countries to be "torn down to their foundations." For example, 90% of the full-time ministry staff of nearly 100 people in the British Isles' churches either resigned or have been asked to step down. The former 2,000 member flock in London is deeply divided, spiritually damaged and many of the members have been scattered. Like the walls of Jerusalem, the walls of the world sectors are burned and crumbled because of unrighteousness. There has been a reactionary dismantling of the leadership structure of our brotherhood that once joyfully cooperated to finance the evangelization of every part of the world. Congregations, which at one time annually baptized hundreds, are now experiencing very few baptisms. Persecution, Satan's attack from the outside, has rarely caused our churches long-term damage. However, grumbling and bitterness by both leaders and members have allowed the Devil to enter our sacred fellowship and begin to destroy it from within. Though the issue of church "autonomy" obviously needs much discussion, study, and prayer, the decision at the November 2002 Unity Meeting in Los Angeles for the world sectors to operate individually has resulted in the dismantling of a central leadership. In the ensuing months, many of our individual congregations have likewise declared their own autonomy. The implementation of these decisions has already reaped disastrous results on the mission field. Funding for third world churches in many places has sharply decreased or is no longer available.