It is absolutely amazing that a few ignorant fishermen could spread a revolution around the world. Only God can do things like that.
Tag: Elena McKean
Super Bowl XXXVI – New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17. It ranks as one of the great Super Bowl upsets of all time. Having finished in last place the previous season, and having started the season with one win and three losses, no one gave the Patriots a chance of even making the playoffs, much less of defeating the former world champion Rams. The only ones who believed in the Patriots were themselves. Every playoff game became a matter of staying alive. Because they never quit believing and fought until the very last play, they are now the world champions.
Last year, 2001, was a very hard year for many disciples and churches. Personally, it was one of the most difficult years that Gloria and I have ever experienced. September 11th marked our 40th wedding anniversary, and we were to fly that very day to New York City. Late last year, two very special friends and treasures of the Kingdom, Ryan Howard and George Havins, died and went home to be with God. My father in the faith, mentor and best friend Kip McKean and his wife Elena went on sabbatical to sort through marriage and family problems. Two of our special spiritual children, Moe and Amani Bishara, left Los Angeles spiritually renewed to return to the Middle East.
Twenty years ago, seeing godly women powerfully influencing other women through biblical teaching and training drew me to the Kingdom of God. Those examples gave me a new vision not only for my life’s purpose but also for the lives of our three daughters and other women’s lives as well. In my background, the view of “women’s ministry” was limited to hospitality and teaching Sunday school. I am eternally grateful for women like Elena García-McKean, Pat Gempel, Lisa Johnson and many others who have set the pace in forcefully advancing the Kingdom
in the hearts of women around the world. This issue of LA Story presents many examples of women in God’s Kingdom today who are committed, like Mary, to choosing what is better rather than being distracted like Martha (Luke 10:41-42).
One of the highlights of our Women’s Ministry is the annual Women’s Day. The women in the LA Church have chosen to celebrate our Women’s Day during March, Women’s History Month. Women’s events were held at 42 separate venues throughout the LA Church during the first weekend of March, each focusing on the theme “Secrets of the Heart.” With God’s power and guidance we had a history-making attendance of 14,217.
The LA miracle is almost nine years old and is growing stronger. From July of 1989, a small group of 56 disciples has multiplied to 7,155 members today – a 100-times growth! Gloria and I knew most of the original team members, since many of them came from Boston and included our daughter Keri. They were great people, but there was not a single miracle-worker among
them. So how did they do what they did, become the first church in the history of the International Churches of Christ to grow beyond 4,000 members, and 5,000, 6,000, 7,000 and beyond? Like the author of Psalm 34, King David, we can only boast in the Lord. Sure, having Kip and Elena McKean lead the LA Church since 1990 has helped; but the success of the church is not because of one powerful couple. It is all God. The above verses describe well what has happened. This issue of LA Story, entitled “LA Confidential,” is about the Los Angeles International Church of Christ. Yes, we are doing some boasting, but it is boasting in the Lord. All of the glory and honor go to him.
The world spotlight has shined on the lives of women – two in particular – with the tragic, untimely death of Princess Diana and a short time later, the passing of Mother Teresa. The obvious impact these women had on the world was poignantly displayed as huge crowds came with flowers, notes and tears to express their grief and admiration. Each in her own way, they exemplified what one woman can do for the poor and hurting people in the world.
We all need role models – heroes to call us higher. This issue of LA Story gives many real-life examples of courageous women in God’s Kingdom whose lives will inspire you to use the talents, situations and circumstances of your life to fulfill God’s purpose. What one woman with God can do is evidenced in the individual accounts and comments from sisters around the world. For me personally, the women World Sector Leaders have long been some of the most influential in shaping my life and ministry. In the first few years of the Movement, God used Elena Garcia-McKean and Pat Gempel as a powerful team to train these women and to lay the foundation for an ever-growing women’s ministry. Elena’s leadership of the women in the Kingdom is characterized by her strong compassion and depth of conviction for the women to be their best for God. God has used Pat’s “make it happen” mindset and her heart for people to help the poor and care for the sick and orphans through HOPE worldwide. I am inspired by Lynne Green learning Cantonese and giving her heart so completely to the women of China. I am encouraged to overcome as I see Donna Lamb and Erica Kim rising above health problems and hardships. Space limits my mentioning each of these special women, but read their comments in this issue and be called higher. No matter the occupation or role – one woman makes a difference!
A new chapter was written in Johannesburg, South Africa. In June of 1986, Gloria and I watched religious history unfold as 22 disciples, both blacks and whites sent out by the Boston Church, flew into Johannesburg. While the two of us were there just for the first service, the 22 disciples came to live and to plant a church that would demonstrate love between the races in the midst of apartheid, the cruel philosophy and law of the land that separated the races. Since then, apartheid has died, but the Johannesburg Church of Christ with a regular Sunday attendance of 2,000 – half blacks and half whites hugging and singing together – has become a beacon of light for the Dark Continent.
Travelling the broad road (Matthew 7:13-14) is easy. It is Comfortable. Many people are going that way. the narrow road is a different story. It is difficult. It is hard to find, It is not heavily travelled.
In 1986 twelve People met with Lisa and me in our 96th Street apartment in Manhattan to begin what for years was known as the “Daytime Ministry.” Our idea was to create an alternative church schedule that would enable us to minister better to artists of all kinds in New York. Years ago, talented singers, dancers, actors and others in the performing arts would count the cost of following Jesus and wash their stage ambitions away in the waters of baptism.