On our recent trip to Asia, Gloria and I were privileged to be with disciples in both Singapore and Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Never have I visited two more contrasting countries. Singapore, in just 50 years, has climbed out of the ravages of World War II and claimed a spot among the most wealthy on earth. Cambodia, on the other hand, is still reeling from the torture, death and destruction suffered under Pol Pot’s rule, which ended in 1979. Yet, in both places the challenge to make disciples is being successfully answered. This issue of LA Story is an up-to-date report on how well Jesus’ Great Commission is being accomplished around the world. First, it is imperative that we understand the process of making disciples. Paul explains it in 1 Corinthians 3:5-7, What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. Pride and arrogance will destroy us. God works through our humility. Amazing growth has taken place in the International Churches of Christ since our inception in 1979, but we must be careful to give God all of the credit. We are only servants through whom others come to believe.
Tag: Gloria Baird
I have a T-shirt that I like to wear; it is a T-shirt for disciples. On the back are these words: “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room!” Jesus lived his 33 years as far out on the edge as it is possible to get. And he calls each of us to follow him out there. “Normal” people do not want to get close to the edge. It is not safe there, and it certainly is not comfortable. But “normal” people don’t change things. They stay in the middle of the crowd, and they get pushed in whatever direction the crowd happens to be moving. They don’t have much impact on the world. Jesus had impact wherever he went, and his disciples do, too. That is what happens out on the edge. Jesus always has an incredible effect on the crowd when it stops long enough to listen to him. In Mark 4:1, Jesus drew the people to the edge of the water to hear him and be changed by him.
Aren’t you thankful to be out of the crowd and out on the edge? Aren’t you thankful to be in the Kingdom of God? Aren’t you glad that you are not “normal” by the world’s standards any
more? A few weeks ago Gloria and I, together with Bob and Pat Gempel, leaders of HOPE worldwide, were in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We were there to celebrate the first anniversary of the King
Sihanouk HOPE Hospital and to preach to the incredible Phnom Penh Church of Christ. It probably had the most personal impact of any trip we have ever taken. Cambodia is a beautiful country with beautiful people. But every citizen there has lived through unfathomable suffering. Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge army tortured, starved and killed nearly three million people, one third of the population, in the late 1970s.
Even before Gloria and I became disciples, we had a dream for our three daughters Staci, Kristi and Keri. In the different churches where we had been members, about half of the teens fell away who had parents that were members. So many of the parents lived in fear that their kids would not remain faithful. It seemed they breathed a sigh of relief if they could just get them into a religious college somewhere, feeling that was about as good as they could hope for. Many of the teens were bored, uninspired and unchallenged by their teen groups and by the churches in general. That was not the dream we had for our girls. We wanted more for our children than just barely getting by. We wanted them to use our faith as a starting point and to grow from there.
The headlines of the Los Angeles Times, Sunday, November 5, cry out “Rabin is Assassinated at Rally – Jewish Student Seized at Scene; Israel Stunned.”
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.
Six thousands women shared in the glory of God! Rain clouds blanketed “sunny” Los Angeles on Saturday, March 4, but God’s light was “shining through.” In what was probably the largest gathering of women in God’s modern-day movement, lives were forever transformed into the likeness of Jesus. Women of every race, color, age and background imaginable were there, gathered in ten locations to participate in the Los Angeles Church of Christ’s fifth annual Women’s Day. Over 3,600 friends, relatives and neighbors were guests of the nearly 2,400 women disciples in the church! Last year 1,700 women in the church hosted about 2,500 visitors. This year, visitor attendance increased by 45%.
In only one week we have personally witnessed the South Florida Church of Christ appoint their first two elders and attended the black tie National Health Awards ceremony in New York City where Proctor and Gamble presented HOPE for Kids its 1994 award for outstanding achievement.