“. . . on his way he [Philip] met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians . . . reading the book of Isaiah the prophet . . . Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?’ And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.”
This Ethiopian man, whose name we do not even know, went off alone as a baby Christian to evangelize the “Dark Continent.” He must have been successful, because church historians tell of strong churches existing there in the second century. How could one inexperienced person accomplish this? He didn’t. God did. When will we ever learn that all God needs to accomplish the goal of making disciples of all nations is a few sold-out vessels of flesh through whom he can work?
In 1986, a multi-racial group of 16 brave disciples once again ventured into Africa to claim it for God, starting in South Africa, the land of apartheid. Now less than 12 years later, over 9,300 disciples meet in 37 nations on the continent. Amazing growth? Yes, but it was God. God’s miracles in Africa are inspiring and challenging disciples everywhere.
Glory – God has it and we want it. That sounds like a condemning statement, but it is just a simple truth. Think about it. Certainly God has glory; no person or thing in the whole universe is his equal. And we all want glory. That can either be good or bad depending on why we want it and where we look for it. Jesus intends to bring his children to glory. I want that; don’t you? The problem is we want the result without the process.
Starting over is refreshing. A new semester in school, a new job, a new home, a new Bible Talk, a new life in Christ after baptism – a clean start. Here we are in January, 1996. This L.A. Story is both a look back to 1995 and a look ahead at God’s great expectations.
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.