This is the last issue of LA Story. I type that sentence with a real sense of sadness, because we are closing a chapter that has lasted eight wonderful years. Closing down LA Story is like saying good-bye to a dear friend. We started with a staff of just two in January 1994. I was the Editor, and Maryann Rose was the Associate Editor. That was it. We knew very little about publishing a news magazine that would chronicle God’s accomplishments in Los Angeles and around the world. It didn’t take long for us to enlist more help: we were soon joined by Emily Bringardner as our Art Director and Roger Lamb as Managing Editor. Along the way, we picked up Robin Fawcett, Lisa Holman, Janet Dixon, Marcia Lamb and Declan Joyce. In addition, Michelle Tinti, Lance Tracy and Bart Moyers have been very helpful at different times. When we began, the LA Church had 3,300 members and the worldwide membership was 47,000 – each about one-third of what they are today. The movement was in just 53 nations, but now 170 nations have disciples worshiping in them. God has done amazing things in just eight years!
Tag: Marcia Lamb
LA Story celebrated its fifth birthday in January. I just spent the last hour leafing through all of the past issues. It felt good to relive those five years because God has tremendously blessed them. During that time, I wrote about 50 editorials covering many subjects. As I re-scanned them, I was surprised to realize that I had not written a single one of them about persecution. Why not? Because we have faced very little overt persecution in the United States during the past five years. In one sense, persecution is relative – what may be called persecution in one part of he world might be considered as nothing in another. Today, brothers are beaten and imprisoned for their faith in several different countries around the globe. But not in the USA. Never let us take for granted the protection that our basic right of religious freedom gives us. People insulting us and “falsely saying all kinds of evil” against us is about as bad as it gets. While I am thankful that our persecution is minor, we had better be careful that we do not try to avoid it. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:12, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Someone has asked the question, “If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
Freedom fighters capture our attention and spark our imagination. Braveheart, the theme for this issue of LA Story, was the title of an Academy-Award-winning movie about a 13th century Scottish rebel warrior who fought to overthrow a tyrant English king. Jesus Christ is the ultimate freedom fighter. He issued his declaration of independence at the beginning of his ministry in Luke 4. Freedom fighters come and go, but Jesus, through his Holy Spirit, has been leading the fight for freedom against Satan for 2,000 years. Through the centuries many have fought
valiantly and died under the spiritual banner of Lord Jesus. We, his modern-day disciples, have also answered his call to battle (Matthew 28:18-20). Because the present chapter of this fight is only a few years old, starting in Boston in June 1979, our honor role of men and women who have died in battle as heroes is still small. Today, I want to add a name to that distinctive list, the name of Bob Ricker.
Bob Ricker was a bravehearted, freedom fighter from the day I first met him in Boston in the early part of the 1980’s. He was a college student with a single-minded purpose: make disciples. He really believed that the whole world could be evangelized in just one generation. He wanted to do his part and he did. For instance, Bob met a young nurse, Carol Best, and invited her to church. She came and brought her boy friend, John McGuirk. Both Carol and John became disciples, married, and became missionaries in Paris and Brussels. John converted his sister, Sue. Sue married Steve Shoff, and they went into the full-time ministry. At UCLA, Sue met and converted Candice Figueras. Candice now leads the women of the church in Istanbul, Turkey.
The score is tied with seven seconds left on the clock. The crowd goes wild as I steal the ball, drive the length of the court, pull up at the free throw line, shoot over the defender’s outstretched arms. The ball arches toward the basket and . . . . Whether you are a twenty-five-year-old hot shot ex-collegiate star from a Big Ten school now playing in the Open League or a fifty-four-year-old, like me, whose glory days of athletic prowess are many years past, playing in the Master’s League, we all dream of scoring the winning basket in an exciting game. Such are the HOOP DREAMS of players in the L.A. Church of Christ Basketball League.
As I write this editorial ond consider the needs of disciples around the world who will read it, I think about the news of the past few days. Worldwide attention and concern has been focused on the unstable situation in Haiti and the involvement of U.S. troops there. Sadaam Hussein, the has-been despot of Iraq is able to threaten the entire Middle East peace process and force concerned nations to send thousands of troops to Kuwait to call his bluff.