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Changed Lives - The Ministry of the Local Church
by Dr. J. Brad Bailey
A skeptic once asked a former drunkard who was now born again if he really believed that the miracles of the Bible, like turning water into wine, were true.  The now-saved ex-drunk replied, “If you think that’s a miracle, come to my home and I’ll show you how Christ changed beer into carpet, chairs, Christian school tuition and even piano lessons for my kids.”  To put it in economical terms, Jesus, through the church, has the power to change many societal liabilities into societal assets.

I was recently studying the controversy of when the church began.  That is not what this article is about so, I will withhold my opinion on that matter.  However, I would like to contend that when the church began, lives began to change.  Not just a few, but lives were changing by the thousands.

Saint Augustine of Hippo, in his youth, pursued every lust imaginable, but he went on to become one of the greatest Christian thinkers the world ever knew.

Saint Patrick was sold into slavery in Ireland.  He later escaped and was converted to Christ and returned to Ireland as a missionary.

William Wilberforce was an upper-class member of parliament, whose life could be summarized as a trivial pursuit until he met Jesus Christ.  He went on to play a critical role in the abolition of the slave trade in England, and in the formation of mission societies.

George Mueller was a drunk in his youth, but was converted to Jesus Christ and became the standard-bearer of orphanages that saved the lives of thousands of abandoned boys and girls.

Adoniram Judson sneered the faith of his parents, preferring rationalism until he became aware of how empty that pursuit was in the face of death.  After he was saved he went on to become one of America’s greatest missionaries.

Mel Trotter was a bartender who drank “as much as he served.” In 1887, the family moved to Freeport, Illinois where Trotter became a barber and was shortly thereafter gambling and drinking heavily. Four years later in Pearl City, Iowa, Trotter married Lottie Fisher, who was horrified to discover that her husband was an alcoholic. Trotter later said, “I loathed the life I was living. I tried my level best, but it wasn’t in me.”  Trotter lost his job in Pearl City, and he and his wife moved to a more rural area in an attempt to help him stay sober. He lost another job and they both moved to Davenport, Iowa, where Mel tried his hand at selling insurance, a job he lost the day after his son was born.  Trotter began leaving home for weeks at a time, and when he returned after one period of drunkenness, he discovered his two-year-old daughter was dead. Believing that he bore the responsibility for the child’s death, he considered suicide. He stood beside the coffin and swore that he would never touch liquor again, but he was unable to drown the thirsty monster deep inside of him.  He stole the dead child’s shoes off of her feet and two hours later he was staggering drunk. Hopping a train, he landed in Chicago in January 1897 where he sold his shoes to buy another drink.  Drunk, broke, and shoeless in the snow, Trotter was nudged inside the Pacific Garden Mission, where he was converted after hearing the testimony of its director, Harry Monroe. Trotter got a barbering job and spent every night at the mission singing with his guitar and sharing his testimony.

Nicky Cruz was a violent gang member in New York City.  He swung baseball bats at rival gang members and even tried to kill David Wilkerson when Wilkerson tried to lead him to Christ.  Wilkerson finally won and today, Nicky Cruz tells the good news of the Gospel to everyone who will listen.

Chuck Colson went to jail for his involvement in the Watergate crimes that surrounded the Nixon administration.  Jesus Christ got ahold of Chuck Colson and made him a new man.  He founded the Prison Fellowship in the 1970’s and became one of the greatest Christian writers of our time.

William J. Murray, whose mother is the atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, was raise to believe that there is no God.  His mother was the first guest on the Phil Donahue Show.  Her atheism was solidified when she ran outside in a thunderstorm and defied God, daring Him to strike her dead if He was real.  God chose not to strike her.  However, she was pregnant at the time with William J. Murray.  In spite of being exposed to strident atheism his whole life, he came to a realization: “There has to be  a God because there certainly is a devil.  I have met him, talked to him and touched him.  He is the personification of evil.”  Murray came to know Christ after reading the Gospel of Luke.  Today he is a powerful evangelist who is working hard to bring prayer and Bible reading back to the public schools his mother stole it from.

Jeff Fenholt [played the original Jesus in the blasphemous movie Jesus Christ Superstar, which purposefully leaves out the resurrection.  Fenholt later became a vocalist for Black Sabbath, an openly blasphemous, anti-Christian rock band.  Though he was outwardly successful, he was inwardly sensing a deep emptiness.  He has since come to embrace Jesus as Savior and Lord – the real Jesus – not the fictionalized on he played on a stage.  Today he sings and shares the gospel wherever he goes.

Carol Everett was a former abortionist who set out to make millions in the abortion field and was well on her way to accomplishing this goal.  She used to encourage promiscuity among youths because it was good for business.  After a number of work related issues, she visited a counsellor for help.  She didn’t know the man she was listening to was a Baptist minister.  He shared the gospel with her and she trusted Jesus as her savior.  She now plays of the other team!  She is an advocate for Christ and the pro-life position.

The fact is, the Gospel changes lives.  II Corinthians 5:17 says, Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”  What is new about you?  Are you in a church that is seeing sinners saved and their lives changed.  There is no time to waste on anything else!  Here's a clue; if people's lives are not being healed by the power of the Gospel working through your local church, you may be in the wrong place.  Get where lives are being changed.

 

Dr. Brad Bailey