The Kingdom Journey Series shares how Christians with roots in the Restoration Movement came to embrace Kingdom Christianity.
Name: David S. | Age: 28 | Location: Tampa | Rest. Mov. Roots: International Church of Christ
1.) David, tell us a little about yourself?
My name is David Sanabria. My wife, Victoria Sanabria, and I live in the Tampa Bay region of Florida. I’m a structural engineer and my wife is a social worker.
My parents are Colombian, migrating to the U.S. in the late 80’s. While I was born and spent most of my childhood in Queens, New York, when I was 2, my family returned to Bogota for 3 years.
Though I was very little, my earliest memories are in Bogota and that time left a lasting impact on my life.
Around age 16, my family moved to Florida where my wife and I met and have lived ever since.
2.) Can you explain your background and involvement in the International Churches of Christ?
I was raised in ICOC churches, but my parents were raised Roman Catholic. When I was an infant, brothers and sisters from the ICOC church in Queens shared their faith with my parents, and, shortly after studying the Bible, my parents decided to follow Jesus and were baptized.
As I mentioned, when I was 2 they returned to Bogota on a mission team to plant a church. Bogota in the early 90’s was a very dangerous place, but God worked powerfully in the city, the church, and my parents’ lives.
This set the stage upon which I was raised.
While the dynamics in my family were not perfect, enough of a foundation was set that from my earliest memories I always wanted to be a disciple of Jesus.
Yet, despite the true desires I had and the foundation my parents gave me, around age 13 I gave my allegiance to the Dominion of Darkness (Col. 1:13) and by 15 had very little to do with the ICOC or God.
3.) When did you become a follower of Jesus?
When I was 22 years old, after my rebellion against God as an adolescent, life humbled me.
I realized I could not be with the Father who created me by going my way and so chose to follow The Way. After many years of counting the cost, I finally confessed and surrendered to the reign of Jesus of Nazareth (The Logos of God).
On March 30, 2012, I was baptized, dying in the water and being born again of water and the Spirit.
4.) How did you become interested in a more “radical”, Kingdom focused Christianity?
I was taught many healthy practices and a good amount of sound doctrine by my parents and the ICOC churches. I began studying the Bible on my own at around 9 years old and had read it through 3 times by age 22.
Implementing the simple (yet studious) hermeneutical approach I was taught in the ICOC, I observed and arrived at convictions exclusive to Kingdom Christianity, such as…
Non-resistance (loving your enemy)
Adultery (caused by divorce and remarriage)
Non-involvement in worldly governments (I was not dogmatic about this, but it made no sense that a disciple of Jesus would get involved in earthly governments based on the message of NT)
Head Covering (I could not understand why sisters did not cover their heads when praying)
Still, I did not understand the veracity of the Kingdom of God as there were several Kingdom principles I was not able to see, and some of my understandings were distorted by ICOC practice and teachings. And while I understood from a young age that some of these principles were integral to The Faith, I did not want to be a disciple of Jesus, in part, because of the “Law of Christ” as taught in Matthew 5-7, Luke 6, and elsewhere.
Yet, when I did become a disciple, it only took a few months to realize the ICOC does not teach its members obey the Law of Christ. This shocked me as I just assumed these teachings were a given, especially considering the emphasis put on personal Bible study and obedience. Now there were disciples in the ICOC with varying levels of Kingdom Christian convictions, but almost no one, including myself, held to everything Jesus commanded.
Willful and selective negligence was the norm and I was guilty as anyone else.
This ate at me over some 4.5 years and motivated me to seek God more and study the Bible more diligently.
Douglas Jacoby, an ICOC teacher, helped me a lot by his books, debates, podcast recordings, and a tour of Israel my wife and I attended. On this tour, my wife and I briefly met David and Deborah Bercot. They stood out and I saw Deborah was wearing a head covering.
I was almost jealous of her freedom and boldness to obey the NT without caring what others would think or say.
A month or so later, I heard David Bercot’s audio lesson on The Kingdom of God in which he said, “Oh, I see, you may be thinking. ‘Jesus is talking about a spiritual kingdom, not a real one.’ No, Jesus is talking about a real Kingdom.”
In that moment, everything clicked.
He pointed out a great distortion in my understanding about the Kingdom of God. Just seeing clearly that the Good News was about the Kingdom of God and not about personal salvation made a huge difference.
Also, it gave me a reason for the convictions I had read in the NT. Before they were convictions just floating in the air, but now they are grounded as the Ways of God’s Kingdom.
Understanding that the Good News is centered on the Kingdom of God changed my trajectory and soon after my wife’s.
Click here for part 2!