Kingdom Journey: Ted Hake (Part 1)

The Kingdom Journey Series shares how Christians with roots in the Restoration Movement came to embrace Kingdom Christianity.

Name: Ted H. | Age: 67  | Location: Culver, Oregon | Rest. Mov. Roots: Disciples of Christ

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1.) Brother Hake, tell us a little about yourself?

I was raised in a Christian household, and my Dad was a preacher in the First Christian Church – Disciples of Christ. He continued that calling until I was a Sophomore in High School when we moved back to Oregon. At that time he left the active ministry and began work as an employment counselor – primarily for young men entering into the older Job Corps program in the late 60’s.

We moved around quite a bit when I was growing up as my Dad preached and was attending college. I was born in Lebanon, OR where we lived off and on. Other places we moved to because of his calling were Illinois, Idaho, Oklahoma and Texas. If I remember correctly we moved every 3 or 4 years until I was in high school.

2.)  When did you become a follower of Jesus?

I was 11 when our church hosted a traveling evangelist. I don’t remember his name, but I remember he wore a grey suit, and was balding. What I remember even more though was that during his message I was overcome by a very real sense of guilt and condemnation because of my sins. I accepted Christ that day, and after going through the preparation for baptism class, I was baptized by my Dad fairly soon after.

3.) Can you explain your background and involvement in the Disciples of Christ?

My background was through my family. We as a family may have been involved a little more than some since my Dad was pastor – so we children were occasionally called on to help in different ways, like maybe a music solo, singing in the choir, or just helping out during different events at church.

Unfortunately for my spiritual life, in high school I became interested in worldly things and was very much backslidden for many years of my life – until around 7 years after my wife and I met and got married. I pretty much left the church and put God aside by the time I graduated from high school. Many times my childhood teaching came back to me and reminded me what I was doing was wrong, but I had rationalized it – that it didn’t do me any good to go to church with a bunch of hypocrites, and that I was better off on my own.

4.) You mentioned your wife. How did you both meet?

Not quite a year after I graduated from high school, a girl I had met in school and I started going together and were engaged to be married. Then about a year before the wedding, my Dad died from an accident. He was forty-two. His death pretty much completed my devolving into a life of turmoil.

I had started college, but wasn’t really interested in going to class and certainly wasn’t doing well. We didn’t have much, so I quit college and started working full-time to support our family – as I figured the oldest child should. Then, several months later, my fiancé called off the wedding, about 3 weeks before the date. This was 1970, about one year after Dad died. I was really feeling sorry for myself.

One day I went to every recruiter in Corvallis and Albany to talk to them about joining the service. Every one of them told me I should finish college, then join. I remember going home that night thinking, that’s just great – now no one wants me. I was really upset around then, but years later after I came back to the Lord I could see His hand was on my life during that time even when I wanted nothing to do with Him.

A little over two years later the Lord brought the girl who would become my wife into my life. I was just giving the neighbor girl (neighbor to a man I worked with at the time) a ride to her Aunt in La Grande since he knew I was headed through there to Idaho and she needed a ride that far. To make a somewhat long story short–since in some ways it was very short–we visited in the car for seven hours driving through a January snowstorm, started writing to each other, started seeing each other, and then were married that June in 1973 – 45 years ago this next month.

5.) What changed in your life that led you to return to the Lord?

My wife was raised in the Catholic Church, where we were married. We had one child in 1975 followed by our second in 1977. Then my wife had some medical problems and we weren’t able to have any more.

My wife had become saved from watching a Billy Graham Crusade. I told her I wanted nothing to do with church. I took her and our children, but wouldn’t go myself. I was becoming more convicted almost daily, knowing I needed to come back to the Lord but still resisting in my stubbornness.

Finally, when my wife was in the hospital after an operation and I was headed there as fast as I could go (I was notified she was having some serious problems), I finally began turning to God. In the only time I have felt I actually heard God speak to me audibly. He said “I still love you. You can come back to me.”

Well, praise God; I did come back to Him! My wife had by then left the Catholic Church and had been attending a Pentecostal church. I went with her there a couple of times. Needless to say it was very different from the church setting I had been raised in. I felt the people there were sincere in their faith – but I just didn’t feel comfortable there.

My wife had been invited to, and had been attending, a ladies Bible study at a local Mennonite church. She said maybe we could visit there. We did. And it is hard to explain. It certainly wasn’t as conservative as the Mennonite churches we attend now – but, it just felt like we were “home.”

I publicly recommitted my life to the Lord. My wife was re-baptized as an adult – so I guess she is the only true Anabaptist in our family. We attended there and were members for over nine years, until our developing convictions led us elsewhere.

Click here for part 2!

 

Kingdom Journey: Eric Miller

The Kingdom Journey Series shares how Christians with roots in the Restoration Movement came to embrace Kingdom Christianity.

Name: Eric M. | Age: 22 | Location: Ohio | Rest. Mov. Roots: Independent Christian Churches

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1.) Eric, tell us a little about yourself?

I am Illinoisan by birth, raised in the east-central Illinois city of Champaign-Urbana. I am the youngest of six siblings, adopted by my parents as an infant. I currently live and work in Cincinnati, OH, where I am studying to complete my Bachelor’s Degree in Ministerial Education at a local Bible college. My hope is to pursue an advanced degree in the Bible. However, immediately after school, I plan on moving to Mexico to do mission work.

2.) When did you become a follower of Jesus?

I cannot remember a time when I did not believe in Jesus and the Bible. As early as Kindergarten, I knew I wanted to be a preacher and have always been passionate about living for God.

However, I formally gave my life to Christ in baptism at the age of 11.

3. Can you explain your background and involvement in the Christian Churches?

I was raised in a smallish Christian Church a few miles outside my hometown where my parents have been members for decades. The roots in the Christian Churches run very deep on my mother’s side of the family. My late-grandmother helped plant and was a charter member of one of the local Christian Churches and worked a great deal with youth. My late-great uncle was an evangelist and preacher in the instrumental Churches of Christ and a graduate of Cincinnati Bible College (a Christian Church school).

It was not until Bible college (I did two years at a Christian Church school before transferring) that I found anyone my age even remotely as interested and energized by the history and theology (theologies?) of the Restoration Movement as I was. I loved reading Alexander Campbell’s Millennial Harbinger, and consider him and Barton Stone and so many others of Movement personal heroes of mine who have defined and shaped my faith (and continue to do so).

4. How did you become interested in a more “radical”, Kingdom focused Christianity?

It was a gradual journey.

In fourth grade, I read about the Quakers in Pennsylvania and was fascinated by their separated lifestyle, their distinct way of dress, their practice of not bowing before royalty, and their rejection of violence. I knew nothing about how different modern-day Quakers are from their colonial ancestors or anything like that, but I was impacted. I always felt like the difficulty in telling Christians apart from non-Christians, as is so often the case, was strange. I had a longing for something more.

However, because I had no outlet whatsoever at the time for processing this longing, my desire turned to worldly politics, and I became a news and politics junkie. I debated politics often and was sincerely convinced it was God’s will to elect godly members of “my” party and to change the laws of the government to be more Christian. I was quite patriotic and had the desire to even be some kind of preacher-politician (like James. A Garfield or Mike Huckabee). I even sang in our church’s Veteran’s Day program, in which we erected a giant scaffolding flag in our sanctuary and sang a mix of patriotic and religious songs, including all the fight songs of the branches of the military.

To make a long story short, even though I was consumed by politics, I could not run from the feeling something was wrong.

Like when our church would drape the American flag over the large cross in the sanctuary around patriotic holidays.

Or when I saw a image of children killed in American drone strikes and asked myself “how could I as a pro-life Christian support this.”

Or when member after member of my church got divorced, including a clear case of adultery in the church, without so much as a word from the elders, except to congratulate those who re-married.

Or when a godly sister challenged me about my beliefs regarding head coverings forced me to go back to the Bible for study.

Or in discovering books by Frank Viola and David Bercot. 

The snowball started in 2012, but it was not until the summer of 2014, after watching a debate on the subject, I knew I was a pacifist (this is my preferred term for resistance). By autumn of that year, I had sworn off worldly politics (which was a difficult drawn-out process).

From there it has been a challenging and enriching journey learning and growing.

5.) What have been some of the difficulties along the way?

One of the pitfalls of this kind of journey is that you begin to create in your mind a perfect church which means you jump from place to place looking for fellowship, never feeling satisfied in your heart. The latter definitely describes me and I nearly joined a well-known false religion (whose members are known for going door-to-door) at one point. That experience taught me a lot about learning to live with imperfections and unanswered questions. I am after all an imperfect person myself!

In addition, I lost friends who could not understand how I had been so previously gung ho about “our” political team and only to suddenly take myself completely out of the game. I was very outspoken about a lot of these things, which alienated me from many people.

As anyone who has been on this journey can relate, it can be painfully lonely. I have supportive friends and family, but I have basically had to figure this all out by myself. But God is faithful and I have been blessed to connect with other Christians online and at conferences of similar mine.

7.) What can conservative Anabaptists learn from the Restoration Movement and vice versa?

I remember one Church of Christ preacher warned the Christian Churches to not become a “form of watered-down non-distinct evangelicalism.” I could not agree more. The Christian Churches need to recover a biblical vision of “success” in the church, which cannot always be judged numerically, and ought to look to the Anabaptists as an example of what it means to stick to the old paths and be willing to be different, even if it means everyone won’t like us.

The conservative Anabaptists would do well to look at strong emphasis on outreach and foreign missions among the Christians Churches, which is something I have always been proud of, and to think carefully about the ways in which adding a-biblical hurdle after hurdle for membership may make for strong community, but also keep people from the full Gospel of the Kingdom.

8.) What church do you attend currently?

I help minister at a small Spanish-speaking (instrumental) Church of Christ in Cincinnati, which I adore. When I am able, I enjoy attending services at a local German Baptist congregation

9.) What encouragement would you give to a reader in a Restoration Movement church who is going through a “Kingdom awakening” of their own?

Know you will lose people.

Know no perfect church exists.

Know you are not alone (and don’t do all your Bible/theology study in a vacuum).

Know you do not have make any big decisions immediately (and probably should not).

If you leave your church, leave well.

Don’t take it all too seriously; be willing to laugh at yourself and make mistakes.

Stay close to safe friends and family.

Be careful of going off a theological cliff.

You have things to learn from Christians in your life who have not yet accepted all the Kingdom principles.

Keep your eyes on Jesus. Pray. Embrace the limitations of your knowledge and trust in God.

10. Finally, what is on your book shelf or what are you reading currently?

Most of what I am reading is for school, but I am also in Jeremy Gardiner’s book on head-coverings and Christopher Petruzzi’s book “Christianity and Politics.”

11. Anything else you would like to add?

While it is easier to curse the dark than light a candle, it is much better we light a candle.

I hope this site is a light, however small, that will help call Kingdom Christians and Restoration Movement folks together, and those who do not know Christ into the Kingdom of the Son.

And for those of who have accepted the Gospel of the Kingdom, I pray we would be compelled to internalize its message, encouraged apply its principles, and equipped share it with others.

Kingdom Journey: David Sanabria (Part 2)

The Kingdom Journey Series shares how Christians with roots in the Restoration Movement came to embrace Kingdom Christianity.

Name: David S. | Age: 29 | Location: Tampa | Rest. Mov. Roots:  International Church of Christ

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Read part one of this interview here.

5.)  What have been some of the difficulties along the way?

Following Jesus as Savior and King, a citizen of His Kingdom, something totally at odds with the Kingdom of Darkness, presents many challenges personally and relationally.

Personally, my wife and I were ignoring or downplaying many commandments in the NT, necessitating on-going repentance.

Jesus’ teaching that the poor are blessed and the warnings given to the rich (together with passages like Matthew 25:31-46) should put fear in any Westerner.

We also are re-working our finances, wardrobe, and ambitions in light of the Apostles’ teaching on modesty and simplicity of lifestyle. This is challenging for us.

We live very comfortable lives and had to start getting uncomfortable (we are still working on this).

On the relationship side, initially I was failing at being poor in spirit and meek when sharing these things with my wife. After humbling myself, repenting of my abrasiveness, and giving my wife the time to study the Kingdom of God on her own, she and I became of one mind.

This journey would have been much more difficult on my own, but with my wife by my side, I feel more confident in following Jesus to conquer the Promised Land.

Relationally, the next set of challenges came when sharing our unyielding convictions to our closest friends (brothers and sisters in Christ).

Many of our friends agreed and were persuaded on different aspects of the Kingdom message, some more than others, differing from subject to subject. Many great conversations were started and are still ongoing.

We appreciate the love-filled relationships we have within our local ICOC church.

I also began sharing my convictions and sense of direction with the leaders of the church, who expressed many points of agreement, mutual respect, and admiration.

Still, there were simple teachings of Jesus we were not allowed to teach others. Though we were not teachers, we did study the Bible with seekers and new converts. The attitude from the leaders was “you can hold to this conviction, but keep it to yourself”.

This was a problem for us because Jesus was clear in Matthew 28:20, “…and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you…”. I saw our allegiance was being called either to a church or to The King. After much prayer, fasting, pleading to study these things out with the leadership, and hard conversations, my wife and I responded with one voice, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than God, you judge. For we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19:-20).

6.) How does Kingdom-centered Christianity play out practically in a marriage? 

One thing I have learned is that you can’t have Matthew 5:38-48 without Matthew 5:2-10.

In other words, King Jesus as the ruler and His way (perfection a la Matthew 5:48) is the standard of our home. However, our weaknesses and failure to flawlessly execute require much poverty of spirit, weeping, meekness, mercy, and patience for one another (while never excusing or tolerating sin).

Furthermore, calling one another higher is always good when done with a pure heart (no selfish ambitions) and sometimes you have to suffer to be a peacemaker (much easier said than done).

Lastly, we try to keep in mind that our marriage is a testimony of Jesus’ love and unity with His Church (which makes my heart swoon and body tremble simultaneously).

7.) What can conservative Anabaptists and other Kingdom Christians learn from the Restoration Movement and vice versa?

As I only have experience with the ICOC, let me reframe the question as what Anabaptist/Kingdom Christianity can learn from ICOC branch of the Restoration Movement and vice versa.

(Also, I am about to paint with a broad brush, but that is the nature of the question.)

If Anabaptist/Kingdom Christians could learn only one thing from the ICOC, it would be the ICOC’s effort to imitate Jesus in reaching out to the lost.

Jesus touched the ceremonially unclean (lepers, for example) and made them clean while maintaining His own cleanliness, and he called sinners (tax collectors, prostitutes, etc.) out of sin while not partaking in sin.

What Anabaptist and Kingdom Christians have is the “pearl of great price.” This hurting world is suffering under the rule of Satan. Of the many things I learned from the ICOC, one is sometimes we proclaim the Good News of God’s Kingdom by our life more than by our talk or words on signs.

This is risky because it requires engaging the lost and unclean more closely than holding signs from a distance.

Inversely, the ICOC can learn a lot from Kingdom Christianity.

The ICOC, in effort to be “all things to all men” , has over-extended themselves in reaching out to the lost. This abuse of 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 has lead to worldliness and sin being tolerated or even celebrated. This is an existential crisis for the ICOC. The focus Kingdom Christians have for living a holy life is basic to the Faith (Matt. 5:48), and their desire to obey Jesus shows their love for the King (John 14:15).

I would love for the strengths of the two groups to be used to cut off the weakness resulting in a Christ-like balance.

8.) What church do you attend currently?

We decide to leave the ICOC church we were in and work towards a house church in our neighborhood. We now share the Good News of the Kingdom of God and Jesus the King with our neighbors and friends.

We have also been blessed with Kingdom-focused brothers and sisters around the world and have been able to meet many who have gone through similar experiences. These relationships have been crucial for encouragement, confessing sin, admonishment, prayer, accountability, exchanging of teaching resources, and church networking.

We hope to help create a network of house churches which work together to spread the Good News to our local communities and work across cities to build unity.

9.) What encouragement would you give to a reader in a Restoration Movement church who is going through a “Kingdom awakening” of their own?

My encouragement would be to pray and fast often.

Walking in The Way is not easy. I started praying the Lord’s prayer regularly and it has been a blessing. Coming from a Roman Catholic background, I have seen it abused by my extended family, but I also learned the power of this prayer, once I was humble enough to obey Jesus.

This might seem weak, ritualistic, or lacking spirituality, but truly praying this prayer daily and owning what you are saying, discussing each part of the prayer with God, has helped me get through tough times. It has helped me maintain focus on God’s name being glorified, His Kingdom, and His will being done here on earth as it is in heaven. And it has helped me think larger than myself and my emotions by speaking in the plural (our Father, our daily bread, our trespasses).

It was difficult at first, and I wrestled with God through many parts of this prayer, contemplating what Jesus wanted me to be. I had to ask our Father (and myself) if that was truly my desire, and if not, why not.

10.) Finally, what is on your bookshelf or what are you reading currently? 

The Kingdom That Turned the World Upside Down by David Bercot

A Change of Allegiance by Dean Taylor

King Jesus Claims His Church by Finny Kuruvilla

Early Christian Commentary of the Sermon on the Mount by Elliott Nesch

Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up by David Bercot

Will the Theologians Please Sit Down by David Bercot

In God We Don’t Trust by David Bercot

What’s The Truth About Heaven And Hell? by Douglas Jacoby

A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot

The Kingdom of God series (Vol 1-2) by Tom Jones & Steve Brown (I take issue with the conclusion of Volume 2 on Jesus’ teaching about divorce and remarriage, but aside from that, it is is great.)

Mighty Man of God by Sam Lain

Kingdom Journey: David Sanabria (Part 1)

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

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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!

Kingdom Journey: Shawnele Surplus (Part 2)

The Kingdom Journey Series shares how Christians with roots in the Restoration Movement came to embrace Kingdom Christianity.

Name: Shawnele S. | Age: 50 | Location: Oregon | Rest. Mov. Roots: Church of Christ

30581673_10204940997921578_6265515243640717312_n         Read part one of this interview here.

5.) What have been some of the difficulties along the way?

While most of our specific difficulties may not be the same as others people’s, most will probably have similar general difficulties. That is, many Kingdom teachings are not only foreign, but contrary to what we have been taught it means to be a “good Christian.”

Good Christians” fight for their country.

“Good Christians” are involved politically.

“Good Christians” are patriots – who applaud and emulate the attitudes and actions of their founding fathers.

So, to be a Kingdom Christian is, in our culture, to be “weird” at best…potentially even a “bad Christian” to many. To a large degree, this is an internal struggle – at least at first. However, a lot of these beliefs could be held quietly if one chooses to. But some cannot.
Having a piece of fabric on your head (or your wife having one on her head) is kind of hard to miss. When the internal struggle led to a decision, that led to an external behavior, and that was the next difficulty.

Nearly everyone just ignored my head covering, and everyone we tried to have a meaningful study with refused (including a preacher). However, the few who could be cajoled into taking a cursory look at the topic came away with something like, “Maybe, but it’s not a salvation issue” or “Well… just don’t bind it on others.”  There really was no desire to wrestle with Scripture to discern God‘s actual will in these matters.

So, a difficult and sad thing for us has been finding that our brothers and sisters in Christ weren’t willing to study God’s Word with us. Additionally, we don’t know any Kingdom Christians in our real (non-cyber/book) lives. That is, of course, a discouraging difficulty.

6.) How does this kind of deep wrestling with Scripture play out practically in a marriage? Do you and your husband talk openly about these issues?

Well, I am very blessed that my husband loves God and wants to know Him better and please Him.

In our marriage this looks like a lot of wrestling with Scripture individually and together – and a lot of talking about it. We live in the great Northwest where being a Christian is synonymous with being a gun toting, independent, patriot – rather than a peacemaking, humble, citizen of Heaven only. Much more personally, I am a peacetime veteran. A divorcee. A gun owner.  A long-time political participant and even a political activist (in the past).

We were taught the importance of owning guns and protecting ourselves not only from “bad guys” – but from our government.  The idea of living on as little as possible and giving sacrificially also flew in the face of what we’d been taught about saving up a big nest egg for those retirement years. All of this is to say that these new discussions and discoveries were not even on our radar. This has been completely unfamiliar territory for us for the most part.

I am so grateful Clint and I can trust that we both love each other unconditionally and love and want to please God even more.

While we have wrestled with some of these issues and sometimes one of us is convinced before the other, it is wonderful to have the confidence that your spouse wants you to do what you believe God would have you do even if he is not fully convinced, and also desires to please God himself and be honest with the Word–even if we’re not entirely on the same page (at the time – or ever).

It is such a blessing to have a God-fearing-and-loving partner on this exciting, scary, glorious, nerve-wracking, beautiful journey!

7.) What can conservative Anabaptists learn from the Restoration Movement and vice versa?

I truly think the reason it was so much easier for Clint and I to come to these understandings is because of our Restoration background. The preacher who baptized me in Missoula really taught me to love the Word and seek God’s truth in it for any question or dilemma.

Like I mentioned, head covering was my first real challenge in this regard, and when I applied the same principles I apply to understanding, say, baptism – it was pretty clear what I needed to do. That scenario has played out over and over again on numerous topics. So while I don’t find that “restoring  1st century Christianity” an Anabaptist principle, it is a guiding principle for me.

I firmly believe Jesus and His apostles instituted the church – and Christian lifestyle choices and behaviors – for His people exactly as He intended. I wish that was a guiding star for my Anabaptist brothers and sisters.

I think my Church of Christ brothers and sisters could take a page from the Anabaptists in their willingness to look and behave completely differently than the culture around us. I don’t know if this is just unique to my area, but to the members of the Churches of Christ here, almost nothing could be worse than not blending in, visually–in personal dress, career choices, possession accumulation–with the people around them.

8.) What church do you attend currently?  

Currently, we worship at home following the model we see in 1 Corinthians 14. We have worshiped with other families at home, but restoring first century Christianity was not a goal other families have shared. We pray that the Lord will lead us to another like-minded body of believers – or lead them to our home. (Since worshiping in homes was a first century practice, we do believe in that as well!)

9.) What encouragement would you give to a reader in a Restoration Movement church who is going through a “Kingdom awakening” of their own?  

I teach my children and other ladies to commit to following and loving God’s revealed will. I want that to be their North Star. While remembering these are fallen humans and not infallible, I encourage other women to seek “fellowship”, hopefully in person, but, if not, through the many resources available. I especially appreciate the books of those godly men who have long ago gone to glory (in addition to much of David Bercot’s resources).

Of course, I always encourage prayer  for wisdom and discernment and for God to bring like-minded believers into your sphere.

10.) What is on your book shelf or what are you reading currently (in Scripture or otherwise)?  

To list all of the books I have loved, would take more space than you have!

Will the Real Heretics Please Stand up by David Bercot was really helpful for me because it got me thinking in terms of what the early church believed and why that’s even important. Common Sense by Bercot is also another absolute favorite. When I try to introduce others to these ideas, those are my go to introduction books.

While not necessarily on Kingdom topics in the Anabaptist sense, Fenelon’s Let Go, William Law’s A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, and Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God are all books I re-read often – as they continue to draw my heart closer to the Lord’s and increase my desire to draw near to know and obey Him.

An Anabaptist book that really rocked my world that I often offer to others is Roger Hertzler’s Through the Eye of a Needle (on the doctrine of non-accumulation). I also listen to Bercot’s talks (many of which can be found free on YouTube) and talks from Followers of the Way (I especially appreciated their debates on war and voting).

11.) Anything else you’d like to add?

As a woman, I find more and more that the deeper I dig into knowing God through His Word, the more I see God has a very unique and very powerful role for women in the Kingdom– one that has certainly been watered down and robbed of its beauty and power over the centuries.

Of course, most women living this beautiful life do not have the time or the motivation (because of their God-given calling and temperament) to write on this topic. While I have a number of Godly Christian female friends, I do not have Kingdom women friends in “real life” – and while I understand why these women aren’t writing and sharing in a public forum like many of the men are, I still wish that was a resource more available to us women.  So – I’d love to know if there are resources for women living the Kingdom life.

Also, just something from our own life to share: we recently switched our homeschool Reading and Language Arts curriculum to Christian Light Publishers – which is an Anabaptist company. We find the stories do a wonderful job of shoring up these new-to-us doctrines and beliefs so that our children have the head start that we didn’t have!

Thank you, Eric. Thank you for providing this forum. I look forward to the other testimonies and reading through your many resources!

Kingdom Journey: Shawnele Surplus (Part 1)

The Kingdom Journey Series shares how Christians with roots in the Restoration Movement came to embrace Kingdom Christianity.

Name: Shawnele S. | Age: 50 | Location: Oregon | Rest. Mov. Roots: Church of Christ

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1.) Sister Shawnele, tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Shawnele Surplus and I live in Central Oregon (which is where my husband, Clint, and I were both born and raised). I spend most of my days raising and homeschooling our three minor children, keeping our home, and helping my husband with our horse training business.

(For the record, you wouldn’t want me to train your horse; I do the office work part of the business…and a little bit of the grunt work!)

We also have three adult children, two grandchildren, a small beef herd, a small horse herd, a passel of chickens, and a couple of dogs. We are also avid gardeners. 

All of these things combine to make a perfect practice ground for learning to love and follow Jesus.

2.) When did you come to follow Jesus?

I was raised to know about and have feelings of love for Jesus.

I attended a Baptist church as a teenager, but I never knew what it meant to truly know and love the Lord until I met an amazing body of Christians in Missoula, Montana when I was 24. I actually didn’t know it was a Church of Christ until I moved away (the sign said, “The Lord’s Church: a church of Christ, a family of God”).

When I moved away and asked how I would ever find such a body of believers living out God’s Word with passion and sacrifice, I discovered that they were not just a Church of Christ, but a more conservative “non-institutional” congregation. I would never again find a church like that one. The people in that body have forever molded and inspired me.

3.) Can you explain more about your involvement in the Churches of Christ?

That congregation in Missoula was my first taste of God’s intention for love, deep fellowship, and unity in His people. After my time there, I worshiped in a few other non-institutional Churches of Christ as I moved about – finally worshiping in “mainstream” Churches of Christ.  

Clint was “born and raised” in mainstream Churches of Christ in our area and that is where we reconnected after having known each other throughout childhood.

4.) How did you become interested in a more “radical”, Kingdom-focused Christianity?

For a while, conventional Church of Christ Christianity worked for Clint and I, but we began to crave more than programs and the lifeless twice-on-Sunday-and-don’t-forget-Wednesday- night routine. We knew there was more – but when we talked to others and asked (maybe even agitated) for deeper relationships there was just no interest in developing these relationships or a more open look at the Scriptures.  

People thought we were crazy or, worse, rabble-rousers! We were also seeing some inconsistencies in teaching to obey all of scripture. Certain passages were ignored or explained away. And when we would challenge these, it was not well received.

The last Church of Christ we attended was 30 minutes away, so on the drive we began to listen to podcasts and sermons. It was listening to Francis Chan on our drives to and from Church that began to really shake us up and cause us to begin to look at our walk with Jesus from a different vantage point.

Suddenly, our church attending, Sunday School teaching, LTC-leading, there-every-time-the-doors-were-open Christianity began to be exposed for the superficial walk that it was. At every turn, the rabbit hole went deeper.

At some point during that time, I was on an email list with other homeschooling moms and the topic of head covering came up. It had in the past, but I never bothered with it. “It’s just cultural”, after all! However, after having had our eyes opened to the reality our beliefs about what the Bible teaches really weren’t “settled” after all, I decided to take a closer look.

I was amazed…stunned…disturbed…by what I saw!

Employing the same principles I had learned in my beloved Churches of Christ, it was easy to see I should be covering my head when I prayed or taught.

More than half hoping to be wrong, I asked Clint to read the passage with an open mind and tell me what he believed it said. He really studied it for the first time and then told me how he understood it.

And then began our search for a suitable head covering.

(And the people who thought we were crazy now knew we were!)

In retrospect, this was a crucial fork in the road, setting the stage for how we would handle these issues in the coming years. I have friends who have broached this topic with their husbands only to be ridiculed and discouraged. I cannot imagine how challenging this road would be if that were my situation.

Even though I had begun to cover, I inhaled everything on head covering I could find  which was our introduction to David Bercot and Scroll Publishing where things really began to get out of hand!

Click here for part 2!

Welcome.

In the first century, a zealous group of men and women set out to change the world with the message of Jesus Christ. They called themselves “followers of the Way”, Christians.

Though they faced fierce resistance, these disciples of Jesus stood against war, worldly politics, and the idolatry of their day to point people to a more excellent way of life in relationship with Jesus in his kingdom.

More than 1600 years later, another group of passionate and persecuted Christians, this time in Europe, stood against centuries of corruption and corrosion that threatened the integrity of Christ’s Church and name.

Their enemies called them “anabaptists”, repulsed by their practice of (re)baptizing those who had been “baptized” as infants in state churches.

Call them Anabaptists, Kingdom Christians, or Radical Believers, they had as their mission to live by the Sermon on the Mount, preach the Gospel of the Kingdom, and interpret the Bible as pure babes in Christ.

Furthermore, in the 1800s, Barton Stone and Alexander Campbell, dismayed by the sectarianism destroying the fraternal love between God’s children, came together under the banner of the Bible to work for restoration and unity in Christ’s Church.

Later known as the “Stone-Campbell Movement” or “Restoration Movement”, some of their distinctives included weekly communion, baptism for salvation, and a high view of Scripture.

Their spiritual descendants live on today in the Churches of Christ, Christian Churches, International Churches of Christ, and so forth.

Today, another wind is sweeping through the land as Restoration Movement Christians slowly awaken to a new spiritual heritage among those of conservative Anabaptist convictions.

The purpose of this blog is to encourage such Christians, facilitate discussion and cooperation between traditional Anabaptists and those of Restoration conviction, and do our part to help spread the Gospel of the Kingdom which Jesus preached.

“The spread of the peaceful principles of the Savior, will draw men out of the kingdoms of earth into the kingdom of God.” — David Lipscomb

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