I grew up at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa under the teaching of Pastor Chuck Smith. I didn’t realize at the time how fortunate I was to have him as my pastor, my teacher and my friend. I started sitting in the main services from age thirteen, and went “through the Bible” with Pastor Chuck four separate times.
One year and a bit ago, I moved to England. Slowly it dawned on me how rare and almost encyclopedic my knowledge of the Bible had become. Little by little, week by week, as we read from Genesis through Revelation, God’s Word had literally seeped into my soul.
In the States, about ninety-five percent of the people I spent time with were either Christians, from a Christian family, or mildly rebellious teenagers, “finding their way to God.” In the UK, about ninety-five percent of the people I encounter have no connection to church, distant associations with the faith of their grandparents, and almost no context of Scripture in daily life. I see now that at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa the groundwork was laid for the Word of God to be so near and dear to my life and heart that it is only natural to express it in daily conversation.
A few weeks ago, I went to a cider festival. It’s a big community event with barns and sizzling sausages, homemade apple cider and massive log burners, live, folksy music and toilets in a field. I walked out of the toilet in a field, and two teenage girls were waiting for me.
“We’d like to talk to you about God,” they said.
So we sat in a field, with the apple trees and the green grass, and the port-a-loos just barely in the distance, and they asked me question after question:
“How could a loving God let my mother die?”
“Can I follow God and still be a vegetarian?”
“Why does God hate gay people?”
“Even if I tell God about the bad things I’ve done, won’t He still remember it and have a hard time forgiving me?”
And for each of these questions, and many more, we sat and simply read the Word of God. I didn’t need a Bible app or my concordance or a commentary to flip to the Scriptures. Because the Word of God had been seeped into my soul, we flipped to 1 John and Romans 12 and Psalm 27 and Romans 1 and read together exactly what God Himself has said about these things.
The Word of God is alive. His power is unchanging and His love is extended to every tribe, tongue, and nation. I thank God for the legacy of faithful Bible teaching within Calvary Chapel. I pray that for generations to come, the men and women of this movement are led by the Spirit of God to proclaim the Word of God in their cultures and countries.