(Coltin & Mandee Rohn, who courageously serve as the Campus Ministry Leaders of the great London Church, are the Boston Mission Team Leaders. They are very dear “partners in the gospel” to Elena & me, as we all worked side by side in the City of Angels Church. Though they are a young couple with a baby – Hailee, who is just a year old – they are held in high esteem for their labors for the Lord by the SoldOut Movement Churches in Phoenix, Eugene, Los Angeles and London. Shortly after hearing about our “spying out the land” mission trip, a remnant brother who still lives in Boston – and at one time was a full-time minister in the Boston International Church of Christ – contacted me on Facebook. During the ensuing phone call he said, “I get it! I get it! What’s left of the ICOC cannot be ‘reformed’ because all of its congregations are autonomous. Therefore, it’s necessary to start a movement all over again by calling out the remnant. I clearly see this is the only way to evangelize the nations in this generation.” This is why the SoldOut Movement is planting a “new” discipling church in Boston. KM)
“Now then, [Joshua]… get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to… the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.” Joshua 1:2-3
Thursday, May 17, 2012: Mandee & I arrived at Boston Logan International Airport from London, England humbled and honored to have been asked to lead the Boston International Christian Church to be planted in August! We were greeted enthusiastically by my good friend and future discipler, Andrew Smellie (Evangelist for the New York City International Christian Church), Kip & Elena McKean, and Gordon & Lana Douglas (members of the Manchester Remnant Group). It was so encouraging to realize that the McKeans and the Douglas’ were members of the original Lexington (Boston) Church of Christ back when it all started in 1979!
At the airport, we started off our “spying out the land”mission trip with a prayer and a map! As we drove through Boston, I was very impressed with Kip’s memory of the city, as he even remembered the exact location where he drove over a pot hole and suffered a flat tire, which he had to change in the middle of a New England snowstorm! I am looking forward to seeing snow again, as I was literally raised on a farm in Ohio!
One of the goals of the trip was for Mandee & me to grasp the history of our former fellowship. So, after placing our luggage in our hotel in Lexington – which is 10 miles northwest of Boston – we drove about a mile to see Kip & Elena’s old house. On our way back into the center of town, we stopped at the Lexington Green, which is guarded by the famous “Minute Man” statue that commemorates the members of the American militia who were ready at a “minute’s notice” to defend their land from the British. It was at Lexington on April 17, 1775 that the first martyrs of the American Revolutionary War fell – “a shot heard ‘round the world.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Just a few short minutes down the road, we saw the first meeting place of the Boston Movement – the modest building that once housed the Lexington Church of Christ. As we went inside, we all were “taken back” by what we saw, as the former Lexington Church is now a Buddhist Temple! Where the baptistery used to be is now sitting a huge statue of Buddha! After returning outside, we gathered in the parking lot to pray and “set [our feet]” – actually we stomped extra hard – as we reclaimed Lexington for the Lord! We then ended the day over a short meal and warm fellowship.
Friday, May 18, 2012: This day began by driving seven miles west from Lexington to Concord to see the home of Bob & Pat Gempel in whose living-room “the 30 would-be-disciples” gathered on June 1, 1979. Amazingly, the Spirit used this group of “totally committed Christians” to launch the Boston Movement – in 1994 officially named the International Churches of Christ! (ICOC) As we pulled up to 231 Nashoba Road, Kip explained that the house had been remodeled, but the living room and its window were essentially the same! Then he whispered, “The house is different, but the trees, the trees are the same. They are witnesses of what happened here!” Though the “30 would-be-disciples” failed to achieve Jesus’ dream of an evangelized world, I am so grateful for their extraordinary faith. For in just 21 years, God multiplied them into almost 400 churches in 171 nations, with a united conviction to see the world evangelized in their day! Of course, this was before the ICOC returned to a Mainline Church of Christ theology in 2002 and declared that it was “impossible” to evangelize the world in one generation.
It was then off to see the universities in the Boston area! The first campus we visited was Boston University. After driving through campus on Commonwealth Avenue – called by Winston Churchill “the most beautiful street in the world,” we received our first glimpse of Warren Tower B, the dorm building where the first Bible Talk of the Boston Movement was held! We then once again stomped our feet on that ground as we prayed and claimed it for the Lord! This we repeated on all the campuses we visited that day: MIT, Northeastern, “U Mass – Boston” and Boston College. Though all of these campuses are within a 15 minute drive of downtown Boston, we simply did not have time to pray over Boston’s smaller campuses of Tufts, Simmons, Suffolk University, Wentworth, Berkeley School of Music, and the famous New England Conservatory of Music!
After lunch in crazy Harvard Square, we walked through Johnson Gate into Harvard University! As I surveyed the impressive Harvard Yard, what really touched me was a statue nicknamed “The Statue of the Three Lies.” It portrayed a man sitting on a chair with the inscription: John Harvard – Founding Father of Harvard – Established 1638. The three lies were simple: it wasn’t really John Harvard seated on the chair; John Harvard was not the Founding Father of Harvard; and Harvard wasn’t established in 1638, but 1636! It is ironic that Harvard’s motto “VERITAS” is Latin for truth! As I spoke to the group about it, we reaffirmed the three truths of the SoldOut Movement: 1) The leader of our movement is not a man, it’s God; 2) God uses human leaders to serve His movement, like Kip McKean and Andrew Smellie; 3) The ICOC from 1979 to 2001 has ceased to exist, so God started a new movement! Once again, we planted our feet on arguably the top university in the United States and prayed that the Kingdom of God would once again have a presence on this historic campus!
Saturday, May 19, 2012: We first arrived at the Arlington Baptist Church which housed our former movement after they out-grew the Lexington Church of Christ building. It is shocking to see so many old churches built for hundreds, but were now only holding a few. Therefore, we prayed to find this kind of structure for the new Boston Church in central Boston. We then headed to the most visited area in Boston, Quincy Market. It was here that I was able to eat my first whole lobster! I had a blast learning how to correctly dismember this sea creature to enjoy the meat in a creamy melted butter sauce!
After lunch, we drove to the Memorial Library of one of the world’s great heroes, President John F. Kennedy. What inspired my heart were his words in his Inaugural Address after becoming the youngest elected President of the United States, “Let both sides unite to heed in all the corners of the earth the command of Isaiah ‘to undo the heavy burdens… and to let the oppressed go free.’ All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.” Dinner that evening was at Mario’s Italian Restaurant in Lexington. According to Elena, Mario’s hasn’t changed a bit since 1979! In fact this is where a lot of the early Lexington disciples would go to fellowship after church on Sundays!
Sunday, May 20, 2012: Mandee & I woke up early to head off to the 9AM service in Manchester, New Hampshire, which is just 45 minutes north of Boston. We were so looking forward to worshiping with the courageous men and women that have taken a stand to no longer be in a lukewarm fellowship, but chose to start the Manchester Remnant Group. It was so encouraging to see their hearts after Kip preached the Word! Since Andrew, Mandee & I had to leave immediately after service as we were driving to the 5PM evening service in New York City, the disciples encouraged us by packing an assortment of food from the “love feast” they had prepared. After the five hour drive, Mandee & I were able to see the magnificent skyscrapers of New York City for the very first time! As we entered the fellowship, I was so encouraged by the zeal of the church as it matched my “home congregations” in London and Los Angeles! At the end of the service, we saw two baptized into Christ!
As Mandee & I reflect on our travels, we are overjoyed to dream of building a great discipling church that will once again be in Boston! As with “the 30” that gathered in the Gempels’ living room, the 16 member Boston Mission Team – soon to be joined by the seven member Manchester Remnant Group – will plant the Boston International Christian Church to become another spiritual “shot heard all ‘round the world” in order to win the Spiritual Revolutionary War for all nations! One thing is for sure, we have learned a lot from our mistakes and sins in the past movement. But this time, we will see it to the end, because “love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8), even though most persist in believing that the evangelization of the nations in a generation is impossible. Well, “It might not be finished in the first five years of the new movement, nor after replanting Boston, nor even perhaps in my lifetime. But let us begin!” And to God be all the glory!
Coltin L. Rohn