To Learn the Hard Way
A Personal Story by Dan Murphy
Hi, my name is Dan and this is the story of my beginning to know God and the ICC. I was a member of the Los Angeles Church of Christ for two years. I started studying the Bible with the church late in 1995 and was baptized in February 1996.
Let’s get on with this:
In 1995 my wife was telling me she wanted to find a church and I told her she could do whatever she needs to do. I was on my way to Germany for military training at this time. We talked on the phone and she had found a church. I said, “good for you but don’t expect me to go”. I came back from Germany and she told me all about the church or at least what she knew at that time. She was baptized in June of 1995. I knew she wanted me to go to church with her and that she wanted me to know God.
Well, here is where it all started for me! I had a weekend drill to go to and Tammy asked if she could use the house for “House Church”. That was fine with me since I wasn’t going to be there. I got out of drill early and came home to a house full of people from the church. The people seemed nice enough. I didn’t see anything wrong with her involvement.
I went to some park services [Editor’s Note: prayer services held outdoors at a public park] because Tammy asked me to and because I was curious and wondering about God at that time myself. I was asked if I wanted to study about God and I did. At times at the studies they had four people there besides me. I got through the studies and was to “count the cost.”
I was to see the Sector Leader to do this, but he cancelled at the last minute because of a meeting he had to attend. So the Married’s Ministry Leader (one who did the studies with me) counted the cost with me. At this time I was not to happy about being put off by the Sector Leader and the Ministry Leader didn’t think I was ready to be baptized and told me so. He told me that he didn’t think I was going to make it (I guess to heaven?)
He then showed me the Scripture about the seed and the rocky soil. [Matthew 13:3-23; Mark 4:3-20; Luke 8:5-15] He also said he couldn’t stop me from getting baptized, which was good, because I didn’t care what he said about it anyway. I wanted to follow God.
I was baptized February 25, 1996.
After this things began to happen that I wasn’t sure about. Six months a Christian and then a Bible Talk Leader, then a Family Group Leader and next another Family Group was added for us to disciple. I eagerly accepted these challenge because I wanted to please God.
Both Tammy and I loved the people in our groups. The leaders called them “high” maintenance people. (They weren’t the “sharp” people). It didn’t matter to us we wanted to care for them as best we were able and both felt that God didn’t look at people any different from the other.
At times, leadership would require the family group leaders to make up the difference of the member’s tithe. [Editor’s Note: each ICC member is assigned a certain weekly contribution amount. Leaders of family groups or Bible Talks have at times been expected to pay this assigned amount for anyone in their group who couldn’t or didn’t.] This was to make sure everyone got there contributoin in so that the budget wouldn’t be short. We made up our group’s tithe on one occasion, and I felt this was wrong.
Once while we were family group leaders when we had a leadership meeting in the park. It was not uncommon for the leaders to change the meeting time, location, or agenda at the last minute without considering how it might inconvenience the family group leaders. We understood that we were expected to be “flexible in our hearts” because this was “The Kingdom”.
One particular afternoon the meeting time and place was changed at the last minute and no one informed us. Those people who know me will know what happened next. Let me explain how I am. I’m not only as hard on myself as I am on anyone else, but harder. I do, however, make it known when I’m not very happy with things. When we finally got to the meeting (having driven to the original spot first), the meeting wasn’t happening because of the time change.
My heart was burning and it was hard for me to control. I was mad and knew I was wrong, but I thought one of the brothers would help me with it. Didn’t happen. All I remember was a brother getting in my face about it and telling my wife to “take your husband home”. No one seemed to want to help me get through this. The only advice given (by another leader) was for my wife to take me home and that hurt me most of all. I did get over this and I talked to the brother about it. He did apologize.
After sometime went by we asked to be removed as Family Group Leaders and we were. I felt it was just too much. Then Tammy was asked to run the Book Table and she did for a little while until I got into it! Then it was mine! She didn’t mind, I think? She liked the fellowship before and after service and I didn’t feel like I was “good” with people. So the Book Table was good for me as I could talk to people while I did something (giving me something to talk about). Working the Book Table is what opened my eyes about the ICC.
Around this time Tammy was doing her “six month tour” in Kid’s Kingdom [Editor’s Note: the ICC’s Sunday morning pre-school children’s program] on Sundays, so she wasn’t around much. I started to see that the so-called “love” wasn’t there for people. People really didn’t pay much attention to me at the tables as I observed and overheard (mainly) leaders’ conversations. Leaders would talk about other people’s sin to each other, and here I thought my sins would never be talked about. I heard and saw a lot of this, but I’m not going to get into details. It just ticks me off. Even though this was happening, God was my main interest (as he is now), and that is what matters to me.
The ICC was the beginning for me; that’s where I first came to know God. He had me there for a reason, and he also put it in my heart to leave, for our good and his.
I didn’t leave because I got hurt, but because of the practices of the leaders. What I saw was just not right.
My walk with God is better than it has ever been. I have grown closer to Him.
©1999 by Dan Murphy <[email protected]>. All rights reserved.
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