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FIRST-PERSON: Rally to nurture ‘Kingdom Families’

DEL CITY, Okla. (BP)–The 2003 meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix will feature one of the most remarkable events in recent convention history. At the invitation of Dr. Mac Brunson, president of the SBC Pastors’ Conference, the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life will present a first-ever Kingdom Family Rally at the Monday evening, June 16, session of the Pastors’ Conference.

At this rally, the Council on Family Life, in conjunction with LifeWay Christian Resources, will unveil a convention-wide strategy calling for Southern Baptists to commit themselves to the development of Kingdom Families.

What is the one characteristic that most distinguishes those who are members of God’s Kingdom Family? That is the question around which much of our council’s work has centered. To put it into the words of our Kingdom Family commitment to be introduced at the SBC, such families are, above all, characterized by a “passion for fulfilling the Great Commission.” They view life with an eye for sharing the gospel.

Bob Oxford, and his wife, Peggy, are great examples of a Kingdom Family. The Oxfords live in Denver, Colo., where they are members of the dynamic Applewood Baptist Church. Bob is a petroleum engineer, a businessman and founder of Industrial Gas Services, a nationwide consulting firm. He also serves on the Council on Family Life. Peggy has worked beside him in this family owned and operated business for the past few years. But while that is the Oxford’s “business,” it is not their “life.” Their life is consumed with a passion to use everything God has provided to them as a means for sharing the gospel and encouraging others to do the same.

Several times a year the Oxfords participate together in short-term overseas missions projects where they have been joined by their children and most recently their grandchildren. Their two children also are strong believers in Christ, serving faithfully in their church. The Oxfords are faithful in the outreach programs of their local church and have served in various ministry capacities both locally and nationally.

But their favorite responsibilities relate to the missions endeavors of their church. Their home has been opened to countless visitors, both nationals and foreigners, who have found a warmhearted welcome and an eagerness to “talk about Jesus.”

International students and business people, many of whom they have personally led to Christ, are their favorites. The Oxfords keep up with them, visit and correspond with them even though the list grows by the month.

Recently, while participating with them in an overseas partnership crusade, my wife and I found ourselves dining with a reknowned military general with whom the Oxfords have cultivated a friendship based on a mutual desire to spread the gospel.

During the 50 years of their married life, the Oxfords have sought to be careful stewards of the resources entrusted to them, determined to make them count for Christ’s sake and the Kingdom’s. They make every attempt to keep what God has given them “in circulation” for the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Never offensive, always gracious and ready to share their faith, the Oxfords picture what is meant by a Kingdom Family.

This unique attribute distinguishing members of God’s Kingdom Family leads to a consistent eagerness to share the gospel with others … others in their own family, their neighbors, their work or school associates and people around the world. They are motivated by something more than Christ’s command, although that certainly is sufficient for any soldier. They operate from an inner compulsion born out of their own experience with Christ and the new nature that has resulted from it. They have a love for him and an eagerness for others to possess what they have — forgiveness of sin, peace with God and genuine purpose, not to mention eternal life.

Even if they are the only believer in their home or workplace, this personal experience with Christ changes the very atmosphere where members of God’s Kingdom Family live and work. To put it simply: Christ, living in them, begins to reach out to others through them. It is not through some kind of unfeeling, mechanical, carrying out of his commission that the people around them are attracted to Christ. Instead, they become recipients of Christ’s pure, sincere love and concern for them. It is the work of the Holy Spirit through the life of a believer — a winsome, drawing of people to the Master.

These are the sorts of families we will be nurturing as Southern Baptists from across the nation attend the Kingdom Family Rally beginning at 6:30 p.m. June 16, 2003, in the Phoenix Convention Center.
From Tom Elliff’s soon-to-be-released book, “Seven Pillars of a Kingdom Family.” Elliff is chairman of the SBC Council on Family Life which, in conjunction with LifeWay Christian Resources and the SBC Pastors’ Conference, is hosting the Kingdom Family Rally Monday night, June 16, 2003, in Phoenix, just prior to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.

    About the Author

  • Tom Elliff