Matthew 28: 18-20 (ESV): And Jesus came and said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
In March 1983 Elaine filed for divorce. At the time, Bill was an excellent Marine, but a terrible husband and father. He had serious issues, a lot of baggage, and no relationship with God. Elaine would admit she was no peach herself. Skipping the nitty gritty, three months later Bill went to a small Pentecostal church in a forgotten town in the Mojave desert of California, where he was stationed at the time. The following week for some inexplicable reason Elaine agreed to go to church with Bill after his invitation although they had barely spoken since the divorce process began. During the church service, Bill practically ran to the altar and was saved. The next week with slightly more decorum Elaine gave her heart to the Lord. All these happenings were nothing short of miraculous. We were extremely fortunate having pastors who saw the rawness of our condition and discipled us with equal parts care and firmness.
We stopped the divorce (which is obvious as we will be married forty years this July), but Elaine was often skeptical in those early days of following Jesus as Bill would be up to all hours of the night reading his Bible and wanting to share his thoughts and questions, much like a three year old! Within a year we found serving together was our calling. Fast forward almost thirty-seven years and we have served in numerous capacities within the church from leading worship to life groups to short term mission trips and more. Outside the church we have shared the gospel in diverse ways: ministering to bikers through Christian Motorcyclists Association, serving in urban outreaches, visiting prisons, feeding the homeless, and praying for the sick. And did we mention, adopting a medically needy teenager from Guatemala (when our sons were adults)? Yeah, we did that too. (That is a book, not a blog, for another year!)
Oh, and by the way, while this may appear to be a sweet testimony, it has not been without struggle. There has been hurt, pain, broken promises, and tears shed like a river along the way.
Being a disciple requires passion to love others. Here’s the point: we have been commissioned to make disciples of all the nations. Our desire for 2020 is to see marriages strengthened and healed and have an opportunity to lead another short term mission experience abroad.
We want others to know God, find freedom, discover their purpose, and make a difference. This vision is a means to disciple the nations. If God can transform two broken people like us, there is no one that cannot be touched by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Get your home in order and share Jesus with all that is within you. 2020, and beyond, here we come!
by Bill & Elaine Lang
Bill and Elaine have served the Lord together since 1983 and have been members of Kingsway Church since 2007. They have served in worship, life group, and mission team leadership. They have two married sons and an adult daughter, along with five grandchildren, and will celebrate their 40th anniversary in 2020.