A positive view of obedience

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By Tom Holmes

Contributing Reporter / Religion Blogger

I'm working on a story about Bishop Charles Cairo, a resident of Forest Park.  He's counter cultural in many ways including his attitude toward obedience.  See what you think. 

When they told the elders with the Jesus People that they wanted to get married, the elders told them they had to wait two years and get counseling before they would be ready!  That was the first time Cairo was faced with the concept of obedience, a discipline he submitted to with a fair amount of resistance at the time but has come to believe in strongly in the ensuing years.

"Jane and I have always had another spiritually mature couple placed over us to provide Godly guidance as mentors and prayer partners," he said. "God has the authority over us.  He just speaks through them.  It's up to us to get conformation and obey.  The obedience is always to Christ."

A second lesson in obedience quickly followed.  Jane's father had disowned her.  Having been one of 110,000 Japanese Americans, 62% of whom were American citizens, who were "relocated" to internment camps during World War II, he had no love for Americans.  He could not accept that his daughter wanted to marry one of those who had oppressed him.

A week before the wedding, however, Jane's father wrote a letter of repentance and was reconciled to his daughter.  When Glenn Kaiser, Cairo's mentor at the time, told him he had to respond by writing a letter of apology to Jane's father, Cairo bristled.  "I haven't done anything wrong," he had protested.  Kaiser explained that the Japanese man felt he had been shamed.  Once again Charles Cairo obeyed one who had been set over him.

He believes that humbling himself in that way led to a reconciliation with Jane's father and the father's eventual willingness to let his son-in-law baptize him.  "I wound up baptizing a man who had hated me," he marveled, "all because I was obedient to my elder.  That always brings glory to God."

After Cairo was ordained, Bill Fontaine, one of the elders whose authority he and Jane were then under, asked him to help pastor a church which was having a lot of problems.  When he responded with "I'm not comfortable serving there," Fontaine replied, "Do you really think God cares if you're comfortable?"  One more time, Rev. Cairo was obedient.


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