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Bailey and Beckloff, giants of faith, brought salt and light

In the past sixty days, many have grieved at the passing of two heroes of faith, J.C. Bailey and John Beckloff. Both were men of uncommon abilities and their passing makes us aware that we are almost at the end of an era.
J.C. Bailey preached 40 years in Montana and Canada. At the age of 59, he went to India because India needed the gospel and missionaries from the United States could not get visas to work there. Until he was nearly 90 Bailey kept going back to encourage the church.
John Beckloff had gone to Nigeria with his wife, Dottie, and their children in 1961 to help with the schools operated by church members and funded by the government. He was in and out of Nigeria for the next 40 years, and his name became synonymous with African Christian Schools. He gave his heart to the work, and he encouraged schools and Bible training schools with all his energies.
Neither Bailey nor Beckloff had formal training in missiology, but each used his special strengths to evangelize and train future leaders.
Bailey, with his sonorous voice, was a powerful teacher and preacher, and he used those skills to evangelize and to prepare converts for leading and continuing his work.
Beckloff was an educator, and he used his school experience to improve schools, often starting new schools, and to develop schools to train preachers and teachers for future leadership.
These giants of faith model skills in faith development. They possessed skills all who want to lead in the Kingdom should cultivate.
First, both of these men were dedicated to the idea of restoring the church of the apostolic age. They knew the history of the Restoration Movement, and they honored those who preceded them in that enterprise.
Bailey was drawn to India because he had heard of the indigenous efforts of people in India to give up traditions and creeds to do only what the Bible teaches.
Beckloff was similarly drawn to Nigeria by the movement there to know only the Bible and to follow the teachings and practices of the New Testament church.
Bailey and Beckloff were totally different in personality, but each had a passion for knowing the Bible.
Beckloff systematically read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. He not only read it through, he had a regimen for studying books and issues so that he was always growing. He had a subtle way of introducing passages into conversations.
The last time I visited with Bailey, he was approaching 90, and when I asked him about his reading, he told me that he did not read much — only the Bible. He began telling me what he had learned from his current study of Jeremiah. Quoting long passages, he finally told me that he was only able to study about four hours a day now, but not that much when he was traveling.
Third, these lovers of the Bible were serious about teaching and training others in the Word so that they would carry on evangelistic teaching.
Bailey was the founding president of what is now Western Christian College, and one of his earliest converts in India, Nehemiah Gootam, has been training preachers for thirty years. Gootam has seen 4,000 men go through his school.
Beckloff went to Nigeria to head one of the schools funded by the government. The schools were expected to teach the Bible along with the normal English curriculum. Within a short time, Beckloff was involved in developing a preacher-training program. Eventually, Nigeria had at least three such schools that were funded through Beckloff’s efforts back in the United States.
Both men knew the importance of publicizing the work they were doing, and spreading the word to individuals and churches wherever their travels took them. Beckloff was publisher and owner of the Chronicle from 1976-1981.
Not only were Bailey and Beckloff tenacious in their commitment and their communication, they both understood the importance of firing the imagination of others about their work.
Many of the Canadian students I have known throughout the years felt compelled to go to India to carry on Bailey’s work there.
Beckloff systematically looked for people to teach in the Nigerian schools, and he recruited experienced and well-informed people to go to Nigeria for varying periods of time to teach young preachers and inspire churches to mature faith and service.
The stature of John Beckloff and J.C. Bailey towers over the 20th century church. They had the faith and vision to ride the crest of the waves while gliding through the valleys and troughs. They blessed churches here and churches in Nigeria and India. They were so selfless that they challenge us to catch their vision and ride our own waves.
Contact Bailey McBride at [email protected].

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