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830,000 Words in—and Still Going Strong

Bradley Baurain began writing for Today in the Word to help pay off his student loans; 30 years later, it’s turned into his own personal Bible college.

By Anneliese Rider  /  March 22, 2024

Today in the Word author Brad Baurain

Over the years, Dr. Bradley Baurain has taught around the world, written more than a million words (yes, you read that right: 1,000,000 words), and built relationships with hundreds of students.

But Brad gets most excited about three main things: his family, using language for God’s glory, and studying and teaching the Bible through Today in the Word.

Lima beans and Jesus

Four-year-old Brad was stuck at the dinner table refusing to eat mixed vegetables—after all, what kid likes lima beans?

His mother had recently come to know Jesus Christ at a neighborhood Bible study, and this time, the battle of wills was different. When Brad asked her why she was so happy, she explained the gospel using the Wordless Book.

He became the first person she led to salvation, and Brad’s father became the second. Mr. Baurain quit his job as a chemical engineer in Wisconsin and moved the family to Texas so he could attend seminary and become a pastor.

Eighteen years after his lima bean conversion, Brad graduated from Wheaton College with a degree in English and Philosophy but had no career plans until a professor recruited him to spend two years in China teaching English. It became his passion.

“Learning language is a gift of God . . . He intends for us to use it obviously for His glory,” Brad says. “That chance to interact with this gift of God and to use it for His purposes excites me.”

He came back to the States to pay off his student loans, got a job working for Moody Publishers, and started earning his master’s degree in English. In 1993, he transferred to Moody’s Marketing and Communications department, where he began writing for Today in the Word.

Four years later, he was on his way back to Asia—Vietnam, this time.

Working against propaganda

When Brad entered communist Vietnam in 1997 as a Christian English teacher, many students distrusted Americans. Only three years earlier, Bill Clinton had lifted the economic embargo on Vietnam, and just over 20 years had passed since the Vietnam War.

“People would ask us questions about why we were there,” Brad remembers. “I would say, ‘A generation ago, I would have come here as a soldier. Now I'm privileged to come and try to build bridges and friendship.’”

His classroom was closely supervised, with strict rules on what he could and couldn’t say, and Brad soon discovered that he wasn’t only an English teacher.

“I was hoping just to be an ambassador for Christ and ignore all the political stuff,” Brad says, “But that wasn't possible.”

Most of his students had experienced a lifetime of propaganda against Americans. Ironically, one of Brad’s greatest relationship-building tools was the movie Forrest Gump. In the film, Forrest serves in the Vietnam War—but instead of antagonism, Forrest’s main characteristics are friendship and loyalty to his comrades and admiration for the natural beauty of Vietnam and its people.

Semesters that began with discussions about Forrest Gump often ended with many students seeking a relationship with Brad. To their surprise and joy, he didn’t fit what they’d been told about Americans.

2,400 miles for a first date

During his years in Vietnam, Brad met Julia. She was an English teacher in China, and they attended the same conference in California.

Today in the Word author Brad Baurain teaching at Moody Bible Institute


“I had to go 2,400 miles for a first date,” Brad jokes. “Our relationship grew, and I proposed to her in one of the most beautiful places I know: the beach of a leper colony in Vietnam.”

They married and had their first two children while living in Vietnam.

In 2006, they sensed a shift in their calling—so they came back to North America to train others to go. They landed first in Nebraska, where Brad earned his PhD (and they welcomed two more kids to their family), and then Canada, where he taught at a small Christian college. Another shift came in 2015.

“We expected God to put us, you know, in Vietnam or somewhere overseas. But He had other plans that He didn't clear with us first,” Brad says, smiling. “We often joke with my students that when we told Him we’d go anywhere, we forgot to rule out Chicago.”

Today, Brad is the TESOL program head at Moody Bible Institute. Their move to Chicago, when he was 49, was Brad’s 26th move. (If you’re doing the math, that’s more than two moves a year for his entire life.)

The common thread

Over the years and around the world, Brad continued to write for Today in the Word—which he considers a great privilege.

“It’s one of the threads of continuity in my life,” Brad says. “Even as we changed countries, moved all over the place, started a family, and things changed, Today in the Word didn’t change.”

To date, he has written 83 issues and is working on number 84.

(Fun fact: At roughly 10,000 words per issue, that’s about 830,000 words total. The classic Les Misérables in the original French clocks in at just over 655,000 words—that’s 175,000 fewer words than Brad has written for Today in the Word in his lifetime.)

As the words racked up, so did what he learned.

“In the early years, I wrote an issue on forgiveness. I knew what forgiveness was, but studying it in depth in Scripture just blew my mind,” Brad says. “It gave me such an enormous appreciation for God's love.”

Another study on the book of Isaiah had such a profound influence on him that Brad and Julia named their son (now 16 years old) Isaiah. An issue about waiting on God—a study on moving from endurance to enjoyment while waiting—turned into the Moody Publishers book On Waiting Well.

“I love to talk about the studies I've done and how they've changed me,” Brad says. “It's been God's personal Bible college for me.”

And one last (but certainly not least) piece of news

Brad did sneak in one small announcement to the end of his interview—Baby Boy Baurain is due in June 2024!

Today in the Word author Brad Baurain and family