Report on Work in the New York City area
Gardner Hall, P.O. Box 123, Port Murray, NJ 07865-0123,
Tel. (908) 850-5389
There are many people searching for truth! That fact isnt always apparent when passing out Bible material, setting up a tract table or doing other types of "street work. " That often involves watching thousands of seemingly indifferent people parade by. We usually find truth seekers among friends of Christians. They observe the changed attitudes of those converted to Christ, their peace and holy living. Then they respond positively to invitations to study the word. Numerical spiritual growth depends more on the humility, holiness and love of Christians than "personal work programs," though there is a place for the latter.
We have been blessed by coming to know several truth seekers who have accepted special Bible studies.
Alfredo Pantalion works in a bodega (the city version of 7-11 stores) on 7th Avenue with Epifanio Lora, while studying to be a nurse. In the picture on the left, Alfredo is on the right, "Epi" is in the center behind the counter, and Alejandro Sanchez is on the left. Epifanio invited Alfredo to services and Alfredo has been coming regularly for the past few months. He has finished Gene Topes correspondence course and is now studying Gary Fishers course on the book of Mark. We are doing a topical study with Alfredo in his apartment every Tuesday.
Mariela and "Bibi" are teenagers who have started attending our Sunday morning teenage Bible class at Upper Manhattan. Their grandmother who is visiting from the Dominican Republic invited them. I have been concerned about the teenage class at Upper Manhattan because weve lost several students to moves and to college. However, Mariela and Bibi are very welcome additions to the group. Mariela invited a cousin to accompany her two weeks ago. Last Sunday, Bibi invited her boyfriend, Juan. They listen intently to the Bible reading (were studying the book of John), make comments and sing enthusiastically. I think singing is very important in teenage Bible classes.
Wendy came to services at Upper Manhattan after having been invited by a Christian woman, Mireira. Wendy quickly accepted a Bible study with us in the book of Luke and also attends our Tuesday night studies in the book of Acts. In the picture to the right, Wendy is on the far left. The woman in the blue blouse is Elizabeth Cabrera, a Christian who has helped a lot in our studies with Wendy. The little boy is her's. And of course, the big guy on the right is Jon Focht. Wendy also studies with Hugo Monroy of the Manhattan church of Christ. Wendy told me yesterday that she had made arrangements to be baptized today (11/3) by Hugo. We told her we were happy for her. I like Hugo. Though we disagree strongly about several issues, he is humble, loving and very non-sectarian. He will baptize her into Christ for the remission of her sins and then as she grows in Christ, she can decide how to deal with some of the important issues that I believe Hugo and the brethren at the Manhattan Church of Christ have not understood.
Daisy, from El Salvador, is an aunt of José Castellanos, mentioned in the last report. Tragically, José passed away from his cancer last week. His parents were greatly consoled by the fact that he was baptized into Christ in the Hackensack Hospital whirlpool, about two months ago, just as my last report was being sent out. Blessings can come from curses! We were able to talk to hundreds of people about the gospel at Joses funeral, including Daisy. He had many friends. Daisy says she is seeking truth and has started visiting a Pentecostal church. When we told her that we simply read the Bible with people, her eyes lit up and she said, "now thats what I want to do." So, we will begin reading in Luke with her next Saturday.
* The congregation in Upper Manhattan has received some new pews that were given away by brethren in Portage, Indiana. Victor Grado, Melvin Vasquez, Ramón Perez and I had a very adventurous trip there to pick them up.
* Beverly and I made a quick trip south for the funeral of her grandmother, Lula Talley, who died at 102 years of age.
* Jon Focht accompanies me into New York City on Tuesdays and has done an excellent job of encouraging children and young people in several congregations. I do not believe in church supported recreation for young people. However, I do believe that teens need special Bible studies and lots of attention. Jon, who receives "part time support", has done a great job of providing that study and attention to several dozen teenagers. Below is a picture of the class Jon has every month at Fair Lawn on Sunday afternoon. Teens from several congregations attend.
* Several good men need help with support. Doug Focht, who has been working with the congregation in Fair Lawn, is now working with the brethren in Wharton, where Jon Drobner used to preach. Jerry Falk will be moving to work with a new Spanish speaking group meeting in Piscataway. He will also help at Upper Manhattan and Fair Lawn. If you know of any congregations that could provide them with additional help, please contact them, or contact me and I can help you get in touch with them. Thanks to all for your prayers and support!