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Report for Gardner Hall, April 30, 2009

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Moca

I was able to make a brief visit to Puerto Rico in early April, twenty-four years after my last visit. My main purpose was to encourage the brand new congregation in the town of Moca (picture, right) , which has a population of about 30,000 people. Carlos and Ramona Moscoso who used to live in New Jersey moved to Moca and invited Ed Rangel, an evangelist from Indiana, to work with them. They have baptized about eight people in the last year. Ed is doing an excellent job of helping the new babes in Christ.

I also preached in Dorado, about 25 miles west of San Juan. It is one of the oldest congregations in Puerto Rico. I preached there 24 years ago. Since that time the church has gone throug some difficult times, but they have some young couples and children that gives hope for the future.

Ed Rangel arranged for me to preach for the brethren in Ponce on the less populated southern end of the Island. The congregation there has been in decline for a number of years, but in the last year has seen a revival, thanks in large part to the influence of Ed and Tol Burk, another evangelist who lives near San Juan. Though still small, with only 30-40 in attendance, there is a noticeable enthusiasm during the services. A young but mature acting teenager named Ninel at a remote beach on Sunday after services (picture right). The atmosphere was pretty with sunny skies, a warm breeze and happy Christians. To see more pictures from Puerto Rico, click here.

Baptisms in New York

The congregation in Upper Manhattan is going through another period of revival that is once again filling up our building to the point that it is sometimes uncomfortable. There have been three baptisms during the last reporting period:

* Angel, about 40 years of age, is related by marriage to Vilia Hernandez. She has been talking to him for several years about the gospel and her efforts have brought forth fruit.

* Julisa, from Venezuela, came in our door on Tuesday evening and though somewhat unconventional in her dress and behavior, was immediately embraced by the brethren, especially Rossy Grado, who talked for hours with her on the phone. She was baptized into Christ and has been very open with her friends, bringing several to services.

* Gary Peralta, pictured on the left with baby Gabriel, is only thirteen but one of the most dedicated and charismatic young Christians you could ever know. Since his baptism he has led prayers and singing and given several heartfelt exhortations to the brethren. He has about as much spiritual potential as any thirteen year old I’ve ever known.

We rejoice in the growth at Upper Manhattan, but also realize that it has gone through such spurts before, only to be attacked by Satan. Even now there are several situations that he could exploit.

Misc. Items

* Home studies – A new study on Tuesdays is with Charo, a Peruvian in her forties who is very interested in the word of God. Also, we have studies several Saturday’s with Cindy, a Christian in her thirties that I have known since she was a child. She is going through a crisis of faith, but willing to study with us. Studies continue with those mentioned in the last report.

* Meetings – I enjoyed weekend meetings with brethren at the Hillview congregation in West Nashville, Tennessee and in East Orange, New Jersey.

* Internet – I’ve heard that two students that have studied our online Bible Correspondence Course, one in Venezuela and one in Mexico, have been baptized into Christ. Thankfully, there were brethren close to them that could contact them. Such is often not the case, and then I can only send certificates and tracts to those who finish the course. I need to update the site since it is rather old fashioned (frames) but I don’t have the computer knowledge or dozens of hours necessary to do that.

* Camp – This is the time of the year when almost all of my spare time is used preparing for our summer camp. It has really mushroomed in the past few years and I am always apprehensive that we can manage the growth, but so far we’ve been able to do so. I expect over 200 in attendance this year. As always, we are seeking those who can help sponsor campers. The number that needs sponsorship will grow again this year because of the increasing number of contacts we have in the inner city. Please contact me if you can help, or know of those who can. More information click here. Though not a work of the church, the camp provides many opportunities for strong young Christians to teach and influence those who are younger.