Joy and Concern at Upper Manhattan
The congregation at Upper Manhattan is always a source of joy and concern. The joy comes from the large numbers of visitors and young people that cram into the building making it almost impossible to find breathing space. Last Sunday we had well over one hundred in attendance with about a dozen young people standing in the tiny foyer in the back and more trying to listen through a side door. We squeezed several extra rows of folding chairs in the few empty spots in the room, but things are getting desperate as far as space is concerned. We have no money for another building and as was mentioned in the last report, the buyer of our existing building has backed out. With the real estate market so limited, we have no option but to stay where we are. We are considering a tent which could go in our back yard at least for the summer. Our building is crammed on Tuesday nights with young people and a growing number of little children, so many that were going to have to find a way to divide the teen class up. We can put some of the overflow outside in the back yard now that summer has come. The young are coming primarily because of the work of Tim Bunting, Roger Polanco and Emily Ferenzce.
The concerns arise primarily because of worldliness among some of the adult Christians and differing opinions about how to deal with it. The mens meeting made a decision last month that threatened to divide the church, agreeing to reinstate a member who has been married four times. Thankfully, some documents came to light that convinced them that they were right in their original decision to withdraw from the brother and thus a crisis was averted. However, the incident reminded me of how fragile the work is. I think inner city works are inherently unstable because of their constant turnover and the influx of ideas from parts of the world where worldly practices such as divorce doesnt have much stigma. We will continue to teach and preach at Upper Manhattan, knowing that whatever happens in the future, God will always have his remnant.
We are enjoying several home Bible studies on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Our newest one is with Miriam who was invited to Upper Manhattan by Silvia Peña. Miriam (pictured with Silvia above right) was baptized into Christ on Sunday, April 25, and is hungry to learn from the scriptures. We also study on Tuesdays with Maribel, an impressive single mother who has visited us. Other studies on Tuesdays have been with Manny and Eduardo Boado, though the last one may be ending. Our best home study on Saturdays now is with Daisy Abreu and her teenage children. Daisy is an impressive woman and we hope that she will soon obey the gospel.
I enjoyed meetings at Jones Road in Athens, Alabama and Skyview in White House, Tennessee. Jones Road has grown by 25% or so in the last few years and has an impressive number of teenagers that sit in the front, some taking notes during the sermon. Skyview has a number of sweet children that promise a good future for that congregation.
While in the South, Beverly and I were able to visit our parents. Since my sister Holly was also in the area, we were actually able to get all five Hall children together with our parents for about twenty minutes. (Picture below.)
This is the time of the year when I must dedicate almost all my spare time to preparations for our summer camp. Though not a work of the church, it provides a week for intensive one on one time with young people for Bible study, prayer, singing and conversation. As always, Im asking for financial help from anyone who can help sponsor the growing number of campers who need assistance. So many from the inner city have parents who arent Christians and either cant or wont pay. If you are in a position to help, or know someone who is, please contact me. The camp webpage is http://www.creced.com/english/fc/fcFRAME.html.