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6/17/05

Report on Work New York City area

Gardner Hall, P.O. Box 123, Port Murray, NJ 07865-0123,

New Christians
* José Ballona, the shepherd from Peru mentioned in our last report, was baptized into Christ on Sunday, May 29. José works six days a week as a mechanic in the Bronx, and is usually busy late into the evening. Therefore, it has been difficult to find time when he can study. However, in the Bible studies we’ve had, he’s shown a humility and submission before God’s word that will help him grow.
José, pictured below on the right with Aida Del Villar and Jon Focht is very quiet and speaks more with his smile than with words. As I gain his confidence I want to get his thoughts on having left his sheep in the Peruvian countryside to work in a noisy garage in the Bronx. What a contrast!

* Esmeralda Garcia is the daughter of Rosa Garcia, who I have known for many years. Esmeralda obeyed the Lord in baptism June 5. Pray for Esmeralda as she has constantly had to deal with emotional challenges that come from years of abuse. When she is with her loving Christians at Fair Lawn, she seems at peace, smiling and greeting the brethren. Now that she is a Christian, we pray that she learn even more about the peace that comes from being a child of God.

Update on problems at Upper Manhattan
The problems at Upper Manhattan mentioned in the last report have been resolved, though not in the ideal way. Though one brother involved in the "revolt" repented humbly, the other three leaders have decided to rent a storefront in the Bronx and begin meeting there. They will probably succeed in getting a group of women and children to go with them, about a dozen in all. After several weeks of sowing discord among the brethren, they tried to be more conciliatory last Sunday when telling us farewell. I encouraged the brethren to be polite with them, hoping that as the years pass we may see some of them return across unburned bridges.

The whole experience has taught us a lot. We’ve seen what pride, combined with the influence of faddish religions (primarily the charismatic movement) can do to those we love. I believe I was not firm enough in dealing with the unhealthy currents that were evident several years ago. I naively thought that gentle teaching would help cure the problem with time, when the situation probably called for a firmer approach. Though we will miss the adults that are leaving, my greatest sadness is for the children who have been affected. Some are very intelligent. I think that a few understand that their parents are behaving unwisely. We’ll miss them.

The good news is that the rest of the church is greatly relieved that the problems are over with less damage done than what we initially feared could be possible. Battling the problem together has enhanced the spirit of unity, love and camaraderie. I believe the church is in a good position to regroup and grow again, much wiser for the trial we’ve gone through.

Misc.
The church building in Fair Lawn is undergoing extensive renovations. The Spanish-speaking brethren paid $50,000 to the contractor for the project and are now paying half of the other building expenses, since we meet there half the time it is used.

The next six weeks are going to be very hectic for the Hall family with the following activities:
* Camp for young people – This personal project (churches aren’t authorized to be involved in ventures involving recreation) is set for July 3-9. I’m getting this report out early so I’ll be clear to work on this project for the next two weeks. Looks like over 100 young people will attend this year. I hate to beg, but it seems like we’re behind on financing. If you know of any that would like to help pay the fees of some underprivileged kids at camp, please have them contact me.
* Rebecca’s wedding – Our oldest daughter, Rebecca, marries David Bermudez, a fine young Christian man on July 15th in Tampa, Florida, the week after camp. We’re thrilled that she found a companion for life that loves God so much. They are pictured on the right.

* Dad’s leadership camp for young men. After a few weeks in New Jersey trying to catch up, the Lord willing we’ll head back South for Dad’s leadership camp in Russellville, Alabama, which begins July 31.

Please pray that God may use us to encourage others in all of these projects.