9/8/04 Report on Work in the New York City area
Gardner Hall, P.O. Box 123, Port Murray, NJ 07865-0123,
Gardner@creced.com Web: www.creced.com , Tel. (908) 850-5389
How often we hear, "Its tough to be a young Christian these days!" Though true in a sense, sometimes that expression might make service to Christ sound like a burdensome task that is grudgingly fulfilled by teens who would rather be giving themselves over to the superficial lifestyle of their peers. The fact is that there are many young Christians who have their eyes open to the shallowness of the MTV world and the empty lives it produces. Serving Christ gives them joy and peace, values that their companions are sadly lacking. Though sometimes challenging, they realize that Gods way is the only real way to live.
We are thrilled to see growth in new teenage Christians and the birth of yet another one. Ernie and Desiré, mentioned in our last report are both happily studying and learning. Desiré told her Father that she needed to buy a whole new wardrobe, and she did! No one talked to her about modest clothing, tried to shame her, or twist her arm about it. The desire to dress modestly just came as a natural response to mature outlook that Christ gave her.
Ana Gladys Mejía, who is 15, (in the white shirt below with the long hair) has always been a quiet and thoughtful young lady. She came forward after services in Fair Lawn a few weeks ago requesting baptism into Christ. I like Anas quiet spirit and sweet smile. Please pray for her.
Bearing one anothers burdens
We have been reminded in many ways in the past two months that this world is not our permanent home, but rather a temporary place with much suffering.
* José Castellanos (pictured below right) is the 30 year old son of Rafael and Mirtala, members at Fair Lawn. José is dying from stage four stomach cancer. Rafael and Mirtala have already lost another son to the death squads in El Salvador. He was kidnapped for no apparent reason as he was passing out tracts. No trace was ever found of him. Though José has attended services sporardically through the years, and always been very friendly to me, he has never obeyed the gospel. I received a message last night he wants to be baptized and that the hospital will allow us to use a whirlpool to do that tomorrow. Pray for José and his parents.
* While visiting José, we met a kind woman from the Dominican Republic named Rosa. Her husband, Manuel, is from Riobamba, Equador and has just been diagnosed with cancer. Sheis pregnant with their first child. Manuel is a mountain climber and when I asked him if he had climbed prominent South American peaks like Chimborazo and Acongagua, his eyes brightened as he nodded affirmatively. He couldnt answer verbally because he has pneumonia. Rosa says that she needs to search for something more meaningful in her life.
Hospitals are a good place to meet people who might be good ground for the gospel. The illness of the body sometimes helps people take their eyes away from the shallow distractions of the world to search for something more meaningful.
* I have spent a lot of time this past month helping a recent immigrant fromPeru deal with abuse in her family, learning more about dealing with prosecutors and State social agencies than I care to know.
* Helping illegal become legal. The only good thing about the abuse suffered by the Peruvian family is that now as victims they have a quicker legal route to stay in this country. I have spent more time than usual these past two months helping good people who are in the process of becoming permanently legal here. As you can imagine, this is a problem we must constantly deal with.
* Four families have left Upper Manhattan in the past two months, moving to Florida and North Carolina. We miss them! The only good thing is that we are not as tightly packed in the church building as before. Victor and Rosi Grado, two of the pillars in the church have decided to stay a little longer, but I fear that we will eventually lose them.
* As always, I enjoyed spending a week in Russellville, Alabama to help my Dad with a weeklong series of intense Bible studies for young Christian men. The group picture is below. This "camp" is always much more relaxing for me than the others two I do in the summer, since Im not in charge. I especially enjoyed visiting brethren at Eastside in Athens, and Piney Grove in Coffee County, Alabama while on that trip.
* We enjoyed a special labor day weekend "camp" for Spanish speaking brethren last weekend. Though we only had around twenty five who attended, we sang our hearts out and "bonded" even closer together in the Lord.
* With summer season over, I hope to have more time for several long range projects. After several starts and stops, Gary Fishers course on the book of Mark is on the web page and will soon be printed up.