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Report for Gardner Hall 8/31/06

Encouraging Young Christians

The congregation at Upper Manhattan and to a certain extent the Hispanic congregation that meets in Fair Lawn have seen a revival of interest among children and teens to study the Bible and serve others. The resurgence of interest is due in great part to the good examples and work of several young disciples. Tim Bunting, Esther Rodriguez and Alicia Stewart have made it a priority to teach the children and teenagers on Tuesday and Thursday nights at Upper Manhattan. I thoroughly enjoy watching them interact with the kids after services. Roger Polanco and Caleb Churchill spent almost two months of their summer vacation in the city and were especially successful in stimulating a number of teenage boys to open their minds to God’s word. Roger is 100% New Yorker in his accent and dress and that helps him identify with teens that come from the same background. Caleb and others like Emily Ferenzce have had a big part in Roger’s enthusiasm for Bible study and growth.

Brigham Eubanks and Ernesto Orellana have been successful in building up interest and enthusiasm among teens at Fair Lawn. Brigham, who is fluent in Spanish, will be studying at Rutgers and Ernie will be a senior in High School. I’ve turned the teenage class over to them.
Since school has been out, several teens from New Jersey have been accompanying me almost every Tuesday to New York City. They are Jose Rivas, Jesús Quiñones, Germancito Ortiz and Beto Guerrero. It is so enjoyable to have them along in the car to laugh at their horseplay and participate in some serious conversations with them.

The little children who are attending services are friends and relatives of members. The older teens have made sure that they give the "little kids" plenty of attention and that is just what they need. Many come from broken homes and from neighborhoods that are full of gang activities and drug activity. However, they respond well to the Bible stories and love that they receive. Though we will probably lose many to the world, some will overcome the shallow lifestyle of the city with God’s help, just like Roger Polanco, Marcos Grado, Daphne Laurent and others have done.

Special summer activities

Summer months are full of activities. We had 119 campers and 34 staff members at our weeklong camp, July 2-8. Picture below. The camp is purely a personal project (camps aren’t the responsibility of churches) It provides a boost to all of us. Though we always underplay baptism at camp to avoid spur of the moment decisions, four young people were baptized in the lake. At least two more obeyed the gospel immediately after camp.

We spent the week of July 23 at my Dad’s leadership camp for young men at Jackie Richardson’s camp near Russellville, Alabama. This week of intensive Bible study is good not only for the young men, but also for us "older folks" who get to spend time with them.

I spent the week of August 20-25 with the Eastside congregation in Bowling Green, Kentucky. I enjoyed being with old friends like Bob and Delores Buchanon and making new friends such as Jason and Stephanie Longstreth. I stayed in the Longstreth’s home and grew to admire their maturity and spirituality. They have adopted two adorable little girls who quickly became my buddies. The brethren at Eastside are very loving and encouraging.

Misc.

I do not have as many Bible studies with the lost now as usual. One has been with Martin Gutierrez, an ex Catholic "missionary" who is an interesting character. Most of my studies now are now with new Christians. I hope I can build up the number of studies with the lost in the early fall. I also hope to have time to redo my web page and work on several other projects during office time. I’ve also promised Beverly to do some needed work on the house, since Fall is often a little less hectic for us than other times of the year. Thanks so much for your support.