8/31/03 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
New Christians, New and "Refurbished" Contacts
Hilda Benitez was baptized into Christ a little over a month ago. We have been reading through Luke and Acts with her on Saturdays for the better part of a year. She has a sweet disposition and will make an excellent addition to the congregation at Fair Lawn. Hilda is shown on the left with her daughter in law, Norma, and grandkids, Monica and oscar.
José Gutierrez is the son of Teodoro and Rosa Gutierrez. He was already an excellent Bible student when he came to us from Peru about a year ago, asking perceptive questions in our Bible studies, slowly putting aside misconceptions. After services a few Sundays ago, he requested baptism into Christ, saying that he knows his previous baptism wasnt Christs baptism. He says he now wants to help us in our classes with his sister, Carmen, and brother in law, Johnny who are in the same condition he was in. Carmen attends our services at Fair Lawn with four sweet children and Johnny attends when his work allows it. José is on the top right of the picture at the right. Carmen is on the left. Teodoro and Rosa the older couple with the grandkids.
We have a new study going in the Bronx with Lidia Francisco, who lives right behind Yankee stadium. Lidias mother was a Christian in the Dominican Republic, but she had little spiritual interest herself until recent problems in her life awakened it.
Old contacts that have faded away have come back to us. Esmeralda Garcia, who attended several years ago with a rather standoffish attitude, has started attending again in Fair Lawn, this time with a friendly smile and greeting for everyone. She is even talking of baptism. Tati Ortiz, and her family, who stopped attending several months ago have started again. So, we learn to not give up on people.
News from the congregations
The building stalemate continues in New Jersey. We had one meeting with the Paterson Board of Adjustment , but our lawyer thought things didnt seem to be going well, so he received permission to postpone the final decision for another meeting. He says that the City Council is about to pass an ordinance loosening the parking requirements so he is trying to "stall" until that passes. The Board then demanded that we go ahead and meet with them for a final vote on August 14, but that was the night of the blackout, so the meeting was fortunately postponed. Now we are waiting for another appointment, hoping it will be after the Council loosens the parking requirements, but before the seller gets impatient and pulls out of the contact. Maybe therell be more news in the next report.
The series on institutionalism at Upper Manhattan that was mentioned in the last report had a hiccup. The brother teaching the series, which brethren seemed to be receiving so well, decided he needed to be extremely graphic, calling respected brethren "apostate." When some told him that though they agreed with him in principle, they felt he was going too far in his personal denunciations, he responded a bit defiantly. So, there has been a bit of a setback. Many of our brethren at Upper Manhattan come to us from churches in the Dominican Republic that are extremely conservative in some areas, and yet have some sectarian influences. We try to teach them and yet must do so diplomatically. Those of us who teach have occasionally had disagreements regarding how big a dose of medicine to give them.
Misc. news, personal and otherwise
* We had 133 teenagers and adults at our weeklong gathering for young people. Two impressive young Canadian men were baptized into Christ. A large group of 10-12 year olds also wanted to be baptized but we talked to them seriously about the need to wait until they were sure they were ready, and all in that age category held off. It is difficult to know how to advise young people in the 10-12 year age category who know that they want to be Christians and yet arent sure if they are mature enough or not.
I was especially encouraged to see young Christians like Cesar Valles from Montreal, who have had almost no association with other young Christians, flourish and grow tremendously in a one week period. As always, I need to point out, that this meeting, which includes recreational activities, is a personal project and has no connection with the churches. I'll paste in a picture of the kids from camp below.
* I enjoyed spending one week at my Dads weeklong extensive Bible study session for young men at Jackie Richardsons Rustic Youth Camp in Alabama. The zeal of the young men at the gathering was a great encouragement.
* We left Leah at Florida College last week and are adjusting to life as "an old married couple" with no kids at home. Leah is adjusting well to college life. Big sister, Rebecca, says shell help take care of her.
* While in Florida, we had a very enjoyable week long meeting with the congregation in Plant City. The brethren there are very down to earth and loving. The congregation is blessed with humble elders and with an excellelent preacher, Gary Ogden. Much of Garys strength is due to his great wife, Gail. Thanks so much for all your support and your prayers
tan has been through some ups and downs during the past two months, but I believe that overall there is an increasing maturity and willingness to discuss calmly some of the issues that are brought in from different countries. Several young men have asked me to give them a training class on Tuesday nights and we began those last night
Translation Projects, Trips
I have more time in the fall for special projects and trips. Ive been able to translate an open letter from Dennis Allan to members of the International Church of Christ into Spanish. He has it posted in three languages at www.members.aol.com/dennisallan95/. Dennis has done a wonderful work in Brazil, and I jumped at the chance to help him out a bit on one of his projects. A much more extensive project has been the translation of Gary Fishers Bible Correspondence Course on the book of Mark. The course is excellent in helping students learn to mine the scriptures for practical applications. It is currently with a proofreader.
I would like to divide my webpage, www.creced.com into three separate sites: One in English, One in Spanish designed particularly for brethren, and one in Spanish designed for the lost. Im not sure if Im going to have enough time to get that done. I feel less pressure to get the one done for the lost, since Jerry Falk in Spain now has an excellent one going, www.buscad.com. Recommend that site for any Spanish speaking friends you have who are looking for truth. Most current sites are designed for brethren.
I had an enjoyable meeting with the Spanish speaking brethren in Pasadena, Texas. I especially enjoyed being with Terry and Lucy Partain and their sweet kids. Terry is very careful with the scriptures but theres no trace of traditionalism or a party spirit in him. How we need more like him in the Spanish language work! The Partain family has been a great blessing to me through the years, especially Wayne, Terry, Don and their families.
We are greatly blessed to be supported in so many ways by good brethren. Thanks,