Report on Work New York City area
Gardner Hall, P.O. Box 123, Port Murray, NJ 07865-0123,
Nice Recovery at Sherman Avenue
A little less than a year after some difficult problems with about a dozen brethren, the congregation in Upper Manhattan is making a good recovery. Anyone entering the building just before services will see a l0t of holy hugs and kisses as the brethren happily greet each other. Dominicans are affectionate! Brethren who have worked, cried, prayed and suffered together in dealing with a crisis become very close.
Perhaps one of the happiest signs of renewal is the return of children. For a few months, the only children and teenagers who showed up for Bible studies were Genesis Grado and my two Peruvian companions from New Jersey, Beto and Willie. However, Maria and Porfiria, two new and growing converts, have five children between them! Maria has a large extended family and she has invited almost all to services. Many have accepted her invitation, including several children. Some of the new children, Gary and Madalena in particular, show much interest in the Bible and an aptitude to learn it.
In observing Beto and Willie, I have realized the importance of having friendly children in a congregation. They greet the new children who are often a little shy, immediately striking up conversations with them about the Yankees, Mets, Yu-Gi-Oh cards, video games or whatever. Within a few minutes the children are happy and at ease. Christians need to teach their children to be friendly with visitors, both adults and children, and not just "hang out " before and after services with the kids they already know! Beto and Willie are great examples for other kids!
Two middle aged men, Victor Alonso, pictured on the below in a blue jacket, and Celestino. have been our two newest baptisms at Sherman Avenue. However, They both will have to overcome spiritual challenges. When baptized, Victor stated that he is an alcoholic, but that he wanted to change his ways. He was evidently successful for several weeks, studying with Jerry Falk and attending services. However, the last week has seen a setback in his new life in Christ. We will work with him to help him get on his feet again.
Celestino was a drop in visitor at services about three weeks ago. The Sunday he attended, Jerry Falk preached a simple, clear lesson on baptism and its purpose. After hearing that one sermon, Celestino requested baptism. We told him that baptism would do him no good if he didnt grow in Christ, attending services and studying with Christians. We baptized him and we have seen him at one service since. We have been trying to get him to study with us and he has accepted the idea, but makes excuses when the actual time comes. He is still friendly with us over the phone and we wont give up on him.
Reasons to be patient with teenagers
I have known Roger Polanco for about five years ever since baptizing his mother, Miriam. Roger was always friendly and outgoing but rather shallow as far as interest in the Bible was concerned. He occasionally came to services, even less to Bible classes. His demeanor, however, indicated more interest in action in the street than in God. The only thing that gave me hope for Roger was the fact that he liked to ask a thousand questions and actually seemed to listen to the answers.
Roger began to change last summer. Jesse Bartley seemed to have a particularly good influence on him in our little camp, taking hours to patiently answer some of his questions. Finally, Roger decided to be baptized. After his baptism he decided to go to Florida College and immediately became friends with the most spiritually minded teens there, students like Caleb Churchill, Emily Ferenczce and Kyle Fisher. From all reports, he is completely absorbed in the word of God and diligent to grow in Christ. It was a thrill to see Roger at the Florida College lectures, along with several others from this area..
In the picture to the right, you have from left to right: Comfort, Daphne, Marcos Grado, Roger's sister, Nadiuska, and Roger.
Whenever other city teens show up with their gold chains, baggy pants, Air Jordans, and baseball caps pulled back and cocked at a 90 degree angle and say "Hey yo! Sup?" Ill be patient with them and hope for another Roger!
The church in Fair Lawn is preparing for its first gospel meeting. Gospel meetings arent a tradition in congregations in the New York City area and weve decided to take the plunge to give ourselves a boost and motivate us to invite visitors. The meeting will be held, Lord willing, the weekend of March 31, April 1 and 2. Luis Segovia, Nelson Amaya and Francisco Amaya, three excellent preachers from the area, will do the preaching.
Im looking forward to a meeting in Bartow, Florida in Spanish this Friday and Saturday, March 3 and 4. Then I hope to be in nearby Fort Meade in English March 5-10. We are blessed to have so many good churches and individuals that pray for us and support us.