Report on Work in the New York City area
Twenty-five Years in New Jersey
Please excuse a little personal reminiscing. Twenty-five years ago this month, Beverly, Rebecca and I moved to New Jersey from Argentina. We were naive and inexperienced. (We may have that look in the picture below). People from the area instantly noticed our Southern accent. They still do! Spanish speaking brethren said that we sounded like "gringos" that had been lost for a while in Argentina. I have vivid memories of feeling overwhelmed, culture shocked and out of place, especially in New York City. I often wondered what we were doing up here.
Our goal in 1982 was to start a new Spanish-speaking work in Paterson, New Jersey. Those primary efforts fizzled, as did efforts to start a work in the Newark, East Orange area in the middle and late 1980s. I will confess that during that time I looked often in the classified sections of newspapers to see what kind of secular work I could get. I did not feel that we were accomplishing enough to justify receiving a salary from churches.
However, God helped us to persevere. We were able to gain the confidence of the Hispanic congregation in Upper Manhattan and began working with them in 1984. We started a work in 1993 in North Bergen that eventually became the stable Spanish-speaking congregation that now meets in Fair Lawn. Much of our work is still with these two congregations: Upper Manhattan and Fair Lawn.
I am sure that with more wisdom we could have accomplished much more in our twenty-five years. Growth in the congregations has been sporadic rather than spectacular. I am sure that I have overlooked tactics that would have been more effective even as I have spent many hours on projects that have proved fruitless. And yet, we hope that with Gods help we have helped some people to go to heaven. I pray that God will give us wisdom to be more effective in the remaining time we may have here.
I especially want thank the congregations that have supported me during the past twenty-five years: Westwood (Adamsville, AL), Jackson Drive, Eastside, Westview (all in my old home town, Athens, AL), Douglass Hills (Louisville, KY) , New Georgia (Anderson, AL), Northside (Lexington, AL) Vivion Road (Kansas City) and East Hills (Pensacola, FL) . Embry Hills in Atlanta and Shores in Giles County, Tennessee help me with my bimonthly paper, Creced. Numerous individuals have helped us both economically and with prayers. My thanks to all and especially to our heavenly Father.
* Francisco Medina from Sherman Avenue in Upper Manhattan is teaching several elderly ladies. One of them, Vivian, has been baptized into Christ.
* I currently have four weekly home studies with new Christians and the lost and looking for more.
* The building at Upper Manhattan is again crowded on Sunday mornings to the point that it is squeezed and uncomfortable. Children make up a high percentage of those in attendance. I dont know what to advise the brethren to do. The transient status of many members makes a big financial investment in a building project risky. Who knows what the congregation will be like in fifteen to twenty-five years in spite of our best efforts? So many that we teach move on and we must start over with new converts and those who move in. Perhaps renting a large hall for Sundays would be the best move, but such halls are difficult to find for a reasonable price in Upper Manhattan.
* Carlos Peralta is a young man on Long Island who has come to know the truth through the internet, in particular a site run by Lorenzo Luévano, an impressive Mexican preacher. Ive visited Carlos and hope I can start a monthly study with him and with a group of young people from a Baptist church where he has been a member. Carlos is confident that he has been baptized for the remission of sins to become a part of Christs body, but has expressed a willingness to reexamine that . The distance to Carlos town on Long Island (about two and a half hours) makes a weekly study impossible, but a monthly study will be worthwhile, especially because of Carloss great zeal.
* As I think of the good done on the internet by many, I see the need to update my own efforts. Jerry Falk and I are making plans to add material to his excellent site for the lost, www.buscad.com. My plans are to keep www.creced.com for Spanish-speaking brethren and create two other small sites for English reports and the small amount of material I have in that language.
* Cheo and Geronimo, the two men whose baptisms were mentioned in the last report, arent doing well spiritually in spite of my best efforts.
* I had an enjoyable meeting with the Hispanic brethren in Long Beach, California. Mark Reeves is doing a good work there. The congregation is one of a growing number of bilingual churches.
* Beverly and I enjoyed visiting with Rebecca, David, Leah and friends at the F.C. lectures.
* I received a letter from a good sister in Cuba asking about a problem there. She said that all they can find for the Lords supper are "crackers." Someone recently criticized them severely saying that the "crackers" had leaven in them. However, she told me that the only flour available is "stolen." I presume she means black market flour. She says that her conscience wont let her buy the "stolen" flour, but shes unsure about the "crackers." What advice would you give her? Pray for her and hundreds of other brethren in Cuba who are dedicated to serving God in very difficult circumstances.
* Thanks for your support and prayers!