4/29/04 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
"Maintaining our base"
Politicians talk about maintaining their base, taking time away from recruiting new voters to keeping party members enthusiastic and energetic. It seems that much of our work in the past two months has involved "maintaining our base." Weve realized that many new Christians who seem outwardly contented in their growth, need special attention for special challenges. Marriage problems are a constant source of danger. Misunderstandings about basic Bible teachings sometimes flare up. To be successful in working for future growth in the kingdom, we sometimes have to make sure that "our base" is with us.
Most of my new home Bible studies on Tuesdays in New York are with new Christians. Luchi Casado, pictured below with her kids and lots of extras, stopped attending several weeks agoalong with her bright children. When Jon Focht and I visited, she expressed several concerns, some legitimate. We realized that she needs more teaching and attention than she was getting and have started a weekly home study with her. She is attending with us again. Her oldest son, Julio, is leaving for Cornell University this August and still hasnt obeyed the gospel though he is seriously considering it. Jon teaches Kevin and Julio in English, while I teach Luchi in Spanish.
I preached a few weeks ago at Upper Manhattan about the evil spirit that goes out of a man and returns with seven worse spirits. The application was that many evils accompany partial or insincere repentance. After the lesson, two recently converted Christians, Miriam
and Lidia, requested more personal studies. I realize that there are probably a dozen or so other members that could also use personal study, but it is difficult to find time for all.
Melvin Vasquez is setting up a web page for the congregation at Upper Manhattan. The address is www.tus hermanos.com. You can see pictures of the brethren there, though the site is still "under construction."
Elba and Rosanna were recently baptized into Christ. Rosanna, daughter of Rosa Martinez, has been raised with us and it was thrilling to see her make the most important decision of her life. The bad news is that Rosanna, along with her mother, Rosa and sister Crystal, have moved to North Carolina. They are the first of several families that are moving south. Rosa has been instrumental in teaching Elba and also other new Christians like Mirta. We hope they will continue to be faithful, now that she is gone.
News from other congregations, near and far
* Fair Lawn There is always a good spirit at the Spanish speaking congregation at Fair Lawn. Sometimes, I worry that some live too far away to become as integrated as they ought into the spiritual family. Those who live in Paterson (close to Fair Lawn) are quite close and spend a lot of time together. However, those who live further away have a more difficult time bonding with others, since they are able to be with brethren only once a week.
* Flushing I visit the Spanish speaking congregation in Flushing once a month. Most of the brethren in Flushing are from Central America and are very good listeners. Francisco Amaya and his nephew, Nelson, do most of the preaching there.
* Bathgate Avenue, Bronx The congregation that meets on Bathgate Avenue in the Bronx is a group that split off from the Spanish speaking portion of the big Manhattan church of Christ, where women take leading roles in the services. Ive come to know several members through the years and am pleased that they have recently invited me to preach there once a month. Im not sure if Im going to be able to make it there that often because of all the other irons I have in the fire, but will try to go as much as possible.
* Embry Hills, Atlanta, Georgia Irene Rodriguez, who was baptized here a few months ago, went to Atlanta and started meeting with the Spanish speaking brethren at Embry Hills. José Coronado, who preaches there has been able to baptize several of her family members and the congregation is growing rapidly.
I held a weekend meeting in Zion, Illinois a week and half ago. The long conversations with David Padfield and other mature Christians there were especially enjoyable. I plan to be with the brethren at East End in Lexington, Kentucky next week.
The web page and bimonthly paper are producing an increasing amount of correspondence from Latin America.
We are preparing for our weeklong camp for young people, June 27- July 3. This is not a work of the church, and yet it seems to give a much needed boost to young people in the Northeast. They realize that they are not isolated in dealing with their challenges but have dozens of fellow Christians who are also striving to be pure. I think we will have even more young people this year who need "adopting" (need help with expenses) and if any individuals would like to chip in, any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for all your support and prayers through the years.