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God, the Same Throughout All Generations. So He Is in All Our Distresses, Yea, This Year at Easter Also.

“There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, Who rideth upon the heavens to thy help, and in his majesty upon the clouds.  Thy refuge is the God of old, and underneath are the [everlasting] arms; and he shall drive out the enemy from before thee…”  Deuteronomy 33:26-27 (Darby’s translation, one word altered)

How good it is to realize that our God is the Most High, all-powerful Jehovah who supports, guides, and provides.  Sometimes I am amazed to think that I am even one of His children at all.  Why should He have called me and brought me to salvation and given me like, precious faith as the apostles of Jesus had in days of old?  Why should the Gospel have been preached to me so clearly and so lovingly by some of the elders of old-line Fundamentalism through the ministry of a small church in rural southern Virginia?  Why should He give me an opportunity to minister the Word in a mission in Manhattan?  I really do not feel worthy of His calling.

But just today I had the opportunity to spend some time after our chapel service talking with a twelve-year-old boy who needs help.  His mother is concerned about her son’s lack of perceived identity and his hyperactivity.  I was able, through my own experience and according to what the Lord has given me, to encourage the boy to find his identity in Christ.  I am firm whenever I talk to him; he needs direction.  Like so many conversations in life, this one took place while I was doing something; the boy and his mother were each doing their own things as the church was being cleaned around 7 p.m.  The boy surprised me today by hugging me as he left.  I can relate.  I too have lived through long times of searching in my life and have perceived the love of God in the proclamation of the truth of His Word.

Pastor Bill related to me today how after the chapel service, a lady approached him on the sidewalk and told him how, when she was out of work, she came to our food pantry and its accompanying chapel services for help.  Obviously a Christian lady according to Pastor Bill, she told him how she used to enjoy those services and that they had been a blessing to her.  Now she has found work, and today she gave our ministry a check for $140 for the continuance of the work here.  Praise God!

Twice in the past month, we’ve had to call 911 for people who have had medical issues during our chapel services.  Almost a month ago, a man had an issue during my Tuesday service, and just the other day, during a message on the death of Christ, just as Pastor Bill said the words “And He gave up the ghost, and He died,” an older lady in the service went back in her seat and appeared to possibly be having a heart attack (thankfully, she didn’t actually).  For a while she stopped breathing though, and the EMS took her away.  Thankfully, this lady is OK now, from what we’ve heard. 

Sometimes, just for relaxation, usually after my Bible study with Big James on the Lower East Side, I like to get on a train going the opposite direction from our church and ride out into Brooklyn.  I love riding, seeing the old stations and the city sights from the elevated trains going eastward out of Manhattan.  Last Friday I did just this, and this past Tuesday as well.  I rode all the way out to the end of the M line Friday and to Broadway Junction on the J train Tuesday.  Check out an MTA map if you’d like to see where these places are!

We had a glorious Easter Sunday service this past Sunday with a special meal afterwards.  Are you, the reader, aware that Christ rose from the dead on the feast of the firstfruits of barley (Leviticus 23:5-11), the first day of the week after the Sabbath following Passover?  Christ fulfilled this type, rising before the LORD as the firstfruits of them that slept in death.  Fifty days later, not a sheaf, but a loaf of bread was waved before the Lord.  This was the feast of Pentecost, when not one sheaf but many individual grains amalgamated together into a loaf were waived before the LORD.  Today, we as the Church, the Assembly of Christ’s people drawn from every nation, tribe, language, and people, are that loaf.  Notably for this Easter, two of our long time attendees joined the church after a few months of personal deliberation and some pastoral counseling.  We are glad to welcome them into fellowship.

Posted by:
Christopher Love, NYGM Intern

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Blessed, Perhaps Obscure, Truths of Palm Sunday

We had a really blessed Palm Sunday service last Sunday at the mission, remembering the Jewish significance of those palm branches laid before Christ in the streets of Jerusalem almost two thousand years ago.  Israel was commanded to make sukkot, or “booths” out of palm and fruit tree branches every year in the autumn and to live in those booths as a memorial of God’s having led them out of Egypt, their dwelling place being in booths in the dessert until He led them into the Promised Land.  The prophet  Zechariah prophesied that in the Day of the LORD, all those who are left from all the nations that will go up against Jerusalem in that coming ill-fated eschatological battle will then celebrate the feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) from year to year. 

During this feast in times of antiquity, the Jews would quote Psalm 118 on the last (eighth) day of the feast.  It’s familiar lines “Hosanna (‘save now’)…  Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” is what the people were shouting as Christ entered Jerusalem on a donkey (fulfilling Genesis 49:11 and Zechariah 9:9) on that first Palm Sunday.  Even the toddlers in the temple got in on the action, calling to Jesus: “Hosanna to the Son of David,” and this was a great honor to our Lord.

The followers of Jesus on that day were ready to start building sukkahs in fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophesy.  They were hoping to see the holiday psalm and the Kingdom of God fulfilled in their eyes.  But the cross was to come first, and almost all of them had missed that teaching though the Lord had been declaring it plainly.  Peter had been ready to start building sukkahs on the mount of the transfiguration, and the LORD had stopped him, commanding him simply to listen to the Son as He spoke, among other things, of His coming cross and resurrection.

How strange to think that four or five days after that scene on the first Palm Sunday, Christ Jesus would lay in death’s strong bands, for our offenses given!  Two rulers who had waited for the kingdom of God would blatantly break a rabbinic ceremonial requirement by entering a Gentile ruler’s hall in order to ask for the body of Jesus, thus also defiling themselves, biblically, with a dead body, making themselves ineligible to eat the Passover.  By this they chose the greater part and identified allegiance with Jesus.  Nevertheless, in the coming first day of the week, on the Jewish feast of Firstfruits of Barley (biblically, the day after the Sabbath following the first night of Passover), the victory would remain with LIFE; the reign of death would be ended.  Hallelujah.

[Giving credit to whom it is due:  In the above paragraphs, I have quoted or alluded to sayings by Mark Minnick, Craig Hartman, and Martin Luther.  The statement about the toddlers in the temple is Minnick’s; Peter’s action on the mount is Hartman’s; and the allusions to “death’s strong bands” and “the victory remain[ing] with life” are from Luther’s hymn, “Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands.”]

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A recent convert here in the city made me laugh today with his use of phraseology typically used by drug addicts—now to describe his desire to read the Word of God.  He said, “I feel like kind of, I don’t know… kind of like a fiend to read it.”  I know from past experience what he means by this – he desires greatly, with a consuming desire, to read the Word.  He asked me recently if I would be willing to increase my weekly Bible study with him to two times weekly.  In this Bible study we typically go through five chapters, reading verses alternately, and I anticipate and explain interpretive issues as they arise.  Big James, as we affectionately call him, is living on the Word of God moreso than he ever anticipated.

Posted by:
Christopher Love, NYGM Intern

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Who is Really Able to Know the Work that God is Doing from Beginning to End?

“In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bore them, and carried them all the days of old.”  This saying of the prophet Isaiah demonstrates in tender terms the Lord’s care of His people in days of old.  In similar fashion, His tender mercies are apparent to those in Christ today, both Jew and Gentile, as He carries us and sympathizes with our weaknesses.

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, togive the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair…

Sometimes when the weight of the world seems to come down upon our shoulders, we as ministers of the Gospel of Christ best realize that our sufficiency is not of ourselves.  “The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him who with us sideth.”         …through Him, the line goes.  Our standing in grace is our being in Christ justified, and our sufficiency as ministers of the Word of God is through His Spirit, not our mortal efforts.

Recounting events at the mission:  I reiterate again this week my amazement at the Lord’s provision of a mission team from Wisconsin, whose visit last week overlapped perfectly the time I had to spend away from the city following my grandmother’s unexpected death.  My grandmother was a Christian, and I rejoice at her homegoing after years of pain.  But to think that God had already lined up a team of young people (including former-NYGM intern Galen Balinsky) to take my place here for the week causes amazement and thankfulness in my heart.

For each of the months of January, Febrary, and March, the mission averaged around 1500 attendees per month in our chapel services.  These are hearing the Gospel.  They come for food and receive it.  Some have told me that they come for the Word of God as well as the food.  In fact, one has even told me he comes for the Word of God primarily.  I used to walk past one of our avid listeners quite often on the sidewalk.  A dear elderly Spanish man who may have moved away at this point, he would always smile brilliantly as he said to me “hello, pastor,” an accolade I really don’t feel worthy of.  His was the smile of a regenerate heart rejoicing on account of the preaching of the Word of God as far as I could tell, and I myself have experienced the same.  The Spirit bares witness with my spirit that this one is a child of God and not an empty professor.

Right here in the city, some years ago, mission worker Fanny Crosby came face to face with the poor spiritual conditions in a certain area of town and penned the lines, “Rescue the perishing, care for the dying; Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.”  A century and a half before her time, the Methodist movement (originally called the “Great Evangelical Revival” in England) was spreading the Gospel of God’s grace in Christ throughout the then-colonies of America.  George Whitfield left New York on horseback, preaching itinerantly as he journeyed toward Savannah, Georgia.  South of Richmond, on the boundary between Virginia colony and North Carolina, Francis Asbury deemed Salem Chapel, near the present-day town of South Hill, as “our finest chapel in the country part of Virginia.”  The Virginia annual convention of Methodists was held there in 1795, 98, 1802, and 04.  In the 1930’s, a Fundamentalist from South Hill Methodist Church founded an afternoon Sunday school which later became a non-denominational church itself.  This was my church in my youth, and though I didn’t appreciate it then, I have since returned volitionally, now as a Christian in full faith of the Gospel.  Recently, as I was looking through some old donor records of the New York Gospel Mission, I noticed that someone from my church had been supporting this mission in Manhattan in years gone by.  I never cease to be amazed at the interconnectedness of God’s dealings and His people throughout all generations, as many as know the salvation of God in truth.  Along these lines, I mention in closing that our Chinese preacher here at the mission today is actually an immigrant from Ghana, West Africa.  He knows the Lord and is zealous for the truth, and he speaks and preaches in Chinese.  I have included his picture above.  How Great are the works of Jehovah; sought out of all that delight in them.  (Psalm 111:2, Darby’s translation)

Please continue to offer request to the Lord that He would send us additional help.  We need an additional intern for at least the summer, and we need a Spanish preacher for our Spanish crowd who desires a service in their own language.

May God encourage every one in heart through the simple testimonies of this week’s report.

Posted by:
Christopher Love, NYGM Intern

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The Days Fly By, But God is at Work

Sometimes I find no time or inspiration to write a blogpost.  Right now though I feel as if I’ve entered a decompression chamber.  Yesterday was extremely busy, as Thursdays often are.  My grandmother died this past week, and even now I am en route to Richmond, Virginia to preach her funeral.  This grandmother was a Christian, and I am happy to hear of her peaceful homegoing after many years of physical pain.  She has entered into rest.  In Jesus, she is safe evermore.

A group of students from Maranatha Baptist Bible College is arriving in New York today to help in the work of the mission.  Included in this group is Galen Balenski, a former NYGM intern who is familiar with our ministry, vehicles, and operation.  God has providentially provided help for us just as I was about to have to take an unexpected trip home.

As I cleaned my living quarters in the basement of the church last night to make room for the Maranatha group, I thought about the words of a pastor who facetiously told me prior to my coming to New York that the church building which we occupy is “outside, New York, inside, Haiti.”  Well, I chuckle at that statement.  Honestly, our facilities have come a long way in the past year and are reasonably comfortable.  Just having space for ministry in the city is amazing in itself, whether that space is old or new, dilapidated or comfortable, built as a church building or not.  And our accommodations at old Manor Church get the job done, so to speak.  Manor Church wears workclothes.  Whether facilitating the bringing in of van loads of food then storing and distributing them, hosting chapel services for crowds commonly numbering a hundred and more, processing the cardboard in which our food donations arrive, or any of the other tasks routine to our ministry and operation, Manor sees a lot of work in its space on 26th Street.  (In regard to the statement above about the cardboard, it’s not uncommon for several of us to spend upwards of an hour or longer Thursday at midnight just to get the cardboard and garbage out to the street for pickup.)  Thank God there is still an evangelical ministry at 350 West 26th Street after all these years.  People are hearing the Gospel through God’s ministry here.  They are hearing whole books of the Bible exposited and are learning how to read their Bibles, and they are being helped with physical needs.

This past week in Tuesday chapel, we sang a capella as Pastor Bill was away and no recorded music was available.  The congregation sang all the stanzas of Amazing Grace, and how well they sang!  A good number knew the song, and I had wired my old rhinoceros of a laptop (for which I am very thankful) to a projector and projected the lyrics up onto the wall.  I thought I heard someone singing even a harmony part out in the congregation.  After my sermon on Hebrews 6, I sang them all the stanzas of “My Anchor Holds.”  They applauded.  I told them I had sung it for their benefit.

What an amazing mix of people the Lord brings through our doors.  People from many diverse nations and backgrounds visit our chapel and church services.  These vary in spiritual need and knowledge of the Word of God and salvation.  Some profess Christ.  Some not only profess but show works wrought in the Holy Spirit who testifies of their faith in Christ.

We have enjoyed having Lynnette Jones, Pastor Bill’s daughter, in town for the past three months.  Lynnette arrived after a missionary trip to Poland and studied for a TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) certification which she recently obtained.  She hopes to be involved in English teaching abroad in the future as God leads.

Two church attendees have recently expressed interest to me, unsolicited, in taking online Bible classes.  I have referred them to the Bible Broadcasting Network’s online Bible institute, and one has told me that both he and his mother are greatly enjoying the classes.  What a joy that people are being saved and growing in the Lord, desiring His Word.  We encourage them to grow in the Lord and to be Gospel men and women as God enables them.  We try our best to provoke them to love and good works in ways that please the Lord.  We seek to provide a warm place for them to come to church.  (Speaking of which, thank God the oil-buying season is coming to an end.  I didn’t mean “warm” in that sense, but we also try to provide a literally warm auditorium for our chapel guests and church attendees.)  We don’t see conversions every week or every month as some ministries earnestly hope to see, but once in a while someone comes to faith of the same kind as we, and the apostles of old, have possessed in Christ.  Pastor Bill tells me he hopes to see and believes God will soon bring in a harvest of new believers. 

Posted by:
Christopher Love, NYGM Intern

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Our Inner Cities ARE Mission Fields

 

In recent days, while turning a corner as I drove one of our church attendees to a pharmacy on William Street, Manhattan, I realized I was staring at the site of the former Old North Dutch Church at the intersection of Fulton and William Streets.  What a revival of prayer began or found its local manifestation there in 1857!  The church building in which those meetings began is now gone, but thinking of how this “prayer meeting revival” spread to cities as far away as Chicago and Richmond (and maybe further) brought to mind the knowledge that New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and other cities used to be sending centers from which the Christian evangel sounded forth.  Now, at least in the case of New York, it seems that rural and suburban churches are supporting churches here.

Within the past year, I heard of a church in Minneapolis which, following its members to the suburbs, had the foresight to replant a church in their downtown building as a ministry to the inner-city population.   How I commend that church!  We send missionaries overseas to carry the Gospel to the nations, but often we forget that the nations are living in poverty in our inner-cities.  How thankful I am for the ministry at Manor Church and at the other Bible churches in the five boroughs of New York.  Pastor Bill sometimes says, perhaps quoting someone else, “When you touch New York, you touch the world.”

Requests for copies of the Bible have continued at the rate of a couple per week for the past several weeks.  This is exciting to see, as people desire to look into the Word of God for themselves.  We continue to supply these requests out of an old box of abandoned Bible in our church’s basement, but that box is running low at this point.  Today a lady asked me for a Spanish Bible.  This same lady asked if we could possibly get a Spanish translator into our English services.  She reminded me of the many Spanish who desire to understand, to a greater degree, what is being preached from the pulpit.  Please pray that God would send us Spanish and Chinese-speaking laborers in the Gospel who would be well-fitted to this work.  We also stand in need of an intern to come this summer and hopefully work a year.  Admittedly, we all get tired.  We need laborers who would come with a willing heart to help in the Gospel work and a driver’s license and able back to help in the food pantry.  May God bless the readers of this blogpost.  Thank you all for your support.

 

Posted by:
Christopher Love, NYGM Intern

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