Pastor James, Galen, and Brad Jones's birthday, May 27, 2014.
A Street Fair on 26th Street. Notice Pastor Bill (wearing a blue shirt) to the left of the cross above the church's front door.
When the apostles wrote letters to assemblies of people in Christ whom they loved in Christ, they often addressed their readers with terms like “dearly beloved,” “brethren,” and “little children.” The love that exists between believers is one sign to the world that we are Christ’s disciples. Similarly, the unity of believers in the church is a testimony to the world that the Father has sent the Son. And, according to John 17, this unity is bestowed among believers as Christ gives us the same glory which God the Father has given him. These are two concepts which, I am convinced, need to be further emphasized in our day—unity in Christ and the necessity of seeing the glory of God as we look into His Word and walk in the Truth. What is the Christian life without a palpable sense of the glory of God? Why the trials if our profession is only a mental activity? Why do we all take from “that one bread” if our unity is just a façade?
Here in New York, we are constantly faced with the need for love and unity among believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our numbers are few. My phone frequently rings (every day, on average) with a call from a man whom I disciple here. Well do I remember doing the same a few years ago – reaching out to another person in the Light, wanting to share in and be all the more conversant in the eternal things where our conversation is. The apostle Paul writes that “We all, with open face, beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
An certain old hymn by James Deck comes to mind. Note especially the third and fifth verses.
Lord, we would ne’er forget Thy love, Who hast redeemed us by Thy blood; And now, as our High Priest above, Dost intercede for us with God.
Lord, we would not forget the pain, The blood-like sweat, the shameful tree, The wrath Thy soul did once sustain, From sin and death to set us free.
We would remember we are one With every saint that loves Thy Name; United with Thee on the throne, Our life, our hope, our Lord the same.
Here, in the broken bread and wine, We hear Thee say, “Remember Me! I gave My life to ransom thine, I bore the wrath to set thee free.”
Lord, we are Thine, we praise Thy love, One with Thy saints, all one in Thee; We would, until we meet above, In all our ways remember Thee.
Speaking of things going on here at the mission, we are gearing up to begin hosting church groups which will be visiting this summer and helping in the work on, perhaps, a biweekly basis. One church has offered to come in and “do everything” for a week while sending the Joneses for a vacation in Bill’s native Colorado. I don’t think Bill quite knew what to do with that information when it first was proposed, but he and Jill are happy anytime they can find some peace and quiet, so I am confident they are looking forward to their little vacation this summer.
This past week I noted several humorous scenes to include in the blog. One day our SUV broke down in front of a traffic light on 7th Avenue. The light turned green, and I hit the accelerator, but the vehicle petered out and died. No electricity; no lights; no emergency-flasher lights; no cranking; nothing. I had two non-English-speaking food pantry volunteers in the vehicle with me. We climbed out of the vehicle, and after waving traffic around to either side (with surprisingly few horn-honks), we began to push the vehicle across the intersection and into a bus stop to sit at the mercy of the NYPD tow crews. As it turns out, a battery cable was loose. Galen showed up with a socket wrench, and we got the vehicle back on the street. As it turns out, the vehicle had another issue a few days later, and Bill Jr. was able to take care of that one. We were down a vehicle Sunday, and you, the reader, may only imagine our trying to make all our people pickups (many elderly) and on pot-luck Sunday at that!
Galen, Brad Jones, and Pastor James (our Chinese preacher, from West Africa) all celebrated their birthday last Tuesday, May 27. I have never heard such a “Happy Birthday” song in all my life! How many languages and dialects were represented I do not know. Clapping on beat started somewhere, and eventually the familiar Happy Birthday song came forward, followed by another rendition. The Chinese volunteers had brought Pastor James a few cakes, which we all enjoyed.
I experienced a first this week, Tuesday. Many Hispanic chapel/food pantry attendees have asked me week by week to speak at least something in Spanish during the chapel services. They say that some of them understand almost no English. Well, a couple of weeks ago we sang a song in Spanish: “Dios, tan Solo Dios” (God, and God Alone) by Steven Green. The Spanish crowd was thrilled. Well, Tuesday I reached Hebrews 11 in my sermon series through the book. I practiced a lot that morning and read the chapter in Spanish that afternoon during chapel. God gave me a lot of grace I will admit. I understood enough to emphasize certain things, and at one point a very solemn, hushed “Amen” sounded like an awesome wave throughout the congregation. I have heard that only a few times in my life. At one point the crowd got very happy, and I had to ask them to settle down. I was able to make a few comments in broken Spanish, and during my closing prayer, many Spanish people prayed out loud. I had prayed before the service that God would save people and that He would even call a preacher or two through the preaching of His Word that day. I believe He will do these things in His good timing.
The mission wishes fellow pastor Vincent Sawyer farewell as he retires from the church ministry he has carried on in Queens for many years. The Joneses commented to me recently that when they first arrived in the city a decade ago, Pastor Vinny welcomed them with open arms and has been a friend to them through the years. May God bless you, Pastor Sawyer.
Posted by: Christopher Love, NYGM Intern
Dr. Bill Jones
Dr. Bill Jones has helped in the establishment of two churches in otherparts of the country and served as Pastor for 14 years. The past few summers, Bill has...