In my most recent article I shared our gratitude at being given a place to meet indoors, out of the elements, by the Faith, Hope and Deliverance Temple. We had started to meet there in July 2013, and were attracting a larger number of people than before, especially children, to the worship service. In mid-November, however, the Board of that church informed us that they would be going in a different direction and that we needed to find another place to meet.
It had taken Pastor Frank nine months to find any church in the English Avenue area (of which The Bluff is a part) which was willing to rent to us, and we were surprised that, after only 4½ months there, at a time of the year that is cold and dark when we meet, we were, effectively, being evicted. Stunned, we looked to the Lord. As the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress, we would wait upon the Lord our God for mercy in this situation.
This time, however, not months, but just six days later, Pastor Frank and I were led to a small Southern Baptist church building only half a mile from our former location. Given our past experience of being turned down by churches in the English Avenue district, we knew that we were going to need to look outside of our main area of ministry. So, earlier in the week, Frank had spent many hours calling around the adjacent district of Vine City, and had come up with three leads. The Lord singled out one of these in particular for us to look into, which resulted in our meeting with the pastor of Faithful Friend Church and his wife. They had both checked out our mission statement and read some of my articles describing the ministry and were excited to discover that we have the same goal as they, which is to bring the true gospel of Jesus Christ to the folk in the area and to create disciples that would go into the world and continue to spread that gospel. Indeed, one member of his congregation has begun a Bible Study group within the sheriff’s department in Cherokee County, and another is planning to plant a church in Maine and this man’s son (recently graduated from Covenant College) is now in Kenya with World Harvest Missions. Unlike so many churches in the area, the pastor of Faithful Friend Church preaches with the intent of convicting people of their sin and driving them to Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of sinners.
The small building, we quickly determined, would suit our purposes well. It can seat up to about 50 people and has a small additional room, kitchen and restroom. The building had been a two-bedroom house owned by the pastor and his wife who live across the street. When they started looking for a place to begin conducting worship services after he retired from a city government job, the Holy Spirit laid it on the pastor’s heart to turn that house into a church building. Having been blessed with the necessary skills, he was able to do most of the work himself. It is warm, cozy and comfortable. The pastor found three church-style windows and a large rectangular window in a dumpster which he rescued and installed to give the building a more church-like appearance.
Because the pastor and his wife were so excited at the opportunity of partnering with our group they offered us the opportunity to use their building free of charge, although the agreement did indicate that any love gift would be gratefully accepted. We were overwhelmed by this expression of generosity. The building has been inspected and approved by the fire department but there is still some work which needs to be completed. So we are in the process of partnering with the pastor to provide funding for some of that work. Thanks to the generosity of a church in Virginia we have sufficient Bibles as well as psalters for all those who attend.
We met there for the first time on Sunday, December 1st and considered it to be something of a “shakedown cruise”, not being too sure how the practical aspects of setting up for Sunday School and worship, along with providing transport to get our faithful attenders driven over from English Avenue, were going to work out. With it being the Thanksgiving weekend, Miss Amy was away and so we only had one car at our disposal and Pastor Frank had to make several trips back and forth. First of all he brought the children so that Sunday School could proceed while the adults were being picked up. One gentleman came in right off the street on which we are now located. By God’s grace all went well and the sermon, providentially based on Proverbs 11:25, teaching about generosity, was most appropriate.
Speaking of generosity, we want to express our heartfelt appreciation to those of you who have donated to the Atlanta Fund either with a one-time gift or on an ongoing basis. Lord willing, the time will come when Atlanta Presbyterian Fellowship is able to support itself with tithes and offerings from member families and we will no longer have to engage in fundraising. But until that time comes we are very grateful for your loving support.
Thank you also for your prayers. This is not an easy ministry. We are in constant need of the Lord’s wisdom as there are so many situations that arise which we struggle to deal with.
Our prayer requests for 2014:
1. That we would see good results from the door-to-door visitation that Pastor Frank has begun in the neighbourhood around our new location.
2. That we would be able to retain those who have been attending from the English Avenue neighbourhood.
3. That we would see an improvement in the behavior of the children – specifically that they would learn to be more respectful and less rowdy.
4. That the Lord would raise up a man or two who is able to ride herd on the children who are being a distraction to others. We have discovered that a man’s voice really commands their attention, which may be because so many of them do not have a father in the home.
5. That one or more of our African American attenders would be able to take on a position of responsibility.
6. That remaining faithful in our worship practices would be attractive to those who attend for the first time, giving them the desire to return and learn more about the gospel and how to apply it to their lives.
May the Lord’s name be praised as we are beginning to see some stability in terms of an increased number of people who attend on a regular basis. And may He bless you, your families, and your ministries in 2014.