Report: April 2015
We are just days away from the first annual Men’s Revival which takes place on May 2. We did not know till recently that the town of Athens also holds an annual event on that day. The Athens Art Fest will offer some entertainment for my wife and daughter while I am involved with the Men’s event.
Today I was able to meet for lunch with two brothers. John Patrick is a member of the church in Endwell, NY and Gerry Lowe is a member at Valley Cities. John works in Towanda, PA and Gerry is retired. We met at a nice diner in Ulster where Gerry lives and which is half way between Sayre and Towanda. So I put 40 miles on the car in addition to the normal 100 miles that I cover in my regular commuting activities. The weather was fine, and the drive very pleasant, though.
We continue to be blessed with offers of help from brethren in several states. Just today I began making arrangements for a team from Florida to come for a door-knocking campaign in July, which will be nicely timed for our August VBS. Also this week I was contacted about the possibility of a student from Sunset International Bible Institute spending a few days with us in summer. This will be in conjunction with the visit from the team being organized by Don Myers and the Antioch Initiative which will be happening June 8-15. The purpose will be to follow up on the work started here last year and also to scout out the land with a view to future church plantings in neighboring counties. I pray they will find abundant, super-sized grapes.
Besides regular visits with a handful of contacts from the initial campaign last year, three of whom I hope to see on Saturday, I am continuing to seek opportunities to embed myself in the lives of the locals here. Whereas I normally would ask my wife to cut my hair I have been going to Teresa’s hair salon and found out that her husband is dealing with dementia. I have offered to spend time with him if she needs a break. And whereas I would normally wash my own car, or do it as cheaply as possible, I found out that Jacques, who has his own auto spa / detailing business, is very open to talking about spiritual matters. Yesterday he told me he will try to get to the Men’s Revival on Saturday if he is not working.
Thank you for your support and encouragement.
This week we have enjoyed a little relief from this long winter and it seems to have brought some increased activity in the outreach endeavors here. We have had a visitor from the community who is a member of the church. He found out about us from the newspaper announcement we have been running. I continue to visit some of the contacts that we made last October and four of them actually came into our building this week. They did not join us for worship, however, so we are still hoping for that. Ruth Frisbie is an 80 yr old widow who is nervous about coming out of her house so I have been telling her that when it gets warm I am going to come and get her and bring over to the building so she can see it when it is empty. I was able to do that finally on Thursday and she was thrilled but today, Sunday, she was not feeling up to coming to the assembly. I will try again for the lady’s class on Tuesday.
Ronald Moulton and his son, Parker, and his friend, John, all came to the men’s breakfast yesterday morning and were planning on joining us for worship today but we did not see them, though, and tomorrow I will resume my efforts to encourage them to come on Sunday. I am finding that it is not easy to get people to study the Bible but I am finally seeing some natural relationships develop as I just continuously visit people and at least pray with them. Jim Hoose also is very receptive but his wife is very ill and he will not leave her, which I understand. So I stop by and chat and offer to help if he needs me. He promises to come and visit us again when he can. Teresa cuts my hair and I met her husband, Richard early on. My fears that he was suffering from dementia of some sort were confirmed last week when Teresa explained how hard it was to try and take care of him herself sometimes. So I offered to come and spend time with him or take him for a walk if she thought that might help. I don’t know if she will feel comfortable about that but she was grateful for the offer.
Today Sandy and I took communion to Vicky who has been back in the Behavioral science unit at the hospital. We ended up singing "How Great Thou Art" and the nurse who escorted us out thanked us. When I asked her my current question of the day, "Are you ready for resurrection", it started an interesting conversation which ended up with her asking me for a card.
It has been a long winter and the work seems to go slowly but it is still very much a work of the LORD.
Thank you for you love and fellowship
June 8 – 15th, a group of church leaders from various parts of the country will converge on Sayre, PA to visit Evangelist Arthur Barry and to worship with the newly launched Valley Cities church of Christ (Bradford County, PA) on Sunday, June 14th. Other days will be spent in the initial survey and scouting of the next church-plant site in Susquehanna, Wyoming and/or Sullivan Counties, PA. Pray for God’s blessings in this effort.
Church leaders, consider joining us for a June 2015 survey trip to Northeastern Pennsylvania to seek the next area for a church-plant.
Thanks be to God, the only congregation of the church of Christ in Bradford County, Pennsylvania was launched on October 19, 2014 with Evangelist Arthur Barry preaching for the new Valley Cities congregation and seeking the evangelization of the tri-town area (Athens & Sayre, PA & Waverly, NY). The tri-town area is known as Valley Cities. Approximately a dozen or more people gather for cooperate worship each first day of the week at the new congregation. Arthur has expanded ministry with the beginning of a Ladies’ Bible class, revival of a regional program referred to as “Men’s Revival,” and other outreaches which compliment his weekly teaching of the lost. Many of us associated with the Antioch Initiative (aicoc.org) stand ready to travel to Sayre to campaign alone side brother Barry when he & the Valley Cities’ Christians believe it most advantageous. The elders of Kittanning congregation in Kittanning, PA sponsor Arthur’s work and are increasing their fraternity with a planned door-knocking campaign in late July which will culminate in a VBS at Valley Cities’ congregation in mid-August. Brother Barry subscribes (as we do) to the Valley Cities’ congregation being self-supporting, self-propagating and self-lead. This is modeled after Pauline strategy in church-planting in the Greco-Roman world of the First Century revealed in the New Testament. All of us stand ready to assist with the now functioning and growing congregation in Valley Cities.
Sometime in the second week of June (2015), a group of interested church leaders are being invited to make a survey trip to Northeastern Pennsylvania with the aim of increasing the bonds of fraternity among us, to introduce them to brother Barry and his work in Sayre and to begin investigations of the next county of Northeastern Pennsylvania for church-planting—whether in Susquehanna, Sullivan or Wyoming county.
Such an overture should not be interpreted as a lessening of our commitment to Arthur, the Kittanning elders and the Valley Cities’ congregation. One might, justifiably, ask, “How can you spread yourselves so thin?” That is a legitimate question that deserves an answer. Our rational is as follows.
The Elmore church in Elmore, AL (with our Antioch Initiative partners) do not have the resources to personally and directly plant every church in the remaining three counties and beyond. In fact, we should not employ such a narrow, short-sighted vision. You notice I said, “Directly and personally.” Such an approach would create totally unnecessary delays in church-planting and stretch our resources beyond limits. But, if one or more of the church leaders we recruit to travel on the June survey trip take a direct interest in one or more of the remaining counties, those leaders can take the forefront there, recruit their own evangelist, raise his funding and oversee his work. Of course, the key in this is to recruit the right kind of church leaders from the outset—men who teach the gospel of grace, who are faithful to God’s word, and men with a record of faithfulness in service and evangelism. Those of us in the Antioch Initiative are praying, reading and growing in our understanding of missiology and church-planting. We are open to being better schooled y others and willing to share what we have learned with others. Humility is called for in this great work.
Why would we want to operate with a single-barrel when God might be willing to bless us with an army of spiritually armed leaders who are planting churches simultaneously in other places? Stop thinking of one church plant and start thinking of a movement! Imagine gathering with all our partners in church-planting, annually, to discuss the multiple church-planting efforts going on around the USA--praying, dreaming, sharing and drawing more brethren into the vision!
We are in prayer and leave all in God’s hands. Jesus did not give us the “great suggestion”—He gave us the “great commission.” If you are a church leader and would be interested in talking about making this June trip with us, please contact me for more information.
June 8 – 15 are the tentative dates for a survey trip to Northeastern Pennsylvania with the aims of acquainting a group of church leaders from various congregations with the new church plant in Sayre, PA and to scout the site for the next church plant in one of three remaining counties—Susquehanna, Wyoming or Sullivan.
To date, the following people have expressed an interest in making that trip.
Kyle and Tiffany Cantrell (possible)
Keith Blackburn (considering)
Please give prayerful consideration in joining us for this important journey in June and may the Lord bless the church of Christ to be planted in these three remaining counties.
We are now in our fourth month as a fellowship of Christians meeting in Sayre and this might be a good time to think about our progress.
We have achieved an encouraging level of cohesion as we look for ways to enhance our fellowship and lay the groundwork that will be something we can look back on in the future with satisfaction. There are most likely other things we can be thinking about and we are not going to be resting on our laurels but there are definitely some things to be happy about and to be thankful for today. We have plans afoot for some exciting annual activities but I am particularly enthusiastic about a couple of activities that might normally seem “routine”.
Four ladies met on Tuesday for the first Ladies Bible class and set their plans for a weekly study and yesterday four men met for a breakfast and enjoyed a time of prayer and plan to do this on a monthly basis. These were historic events with monumental significance for the work of the LORD in this community. We are not a people who are satisfied with just a once a week encounter. Not every one of us can make it to a weekday Bible class or a Saturday morning breakfast so we will very likely come up with other opportunities to spur one another on in this walk of faith. I cannot wait to see what we may yet do.
We are not large in number but I sense a real enthusiasm in all the ladies and this is a vital element without which no church will thrive. We men will typically lag behind the sisters in this area but what a rich blend of strengths and gifts are already surfacing among us, and what may God accomplish through us if we open our hearts to Him and to one another. What a story we are writing, even now.
This is a work of the LORD
May all the Glory be His
Evangelist, Valley Cities Church of Christ
Clarence McDowell started on his 1100 mile drive home this morning but not before we had visited a contact of his whom he wanted me to meet. Then we took time to knock on all the doors in that neighborhood with the help of Sandy and Daniel. I am praying that God helps my heart to grow to whatever dimension needed to be able to minister to people whose lives I can barely comprehend. Some of the stories I hear make my head spin. What is a heart supposed to do when the head is spinning?
We have been re-visiting some of the more promising contacts and have a good number of promises to come to Church on Sunday. The evening meal was supplied by the Patricks last night and it was superb. We are beginning to feel quite at home in our new surroundings.
Jimmy is staying to be with us on Sunday but tomorrow will be a stand-down day. Daniel and Jenna will be heading home on Tuesday. Daniel needs to get some fishing done and Jenna wants to look for presents for her siblings. They are both missing their brothers and sisters. Jimmy’s knee is really hurting him so we are hoping the rest will be good for him. Clarence had back problems as he walked the neighborhoods and Jimmy said, “Arthur you got a couple of wore-out old guys helping you.” That produces a lump in my throat and a question in my mind. If these two are “wore-out” what does that say about the rest of us?
Sandy and I were able to attend part of the ministry couples retreat at Liverpool last week. Dan and Katherine Cooper from Pittman, New Jersey shared insights and encouragement from their well-established ministry of 30 years. This was a good time to re-connect with others in this region and I think it tends to be especially beneficial for the wives as preachers usually have regular preacher gatherings. In fact a Facebook page was just launched by one of the sisters specifically for this group of minister’s wives.
We had 12 in attendance in Sayre this past Sunday. I have been preaching on prayer and this sermon was entitled, “Do you love to Pray?”.
We have been discussing plans for the upcoming year and I would like to share these basic plan here in case anyone would like to be involved personally.
We continue to be mindful and very grateful for all the loving support we receive in our efforts here. I am encouraging prayer to the Lord of the harvest that He might send more workers to us. I believe that prayer demands that I don’t forget to ask Him to send me, also, every new day that He blesses me with.
May all the Glory be His
Another day of door-knocking; mainly leaving leaflets, sometimes talking briefly, invited in once. Some closing the door as quickly as possible. Prayers and tears with others who were hurting, like Rose, who definitely wants a return visit even though she is “totally Catholic”. Ronald is spending time at clinics chasing down what strain of MD he has and how long he has left to live. He is very keen to study the Bible. Zach will talk with his wife because they will be looking for a church but do we, like some churches, reject him because he has to work away for 28 days at a time and cannot come to church?
Received a phone call from Linda who plans to come on Sunday. She had been visited by Jimmy and Daniel yesterday. Do we have Sunday school for children so her daughter can come with her children? Other Bible studies and visits are being arranged. Jimmy and Clarence are pouring their hearts into this brief effort. For tonight’s devotional we read Luke 15 about the lost sheep and the lost coin, how they were both found. That is a reason to celebrate Jesus said, but when a sinner repents the angels in Heaven rejoice. I suggest that we make every effort to indulge those angels more than we have been doing.
Please pray for Clarence, Jimmy, Sandy, Arthur, Daniel and Jenna.
We had 16 at worship yesterday, but no visitors from the community. I was hopeful that we would have at least four, but I will have to keep visiting. The Halligans came from Endwell / N. Carolina and Darlene was there with her mom and sister. The heat was not on even though it had worked fine on Friday after the heat sensor was replaced. John D called me on Saturday and said he had checked it and it was not working then. So Sandy and I got there in time to crank up the electric heaters as the temp was only in the high 20s. The door would not unlock. It has been getting harder and harder to get the key to work and John D had scheduled a locksmith to come and fix it next week. For 10 minutes it would not budge and I had just about given up but one more try with a well-placed thump did the trick finally.
Then, on the way home, a crown on one of my front teeth decided to fall apart (just the pretty outside porcelain). It has been on there since I was 20. [The accident occurred when] working at a chain factory, fooling around tossing links at each other and I took a hit in my mouth. It has been patched twice in the last 4 years at $500 a time, so I am waiting to hear from my dentist about biting another bullet and paying for a replacement crown. Meanwhile, I am becoming quite skillful at gluing the 3 pieces back on and trying to eat without disturbing them.
I had an email from the "senior pastor" at Assy of God welcoming me to the area and asking if we might get together. I responded enthusiastically as I have always sought out opportunities to talk to denominational leaders. Waiting for details.
I was able to visit Lindalee Brown on Friday afternoon and met her grandson. She is interested in getting him in Sunday school, but she was working again yesterday. She plans to come on Wednesday. John and Rex Felt may well be there again, but I will have to knock on their door again tomorrow. We have had the majority of visitors on Wednesday evening so far. We are studying the Book of Acts.
So far, I have been making the trip to Sayre five times a week, including Sundays. I still feel more comfortable working on lessons at home. Besides not having internet at the building, I want to be geared to not spending too much time in the building when I am in Sayre.
I can say we have a solid group, but I remain anxious to see new souls being added here.
Thanks for the support and precious fellowship.
Jimmy Davis called Don Myers this afternoon (10/21) from Sayre, PA to report the first day of campaigning went well. Eight (8) studies were step up by three door-knocking teams. The leaders of those teams were Arthur Barry, Jimmy Davis and Clarence McDowell. The door-knocking will continue through Friday or Saturday of this week. Jimmy will attend services at the Valley Cities Church of Christ on Sunday, October 26th. This past Sunday, October 19th, sixteen (16) were in attendance at the first worship service of Valley Cities church of Christ and this was before the campaign workers arrived.
Jimmy reported that the people of the town were very cordial and friendly—as had been predicted by Clarence McDowell. There was not a single negative experience at any door.
Jimmy reported the building which has been rented for the church facility has a room which can seat about 40 people and has comfortable/cushion chairs which were bought in used condition and paid for by the new congregation. The new congregation is, also, paying for the facility’s utilities. There are bathroom facilities for men and women and an office space for the preacher. He says that (should the preacher and his wife choose to do so) that the area could serve as a place to overnight should the Barrys choose not to return to Dryden when working in Valley Cities on some days.
Sandy Barry was cooking a great pot of chilly for the campaigners this evening. Spirits were high.
May God be praised for His unceasing blessings. Lord bless all of you financial supporters of this work. Don’t you see—you are with those door-knockers this week. You are their partners.
More later as God blesses.