1990 8August Prayer letter

Dear New Hope Free Methodist Church Prayer Partners,

The first summer at New Hope is quickly fading into Autumn. 

Because our God is powerful, we have confidence that the effects of the summer events at New Hope will not fade like a passing season but will continue to bear fruit that lasts for eternity.

You prayed that God would bless the "barren" summer months. For the months of June, July, and August we had an average of 75 people on Sunday mornings and 30 at the CD Hour (averages were 108 and 40 respectively since March). Not bad for what is not yet a 6 month old church! You prayed that God would bring new visitors to New Hope each Sunday. He continues to do this--five and ten at a time! Months ago you prayed that God would bless our mailing effort. Still today, in August, people are coming for the first time because of a brochure they received in March and April. You have been praying for spiritual growth and maturity in New Hope believers. . .it is happening in old and new believers alike. Some new believers are consciously making a choice to forsake wrong and unhealthy lifestyles. Others are taking joy in finding a "nitch" of service in the church and utilizing their spiritual gifts and talents (such as in children's ministries, parking, greeting, and ushering ministries; music, prayer, etc.). Many are benefiting from the solid teaching at the CD Hour. Many of us each week are taking great joy in just plain worshipping and fellowshipping on Sunday mornings and Tuesday nights; we have been refreshed by God's presence.

Once again we will ask you to pray, and we do so in the full confidence and conviction that God delights in answering prayers to the end that Jesus Christ is glorified before all people.

I. On September 9, 1990 (9/9/90), we are having a celebration 

Sunday on which we are not only celebrating our sixth month of life as a church, but we are also planning to re-launch our evangelistic effort in full force. As people gear up to go "Back to School," we are praying that many of the unchurched will at the same time go "Back to Church" In preparation for this, another mailing (with and invitation/brochure) will be received by close to 20,000 people in the city the week before 9/9/90. We have seen how God has used this mailing in many people's lives to bring them to church and then to Christ. 

Again, pray

-that the mailing will be received and processed in a timely manner by the post office

-that God would prepare the hearts of those people that 

-that God would give this mailing a long "shelf life" (i.e., that the brochures would remain in peoples homes and not get thrown away quickly)

-that 9/9/90 would see many, many new people come to New Hope and that they would respond to God's word and call.

-also... at the beginning of September Wes will be personally inundating the shops and stores of our part of the city with church brochures. Pray that business owners would be open to this and that these brochures will have an impact on many people.

II. Various philosophies and religions are prevalent in our area (as you know from the history of the German House). 

There are many people who are open to spiritual things, new ideas, etc., which are not orthodox and in many cases are anti-Christian. Many people in our area seem to be looking for some sort of power and energy higher than themselves, but they are not looking in the right place. In the past couple of months, I know of at least 9 people who have come to New Hope out of the above mentioned context. Some of them are now regular attenders; all of them stated to me how they enjoyed New Hope and that it was very different from anything they have experienced.

You have been praying that God would either remove the spiritualist church from the German House or convert the people; well, at this point in time God has been using it to draw some people into New Hope. A number of people have set out to go to the Spiritualist church but instead ended up at New Hope. We don't always know the reason for the mix-up, but we praise God because people hear about Christ.

We need you to pray effectively against the Enemy in regards to his grip on so much of our city and so many lives. Remember Ephesians 6:12 and pray accordingly.

-pray that at New Hope those seeking will find the True God, the one God who has all power but also has all love to meet their needs and longings.

-continue to pray against the Enemy and his hold and influence on the Spiritualist Church. Pray that on a receive them spiritual level the Enemy would be defeated--so that those caught up in that group might be saved, and so that the German House may be set apart for purposes which are pleasing to God.

III. Pray for Jeff VanNest, a leader in our music team. Jeff is starting his own school of music which will meet in the German House. Jeff and his team will be offering music lessons to the people of the community on a sliding-scale fee. Pray that administratively and financially this business would succeed and that God would use this as a means of bringing others to New Hope and to relationship with God. Pray also for God to provide the right tenants for the German House, whether it be another Christian business person, a Christian bookstore, etc. Pray for Agape Counseling Center, a Christian organization, which will be sub-letting from us at the German House

IV. On 8/31 and 9/1, about 15 leaders of the church will be on a retreat where Pastor Delia is going to teach us about the strategy of small group ("cell group") ministry. Out of necessity, God has clearly shown us that an effective small group ministry is the direction our church must go if we are to adequately disciple believers and keep people from falling through the cracks and out of the church. This is a vital undertaking, and we need God's Spirit to fill us all as we take our part. In effect, each small group leader will be responsible for the nurturing and discipling of his or her small group. Pray that this ministry would get off to a strong start so that the people of New Hope would be growing spiritually strong and healthy.

Thank you so much for your prayer support! Until two months from now...

1990 7July Prayer letter

Dear New Hope Free Methodist Church Prayer Partners,

It is with great joy and thanksgiving that we write to you at this time. God is answering our prayers concerning New Hope in wonderful ways, and we know you will be excited to hear what He is doing.

To begin with, Wes has been looking for a new job with regular hours for quite some time. He was somewhat disappointed after being rejected for a county social service job. Yet God closed that door only to open a better one. Now Wes is working as a housing case manager for the Salvation Army (and loving it). 

Besides giving him regular hours, this job offers him the challenge of working with homeless people and becoming more familiar with the city of Rochester. His supervisor is a Christian, so Wes is allowed and encouraged to share his faith with the people he works with--what a liberating change from his old position. Thank you for your prayers for Wes.

And now, concerning New Hope.... As you know, we have been meeting in a building called the Historic German House. When we were first interested in the building, four different groups were renting space there: a New Age Bookstore, the Rochester Tai Chi Chuan Center, a Spiritualist Church, and an astrologist/palm reader. The astrologist moved out before we held our first service. We asked you to pray that the other three groups would leave the building (or would join us!) so that only the true God would be worshipped in the German House. We received news on June 10 that the Tai Chi Chuan Center had relocated outside of the city and the New Age bookstore would be out of the building by July 1. Praise God! Not only this, but the owner of the building, Ron Maier, has decided that he wants tenants with New Hope's values in his building. He has asked if we want to rent more space, if we know of any Christian counseling organizations or bookstores which would like to move in and if Roberts Wesleyan College (a local Christian college) might like to hold classes in the German House. It seems that God has already been making some arrangements. Within a week, Agape Christian Ministries called Pastor Delia inquiring about availability of space in the German House for their counseling ministry. Also, there is a Christian bookstore which is interested in expanding and a woman willing to manage a new store. New Hope itself has decided to rent the upper (third) floor of the building.

Another answer to prayer is that attendance this far into the summer has been encouraging. It dropped at the end of May when many college students went home but has increased since then. God is working in people's lives through New 

Hope. As an example, Gary responded to our mail invitation and came to the first service. He had no church background but made a commitment to Christ and is attending classes for new Christians at the CD hour. And there are many others. The people who have attended New Hope are a reflection of the urban area in which we are located. There are: people who never finished high school and those studying for their master's or doctorate degrees; white people and people of color; native Rochesterians and international students; Christians of many years and new believers. May this group be unified in God's spirit.

It has been said that when you step out in faith and let the Lord lead, you have to run to keep up. We are finding that to be true! It is exciting to see God at work as a result of His people's prayers. It is clear that He wants to glorify Himself in Rochester and especially to make His presence known in the southern part of the city through New Hope Church. We thank you for your prayers and urge you to continue to bring requests to God on behalf of New Hope.

Please pray for:

-God's spirit to be at work in this city. Rochester, like all cities, is in great need of God's spirit. Our struggles are "not against flesh and blood," so please continue to pray for this spiritual war in which we are engaged. We rejoice over the victories that God has already given in the German House, but the Spiritualist Church is still there as an obstacle to God's truth. Pray that lies from the Enemy may be vanquished so that God's spirit has free course to work in the hearts of people.

-spiritual growth and maturity in New Hope believers. Pray for the effectiveness of the small group program which will start in the fall. The current leadership team and others who have shown leadership potential will be trained to minister to a small group so that the church can continue to grow while maintaining a caring ministry to all sorts of individuals. Pray for the preparation and commitment of the extended leadership team.

-God's wisdom and leading regarding the use of available space in the German House. Unless the plans we make are of God, our labor will be in vain. Pray that we might not stray from our purpose: to present the gospel to the unchurched, to disciple believers, to encourage development of spiritual gifts, and to maintain outreach to unchurched people.

-Ron Maier, owner of the German House. We do not know where Ron stands in his relationship with God. He has attended some of New Hope's worship services, and he told Pastor Delia he has prayed about what God would have him do with the German House. Pray that God would continue to draw Ron to Himself and would bless Ron for his generosity to New Hope.

-our neighbors. Three apartments in our building were vacated at the end of July. Pray that we would have opportunity to befriend our new neighbors and share Christ with them. Pray specifically for one of the Bartle family (Jim, Ellen, & three girls ) that moved out--to an apartment within walking distance of the church, and pray for San & Li, a Chinese couple who live near the Bartles and are students at the U of R.

-the spirit of God to bring new people to New Hope each Sunday.

-Wes and me. We just celebrated our first anniversary. It has been a joy to be together and to serve God as a couple. We have recently learned, though, that we need to guard our relationship. It is easy to spend our time serving the church and leave little energy for each other. Pray for us as we start our second year of marriage, that we might continue to grow together in love. Pray for us also at our respective jobs, that we might be salt and light at the U of Rochester and throughout the city.

Until September,

1990 5May Prayer letter

88 Stewart St. Apt 3

Rochester,NY 14620

May 7, 1990

Dear New Hope F.M. Church Prayer Partners,

Our church is now eight Sundays old!!! Praise God! Now that the baby is out of the womb, the challenges of nurturance begin. Not only do we want to be nurturing and discipling, but we want to continually be bringing new people into the church. So once again we call upon you to support us in this work. But first a brief report...

...about those brochures that we mailed out. God has used them, and is still using them, to bring new and unchurched people each week to New Hope. He has really given them a long shelf-life!

...about the weather for the first Sunday. God gave us prior to March 18 a week of unseasonably warm, summer-like weather to stir the hearts of people with thoughts of Spring and new things, and then on Saturday night it turned cold so that going to the parks on Sunday wasn't a smart option. Perfect!!!

...on the first Sunday 195 people attended and since then we have been averaging well over 100 people. Our CD (Christian Development) Hour on Tuesday nights has been averaging about 35 people. To date, about 25 people have made a commitment to Jesus, or indicated a desire to have new life in Jesus. Praise God!

...Jen and I were/are able to have a significant part in the immediate follow-up of first-time comers. We call it "farming" because we go to their homes for a very brief visit to plant a seed. We tell them how good it was to have them with us on Sunday, give them a little magnet or bookmark with a New Hope Church stamp on it, and leave. It has been so encouraging to see how God uses "farming", as so many of the people return the next week; some have even told us that they returned simply because we visited them.

It has been such a joy to see newcomers walking into the Historic German House Auditorium, now changed by God into a house of worship (at least on Sunday mornings.) The services have been so refreshing to Jen and I, with a strong emphasis on worship through singing.

The needs that are represented by the people who walk through the doors are so varied, and some are so complex and deep. But we are convinced that whatever the range of peoples' needs, all have one thing in common--the basic need for forgiveness and new, abundant life in Jesus. And so Jen and I ask you to ask God to continue pouring out His Spirit on New Hope Church. Please pray:

*for the discipling of new believers and the spiritual maturing of all. Pray that the CD Hour would facilitate spiritual growth in many, many people.

*for the formation of significant friendships among the newcomers so that New Hope can become the caring community that the church is supposed to be.

*that we will find effective means to continue bringing unchurched people to New Hope, and that each week we will have newcomers.

*that new believers would begin to discover their spiritual gifts and that they will assume appropriate responsibilities in the church.

*that our baby church will be able to withstand against Satan and evil forces. We have felt some opposition in spoken word, letters, and telephone calls. May the lies that are taught by the Spiritualist Church and the New Age Bookstore (also located in the German House) be exposed, and may Jesus (and not at all the Enemy) be lifted up and worshipped in our zip code area.

*for the summer months, when most people are more interested in the beach than in God. May God pour out his Spirit and create a burning desire in many, many peoples' lives to seek after Him. May God defy the odds and scorn church growth statistics, and continue to bring growth to New Hope in the "barren" summer months. Our God is an Awesome God, and wants to surprise and astound us with His power. May it be so.

*for Jen and I. It seems like life is full of cycles of easy and hard times. Despite a few obstacles, the last two months have been refreshing for Jen and I. Thanks for your prayers. 

Please continue to pray for our network (work, apartment complex, etc.) of friends. We have been disappointed, for it seems that the people in our network aren't "interested" in things of God. Well, we know that is all the more reason to pray. Please remember us as we look for ways to do our part in bringing people to God. We as yet have not begun a Bible study, partly because of our opposing work schedules. Yes, you have gotten the correct impression in these letters that I wouldn't mind a "normal" hours job. Please pray about this, and we'll see what God has in store.

Thanks so much for your help in this church planting effort. May God richly bless you with His peace.

 Until July,

1990 3March Prayer letter

88 Stewart St. Apt 3

Rochester, NY 14620

March 7, 1990

Dear New Hope Free Methodist Church Prayer Partner,

 We wish we weren’t so late in getting this "edition" out, namely so that you would have more time to ask God to work here in the city! Jen and I are becoming more and more convicted that God wants to act on behalf of the earnest prayers of his children. He wants to be held in highest honor, glorified by all. He wants to give His children cause to rejoice as we see Him tangibly at work in ours and others lives... and He wants us to be utterly dependent on Him. 

God is not only pleased to respond to our prayers, He changes us in the praying process. And so we are exhorted to pray!

 Again we want to say thank you for your prayers. Since the last writing, Jen and I have gone through some very stressful days and weeks, yet we are not down-in-the-dumps. God has encouraged us, and are thankful to have a part in this church-planting. It seems that God is giving many people (non-Christians) an interest, or curiosity in the new church. People have prayed that the people of the city would become familiar with the meeting place, and God answered by "providing" a dinner theatre in the building which has received extensive media coverage. Every obstacle that has arisen in the logistics of the myriad of details (printing of brochures, office space and remodeling,parking space) has seemed to melt away as God has been pleased to show his children that His resources are great. One of the occult groups that meets in the building literally left overnight-the owner doesn't know why they left. (We do!!!) We have even witnessed a miraculous healing of a woman with cancer...she now wants to come to our church! So yes, God is at work.

Here are some requests to help you pray more specifically in the next two months (we will have at least two more letters so that you can help get the church through the post-natal stage!) Please pray:

*that all involved (Pastor Delia, other leaders, the music team, the many Roberts Wesleyan College students involved in the CD Hour, etc) will be pure and humble before God so that He can best use us;

*that the Spirit of God will persuade many who receive the brochure to come to church;

*for our (Jen and I) neighbors in our apartment building (especially Jim and Ellen and their three little girls), as well as our extended network, that they may come to the new church;

*that March 18 will dawn as a wonderful day that compels people to think of God and going to church, and that God will spare some people who are prone to carousing on St. Patrick's night so that they will be able to rise on Sunday morning;

*that many people will hear the Word of God, turn from sin, and find new life and salvation in Jesus on March 18 and subsequent Sundays;

*for the intense follow-up that will need to happen immediately for all who attend services;

*for the "CD Hour" (Christian Development Hour) on Tuesday evenings when we will meet to start discipling new believers;

*that Jen and I would be able to start a relevant Bible study. For a few reasons, Jen and I weren't ready to start a Bible study for our non-Christian friends. As the church is born, we do want to serve in this way. Pray that my crazy work schedule may not interfere with this;

*that each week, new people may come to this church. There really are enough "sinners" in Rochester for this to happen. Ha! Pray that this church will daily be evangelistic;

*for our marriage; for spiritual, physical, and emotional strength and safety from the Enemy of our souls.

The purpose of the New Hope Free Methodist Church is; to present the life changing Hope of Jesus to the unchurched people of the City to teach unchurched people to grow in relationship with God and in community to help every individual discover, develop, and use his or her spiritual gift(s) for service through the church, and; to maintain a priority of outreach to unchurched people by proclaiming faith in Jesus, doing good works, and engaging in future church planting efforts.

May God be glorified,

1990 1January Prayer letter

To the New Hope Free Methodist Church Prayer Partners:

Greetings again from Rochester, in the name of Jesus!

The new year brings for Jen and I some exciting events, as well as much anticipation as to what God will do. Jen and I hope and pray that in 1990 we will see God work in undeniable ways to transform lives by the power of his Good News. We want to bear fruit this year!!!

PRAYER UPDATES

People responded very well to the challenge of hand addressing the 60,000+ envelopes which will contain the invitations to the new church. So well, that we had about 10,000 extra accounted for!!

On some cold Nov. and Dec. days, the leadership team took to the streets and conducted a "community needs survey." From our data, we have found that there is a very large percentage of unchurched people in the target area who lack a sense of belonging, a feeling of community, and a "connectedness" to a support group of caring people. Wow! This is invaluable information as we plan, pray, and prepare for the first few months of public services. What an inroad for a new church which is out to meet the needs of the people.

I have a renewed perspective on my job--thanks to God answering your/our prayers. To make a long story short, God convicted me about a bad attitude toward my work, and now I am much more able to see those 40 hours a week as another means of ministry; therefore it is much less burdensome. Jennifer has been able to build some relationships through her work, and so finds her job to be more meaningful also.

Now for some of the most encouraging news of all thus far in this church planting effort. Pastor Delia long ago spied out what she considered to be the ideal (location, size, community visibility) meeting place in the target area for a new church, but after investigation with the owners, found it to be financially 4X the amount which she had budgeted for operating expenses. But God was working on the hearts of the owners, because later they got back in touch with Pastor Delia, and told her they would like to talk again. The end result: we will be meeting in the building (an auditorium/dance hall) on Sundays and one weekday evening; we have an office as well as storage space; we can hang a permanent sign out front; and the price for all of this is, yes, you guessed it, 4X less than what the owners were originally asking!

PRAYER REQUESTS

1. Continued spiritual and physical safety of the leadership team. Jen and I are becoming more aware that there is indeed an unseen battle waging. The Enemy is strong, but Jesus is Strongest!

2. Pray that Jen and I will be able to start and maintain a relevant Bible study (with pre-Christians) in our home before the first public service. We need courage and faith for this!

3. The reason we want God to provide good weather on March 18 is so that people won't be tempted to stay inside because of a storm or such. However, we don't want too good weather, because then everybody will go to the park!! Keep praying.

4. The Historic German House, 315 Gregory St., (our future meeting place) is currently the home of a New Age bookstore, an eastern mystic group, and a Spiritualist Church. Yes, you read it right. Pray that even now God's Spirit would begin to move within the building itself, cleansing it, and also in the hearts of the people involved in the afore mentioned groups. May God remove them, but may He do it through conversion and changed lives.

 Pray for the conversion and blessing of God upon the owners, Ron and Norma Maier, who have expressed great interest in coming to the first service.

5. Pray that the logistics of addressing, returning, stuffing, mailing, and receiving of the envelopes may proceed without interference.

6. Pray that many unchurched people in the target area will respond to the Spirit's call in their lives, and that through the invitations and our own individual networking we may contact, include, and involve them in the new church; ultimately resulting in new life in Jesus.

7. Continued prayer that Jen and I will discover, develop, and use our spiritual gifts to bear fruit.

8. Pray for the stability and strength of our marriage. Jen is taking two Masters classes this semester. Pray that she will manage to be a student, apprentice church planter, and wife without wearing herself out.

Until March,

1989 Oct or Nov Prayer Letter

Greetings from Rochester, NY, in the name of Jesus!!

 WE have anticipated this moment for some time now. I have before me a list of about 25 or 30 of you- friends of either Jennifer or myself (or both)- who we know to be committed to following our Lord, and interested in the progress of His Kingdom. It is a joy for Jennifer and I to be able to write to you in this fashion!

Most of you have heard Jen or myself talk about the "church-planting effort" here in the city. God has given us the opportunity to become a part of a church-planting team of the Free Methodist Church. The project is being headed up by the Rev. Delia Nuesh-Olver, who for the last nine years pastored a church in Brooklyn, and more recently started a church in Queens. The leadership team is composed of Pastor Delia, Jennifer and myself, and another newlywed couple, Brad and Aileen Button. The Beckers and the Buttons sort of consider themselves to be "trainees," learning from Pastor Delia what she knows about church planting. 

This church planting effort is geared for reaching the unchurched. As Pastor Delia says, we have no desire to be "reshuffling the kingdom of God," i.e., taking members from other churches. In the proposed target area, there are 20,267 households and at best 6 or 7 existing evangelical churches, not nearly enough to be meeting the needs of the community.

 There are a hundred and one ways to plant a church, some effective, some not. We want to employ the best strategy possible in the target area. We are aware, though, that if we use the absolute best strategy and the Spirit of God isn't working and blessing the effort, then nothing of value will result. It is for this reason that we are writing you. We think that you may be interested in praying for us on a regular basis, and we covet your prayer support. You know, and we know, and Pastor Delia has stressed to us, the importance of taking prayer seriously. In starting a new church, we are strategizing to depopulate Satan's territory. Satan will not sit by idly while this happens. Thus the faithful prayers of God's people are at least as important as any "leg work" we do in Rochester.

We would like to make a "deal" with you. Your part of the deal would be to pray daily (or at least weekly for those who may have mile long prayer lists!) for the new church as it develops, for the leadership team, and for Jennifer and I. We would like to ask for a commitment to pray daily until November 1, 1990 (12 months). To help you pray intelligently, our part of the deal is to write you at least every other month. At those times we will relate specific prayer requests, answers, and victory reports.

 Well, that's the proposed deal. What do you think? If you are able to make this commitment, send a postcard or letter to us: 88 Stewart St. Apt 3, Rochester, NY 14620. If you intend to do this, please do it now so you won't forget.

 The current goal is to start public worship services on March 18, 1990. This church will be in the southeast quadrant of the city--this is the area where Highland Park and Hospital, Strong Memorial Hospital and the University of Rochester are located. Our target population includes the residents of zip code 14620 and other city residents in their 20's and 30's who are currently unchurched.

PRAYER REQUESTS:

  1. We want to send a personalized invitation to every home in the target area for our first worship service on March 18, and then again for Easter Sunday and Mother's Day. Please pray for:

    1.  people to hand-address all the envelopes (That's a lot of writing!! We want them to be as personal looking as possible to increase the chances of their being opened).

    2.  people to help survey the area. We need to find out what the area residents are thinking.

  2. Pray for the leadership team. We meet together weekly for prayer and training. One of the Beckers' and Buttons' responsibilities will be to start neighborhood Bibles Studies in January with unbelievers. Pray that we would be able to make friends with the people that God would have in these first Bible studies. Pray for the physical and spiritual safety of us all.

  3. Pray that God will provide just the right meeting place and set it apart for us.

  4. Pray for God's wisdom on the team, and especially Pastor Delia, to know God's agenda for this project.

  5. Pray for beautiful weather in Rochester on March 18, 1990.

  6. Pray that this church planting will be blessed by God, and that from the beginning this new church will be an instrument to lead many, many people away from their sin, and to Jesus.

  7. Both Jennifer and I are not thrilled with our respective places of employment, for various reasons. Pray that our work week would not be overburdensome, and that we would be able to proceed throughout the week with the joy of the Lord.

  8. Pray that Jen and I will discover, develop, and use the spiritual gifts that God has given us. As a team, we have read Your Spiritual Gifts Can Make Your Church Grow, by C. Peter Wagner. I highly recommend it!!!! God has given each Christain a gift for service in the Church!

  9. And last, but certainly not least, please pray for our marriage. Wise people have stressed to us the importance of the first year of marriage in setting patterns for the future. Jen and I want to be a testimony to a world that has little regard for commitment and the marriage institution. Pray that Jen and I would first be faithful to God and then to each other. Our work schedules by no means coincide, so sometimes we desire more time for each other. We want the time that we do have together to be quality time.

 Thank you, in advance, if you can lend us your prayer support. We look forward to hearing that you do indeed want to be a part of the church planting project here in the city, by joining with us in earnest prayer.

 In joyful service to our Lord,