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.
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:
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).
people to help survey the area. We need to find out what the area residents are thinking.
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.
Pray that God will provide just the right meeting place and set it apart for us.
Pray for God's wisdom on the team, and especially Pastor Delia, to know God's agenda for this project.
Pray for beautiful weather in Rochester on March 18, 1990.
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.
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.
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!
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,