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Archive for the ‘Reformed Parish Mission (RPM) Posts’ Category

المدرسة_المستنصرية_في_بغداد_(3)Some time back, my fellow elder and I met “Fatima” in my parish. Since then, I have had multiple opportunities to visit her with my wife and family, have her over to our house, and once she has come to church. As an Iraqi refugee, she’s experienced hardship; and things have not always been easy adjusting as a “stranger in a strange land.”  She is a very sweet, special lady, who is hungry for friendship. And our hope is that she will find that greatest of all friends, the Friend who laid down His life for His friends.

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PGP 185.5One apartment, two stories. Way back, I had met “Tyrone,” a truly broken soul who has been in and out of jail. Now that he’s back in jail, I’ve heard from him and have gone to pay him a visit. I wasn’t able to take a Bible in, or anything for that matter. So for about an hour I preached the Gospel to him from texts in my head as we sat without privacy in a large, open room with others, seated in our little tête-à-tête. We were one of many, but here was conversation into which the angels desired to look.

Among other things, I spoke of our Lord being about His “Father’s business” from Luke 2. Who was His Father after all? Was it Joseph? No. Joseph had nothing to do with Jesus’ conception. He was formed by the Spirit, coming down upon upon the Virgin. He was formed as the God-man, with two distinct natures in one person. Why was this? The Savior who had come for him, to save Tyrone’s soul, had to stand on both sides of the equation. He had to reconcile. What is reconciliation? Bringing hostile parties together; and in this case, bringing offenders, spiritual criminals, back into a right relation with the offended God. O Lord, make this seed sown to bear forth fruit unto righteousness and praise!

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I’m heading to Grand Rapids to share about my urban evangelistic outreach in the greater Providence, R.I. metro. A meeting for the general public will be held at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary at 7 p.m., this coming Monday, February 17.

For those unfamiliar with the work, the Reformed Parish Mission (RPM) is an outreach effort of the Presbyterian Reformed Church (PRC) of R.I. A major focus of RPM is bringing the Gospel and a confessionally Reformed witness to South Providence through regular, neighborhood visitation, in the conviction that minorities, immigrants, and the less privileged are easily neglected and are often more receptive. This effort aims at the gathering of folks to the regular Lord’s day services of the congregation, their conversion and upbuilding, and the offering of practical and constructive life-help as we are able.

In my slideshow presentation, we’ll be talking about Thomas Chalmers, his parish mission vision and method, and my attempt to operate on these principles in 2020. If you are a confessional Presbyterian or Reformed believer with a passion for advancing the Gospel and live in the Grand Rapids area, please join us! And if you don’t live in the area, but know someone who might be interested, please pass this along.

More about RPM.

RPM Bulletin Insert

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IMG_3797Yesterday I finished the last round through my parishes for the season. As the air gets chillier, my hands and ears get colder, so doorstep conversations turn less pleasant for all involved. For the winter, I turn to revisit folks who will likely have me in, reach out to other contacts outside the district, and resume and start up one-on-one Bible studies.

A few highlights from the last couple of outings. In my Warwick parish, I returned to a house where last year where I had a very interesting, long talk.  But it wasn’t ‘John.’ Instead, ‘Jake’ answered the door with his 10 year old daughter, ‘Emily.’ I asked about John and found out that he had moved and was renting the place out to them. But clearly they were friends and had been cut out of the same cultural cloth. Jake was a skeptic, a self-styled pagan. Since I had recently finished a book that addressed the case for the resurrection, I made a brief case for it as well as the reliability of the NT. What a privilege it is to communicate the witness of those who witnessed glory. “We have not followed cunningly devised fables.” Emily was pretty precocious. Clearly, she had been religiously catechized. A rather outspoken atheist, Emily was a believer in ‘science.’ Heartbreaking. O Jesus, make them as Saul of Tarsus. Arrest them by your grace! (more…)

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Music courtesy of Ernst Stolz, “Psalm 72 Genevan Psalter – setting by Claude Goudimel – viols & organ.” All images not my own are from the public domain (attributions here).

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IMG_4754Last year we held our first evangelistic outreach meeting within walking distance of my S. Providence parish, right on Broad Street in Providence. Last Saturday evening we had our second. As before, we recruited Pr. Luis Morales to translate for me. We sang Psalm 1 in Spanish and English, and we read and preached from Matthew 21:1-11 on the Triumphal Entry.

In addition to many of our own folks, as well as the Morales family, several African contacts in the parish and the larger community came out. These are all professing Christians, but definitely not Reformed. While evangelism is my top concern, close behind is the pressing need to raise the profile of biblical, Reformational theology and worship within urban evangelicalism. Please pray that God may own these efforts as well.

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IMG_4156“I will come by you into Spain.” (Rom. 15:28)

Ever since I turned my sights to South Providence, there was no looking back. While conversions have been slow in coming (O come, Holy Spirit!), yet there has been a striking openness, especially among the Hispanic community there. I have been invited into the homes of many families and sweet, little old ladies, proclaiming the timeless truth of Jesus with my rather flawed, Gringo-Spanish. I have many an open door to read Scripture, expound, exhort, and pray. And of course, I’m keen to introduce the richness of the Reformed faith where there is quite a range of sub-par ‘Christianities.’

The struggle, of course, has been that our regular services have only been in English. With our slender resources, we’ve done various things to bridge the gap. We’ve had special midweek meetings with translation. And we’ve attempted on and off to have our services translated into Spanish. But because I can’t predict when someone will take up the offer to worship with us, it has really put a damper on that project.

Well, in recent weeks, things have changed. One Hispanic family – we’ll give them the surname here, “Ortega” – has started coming. Last Lord’s day was the second time in three weeks, and they seem rather interested. A brother in our church and I had met them doing door to door a couple of years back, and they were quite receptive. Finally, something clicked. They came to our uber-Presbyterian, psalm-singing, KJV-reading church … and they weren’t scared away. They seem to track with and appreciate the preaching. It is a young unmarried couple with a little boy and a grandmother. The couple is evidently unconverted, whatever their opinions of their state might be. The grandmother seems to be a devout Bible reader, judging from her very used copy.

The couple is bilingual, but the grandmother is not. So we’re working on some kind of translation of my sermons, which is not straightforward. If you are bilingual, Reformed, and willing to help from a distance, please drop us a note!

And please keep these folks in prayer. They could easily lose interest and drift away. I’m quite prepared for that, as I’ve seen in my day many promising starts fizzling out. Please pray ultimately for a regenerating baptism of the Spirit of God, clothing the Word with power.

We were also struck that a Liberian sister who joined our church from the outreach saw the young lady and realized that they were good friends from high school. Perhaps I shouldn’t read too much into that. But a coincidence? I think not.

More about RPM.

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