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

A few updates on the Reformed Parish Mission effort.

Leah. First of all, after some initial baby steps, there’s been some definite faltering. Church attendance has been more checkered (and that’s putting it nicely). She has been, however, a part of a Zoom Bible study I lead, where my wife, Leah, and a couple of other young single ladies join me for lessons in Genesis. She’s very attentive and an eager learner. I’m often struck at how on-point her answers and observations are, given her lower education and troubled past. A sharp cookie! But still, concerned about her spiritual state, as well as that of her fiancé.

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Just preparing for another Reformed Parish Mission (RPM) slideshow presentation, this time at my good friend Rob Ventura’s church, Grace Community Baptist in North Providence, R.I. Many thanks to him and the dear brethren there for allowing me the opportunity to share about the work!

As I’ve had to trim things some to make sure it fits in the allotted time, here is a segment that may be of interest to anyone who wants to learn about how Thomas Chalmers proposed for ‘general,’ non-local congregations gradually to transition to the parochial plan. I made this rough-cut video of the segment – maybe someday I’ll update with a cleaner version. For now, ‘What I have recorded I have recorded.’

Also, if you think your church or group would like to host an RPM presentation (30 minutes plus Q&A) drop me a note! I’ve also done it remotely by Zoom, so that is an option too.

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So, an update on “Leah.” Once COVID-19 hit and our services went online for a couple of months, connections with Leah became brittle. We had been helping her find a job, and she did get one. But during that period where we were no longer picking her up for church every week and visiting face to face, she and her live-in fiance “Matthew” hit a rough patch, and he left. Another fellow soon came in his place. Very sad indeed. Leah truly was a ‘Samaritan woman,’ in desperate need of the True Man to set things right.

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IMG_9458So a young lady, “Leah,” has come within our church’s orbit from our S. Providence outreach. Her story is shared here and here.

Leah doesn’t have a credible profession of faith, though she considers herself a Christian. In many ways, she is as the Ninevites of old, who did not know their “left hand from their right” in spiritual matters. But she has been encouraging in many ways. Since November, she has been faithfully coming to church with her precious little baby boy and eagerly participating in a Bible study. So far, we’ve tackled the first fourteen chapters of Genesis.

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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).

More about RPM

 

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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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