METRO ASSEMBLIES OF GOD - NEW YORK
By Lisa Dolab
Location - A Brooklyn, New York, gheto. Time - Saturday morning at 10 am. Site - a converted brewery building. Wide-eyed kids from drug - infested tenements nearby are packing themselves in the auditorium. There's a live band, larger - than- life cartoon characters, video projectors, games, contests, prizes. Bedlam dies down, followed by a straightforward gospel message: Pastor Bill Willson is in action.
This 'new wave' of Sunday School is repeated at 1 pm and 4 p.m and during the week. Not only in the ex brewery but in 'Sidewalk Sunday School' sites on parks and empty sites in other parts of New York. Pastor Bill has over 50 full-time workers, 250 volunteers and a fleet of battered buses. The total weekly attendance tops 10,000!
Every Kid's Home gets a weekly visit
Furthermore Bill and his staff visit every child's home during the week. A lot of creative hard work goes into the planning of each week's presentation, focused on a simple one-concept lesson based on scripture, and ending with each team member having a specific assignment; by Friday every minute of the Sunday School hour has been carefully planned and prayed over. Never-the-less, it's the 11,000 personal home visits every week, which Bill and his staff believe are the key to the project's success.
Teenage Bill - Abandoned on streets
by Alchololic Mother.
Bill lives in the ghetto near his church. Thursday and Friday he is climbing stairs, reminding 'his' kid's mums precisely when their bus will be along. After 14 years, he knows their names and their struggles...
When Bill was 14, he was abandoned on the street by his alcoholic mother. An auto mechanic saw him still sitting on the curb 3 days later and gave him some food. Dave Rudenis was a deacon of First Assembly of God Church Locally. Then he paid for young Bill to go to a week long summer camp in Florida. There he heard the story of Jesus dying on the cross for him - and rising again.
Bill gave his heart and life to Christ, with a burden for children. Given a home by Christians at First Assembly, Bill later attended Bible College and began Bible Clubs and a bus ministry during the summer vacation.
Cursed, Shot at, stabbed - and his face smashed.
Bill Wilson moved to Brooklyn in June 1979 to reach the abandoned inner city children. He has been cursed, shot at and stabbed. Two robbers smashed his face with a brick and a serious clot developed in his right eye.
Bill is frank about what happened. Two Christian businessmen from Texas heard he had no health insurance and paid for a Christian eye specialist in Dallas to treat him. It was eventually decided that he needed an eye operation, which was not guaranteed to be successful. Bill was scared and admits he planned to fly - not for the operation, but to quit. But on the morning of the flight, he found his sight perfect in both eyes. God had stepped in and restored both his physical sight and his 'vision' for service.
Although Metro Assembly was started to reach children, more than a thousand adults attend each Sunday - 15% are HIV Positive. Funerals outnumber weddings by three to one. The average age of those buried is just twenty five.
Sunday Schools operate? Every afternoon, teams under the leadership of Dave Galles take former Budget Rental Trucks, now converted into portable open-air stages- to different neibourhoods - The Lower East Side, Harlem and the South Bronx. They work to a regular schedule - the same location on the same day each week at the same time. Between 150 to 500 attend each week.
Sidewalk Sunday Schools
Sidewalk Sunday Schools are already being duplicated in Los Angeles, Detroit, St Louis, Atlanta, Dallas, Grand Rapids, Miami, Washington DC and a growing list of other cities in the US and elsewhere.
Bill Wilson sees unlimited hope and opportunity to reach America's youth, on the basis of thousands of young lives already transformed. But Christians need to check their commitment.
Sunday School Teachers - Check your commitment!
"A Sunday School Teacher' says Bill, "Must present his or her lesson with power and punch - as if it was the last time a child might hear the gospel. We are fighting to reclaim our nation, and the hearts of its youth."
"Are we teaching because lives need to be transformed - or because no one else would teach the class?" It's hard to believe that some teachers can present a lesson week after week and never take the time to talk personally with one student. In most cases they've never been in the kid's homes"
Prevention is so much better than expensive attempts at cure, especially when it comes to drugs. One recent programme had at it's theme, 'Don't get close to sin.' A film clip showed sea lions playing on rocks near a whale. Suddenly the whale swallowed one of them. 'Kids' explained Wilson, 'If you play around with sin, it will turn on you' Other visuals and stories reinforced the theme.
Week after week, the children come for the fun of it. And they learn to work hard in school, respect their teachers and parents, never lie, cheat or steal, and stay away from drugs. But above all, through the love lavished on them by Metro staff members and volunteers, they learn that God loves each and every one of them.
Helping the homeless
Night Shelter Practicalities
Praise the Lord, more and more ministries now let the homeless sleep in their church halls over winter.
Depending on the venue the 'guests' can be treated like royalty, enjoying new clean designer clothes and bedwear provided daily, gormet food and heated floors to aid a decent nights sleep.
Coming soon... advice on those extra health & safety steps your church can take to ensure a healthy, happy homeless night shelter with minimum difficulties.
To celebrate, LIGHT INTERNATIONAL looks back at her rather special visit to Christian - run Rehabilitation Centre Teen Challenge.
Page 15 Visions & Creativity Section..
We are delighted to present LIGHT INTERNATIONAL - The Global Review of Christianity to the world once more in 2018 - an important time in our history...
A huge thanks for your patience while we upload more and more articles from the five sections of LIGHT INTERNATIONAL within the coming weeks.
The sections are:
1. Business of Ministry
For pastors /ministers, curates, worship team members, church administrators, Junior Church teachers, church wardens and many others..
Covers the day to day running of Churches in different parts of the world.
Includes applications of sound technology, building resourses, flooring, heating, pews & seating, communion wine.. the list goes on and on..
2. Ministry of Business
For business people... The I.C.C.C. International Christian Chamber of Commerce and others demonstrate the miraculous new dimension of Jesus at work.
3. Spiritual Realm
Deeply spiritual articles on gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. Includes Spiritual and Praise Warfare, Intercession on a Global scale, and 'forgotten' teachings like 'The Witness of the Spirit' by David Wilkerson.
4. Visions & Creativity
Especially gifted and often larger ministries sharing with us how our own faith and churches can grow beyond belief... Includes The Largest Sunday School in the World and The adoption of Third world orphans.
5. Lifestyle Faith & Fame
Billy Graham on how we should live our life, lifestyle, including travel, and taking your church on a pilgrimage. World class sportsmen with faith and other celebrities etc sharing with us...
In Christian Service,
LIGHT INTERNATIONAL - The Global Review of Christianity 2018