Update: Anabaptist church in the Bronx & an invitation to a day of prayer and fasting, April 3

Each day I look forward to updates from Rich about what their church has been up to. It isn’t possible for me to do what they are doing, though I would long to do so, so for now I do the part I can: pray, share their updates, and contribute financially. A week ago I didn’t know he and Sandy are pastoring a church, and knew nothing about their church, and now  they have left a ‘heart print’ on my life, and many of you. Following is his update:

***A few disclaimers to our friends and acquaintances. As I read through your kind, thoughtful comments from last night’s post and noticed that many friends shared the post, I got a bit uneasy. I mean, our family and close friends and church know that my breath stinks if I don’t brush my teeth or take a breath mint, and I can blow up a bathroom with the best of them. Another way to put this? We are just ordinary people serving an extraordinary God. Some of you seem to have been preparing nominations for sainthood for Rich and Sandy. Please don’t waste your postage. We are ordinary people serving an extraordinary God. We really do appreciate your prayers! Seriously.

This global, national, and local crisis is serious, despite those who think it is just a vast left-wing conspiracy to unseat the powers that be. Political hacks exist in every party and in every community, but this is more serious than any political hack. I am suggesting to our church group and to any other believers out there who are interested, please consider making Friday, April 3rd, a Day of Prayer and Fasting.

II Chronicles 7:12-14 is very relevant for such a time as this. “When I…send a pestilence…if my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” The people of God will always make the right choice when we humble ourselves, and pray and seek the face of God, and repent of anything we need to repent of. Fasting provides us a chance to identify more closely with the suffering that others are facing, and to direct ourselves away from our food [and other] addictions and towards God.

2 Chronicles 7:14

I am hesitant to mention names of people to pray for in this public forum, but if you are interested in a list of prayer requests email us at uwriterich@gmail.com

Friends have been asking how to give to us as we help here. We have a church PayPal account, bjcgive@gmail.com. The church received $880 in the past two days from friends interested in helping us as we help our community. If you want to give now, we will designate it for ministry for EMS workers, ER workers, and other persons affected by this crisis. We have a friend who lost his job, a friend whose business is struggling, and the friend on the ventilator we mentioned last night has some financial difficulties. Brianna said that we ought to see if we could start a fund to help people who are out of a job who can’t pay their rent. I think that’s a great idea. Unfortunately, this struggle is going to hit many parts of the US and world. We are in the middle of it right here in NYC, but there are places around the US and around the world that are soon going to be in the middle of it, either with the medical crisis or the economic crisis, and probably both. If you would rather give directly to us as a family you could PM us and we could send you our mailing or PayPal address.

We are hoping to recruit some help to take another set of sandwiches to the Jacobi Medical Center this Friday. I already asked Orville, our Christian friend on Boston Road whose restaurant is slow, if we can order our sandwiches from him. And he agreed to pay another friend who lost his job to come in and help him prepare the sandwiches. It’s probably not “trickle-down economy” for those who know the term. Maybe we’ll call it “Living Waterfalls” economy.

Brendan Weaver here at Believers in Jesus Church spearheaded some food distribution and prayer today, and sent an update to us, which I include below:

**Our church provided lunch for the EMS Station nearest us today. We provided food for 35 people including platters of sub sandwiches and a cookie platter from Subway, single-serving chip bags and drinks from Aldi. Suzie is the little Asian lady at Subway that I have worked with over the past two days for the food orders. I had explained our mission to her yesterday and today she seemed delighted to see me and was eager to help figure out exactly how much food would be need. Both days she went the extra mile to give discounts. Today as I was leaving, I bid her farewell with a “God bless.” Her response was, “No, God bless you.”

At the EMS Station it was a bit confusing to find the main entrance so I approach a running ambulance with a crew sitting in the front and explained my reason for being there. They directed me to the front door then they went inside to get help to carry the food. Probably 6 or 8 EMTs and Paramedics came out to help carry in the bags. They were all enthusiastic with their appreciation and thanks including cries of “God is good.” They asked me to come into the station where I met the desk lieutenant and EMT Guzman, who was my contact from yesterday. All were very grateful and appreciative that the church would reach out in this way. The lieutenant said about 50% of their staff is out sick and their call volume is higher than normal, but they are doing okay because they have received mutual aid support in the form of EMTs and paramedics from other states to help staff their ambulances. I spoke with them for a few minutes and then asked if it would be okay if we prayed together. They agreed and the group of 6-8 of us in the room had prayer together asking for God’s protection on them and our city. I explained that many churches are reaching out from across the USA wanting to know how to help and that they please let us know if they could think of any other way beyond food and prayer that we could be of assistance. I also made sure to attach prayer cards from Stan & Sharon to each platter of sandwiches and cookies and also gave them a stack of prayer cards. As I was leaving, they were sending out a message on their radio that the food had arrived. One thing is sure, the gift was appreciated and FDNY EMS Station 20 was blessed today.**

Ecc 11:1 Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.
1 Cor 3:7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

If you can join us, let’s make Friday, April 3rd, a Day of Prayer and Fasting.

Rich***

*****

About a week or two into the realization that there is a serious pandemic on our hands, and it isn’t only media hype, I found the photo (above), added 2 Chronicles 7:14, and made it my Facebook profile pic. At the time I had forgotten that the verses prior talk about God sending a pestilence, followed by this call to repentance. A pestilence is a fatal epidemic disease. It wasn’t until Rich wrote about it that this detail came back to me.

For many months, even years. there have been prophetic voices speaking into this, warning the people of God to repent, to turn back to His ways, or there will be consequences. From worshipping materialism, to holding our own beliefs as ‘salvation’ — or our good name — to disregarding Amos 5, where God makes it clear that He is sick of ‘worship’ when justice and mercy have lost their place, we need to repent and turn our hearts back to Him. If you want to know what is important to God, read Amos 5:

A Lament and Call to Repentance
Hear this word, Israel, this lament I take up concerning you:
“Fallen is Virgin Israel,
never to rise again,
deserted in her own land,
with no one to lift her up.”
This is what the Sovereign Lordsays to Israel:
“Your city that marches out a thousand strong
will have only a hundred left;
your town that marches out a hundred strong
will have only ten left.”
This is what the Lord says to Israel:

“Seek me and live;
    do not seek Bethel (a holy place).
do not go to Gilgal (Joshua 4:20 – an alter),
do not journey to Beersheba (God’s promises, Genesis 26:23–33).
For Gilgal (the alter) will surely go into exile,
and Bethel (the holy place) will be reduced to nothing.[a]
Seek the Lord and live,
or he will sweep through the tribes of Joseph like a fire;
it will devour them,
and Bethel will have no one to quench it.
There are those who turn justice into bitterness
and cast righteousness to the ground
He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
who turns midnight into dawn
and darkens day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
and pours them out over the face of the land—
the Lord is his name.
With a blinding flash he destroys the stronghold
and brings the fortified city to ruin.
10 There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court
and detest the one who tells the truth.
11 You levy a straw tax on the poor
and impose a tax on their grain.
Therefore, though you have built stone mansions,
you will not live in them;
though you have planted lush vineyards,
you will not drink their wine.
12 For I know how many are your offenses
and how great your sins.
There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes
and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.
13 Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times,
for the times are evil.
14 Seek good, not evil,
that you may live.
Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you,
just as you say he is.
15 Hate evil, love good;
maintain justice in the courts.
Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy
on the remnant of Joseph.
16 Therefore this is what the Lord, the Lord God Almighty, says:
“There will be wailing in all the streets
and cries of anguish in every public square.
The farmers will be summoned to weep
and the mourners to wail.
17 There will be wailing in all the vineyards,
for I will pass through your midst,”
says the Lord.
The Day of the Lord
18 Woe to you who long
for the day of the Lord!
Why do you long for the day of the Lord?
That day will be darkness, not light.
19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion
only to meet a bear,
as though he entered his house
and rested his hand on the wall
only to have a snake bite him.
20 Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light—
pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?
21 I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
    your assemblies are a stench to me.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
    I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
    righteousness like a never-failing stream!
25 “Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?
26 You have lifted up the shrine of your king,
the pedestal of your idols,
the star of your god—
which you made for yourselves.
27 Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus (a well-watered land),”
says the Lord, whose name is God Almighty.
    Says the Lord, whose name is the God of hosts.

 

Do I think God is ‘sending’ the current epidemic?  No. Not at all. Disease is the result of our sin and fallenness. And when we cut God out, or turn from Him to idolatry, there are consequences. And idolatry is giving our primary allegiance and focus to anything other than God. It is exalting any other thing to the place reserved for Jesus, for God. Whether a physical idol, a belief system, or any other thing that I hold as part of my salvation or give my love and allegiance, we have a definite problem with idolatry in churches today. And God has stepped back. He has not abandoned us, but He has not prevented the consequences of sin from doing great harm. It is up to us to humble ourselves and cry out to Him.

I have written about it before, and it bears repeating. God calls believers to repent for the healing of the nation. I invite you to join in, Friday April 3, to fast and pray for our nation, to repent of what you need to repent of, and to stand in the gap for all impacted by this terrible devastation.

 

As always,

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2020

 

God hates injustice. Manipulating those who expose abuse is injustice.

“Blessed are…”
(God extends His benefits
and reward and makes large the blessing of)
“…those who are persecuted…”
(mistreated and used wrongfully)
“…for righteousness sake…”
(for the sake of justice)
“…for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Matthew 5:10

 

There are leaders who have gone out of their way to handle abusively those who have tried to address abuses and wrongs. Those who stand up against abuses (not just sexual, but those too) are being sued by churches (see a post I put up yesterday), and leaders are using their power to seek to destroy those who have legitimate concerns…. concerns that have been addressed first privately (for those who are hung up on Matthew 18… albeit out of context, often), and then publicly. Those who address abuse are losing friends and family as leaders use their power to sabotage relationships. Some leaders have gone so far as to ensure that those speaking out have lost their jobs — positions in church, as well as other jobs — including both men and women who speak out.

These abusive leaders who are sabotaging the lives of people standing for truth and justice are leaders many of us look to for guidance. We need to recognize that they cannot lead us into truth or justice until they value it in their day-to-day personal lives. Leading with self-preservation and retaliation is not the way of Jesus. True believers and godly leaders humbly receive correction when they have wronged someone. And when accusations are false, the same humility and honour is expressed. True representatives of Jesus Christ do not retaliate in the face of wrong and persecution, and they certainly do not set out to destroy people’s relationships and livelihoods or cause intentional damage.

When leaders retaliate, it is sometimes misconstrued as a response to persecution. Exposing truth is not persecution, nor is retaliation a godly response to anything; it is self-serving and often linked either to insecurity or to the individual’s guilt; an indication that the allegations are true, not false. When allegations are false, Jesus followers will try to respond with honour. When they respond wrongly, which sometimes they will, they humbly repent and do everything in their power to restore what they have destroyed, or at least acknowledge it. Because often it cannot be restored. Godly leaders are human. They will fail. But they will not blithely go on, having destroyed a person’s relationships or livelihood, or other damage done. Those who do not pause and take ownership are not godly, they are arrogant.

Manipulating, to destroy relationships of those speaking against injustice and bringing  them harm, is very different from the fallout that comes from exposing abuse and bringing corruption to light. Often we are told that someone destroyed a person’s reputation by speaking of their sins. That’s utter nonsense. The Bible is full of ‘bad stories’ told openly — think King David, or the Cussing Apostle (Peter) among others — and it didn’t ‘ruin their reputation’ because they walked in humility and did not hide their sins. The sins and crimes committed can destroy a reputation if the offender hides, refuses humble correction and consequences, but telling of their sins and crimes cannot destroy them. It is biblical to expose the hidden thing, and it is biblical to remove from leadership those who do such things. (If leaders are first to have their house in order, don’t imagine for a moment that this begins anywhere but in their own hearts. It has nothing to do with controlling their children).

Sadly, when evil is confronted, we see over and over again as ‘pedestal leaders’ cry victim. They declare they are the victims of heartless persecution. Yet, when looking at what righteousness they are persecuted for, it is merely that injustice, oppression and wrongdoing are being exposed. Matthew 5:10 offers blessing to those who suffer for the pursuit of justice, not those who resist justice being pursued. That’s not persecution. That’s avoiding truth, and heaping injustice upon injustice when there should be repentance.

True leaders rise up for justice. That’s what righteousness is. It isn’t some perfectionist religious performance, religious presentation or other such accomplishment. Righteousness is justice. Justice is righteousness. And God has strong opinions about justice among His people.

Screen Shot 2019-03-02 at 3.18.35 PMKingdoms are unraveling. God has given us years to repent. And when the exposing started, it was a gradual thing. Now it is snowballing. In each phase, we as ‘the church of Jesus Christ, and churches as institutions and organizations (dare I say, empires and kingdoms with pedestals, too often), have had opportunity after opportunity to humbly acknowledge that the things God hates are thriving among us, and repent. At each phase we have had opportunity to “let justice flow like a river”,  not a little stream. Not a wee crick, or some overflow running from a puddle. Not a tiny pond, dug out near the church house to look like justice. But a river, flowing. A river, with momentum. Moving waters. Justice that is does not sit still, but has and offers life to the oppressed.

justice like a river

And we still have that opportunity. Many, including honourable leaders, are rising up against oppression and injustice inside church walls. People are asking for accountability among leaders, and for evil to be exposed. God’s people are rising up, across the nations, to stand for truth and against evil. Those who continue to harbour evil, turn a blind eye to injustice, God will allow consequences to play out.

Note, too, that the scripture addresses, specifically, ‘justice in the courts’ for the oppressed. We say “New Testament, New Testament… that no longer applies!” But we borrow all manner of other Old Testament references when convenient, so this deserves consideration. Where the oppressed are not offered justice, God rejects worship and offerings, and eventually brings the oppressors to destruction. Exile. Nothingness. No kingdoms. No pedestals. The end. 

… but always with opportunity to repent in the place of exile, when stripped of all personal glory.

To those standing against corruption, when resistance comes against you for standing against injustice… when relationships are sabotaged… when jobs are lost as a result of corrupt leaders manipulating circumstances…  when your church kicks you out for blowing the whistle… leave the outcome of Amos 5 to God. And remember it was Jesus who said, in Matthew 5:10, that God will bring His rewards and benefits to those who suffer for the sake of injustice. And when God speaks, His words accomplish their purpose.

So, rise up in truth. Rise up in defence of the poor and the oppressed. And let justice flow like a river. God has your justice covered.

 

Love,
~ T ~

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019