Sunday, February 08, 2004

Inner City Faith and Works. I meet with a group of men for breakfast, Bible Study, and prayer each Friday morning. Austin Carr, a lawyer in my church, is the guiding light of the group. There are three or four other lawyers, a caterer, two insurance agents, a private investigator, a marine surveyor, and some others who show up from time to time. Usually we have four or five men attend a week. Austin and I hardly ever miss it. Its bread and butter for my soul.

Recently we finished a study of Romans, helped in part by two detailed and very helpful charts that Micki Maris prepared just for us.

One of the lawyers, Pat Talbot, attends an unusual Assemblies of God church just off I-95 at 165th Street, known as Trinity Church. The minister is Richard Wilkerson. (The older people in our blog community may know of his father, David Wilkerson, of "The Cross and the Switchblade" fame.)

For many years Trinity had been in decline because of the church's changing neighborhood, and it was just about dead. Then the leaders of the AOG denomination decided to allocate some significant resources to Trinity to see if the church could make a real difference in the neighborhood, now full of poor people. Thus came Wilkerson and a Calvary Chapel-like team and a good bit of money. My friend Pat, who converted from nominal Roman Catholicism in high school and went to Regent University Law School, works in Trinity's "Peacemaker's Family Center" in addition to holding down a full-blown, high-stress maritime law practice with a national law firm.

The Miami Herald ran a piece on the church Saturday, featuring a lady who moved with her husband and children from Chicago to answer a call to do social ministry in this church. The Herald article describes her as a lady in her mid-30s who "had collected all the right numbers: a master's degree in engineering from Stanford and a good-paying federal job, one good-looking husband, two photogenic kids, [and] a five-bedroom house in the Chicago suburbs." Her husband now works as a volunteer at the church and does computer programming and community college teaching in Broward County.

Are we beginning to see what the millennium will look like? I see the PCA doing such great work as Walter and Morgan are doing in Austin and others in that denomination are doing in New York City. I see Pat Talbot and the AOG folks doing their work at Trinity. I see my new friend Ann Manning being so effective leading Habitat Humanity of Greater Miami. I see InterVarsity doing the sort of thing that Macon and Mary are doing this weekend in Greensboro. One of these days these people and people like them from different traditions will find themselves working hard together on some project bringing Christ and hope, literacy, food, and shelter to people who need to all these things; the workers will take a break from their labor; they will sit down with each other at table; someone will pick up a tortilla and a coke as he or she leads them in grace; and then the Holy Spirit will move that leader to hold up both and say, "and the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread . . . " Maranatha.

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