January 2, 2021
Hello Calvary Family.
January is finally here and 2020 is in our rearview mirror. Praise the Lord. You and I are not sure what 2021 will bring but we know our Lord remains in control. We can count on him to sustain us. Before we move forward I want to write a few words about 2020 and our church and church family.
First of all, thank you for who you are as church. I am grateful on an almost daily basis for your work of faith, labor of love and steadfastness of hope in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 1:3). Recent times have been hard… very hard. Thank you for not wavering and for standing fast. It says a lot about your relationship with the Lord and the work that He is doing in and through you. Thank you
Secondly, thank you for praying. We’ve hosted over 90 virtual prayer meetings (Not including the prayer times our Mission’s Team holds weekly) and many of you have been on almost every one of. If this pandemic has done nothing else it has taught us the importance of praying and praying together. By God’s grace our online times of prayer have become something that is incredibly powerful and something that has drawn us together in an amazing way. We’ve seen so many miraculous answers to our prayer from our prayer meetings. Two examples immediately come to mind. God’s healing of our own Linda Rosario from a severe case of Covid 19 with a prolonged hospital stay, as well as His healing of Gabby, a young lady who has attended our Night to Shines.
Thirdly, thank you for being generous. Because of your generosity and the hard work of the Pantry Ministry we have been able to provide food for many, many people in our community. In addition, at the height of the pandemic, through a partnership with Basil Cucina, we were able to provide meals for over 350 healthcare workers on their jobs during a five week period. Even beyond that we were able to transform the garage, henceforth known as “God’s Garage” into a great useable space for meetings and ministry. And then we out did ourselves. To God be the glory, we provided 1374 Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes of Love, which provided 1374 gospel opportunities around the world. Children and their families will come to know Jesus Christ as a result of Calvary’s efforts in this endeavor. Thank you!
Fourthly, thank you for participating and co-operating. You have shown up to everything: online church, in-person church, outdoor church in the ballpark and everything in between including prayer meetings online and in-person and NYIBS. We have functioned about as well as we possibly can under the circumstances and made the best of a very difficult situation (a special shout out also to our Media Team for their labors here). Thank you.
I can’t end this letter without stopping to remember the very special people we have lost in our fellowship over the last nine months. They will be deeply missed.
We lost Brown Samson who came to the first service with his wife and two young children. He was a hard-working man from Nigeria. Please continue to pray for Charity and their children as they seek to build a life without him.
We lost Tommy Smith who came as often as he could to the 11:15am service. Though limited physically, Tommy loved the Lord and was always seeking to grow. He heard our sermons every week in person or on the radio. I missed his call the day he was taken in to the hospital. He left a message asking for prayer. Please pray for his two adult sisters who miss him.
We lost Jasper McCarter who was a special man who came dressed to the nines every Sunday to the 11:15 am service with a distinctive hat. The last words I remember him speaking to me were “I love you Pastor” as he walked out the door. Please pray for his adult children. He was one of a kind.
We lost Eliana Cruz who was incredibly special to many of us, but of course even more so to her daughter Mary Ann, son Carlos and daughter-in-law Denise. I personally was privileged to spend many an early afternoon with Eliana talking about Cuba, world events, and Jesus. She would often help me with my pronunciation of Spanish words and phrases. Please pray for her family and our church family as we continue to grieve her loss. She was like a second mom to many of us.
In addition to these four beautiful people, we have had other losses from Covid or Covid related issues among people who are connected to Calvary. I know each loss stings and each person is missed. Let’s keep praying for one another. Loss without closure in this environment has been almost unbearable.
Back in late March, I mentioned that we were in for a marathon with this virus. I was wrong. It has been more like a triathlon. The secret to running this race was and is waiting on the Lord, looking to Him in faith through prayer and claiming His promises found in His Word (Isaiah 40:28-31). As we wait on Him I am confident He will give us the strength to keep running until we are on the other side of this and beyond.
In closing, I want to especially thank our elders as well as Pastor Schooling who have worked tirelessly throughout this incredible time. I am blessed to call Sam, Raul, Carlos, Rev. Dave, Rudy and Pastor Paul fellow laborers and we are blessed to have them as leaders in our church. In addition, we are blessed to have Jonathan, our worship leader and Sharon our administrator who both have worked incredibly hard serving the Lord and His church during the last year.
2020 was a very tough year, but the Lord got us though. Whatever 2021 holds for us we know He holds us and will never let us go. I hope to see you soon.
In His Grip,