Dearest Brothers and Sisters of the Lord Most High, Jesus Christ,
Please pray to find out God’s will in whether the Camden Street Ministry by New Covenant Ministries should continue. The Camden County Chief of Police sent one of his officers to deliver the message to us last Saturday that the City has decided we and the other Camden churches can no longer give out food to the poor on the streets; and also that we must now tell them at least a week in advance which lot we will be on so that they can protect us. Now before you get focused on the weight and impact of these new requirements, let’s pause, and prayerfully consider if it is God who is closing the door to us.
Here’s why… for about two years, Rev. Tommy has felt very troubled in his spirit that God is changing things. You may recall that the past two years it took over 4 months to obtain a permit to hold street meetings. We continued to do the street meetings anyway while awaiting their decision to grant a permit which they have every right to do as with all public assemblies. This year we were told not to even get a permit until the City decided what they were going to do, whatever that was… which turned out to be to stop feeding the homeless and give advance notification of street meeting locations. It has been our ministry’s policy that we always consult the Lord before we go out and have Him lead us to the place called by His Name for that day. We have also seen the Lord “grow” the size and scope of the ministry for 50 years as He granted us favor wherever the soles of our feet touched. However, you may have known that the last Christmas Eve Event lot was not the lot that the Lord told Tommy we were to go 6 months ago, and the City overrode that Word of the Lord and moved us two blocks away to Pyne Poynt Park. In fairness, the City has been nice to us in other ways in that they could have charged us for a permit for every single week, but have waived that in the past. And we have had several Police officers tell us numerous times how glad they are that we are out there and to keep on doing what we are doing.
There are some other troubling indicators that things are changing… as most of you know we do not solicit donations, but have always received what the Lord has moved others to give from their hearts and spent only what was collected… we have never spent what we don’t have, and always spent 100% of those funds on the work of the ministry without any of us every receiving any compensation whatsoever. At the present time, the funds are almost gone when normally there would be funds being saved up for the next Christmas Eve Event to give out toys to the children and their families. Also, for the second time since the new building landlord took over, the electric bill was not being paid by them and PSE&G came out to shut off the power. Miraculously, someone from our ministry felt the need to go to the ministry basement both times to tend some of the weekly chores of inventory and restocking, and while there was able to provide immediate funds to keep the power on. Other tenants have also reported that the water and gas was also going to be shut off for non-payment by the landlord and they were able to work out continuation arrangements with the utilities. Had the power been shut off for very long, all of the hundreds of hot dogs and other items in the freezers could have spoiled. Even though the owner continues to collect the rent and cash the tenant’s checks, the landlord does not return anyone’s calls.
In the past, Tommy and the rest of us have seen obstacles of various sizes, internally and externally, come and go as the Lord has gone before us and smote and removed His enemies, changed what seemed like impossible conditions, replaced people in power, poured out various blessings, healed the sick, raised the dead, gave signs and wonders, miracles, gifts of the Spirit, chastened and humbled us, exalted us, taken some of us by death to be with Him forever in life everlasting, and raised up new people among us to replace them as laborers for the harvest, and so on. But Tommy says that this time everything seems different, and he has cried out to God for an answer but has not received it yet. Could it be we have lost our First Love, our Zeal for the Lord’s Work, and an increasingly greater relationship with Jesus our Lord… or has the ministry just become routine to some of us? Is there unrepented sin among us? Has the “world” turned our hearts to temporary things around us? What is it that God is doing with this ministry? These are serious questions that each of us should be answering as we crucify the “old man” daily.
Remember, if God is in fact shutting down the ministry, then to go against His Will would be utter foolishness and folly. It doesn’t matter that we could appeal to the City government and get them to allow us a waiver of their policies to keep on doing what we have done… that is absolutely not the point. To continue to go into what has been known as the number one murder capital of the U. S. off and on over the years without the blessing of the Lord would be dangerous, useless, and totally unproductive. If on the other hand, this is just another ploy by Satan and his demons to interfere with God’s will, then we need to know that too. We need to ask, seek, and knock on God’s heart with prayer to know the difference. The Bible is full of the stories of how God moved His people and allowed trials and tribulations to befall His saints.
We normally take off July and August anyway for various reasons, but we will add the rest of the month of June as well until the Lord reveals His perfect will in our lives. Tommy will visit some members of the City to further investigate why these changes have come about, and why we weren’t invited to the meeting where other churches were already notified of these proceedings. The board members of the ministry have committed to daily prayer for the next two weeks and will have another meeting then to see what the Lord really wants us to do, even if we should go to other places besides Camden. Lord willing, we still plan to join the Woodlynne 4th of July Parade (we are still welcome there!) and also Movie Night in Woodlynne tentatively the 3rd Saturday in August. For those who want to continue to repair bicycles that ministry will continue at least temporarily because we will still give out these bicycles somewhere. Sometime soon we will have to move bikes to the storage bins because the basement is full of them again. However, please stop bringing clothing and other donations as we do not have the room for them now, and we may have to move everything to another location if the building goes into foreclosure… other collection points such as Goodwill can accept the donations instead.
We ask you to join in prayer with us, and to pass this along to your prayer chains. However, please do not try to interfere with what the Lord wants to do by speaking to the City government or the Police. God is fully in control of everything, and we do not want to go against whatever He is doing now. Please pray that our Father God Almighty in Heaven will tell us what should be done in His will only.
God bless you all in Jesus’ most wonderful name,
Rev. Tommy Williams
(jz for tw)
In other events:
PS:… you rarely know how your personal witness affects others… this is Dan Leinhauser's daughter's testimony, and answer to a lot of prayer… added from an email by Dave Prox… enjoy!
“The fact that I am giving this testimony even is a miracle because I shouldn't be alive. I wasn't searching for God. I wasn't looking for God. I wasn't thinking about God. But God was thinking about me. He can use circumstances seem like they have nothing to do with Him to bring you to a saving knowledge of who He is. Although I grew up Catholic, my life was completely godless. Sixth-grade was the starting point of my downward spiral that ultimately led me into a heroin and crack addiction that I would do anything to satisfy, and ended up prostituting in one of the worst areas of Kensington, Pennsylvania. It doesn't get much darker than how dark my life had become. All those years of darkness I never cried out to Him, but He was always with me. Anyone who lives that type of lifestyle- overdosing, suicide, in and out of psychiatric hospitals, putting themselves in danger situations- is more likely to die than to live. I didn't care. But God cared enough to keep me alive. I hated getting high and the things that came with it- enough to even begin trying get sober up, but I discovered being sober was always just as miserable. Even though in the world's eyes, it may have seemed like I was doing good, being sober wasn't the answer I was looking for, and I knew it. Everyone said it was, so I continued the same vicious cycle of rehab, psychiatrists, sober houses, NA/AA/CA meetings, etc. The end result was always right back where I started, except more hopeless each time and more guilty because the people I would continue to hurt and disappoint. Back then, I looked around at people and I thought, "what am I missing?" But now, I know that even if I was sober, I would have replaced drugs with another addiction. None of that is freedom. Sobriety itself isn't freedom. Jesus is freedom. My sobriety is now a byproduct of that. In an attempt to get sober I ended up in detox for another countless time. My dad gave me an ultimatum which was Blessed Hope or another Christian program in Florida. He had brought it up before and I had already decided that a Christian program was not an option for me. I decided to do my own thing again- which landed me in jail for getting busted with crack, and ended up with some charges and a felony in over my head. I ended up in jail where Blessed Hope was once again presented to me and I was looking for any other way out. But, I was out of options there was no way out. My public defender told my dad I was a "rabbit in a pit of snakes." All throughout my addiction, people told my parents I wasn't going to make it. My psychiatrist deemed me as a lost cause, and so did everyone else. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "for I know the plans I have for you", says the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a future and a hope." While everyone else was saying I was a lost cause, God was saying this about me, that He had a plan for my life. I resisted as much as I could not to go to Blessed Hope. But when I finally grudgingly decided to go, I thought I could figure something out when I got out of jail to avoid doing the program. I got out of jail, went home for a few days and those days were spent getting high and denying the fact that I was going to the discipleship program for a year. The day I was supposed to leave, I waited for my mom to go to work and went down to the city to get high- not knowing what I was going to do. But I did know that I was restless knowing I had to be back by 12 to meet my dad, which is contrary to what I would normally have done. Kicking and screaming the entire way, I ended up at Blessed Hope. I got there with a very hard heart- thinking everyone was brainwashed and fighting not to let it happen to me. I never heard anybody talk about God like they did, pray like they did, read the Bible like they did, and I thought it was absolutely insane. I was so blind that for two months, I sat through two Bible studies a day, prayer every night, church three times a week without ever hearing anything God was saying to me. "For this people's heart has become calloused. They hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise, they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand that their hearts and turn, and I would heal them." Matthew 13:15. Although I thought the God stuff was crazy, I couldn't deny the love that was shown towards me here. My attitude was disgusting yet they served and encouraged me and loved me. Their love wasn't conditional, just like Jesus is love is not conditional. For example, when my parents cut me off and I had no one to supply me with clothes and toiletries, one of the staff members, out of her own money bought for me what I needed and more. Which I definitely did not deserve. That's just one example of many. It was around two months I started to actually read the Word and letting it into my heart. Romans 10:17 says," faith comes from hearing and hearing from the word of God." The enemy kept me from pursuing the word and it stunted my spiritual growth. Once I started getting into the word, I started experiencing God changing my heart and my desires. I started to desire godly things over worldly things and He showed me happiness is truly only found in Him. I saw the growth in people around me and I knew God was doing it for me too. It's truly a miracle that God is brought me to the point I'm at because no one, not even myself, pictured that happening. It is a testimony to God's grace despite all the odds. I saw God as something that he wasn't. God brought me here to show me who He truly is. All that I knew about God is that if He were real, he wouldn't want anything to do with me. But I was so wrong. God gave everything for me, sending His Son to die for my sins, and pulling me out of my darkness to show me it's true and that he loves me. It's not anything I've done or had to do, it's simply his love and grace that he has shown for all of us. "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me..."”