We have been tremendously blessed to see people in whom we sowed seeds of the Gospel more than 20 years ago in our early years in the Bronx. To know that God is still working in their lives is a HUGE blessing to us. His Word will never return void!
Hector was one of the drug dealers in the early years of our work. Although we did not know each other well at the time, he was the one who warned me when my life was seriously threatened and a price put on my head by the drug supplier of the South Bronx. I visited him in the hospital when he overdosed. Afterwards, he and I would do Bible studies together early in the morning before the other dealers woke up. He would always ask me to bring my guitar. He loved worship choruses, especially Create in Me a Clean Heart. He was drawn back to the streets and ended up in jail. I had heard he was diagnosed with cancer. I have not heard from him for 20 years, until I received this note a couple weeks ago:
“I was paroled two years ago. I live with my wife and children. God is very active in our lives. I attend church regularly. God cured me of cancer and walked me through the depths of prison life all those years. He sheltered me and guided me to do the right thing. I got my GED and my associate degree while in prison. When I thought I might lost myself again, I locked myself in my cell and prayed or I called my wife and we prayed together. God really answers those prayers.
“As soon as I was granted parole, God blessed me with a job and opened up a chance to excel in my schooling. I will graduate next May. And I have a beautiful and healthy son who is going to be one. So you see, God has blessed me and given me another opportunity. I know He has big plans for me”
Hector went on to say, “I truly believe that it was with you where all of this seed was planted. So thank you for your time and the love you and your family were so willing to give me.” Hector also told me that Create in Me a Clean Heart is still his favorite song. He sings his son to sleep with it every night. He ended his note saying, “I love you, my brother in Christ!” My brother in Christ–How wonderful to hear those words! Praise the Lord!
While speaking at Harvest Church, I spent some time showing pictures of the early years and sharing about the history of the ministry. To know our path to the future, we must understand where God has brought us from. A gentleman new to Christ, the husband of a lady who came to Christ a few years ago, came to me afterwards:
“I was a homeless junkie – a heroin addict living on Brook Avenue when you came here. I shot up drugs in this abandoned casket factory. I remember you when you came. I remember all that you did for the children and our community. I was on the street when you would have block parties right out here. And I remember praying to God – even though I was a junkie – saying, ‘God bless that man! For that man to come to our community and help our children and our families, God bless him!'” He went on to tell me that, after he cleaned up his life, he got a job in construction. His construction company renovated the casket factory. He said, “Pastor Tom, can you imagine this! I used to shoot up in this building. Then I worked on this building. Now my church is here and I worship God in this building!”
In Isaiah 55:10-11 (NLT), the Lord says, “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with My word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” (emphasis mine)