The Urban Nations’ logo is a map of the world contained within an apple. It’s a pretty straightforward way of saying that the world is now gathered, representatively and truly, in the Big Apple. We call the logo a "mapple."
As we go into our sixth year of reaching the world where the world’s within reach, we are grateful to God for what he has accomplished. People from more than 70 different nations have had the Gospel of Righteousness proclaimed to them, several have been converted, many Urban Nations-type ministries have begun in far-flung places, we are cooperating with international ministries for referrals and follow-ups, and the work locally grows.
But like the fisherman who mulls over the ones that got away, we think of, and are sobered by, the multitude of "mapple turnovers." At any given time we have about 100 students learning English through the gospel, yet we have registered literally thousands. The turnover rate is phenomenal.
It is extremely rare for a student to leave because of the gospel, per se, though this has happened. Students are told from registration that this is an explicitly Christian, Bible-based program. This has not deterred the many Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and atheists who have enrolled. Yes, one Muslim woman from Egypt got "fed up" with hearing that she must turn and believe in Jesus, but it wasn’t crystal clear, even in her case, that that was her reason for leaving the program.
Sometimes students stop coming because they move, or because of a change in work or work-hours, and very frequently because English proves to be more difficult than they had ever imagined it would be. Whatever the reason, we lament the loss of further opportunity to make Christ’s claims known. The fact is, however, that the high "mapple turnover" facilitates our ability to reach more people. For, you see, they hear of Christ’s claims from the very first class. If God causes them to move along sooner rather than later, that gives us an opportunity to bring someone off the waiting list and into the class, making the best use of our very limited resources.
One thing for which we can be profoundly grateful is the very low turnover of "mapple" staff. Furthermore, those who have left have gone on to other noble Kingdom work: one man is now a pastor of a church in California, another is doing a fabulous work among immigrants (especially Sikhs) in Toronto, another is finishing seminary this year, and the only other mapple staff turnover is the seminarian’s wife (and momma of his child)!
So, despite the high student turnover, there is still the feeling of stability here on the field. And on their behalf, I submit to you the following prayer requests: Rev. Ken Brown: We are seeking to move the Hope Caribbean Reformed Church up from the basement of Ken’s apartment building and into a storefront on Nostrand Avenue. Pray for adequate funds for the rent, for a successful transition, and for the Truth to go forth to the enormous Caribbean population of Crown Heights.
Gerry Wisz: Gerry and Betty’s eighth child, Zachary, was born with Fanconi Anemia, a disease which typically kills sufferers in youth. Gerry will be making trips to Philadelphia for surgery on the boy’s hands (he has no thumbs). Two siblings have been ID’d as suitable bone-marrow donors, so the Wisz’s are grateful to God and have hope for Zach to reach manhood, D.V. In the midst of this, Gerry’s work among the Polish not only continues, but new opportunities are presenting themselves.
David Schildkraut began a new class composed of Russians, a Burmese, Buddhist, Ahnitian, a Korean, a Macedonian, two Muslim women and, this a rarity, a Jewish woman from Yemen (she wears a hijab, ie., a traditional headcovering, and seems to have been much influenced by Muslim culture). Bob Ciago has students from more than a dozen nations. He is especially desirous to see God’s grace in the life of Sophia, a Russian woman who kicks against the goads. Peter Wortman has seen some of his students come to church and he prays they will return, and that many more will come out. Elena Pertgen continues her work among Indian, Eastern European and South American women in Queens, NY. She is praying for a new facility closer to the Hindu center of population. Lastly, pray for volunteers Kevin Brendlar and Calvin Wortman as they bring the word clearly and faithfully to many students.
If you remember these "mapple" matters, please "turn them over" to the Lord. Thank you.
2662 East 24th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11235
E-mail: [email protected]
- Steve M. Schlissel
Steve Schlissel has served as pastor of Messiah's Congregation in Brooklyn, New York, since 1979. Born and raised in New York City, Schlissel became a Christian by reading the Bible. He and Jeanne homeschooled their five children and also helped raise several foster children (mostly Vietnamese). In 2003, they adopted Anna (who was born in Hong Kong in 1988, but is now a U.S. citizen). They have eight foster grandchildren and fourteen "natural" grandchildren.