Jim Cymbala has been the pastor of The Brooklyn Tabernacle for more than twenty-five years. In that time the congregation has grown from twenty members to more than six thousand. The author of Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire; Fresh Faith; and Fresh Power, he lives in New York City with his wife, Carol Cymbala, who directs the Grammy Award-winning Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.
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In the autumn of 1971, my wife Carol and I took over the leadership of The Brooklyn Tabernacle on Atlantic Avenue in downtown Brooklyn. The small, struggling congregation numbered less than 30 people and met in a small run-down building surrounded by the physical and moral blight of the inner-city.
But this was where God had placed us and we very soon realized that it was a unique opportunity to see the power of the Gospel in action by loving and ministering to all colors and kinds of people. Most were poor and many struggled with the typical inner-city problems of drug and alcohol abuse or the pain of disintegrating families. No money was available for salaries during most weeks so we took second jobs and struggled to make ends meet both in the church and at home. Right away, we realized the necessity of real prayer to secure God's grace and power in our work. The Tuesday Night Prayer Meeting, though very small at the start, became a central feature in the life of our church and has remained so to this day.
Although geographically located in America, the interracial makeup of the New York City area, along with the challenging social problems and urban decay, make it a kind of "forgotten mission field." Most church buildings were nearly vacant on Sundays since their once-strong congregations (and their denominations) had long before fled to suburbia. But we knew that this was the very spot where God's love could meet the most desperate of human needs. Realizing the limited impact that any one church can have in a large metropolis like New York, we began to plant churches in other needy areas of the city. As we trained our own pastors and sent them out with small groups of workers from our own congregation, we started a replication of the work we had begun in downtown Brooklyn. Our church then began to reach out financially and in prayer to see other areas in New York City be impacted by God's love through the planting of Daughter Churches, of which there are now six in the New York Metro area, all to the glory of God. At that same time, we began to look beyond our own locale to plant missionary stations in impoverished places like Haiti, Peru, a poor neighborhood in the Dominican Republic as well as in Israel. The leadership for these works has been raised up by God from our own congregation which itself represents so many parts of the world. These missions have seen a demonstration of the far-reaching power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After serving the Lord for over 20 years in our former site on Flatbush Avenue, we were able to purchase a theater in downtown Brooklyn in May of 1998 in which to relocate our Sanctuary and office space followed by 3 floors of a commercial condominium purchased in 2002. The combination of these two buildings constitute our New Smith Street Campus and provide us with over 250,000 square feet in which to house all the important ministries needed to reach the community. The combination of drugs, violent gangs, and broken homes has devastated the young people of our city. In these recently renovated buildings, we provide a place of refuge for youth and young adults called The Summit, in addition to ministry to children, pre-teens, seniors and married couples.
In summary, the Lord has greatly helped us in seeing the multitudes here and elsewhere turn to Christ for salvation. We share in the feelings of Jesus as He looked on the crowds and then "had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." (Matthew 9:36) We are asking Him not only for the workers needed for the harvest field but also for all the resources needed to see His Name and Gospel glorified throughout the whole earth. Remember us in your prayers as we seek the Lord's blessing for His kingdom.
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Please Note: All American Speakers Bureau is a full-service talent booking agency providing information on booking Jim Cymbala for speaking engagements, personal appearances and corporate events. Contact an All American Speakers Bureau booking agent for more information on Jim Cymbala speaking fees, availability, speech topics and cost to hire for your next live or virtual event.
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