Over the last few years, we have prayed for what seems like a growing number of people with leg pains, partly from swollen ankles. Recently, we received a big answer to those prayers — not so much in immediate healing, but in understanding why people are suffering these chronic health problems. God is so good he not only wants to heal people, he wants to lead them into a lasting transformation that will keep individuals and their families and an entire generation from continuing to suffer. What good is it to be healed of pain if people go back to doing what caused them the pain in the first place?
The Bible records the incredible fact that religious leaders accused Jesus of working for the devil. He soundly refuted their claim, showing how absurd it would be for the devil to cast out devils when “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” But when religious leaders accused him of being a friend of sinners, he agreed! Yes, he had no shame in sitting down with Matthew and other despised tax collectors for dinner, or in allowing the lepers and prostitutes and down-and-outs to easily approach him. Jesus, a friend of sinners? On that, the pharisees and Jesus could agree. They just had a completely different definition of sinners. To the religious leaders of that time, a sinner was someone to be ignored, rejected, despised, and pitied. To Jesus, a sinner was someone who could be saved! May we see each person the way Jesus sees them and “learn mercy.” And if you happen to feel like one who has been despised, rejected and ignored, if you happen to feel like you don’t fit in and there’s no place for you at the table, remember that’s the table where Jesus sat. He is here for you, not so you can stay in your sin, but to save you from it! (Matthew 9:10-13)
While people argue whether their cup is half-full or half-empty, a Christian’s cup is neither. It’s overflowing! Overflowing with love, grace, mercy, peace, joy, goodness and more! (Psalm 23:5)
We invite you to visit Peniel and witness the growing unity of believers of all races and nationalities — Haitian, Honduran, Nigerian, German, Caribbean and more. Jesus Christ is making us into a church of all nations, for all nations. Ezekiel 47 describes what many believe to be the mighty river of the gospel, flowing from the church and bringing life and healing to the world wherever it goes. God is calling us to take part in this mighty river, to refuse the life of an “ankle-deep Christian” and to follow Christ into deeper waters. Not only does His word promise “many fish” — people who are born of water (the spirit) into a new life in Christ — but “many kinds of fish.” In Acts, as the first “trickle” of the gospel began to pour out, God ensured “the nations” were represented. Why? Because He loves the whole world! In Greeneville and across Norwich, great numbers of immigrants from around the world have become our neighbors. To the left of our front steps is an area affectionately known as “Little Haiti.” To the right, we find a fast-growing Spanish population, led by immigrants from Peru, Guatemala and Mexico. Pastor Daniel Darling recently wrote, “Rather than viewing our changing demographics as a problem, we should welcome them as a ‘Pentecost moment,’ where God is sovereignly bringing the nations to our doorstep. Perhaps today’s undocumented teen will be tomorrow’s Billy Graham to his country of origin.” Matthew Soerens, a World Relief worker who speaks across the nation to churches about immigration, agrees: “The arrival of immigrants into our communities has brought the nations to our doorsteps. This movement of people is not an accident: the God who made all people also ‘determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live . . . so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him’” (Acts 17:26-27). Jesus says in Matthew to “make disciples of all nations.” In Acts he says, “You will go into Jerusalem, Judea/Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8). When a person is changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ, even someone who has never left Connecticut catches a vision for the whole world!
Revival — the widespread repentance and return to Jesus Christ as Lord — is not just something seen publicly with great numbers of people suddenly attending church. That is part of it — and praise God about 60 new people have been attending Peniel in the last few months! But revival may also begin out of sight, with a move of the Holy Spirit in individuals who seek Him with all of their hearts in the solitary place. Keep your appointments with God, even when no one is watching. Not only will it bring you great joy and peace as you draw close to your creator. It may also be that your private encounter with your savior will ignite a public encounter with God across our city!
God continues to answer prayer, gracing us with His presence and power and drawing people to Himself and to His house. For example:
Ana Dagenais said her best friend passed out while swimming in a pool due to a diabetic shock. When she was pulled out of the water, she was blue and not breathing. Ana and her sister, Moriah, cried out to Jesus for help and within seconds their friend spit out water and started breathing!
Faith Wibberley continues to testify to an amazing healing Jesus did during one of our evening services to deliver her from Celiac disease. She has gone from a condition of daily pain and discomfort that forced her to adopt a restrictive diet to eating as she sees fit without any pain or discomfort!
On Wednesday night, June 26, about 65 people attended the service, the most we’ve ever seen during a regular, mid-week service. In the last couple of months, the church has increased from about 120 people in our Sunday morning service to nearly 190 people. We are having serious talks about expansion and believe we could easily double by the end of the year. The goal of the church is not numbers for numbers’ sake, but to reach as many as possible for the kingdom of God.
Jesus said in Matthew 28:19, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
God’s word commands us to teach and practice baptism, a powerful, public symbol of an inward decision to follow Jesus. In Acts, Peter preached for the first time and 3,000 people were added to the church in one day. But all 3,000 people were baptized!
In June, Richard Joseph, Reyni Sexius, Courtney Noel, Sophia Gabriel, Samantha Gabriel, Marvin Bernadel and Mike Sanon were baptized, each one testifying to their commitment to follow Jesus. If you want to truly live for Jesus, you should do the same!
Meanwhile, Jesus is raising up an army of believers that He will use to reach this generation — this city — for eternity!
The Bible says in Mark 9:41, “Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.”
The 2013 35 Seconds for Haiti Talent Show raised $1,000 for clean water in Petit-Goâve, Haiti.
The event, held at Kelly Middle School in Norwich, Conn., on May 31, drew about 300 people for an evening of performances from youth groups at Peniel Church, First Haitian Baptist Church of Norwich and the International Family Worship Center.
The money was donated to Community2Community, a non-profit, service organization in Brooklyn, N.Y., that is building a water system in a mountain village. To date, 35 Seconds, which partnered with Community2Community last year, has contributed $6,000 to the project.