First Baptist Church of Rahway, 177 Elm Ave., Rahway, New Jersey 07065 is a multi-cultural congregation that has a Blended English Service on Sunday Mornings, a Latino Service at 12:00, and a Service in Telugu at 3:30PM. For more information, call (732) 388-8626. Or click here to send an email. If you wish to help the Mission and Ministry of First Baptist financially click the Donate Button.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

African Churches Told to Quiet Down

Government officials in Rwanda and Uganda are cracking down on noise pollution, telling church leaders that they must reduce worship-related noise levels or face penalties—including the risk of being shut down.


Monday, November 26, 2012

The First Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day in the United States abounds with historic images of black-hatted, silver-buckled Pilgrims joining Native Americans in an outdoor New England feast of wild fowl, fish and grain. Certainly today's Thanksgiving feast is inspired by the traditional stories about the Pilgrims, but this celebration isn't exactly the very first American Thanksgiving.

Consider this: The 1564 French Huguenots in Florida ... the 1598 Spanish conquistadors near present-day El Paso ... the 1610 Virginia settlers of Jamestown – they all hold claim to celebrating the "first" Thanksgiving in North America before the arrival of the Pilgrims in Massachusetts. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How God Created Everything

Later that night, I read him something Billy Graham wrote in 1964:
I don't think that there's any conflict at all between science today and the Scriptures. I think … we've tried to make the Scriptures say things they weren't meant to say …. The Bible is not a book of science. The Bible is a book of Redemption, and of course I accept the Creation story …. I believe that God created man, and whether it came by an evolutionary process … makes no difference as to what man is and man's relationship to God.
"Maybe you're not a total heretic," said my son.

Monday, November 19, 2012

President Obama Visits Land of Persecution

On Monday, President Obama will become the first U.S. president to visit the long-isolated nation of Burma (Myanmar)—home to some of the world's longest-running persecuted Christians
In response, leaders from the American Baptist Church, The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) urged the President to advocate for religious freedom in the Buddhist nation.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Churches at Jersey Shore Destroyed by Sandy

I've driven past all of the churches mentioned in the article below at least 100 times. I've often wondered what it would be like to be the pastor of one of them. Now I know. It would be bad. It's going to be years before any of these churches are back to normal. Pray for them.

The gray clapboard church with the red door had stood near the New Jersey coastline for more than 125 years, surviving floods and fires, hurricanes and northeasters. So when its senior warden left the church on the Sunday before Hurricane Sandy hit, he tucked the church records into a drawer for safekeeping and kept everything else in place.

That moment keeps replaying in his mind, said the warden, Dennis Bellars, because this time, luck ran out for St. Elisabeth's Chapel-by-the-Sea, a tiny Episcopal chapel in storm-ravaged Ortley Beach, N.J. The church is marked now by nothing but a field of sand and broken pavement. The pews, the brass candlesticks; the 1885 stained glass windows, the needlepoint kneelers sewn by a parishioner; the wooden baptismal font -- the sea or the sand took all of them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Political Issues are Killing Evangelicals

Evangelical Christian leaders are questioning whether their influence is declining after many losses in this past election. The New York Times has a very good article which quotes many of these leaders as they discuss their disappointment. I could care less.

I am a small church pastor fighting in the trenches of the culture vs religion war. I've been ministering in New Jersey for ten years, and I can tell you that from where I am at, we Christians are getting trounced. I am surrounded by an increasingly secular group of people who view churches as piles of conservative, republican political manure. I don't even get a chance to talk about the Good News of Jesus Christ before I am judged as a conservative political crank. All of the anger and frustration felt by the liberal leaning people of NJ is thrown at us evangelicals because of the label of political conservative attached to us, despite our wonderful and life changing ministries.

And so, it would help me and my blue state evangelical brothers and sisters a great deal if the rest of Evangelical Christian America would lay off politics and focus on ministry. You guys are killing us in the northeast. We want to talk about Jesus, everyone else wants to talk politics. Enough is enough. If you want to be a politician, be a politician. If you want to be a minister, do the Lord's Work. Mixing the two is not working. Jesus said; "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's  Render unto God the things that are God's". Amen to that.

God bless you,

Pastor Bill

Link to the New York Times article...

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Siege of Sandy is Lifted

Power is finally back at the church. It came back on Sunday afternoon. Our morning service was held in my living room. The Latino service was bravely held in the church building despite the cold conditions. And the Telugu service was held in the house of a local family.

Thanks for your prayers, keep praying for people who still don't have power, and/or lost their homes.

God bless you,

Pastor Bill

Thursday, November 8, 2012

In Praise of People who Helped

Today I sing the praises of the people who helped me, my family, my church and my neighborhood through the Siege of Sandy. Many people stepped up and gave what they could to help us. Many people are still working to restore power and help my neighbors.

·         Pedro Hernandez and his friends; helped us put a patch on our damaged church roof.
·         Betsy Whitehead; offering food and shelter to friends who were struggling.
·         The unknown chain saw guy; cut up my neighbor’s tree branch that blocked his driveway.
·         Owner of Flynn’s Tavern in Rahway; helped us find a 50 foot tarp to cover our roof.
·         Dirk Weber; his generator kept the entire apartment building warm that he lives in.
·         PSE&G for fixing our electricity.
·         City of Rahway for getting the fallen trees out of the way.

Jesus said; “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25: 37-40 NIV.

Amen to that.

God bless you,

Pastor Bill

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Winter Storm Athena Approaches

Just great; many of my neighbors still don’t have power, and another storm is approaching. We’ll see how this one goes.

We got the roof tarped yesterday. Just in the nick of time.

Pray for Rahway as we ride out another storm.

God bless you,

Pastor Bill

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Rahway, Sandy and Tarps; Oh My!

Searched high and low for tarps to cover the flat roof at the church. Sandy tore a 75 foot long section of the top layer. It’s not very wide, but we still have to cover the entire length. That has led to a search for a tarp big enough to cover the whole thing. We settled on two 50 x 30 foot tarps we found at Home Depot. I've been looking for several days in various stores and the shelves were empty. Betsy and I finally found a fully stocked store that had what we needed. Today a bunch of people from the church will climb the roof and secure the tarps before we get socked with rain tomorrow. We’re just in the nick of time.

Many of my neighbors still do not have power. I see PSE&G trucks all over the place, but not everyone is back to normal. OK People, It’s time, get the power back up for everyone! Power to the People!!!

God bless you,

Pastor Bill

Monday, November 5, 2012

Rahway and the Never Ending Siege of Sandy

I have guilt. I have power but my neighbors do not. That’s the way it is in Rahway right now. Some have had power restored, but someone a block away does not. It’s very depressing to look outside my windows at night and see the dark windows in the houses behind mine. We have been offering limited help to our neighbors. But, there isn't much we can do right now but wait.

We had a worship service on Sunday. No power in the church yet, but the English service and the Spanish service gathered at noon, the warmest part of the day, to praise God for saving our church and ourselves. We prayed for everyone suffering right now, and we prayed that things would get back to normal. To create as much normal as possible, we had chicken cacciatore, red beans and rice, prepared by our friends from Cuba. It was awesome. Hopefully the church and the people around it will get their power back up soon.

Today we are slowly getting back to normal. Both of my sons have gone back to work. Betsy is waiting to hear from her school, as of today they still don’t have power. Charlotte will go back to school on Wednesday. I’m working on getting a tarp to cover the flat roof at the church. The best way to protect it is a 100 foot tarp, which is proving difficult to find. I’m working with a roofer on this problem.

Pray for us and all of the victims of Super Storm Sandy! And thank you for the prayers you have already sent up to heaven.

God bless you,

Pastor Bill

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Rahway and the Ongoing Siege of Sandy

My sons are complaining about gas lines. We have lines outside of gas stations stretching for miles. People line their cars up the night before and leave them until the morning to get a good place in line. Every gas station has at least one police officer to keep people from getting too crazy. We haven’t run out of gas in our cars yet. We are hoping that things will get back to normal this week.

Normal is something we all take for granted. When normal was taken away this week, it really freaked us out. We have all had positive and negative reactions to the lack of normal. I’ll start with the negative. A constant restless feeling that causes a small amount of stress, but the stress never goes away. The lack of a normal routine is surprisingly stressful. A feeling of isolation from the outside world. No school or work to go to means less contact with people outside of our immediate family. And there is the very stressful notion that it will never end. We all kept looking up the street for PSE&G trucks to start fixing the damage. Every time we saw one we cheered, and then they moved on. After that we returned to that awful feeling that we will never experience normal again.

Now the good side of no electricity. We only had one room that was heated in our house. So, we kept the fireplace stoked with wood, and set up a poker table in the middle of the room. We sat and played games, we have lots of them stored in the house. We talked, we read, we played Sudoku. Generally our family spent a lot of time together, rather than separate into different parts of the house. We got along great and when jobs needed doing, like going out on the hunt for provisions, all of us volunteered without complaint. We also had Sarah with us. Sarah is Ed’s girlfriend and a student at Rutgers. Her dorm was shut down for the week, so she spent the time with us. She was great, we got to know her and she got to know us. So there turned out to be a lot of positives from Super Storm Sandy.

The good news is we got power on Saturday night. Yeah, but many people in Rahway still do not have electricity. We have many challenges ahead. The church doesn’t have power yet. That’s a worry because of the threat of freezing pipes. The flat roof is damaged and we haven’t found a roofer to cover it yet. A storm is coming on Wednesday, so I have until then to get it covered. Many people still need help. So, pray for us.

God bless you,

Pastor Bill

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Rahway and the Continuing Seige of Sandy


When the apocalypse comes you will be able to get Chinese takeout. The day after Sandy every Chinese restaurant was open in Rahway, despite not having electricity. Everyone knows that General Tso’s chicken tastes better after a catastrophe.

Some of the bars were open the day after as well. You don’t need electricity to get bombed.

Gin + Tonic = What Storm?

Betsy makes a killer dip. Cream cheese, peppers and olives. We put it into a Dutch oven
we use for camping. The oven sat on charcoals and we put more charcoals on top. All of this went into our weber grill. Thirty minutes later we feasted on killer dip. Some basic camping skills, a little charcoal, propane and/or wood and who needs electricity?

The roof of our Sunday School building is flat and part of it peeled back like the top of a frozen dinner. Betsy, my kids, Pedro our Latino minister and several of his friends helped me put a patch on it. It’s not very good and we need a 100 foot tarp to patch it correctly. I have until Tuesday to get the patch right, because another storm is predicted for Wednesday. Disasters are a lot easier to cope with if you have friends willing to help out. Jesus said; “if you give a cup of cold water to the least of these, you did it for me.”

I have a Bible Study at Atria Senior Center in Cranford. They had limited power which means no elevators. So I visited my Bible Study people in their rooms. They did have enough power for a Halloween party in their common room. A guy sang old songs through a fully powered sound system while a disco ball flashed different colored lights everywhere. Octogenarians who lived on the first floor of who could manage the stairs were partying the night away. The rest were stuck in their rooms. It was surreal.

Well that’s all for now. Please pray for us. We are having a Thanksgiving service tomorrow at 12PM. If it’s too cold in the building, we’ll have it outside.

Peace, Pastor Bill

Friday, November 2, 2012

Rahway and the Siege of Sandy


They are calling it Super Storm Sandy. I’ve been calling it the siege, because that is what it feels like. We have been without power since Monday and it feels weird. We’ve lost familiar things, and we’ve lost our daily routines. In place of our comfortable existence, we have found ways to survive and even have fun. Our family and friends have pulled together, and we have found the comfort of community.

Sandy hit Rahway on Monday and it didn’t start out that bad. We had a few high wind gusts, but very little rain. Then the wind hit big time. Between 6 PM and midnight the winds gusted up to 80 MPH. We knew we were in trouble when we started to see weird lights in the sky. At first I thought it was lightning, but then we realized that it was the power transformers exploding as the trees hit the power lines. We lost power around 7 PM and watched the spent the rest of the night watching the sky light up all around us. Sandy turned out to be a very bad girl.

Tuesday dawned and we got a big hint that the damage was extensive. A tree fell on our neighbors house and totaled it. Our neighbors are fine, but the house is destroyed. We don’t know where they have gone, and we feel so bad for them.

Two big trees fell in front of our church. They fell away from the building, but they took out the power lines. On Thursday they cut the trees up and piled them on the side of the road. The power company hasn’t started work on the lines. There are 13 crews working in Rahway and I’m sure they are working their way to us. But it seems like it will be a while before they take care of our electric lines.

The church survived. We have some damage on our Sunday School building. They flat roof got partially peeled away. There is a picture of the damage to the right. We are appealing for help financially (hint, hint) so take a look at the blurb to the right of this article if you want to help. However, we are going to have a thanksgiving service on Sunday regardless of whether we have power or not. It will be a little cold, but we’ll just bundle up. If that big tree fell towards our church and hit us we would be in big trouble. So on Sunday we’re going to give God a big thank you.

I was a nervous wreck on Tuesday. I spent most of the day raking leaves. Weird I know, but I needed to do something with my hands. I was so out of sorts because my routine was interrupted. I walked around town, and raked leaves. I didn’t know what else to do.

Family life has settled into a good routine. We are long time campers and so we broke out the camping equipment; propane stove and grill, charcoal grill, flashlights and lanterns. We have plenty of wood and a wonderful fireplace, so we have one room to keep warm in. That has forced us to spend a lot of time together. We have been playing games; Monopoly, Life, Yahtzee, and so many other games. My son set up his poker table in the middle of the living room. Aside from the disruption of our lives, we are having a good time.

On Tuesday my kids watched movies on their laptops until they burned out their batteries. Not the smartest move in retrospect.

Our food situation is ok. We have a frozen turkey in our freezer that is still solid. Our freezer is now our fridge. So far we are good with our food supply. Betsy is using the opportunity to clean out our pantry and freezer.

The estimate is we could be out of power until sometime next week. I am posting this from my friend’s house. I will write updates every day until we are back up.

God bless you, Pastor Bill