by Bill Pruitt
As many of you know, when God called me to South West Philadelphia I was completely surprised. I had a great ministry at America’s Keswick as a Chaplain in the Colony of Mercy. I had been there for eight years surrounded by good friends and a comfortable home. So, I brought my concerns to God about making this big change:
But His ways are definitely not our ways, and when He says “go” we should fix our eyes on Him and go. He says step out onto the water because His ways are higher than our ways.
In the past year and a half since God revealed His vision He has been so faithful. I have seen many amazing things, some I would even call miracles. I intend to share them with you one story at a time in future newsletters.
Today’s story is still unfolding; it’s full of God’s faithfulness & hope.
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One Sunday evening, a few months ago, I received a text from a dear friend saying “Go listen to our Pastor’s sermon on the website; he was talking about you and New Hope Philly.” I was so tired and had just crawled into bed. It had been an extremely challenging week and honestly, I just wanted to go to bed. I was intrigued though. I had never met my friend’s Pastor or been to his church.
I crawled into bed, dialed up the Davisville Church website, and started listening to Pastor Tim preach about Nehemiah. Pastor Tim preached about “going” when God calls you to “go,” even when it takes us outside our comfort zone, and even when it doesn’t make sense from a human or even a financial perspective. It was exactly what I needed to hear. It was the encouragement from God that I needed to persevere. I lay in the bed crying as Pastor Tim told a story he had heard about a guy who left America’s Keswick to move to a high crime, drug -addicted neighborhood in SW Philly because he had compassion for the people.
I went to sleep full of confidence about the day to come, and had a renewed sense of trust as I faced various trials. I knew no matter what happened, I could count it all joy.
The next morning, I flagged down a young guy (Troy) who serves with me at New Hope Philly. I jumped in his car to encourage him to listen to the same sermon I had listened to the night before. I knew he needed to hear it and be encouraged that we were in God’s will, no matter how hard things might seem at the moment.
While talking with Troy, my cell phone rang. I said, “Hello,” and the voice on the other end said, “Bill, You don’t know me... I’m Pastor Tim Wilson from Davisville Church.” He was surprised as I told him I had listened to his sermon the night before, and as I told how God used it to minister to me. I explained how I was sitting in the car actually telling a friend to listen to his message.
Pastor Tim asked many questions. He asked about how God called me to Philadelphia, how he gave me compassion for the people, how I came to be an Associate Pastor at Greater Fellowship Church, and about the vision of New Hope Philly (NHP). We made plans to meet and pray with some of the guys from his church and the NHP team.
After an amazing day in the ‘hood’ with the Davisville men, Pastor Tim told me that he believed God was whispering to them that New Hope Philly and SW Philadelphia was to be their “Samaria”. My friends, Bob & Connie Wood, had told them about the work that God was doing, and they wanted to be where God was moving.
On November 23rd we traveled to Davisville Church to worship God with our new friends. The church family embraced us and we began praying about ways that our two communities could come together to be a light in a dark place, by offering the hope that can only come from Jesus Christ.
On December 21, 2014 Davisville drove vans to Philadelphia to pick up a group of children and adults to attend their Dream Big Team’s Christmas performance. We all had a blast watching the amazing puppet show, eating pizza together, enjoying one another’s company, and giving honor to JESUS.
On January 3, 2015 Davisville church showed up on Woodland Avenue through an army of Christian men ready to begin rehab work on the NHP basement. This work is necessary to make room for the next three men coming to join us in ministry, and to attend Bible school. We had no idea how God would get the work done, but He did.
Though I had concerns in the beginning, God has handled every aspect. He provided the encouragement to move us forward, He provided a church excited to come along side and support us, He has provided the labor and materials necessary for our building, and He continues to exceed my expectations. So, we continue to “go” as God leads us, and are excited to see what God will do next.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8