“…and saw no harm come to him…”

One of the factors that prevents inner-city works from being started and continuing after that are started is the factor of “fear.”  This is a testimony of God’s protecting hand upon my family and I as I am a firm believer in the truth that the safest place possible is the exact center of God’s will!

Acts 28:6 Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god.

The Apostle Paul in Acts 28 was going through a very precarious time as he attempted to faithfully serve his Lord. His life was in grave danger and here in verse 6 when harm “should have” come to him, the Lord protected him. Below is a testimony of God’s protection!

Some folks would not feel safe in the neighborhood of the Ontario Street Baptist Rescue Mission, and on a human level, I don’t blame them. It was a neighborhood plagued by drugs and street violence, but it was also a neighborhood filled with souls for whom Christ died! The Lord would show me there the truth of the old saying, “ The safest place on earth is the center of God’s will.”

In the summer of 2000, I was the director of the Ontario Street Baptist Rescue Mission of Philadelphia. I was unexpectedly called to fill the pulpit of Liberty Baptist Church in Ephrata, PA. At the time, my good friend Pastor Peter Petrovich was pastoring that church and needed me to preach for him. This was a particularly last-minute and urgent request, and I gladly accepted every opportunity to preach. My family and I packed into the car and drove off to Lancaster county. We did not know what the Lord was protecting us from as we preached that night at Liberty.

In those days I spent many many hours at the Mission.  Ontario Street Baptist Rescue Mission was a ministry of our church from 1990’s through 2006.  This ministry began as a soup kitchen that was operated a few days a week to preach the gospel to the poor while ministering to their physical needs.  By 1995 it had become a full-time “24/7” ministry housing and ministering to homeless men.

My normal schedule on the night of this incident would have had me at my desk for the night watch until 2 A.M. the next morning. Because I was preaching out, someone else took my shift for me and my desk was vacant. After returning late that night from Liberty, my family and I had to walk around all the police tape that was cordoning off the crime scene just outside my office window to get into our home. Crime scene tape wasn’t a real unusual sight in those days in that area. It wouldn’t be until the next morning that we would even learn of the details of the deadly gunfight that took place while we were away. We would not know of the two young men that were killed just outside my office window.

When I returned to my office the next day I would find that during that gunfight a bullet came through the wall of my office, passed right through where I would have been sitting at my desk, and lodged itself in the opposite wall. If the Lord had not had me preaching out that night, I would have been in that chair directly in the path of that bullet! After realizing that the police were uninterested in the evidence lodged in my office wall, I dug it out and mounted it as a paperweight. Today it reminds me of the night the Lord showed me that He would protect me as I serve Him.

Psalms 4:8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.

Job 1:10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.

– Pastor David Peterman

Doing a Work for God!

“Building a Work for God in the City”

Pastor David Peterman, Sr.

A Plea and Biblical Pattern for the Inner Cities of our Nation

Isa 61:4 ¶ And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.

It is with a heavy heart I say, our United States cites are waste places, yea, “old” waste places! For generations, Independent Baptist churches for the most part have forsaken the cities!

*We have forsaken the cities by REMOVING the presence of the gospel witness and salt of the soul-winning New Testament church. Our inner city churches of the past have flourished to the point that, like many in the secular world, we literally picked up and moved the church from the city to the suburbs, leaving no witness behind!

*We have forsaken the cities by AVOIDING them altogether! In our colleges and seminaries, young men are counseled and warned against establishing INNER CITY works. We have become masters of the bus ministry. I am not against the bus ministry, but a bus route is NOT a church! Not one sound Independent Baptist church or preacher would financially support a missionary to “start a bus route” on a foreign field, yet this is what we have deemed sufficient for our cities!

*We have forsaken the cities by DENYING them the status of “mission field”. We wont go there, we wont send our young families there, yet ask an inner city church planter what he hears from most preachers when they find out he is a “home missionary” and not going to a”foreign field”.

*We have forsaken the cities by ALLOWING THEM to remain “mission works” indefinitely. I believe that even inner city works can eventually become self-supporting! A church that depends upon the financial support of other churches is accountable to those other churches, and therefore is not completely autonomous. It may take longer to achieve this in the inner city, but it is a necessary thing to the integrity of the inner city church!

*We have forsaken the cities by DISOBEYING God’s call! YES INDEED, GOD STILL CALLS SERVANTS TO SERVE HIM! Yes, He still calls men to go, at times to places and people they do not wish to go (hello, remember Jonah?). How many have been called, and have not heeded that call to go? Only God and those individuals know!

I would compare inner city ministry in our day to the period of Israel’s history that saw Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah returning to rebuild the Temple, the people, and the city. They, as God’s people, had the same duties as they had at any other period. However, the difficulty and danger involved in the performance of these duties was far greater. There is a reason that there are more churches in the South and in the Midwest parts of our nation. The area’s known as the “Bible Belt” has far more churches while having far less people. I wonder how many Independent Baptist churches there are in Greeneville South Carolina verses New York City, Atlanta or Philadelphia. Sin is everywhere, there is no doubt, but in the inner cities, sin is open and is deeply seated in the generations of the people living there!

I. The Objective Before Them

Ezr 3:1-4 ¶ And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem. 2 Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God. 3 And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening. 4 They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required;

A. Reestablishing the Fellowship: Ezra 3:2 (Rebuilt the altar)

1. The Motive:

*The Will of God vs.1 “…the children of Israel were in the cites”

See: Ezra 1 (God stirred Cyrus and His People)

*The Word of God vs.2 “as it was written in the law of Moses”

*The NEED for God! vs 4 “as the duty of everyday REQUIRED”

2. The Manner:

*Forgiveness of Sins ~ When a soul gets saved, broken fellowship is restored!

Confrontational Soul-winning! The church must take the gospel to the streets! Most folks will NOT come into your church, if they do, they will not understand what they are experiencing! The church must reach out to the lost with the gospel! We must “go out” and “bring them in!’

Ac 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

*Fellowship of the Savior

After folks are reached they must be discipled! They must be trained and taught, not just doctrine, but LIVING! The key to this proper living for Believer is a close walk and fellowship with the Lord!

1Th 1:9-10 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

B. Relay the Foundation: Ezra 2: 9-13 (Christ)

Ezr 3:9-13 Then stood Jeshua with his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to set forward the workmen in the house of God: the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brethren the Levites. 10 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel. 11 And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: 13 So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.

FOUNDA’TION, n. [L. fundatio, fundo.]

1. The basis of an edifice; that part of a building which lies on the ground; usually a wall of stone which supports the edifice.

2. The act of fixing the basis.

3. The basis or ground work, or any thing; that on which any thing stands, and by which it is supported. A free government has its foundation in the choice and consent of the people to be governed. Christ is the foundation of the church.

Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone – a precious cornerstone. Is. 28.

Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1Cor. 3.

4. Original; rise; as the foundation of the world.

5. Endowment; a donation or legacy appropriated to support an institution, and constituting a permanent fund, usually for a charitable purpose.

6. Establishment; settlement. ~Webster’s 1828 Dictionary

1Co 3:11 ¶ For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Establishing in the lives of the people a godly legacy to be passed to the generations to follow!!!

C. Rebuild the Framework: In Ezra’s day the Temple, today the local church!

1Ti 3:15-16 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

1. Local Independent, AUTONOMOUS churches!

2. Label (Baptist) *Ever see a Catholic Church afraid to call itself “Catholic”?

3. Living (On fire for God)

II. The Obstacles Against Them

A. The Amazing Cost:

Funded from without ILL CF Foods, check signed “Joseph”

Ezra 1:5-6

Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem. And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered.

Funded from within ILL CIBC Giving and Staff Salaries

Ezra 2:68-69

And some of the chief of the fathers, when they came to the house of the LORD which is at Jerusalem, offered freely for the house of God to set it up in his place: They gave after their ability unto the treasure of the work threescore and one thousand drams of gold, and five thousand pound of silver, and one hundred priests’ garments.

Recently in a conversation with Pastor Montoro of Open Door Bible Baptist Church in Astoria, Queens, NYC he said, I couldn’t afford to live in an apartment in my neighborhood if it were not for my ministry at the church! Not every section of a city is “boarded up houses and burned out cars!”


B. The Atmosphere: ILL. 108 and bullet See the “bullet” at this link:

Ezra 3:3

And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening.

C. The Adversaries Attempts:

1. To Corrupt by Compromise Ezra 4:1-3

2. To Cease by Confounding Ezra 4:4-5

3. To Crush by Conspiracy Ezra 4:6-24

D. The Agonizing Pace:

*From the Decree of Cyrus to the Completion of the House 21 years (536-515 B.C.)

How many have entered a city (especially a Northeastern city) to plan a church, having no idea of what they are embarking upon! They have visions of a “solid church plant” in X years. They have a model of success in their minds that was not inner city and not Northeast!

I heard a famous pastor who pastored some years in the Northeast then took a work in Texas. He described the ministry differences in football terms.

First, he said in the Northeast it was like “rushing the line” with all you had only to gain just inches maybe a yard or two. After gaining a meager amount in the rush only to get back up, bruised and bloodied to rush again. After several years he was worn out and disappointed with the results (quite honesty the church he described seemed like a solid church). Then he described the work in Texas as if he would rush the line, but through the blocking of others he would “find a hole” and gain 10, 20, 30 yards or more!!

Then the same preacher illustrated the same frustration in the same sermon buy having another preacher lay on the ground while he dragged him to “follow the preacher” verses pointing to one and saying “follow me” and he follows (actually walking of his own accord) and to another and he does likewise.

~ I have one thing to say to this, “we aren’t in Kansas anymore!”

III. The Overcoming

A. The Preaching

Ezr 5:1-2 ¶ Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them. 2 Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them.

Ezr 6:14 And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.

~Spirit Filled Preaching! (Dynamite Power)

1 Corinthians 2:4-5

And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

~Scripturally Sound Preaching! (Doctrinal Purity)

1 Timothy 4:16

Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

B. The Patient Obedience

1. Patient, Obedience LEADERSHIP

Ac 18:9-10 Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: 10 For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.

~These words were spoken to Paul in a vision when he first began to minster in Corinth~

2. Patient, Obedience FOLLOWSHIP

2Co 11:1-2 ¶ Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. 2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

~These were written by Paul to the Corinthians in Paul’s second and last letter to this church~

C. The Persistence

Ezra 6:14-15 And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia. 15 And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.