Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mission New England, the city on a hill where the light has (almost) gone out

A church in Gray Maine. EPrata photo
New England is comprised of 6 states: Maine, New Hampshire Vermont (northern New England) and Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut (southern New England). Five, and sometimes all six of these states are listed in surveys in the top ten most Godless states in the US.

Providence RI is listed as one of the 'least bible-minded' cities in the US. This is ironic, given its name.

Portland Maine is known as one of the most homosexual friendly and tolerant cities in the US.

Spiritually, New England is dark. I know. I lived there for 42 years. For those who were saved by grace at an early age, or were raised in a Christian home or even live in the south or Midwest ... perhaps this next statement will seem strange to you. But growing up in New England means that one can never go to church, never see anyone else go to church, never hear talk of church, never hear the name Jesus, never see a bible store or a Christian store. Never see a cross. As embedded as the visible Christian life is in the south, it is just as invisible in the north.

One of the oldest church buildings and the biggest, located in the most prominent place, the center of my old town, has no displayed cross outside. The Methodist Church and the Congregational Church staff female lead pastors. There is no bible store in town (no book store at all, as least as far as I know). Jesus doesn't live in most of the people there and thus He isn't seen in the culture.

New England needs missionaries. To that end, NETS is a church planting mission aimed at New England. Does it seem strange to you that New England is as dark as Norway? Or India? They write,
The New England landscape is dotted with white steeples and picturesque churches. But
North Yarmouth church. EPrata photo
look closer, and you’ll find pulpits that once held gospel preachers like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield now proclaiming Universalism, Liberalism and postmodernism. Halls that once echoed classic hymns stand eerily silent behind “For Sale” signs. Many church buildings have already been converted into shops and condos. And influential colleges like Harvard, Yale and Brown, founded to train gospel preachers, now lead the way into spiritual darkness. With the exception of Mormon Utah, New England is the most gospel-parched region of the nation.
Portland is one of the toughest regions to be on mission with the gospel: Some 59% of residents are considered “post-Christian.” ... As shown by this homosexual publication reports that Portland, Maine is one of the top five surprisingly gay towns.
Portland Maine is on our gaydar... Home to one of the biggest per capita LGBT populations on the east coast and now host of the entirely enticing Frostbite ME weekend (early March, dates TBA), a LGBT winter celebration with an alluring array of homo hijinks, activities, and events that launched in 2008, Portland is Maine's captivating largest city (population 65,000). Portland has a venerable gay bar, Blackstones, and Styxx Video Club (3 Spring Street), where the dance floor and pool tables are popular with women on Thursdays and Saturdays.
The Portland Press Herald reported, "Maine a mecca for gay couples; Experts attribute the numbers to the state’s gay-friendly laws and its history of tolerance."
A long-dead New England church that is now an antique store
This is the very spot in the world where European men and women of faith left all they knew to travel to a new and dangerous world, in pursuit of freedom to worship Jesus. They stepped off the Mayflower in 1620 Plymouth Massachusetts, survived, thrived, founded cities, and seminaries. Harvard College was originally a seminary institution of higher learning for men to be trained in the Gospel. So was Yale and Princeton and most other New England higher learning institutes that were founded over 300 years ago.

Harvard's crest stated Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae (Truth for Christ and the Church) and their charter proposal read thus:
After God had carried us safe to New England and we had builded our houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood, reared convenient places for God's worship, and settled the civil government: One of the next things we longed for and looked after was to advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches, when our present ministers shall lie in the dust.
And so a mere 6 years after landing in Plymouth, the Puritans founded Harvard College in 1636.

And so satan went to work.

In 1803 Harvard voted out the Calvinist President and voted in an anti-Trinitarian president. In 1869 Harvard dropped the "Christ and Church" from their motto and crest, leaving only "Veritas", (Truth). Cementing the long, liberal decline, Harvard expanded their mission statement in 2008,
To help in building a world in which people can live and work together across religious and cultural divides, we strive to be a primary resource in religious and theological studies for the academy, for religious communities, and in the public sphere.... 
because,
A well-educated student of religion must have a deep and broad understanding of more than a single religious tradition; [emphasis mine]
Bangor (Maine) Theological Seminary is 200 years old and liberal as liberal can be. It was not always so. Like Harvard, it was founded by a conservative Calvinist minister in the Puritan tradition. Rev. Jonathan Fisher of Blue Hill Maine was concerned that there was no institute of Christian higher learning in northern New England. Then, 'Harvard defected, and so had many other clergymen and churches.' (source). BTS was founded. Though it started out well, it ended up committed to scholarship, just not biblical scholarship. They adhered to ecumenical learning and the ever-deadly free thought. Another New England seminary had fallen. This month, conservative New England Bible College in Maine closed its doors, for lack of enrollments. The people of New England, its churches and its seminaries reject Jesus.

John Winthrop was the long term original governor of Boston, the first city of Massachusetts Bay Colony after Plymouth. He preached to the Puritans as they emigrated that theirs was a holy endeavor and they would found a holy "city upon a hill". This was his famous "Modell of Christian Charity" sermon. Winthrop wrote it aboard the ship Arbella, (I edited the language from 1630 to today's)
Winthrop: 2nd, 6th, 9th, & 12th Governor
of the Massachusetts Bay Colony

We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when he shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, "the Lord make it likely that of New England." For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill."
The city upon a hill was from Matthew 5:14. Winthrop was so right in his next paragraph-
The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world.

Because Jesus IS hope ... rather than lament the loss of our original Christian identity, one pastor in New England (a friend of mine) wrote this week an encouraging message. The decline we are seeing, the degradation of the name of Jesus in the wider community, is nothing new. It is nothing unexpected. Knowing this, we can persevere in joy and hope! He wisely wrote:

-----------------------------

As many families and church families struggle to meet their financial obligations amid an uncertain economy and an increasing global conflict, major changes are affecting everyone. Some folks may even sense a spirit of discouragement or worse, despair. Some folks simply dismiss what is happening in our world, as they are tired of all the bad news. Hmmm, it reminds me of the times Habakkuk lived.

God told the prophet, Habakkuk, that Israel's worst and most fearsome enemy was coming to destroy the nation and carry off many people into captivity because of Israel's idolatry and sinfulness. While Habakkuk wrestled with God on this issue, the prophet came to understanding that "the just shall live by faith" (2:4). As a result, Habakkuk accepted the inevitable judgment of God upon Israel by offering up praise to God.

As I close this email with the prophet's words (3:17-19), remember, that no matter how difficult the times may get for our lives, our families, our church families, and our nation, God will be your strength as you walk with Him.

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet, I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's
he makes me tread on my high places.

-------------------------------------

Oh Puritan New England, what happened? Satan happened!

The great preacher George Whitefield preached about satan's schemes.
But Satan is most known for his remarkable ability to use his cleverness against mankind. Since he is not given power from God to take us by force, he is therefore required to wait for opportunities to betray us, and to catch us by the use of deception. He, therefore, made use of the serpent, which was the most crafty of all the beasts of the field, in order to tempt our first parents; and accordingly he and his accomplices are described in the New Testament as being cunning and crafty in their deceitful scheming. In the words of our text, this morning, the Apostle says, "We are not unaware of his schemes:" thereby implying, that we are more in danger of being seduced by his system of deception, than overpowered by his strength.
The people of New England throughout the recent centuries were overpowered by stealth. Little by deadly little, they succumbed. Satan entered into their minds, and led them away from the pure doctrines of the bible. They were not vigilant! Satan seduced them into installing women pastors. He slithered in to its seminaries and lured them into ecumenicalism. He is the angel of craft and subtlety. No guns were needed. No swords were drawn. The battle has been long, and it has been silent, but it has been a success. They forgot Jesus. Veritas. But no Christo.

But Jesus does not forget them! He raises up faithful pastors to staff solidly biblical churches there! He sends missionaries to plant churches in its frigid mountains where hearts need the light of God! He sustains the beleaguered congregations persevering in a place that is as corrupt as Corinth! God is good. Our High Priest, Jesus, ministers to the hearts of those who love Him, few as they may be in that northern place.

Pray for our stalwart missionaries, pastors, and brethren who dwell in a place where once the lamp was shining on a hill, but now shines only dimly in laboring flickers here and there.

No matter where we are in the world, spiritual decline is inevitable. Fear not! The world hates Jesus. (John 15:18). No matter what the type of beginning a nation had, high or low, sacred or profane, all will fall. All parts of all nations will fall. Satan is working mightily to try and overthrow heaven's gates. The areas we hold dear, where we grew up, or where we live now, will some day be renewed! Every Christian who dwells in the places that are so dark now, will cry with joy when the Light comes. Jesus will revive every ember, bursting into glory light of pure and holy truth.

Until then, pray for New England.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further Reading:

US History: Massachusetts Bay Colony, the City upon a Hill

John Winthrop: A Model of Christian Charity

The First Baptist Church in America: in Providence RI (1638)

14 comments :

  1. Excellent post, as always, Elizabeth. God bless you - Mick

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Than you, Elle, for reading and commenting. SDG.

      Delete
  2. The "godless" US states are NOT an easy mission field.

    Though at this point, even the south, which has more visible Christian life than the northeast or Pacific NW, has been swept over by false teachers, leaving many false converts in the pews.

    -Carolyn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well said Carolyn. I 100% agree.

      In some ways the south is just as heartbreaking. At least the north is cold for Jesus, open about it and in your face. The ACLU thrives there.

      In the South, so many are lukewarm. So many are tares. The secret apostate is sometimes harder to deal with than the open atheist.

      Delete
    2. I'm not sure either is easy to deal with... open hostility isn't fun to encounter. But at least it's an attack from the outside, and you can see clearly where they stand, and shake the dust off and move on.

      But secret apostates/tares are very dangerous to the health of the church. They do more internal damage to the body. And "thanks" to the church growth movement, unwise pastors are allowing good churches to be flooded with tares.

      -Carolyn

      Delete
  3. That Building that you posted a pic of in Welchville has since been torn down. There was another that had the distinction of being the first to have an ecumenical wedding service where both a priest and a baptist minister presided. That was the United Baptist Church in Lewiston Maine and there is a parking lot there now.
    Revelation 2
    Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

    2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

    3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

    4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

    5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jeff,

      Thanks for the scriptures. Also, the horror of a Baptist pastor and a Catholic priest joining to perform a holy sacrament! Shudder! I'm always sad to learn of a good church being torn down.

      I'm not sure to which photo you're talking about. The top one is the Congregational Church in Gray Maine. The second one is the church at the end of Rt 115 out of Gray, in North Yarmouth. The third is also in Gray, very near Gray Village. Though I understand there are a few antique shops in central Maine that inhabit dead churches.

      What a day it will be when Jesus is the temple and the Light.

      Delete
    2. http://www.sunjournal.com/files/imagecache/medium/2011/01/12/Sightschurch1P011611.jpg

      Delete
  4. Such a shame..... I used to always want to visit New England in the fall to view the gorgeous landscapes/trees!....

    AND... I didn't know that about Harvard or other universities either.... good "education" (I mean that I just got ~ heh).... thanks, Elizabeth. I'd rather see my college aged child (providing I had one) mop floors as a janitor than to be thrown into such liberal ecumenical society/universities.... like willingly throwing them into a lion's den!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. New England . . . Dead England. Yep, it needs missionaries, ASAP! Oh, Elizabeth, another winner from you!

    Stephen

    ReplyDelete
  6. I live in the next county over from Birmingham, Alabama.... the heart of the Bible Belt! Seems most everybody I know "goes to church". Unfortunately, the majority of what I am hearing is how awesome their churches are.... pastors doing sermon series based on the Summer blockbuster movies like Frozen, tv shows like Walking Dead, and one church even was doing a "game show series". The friend who told me about the gameshow series was actually not too happy about it. She said the previous two sermons had been kind of childish (no kidding, right?).... and she was thinking about skipping the upcoming Sunday because the sermon scheduled to be preached was based on the old gameshow "Lets Make A Deal", and the congregation was being told to wear costumes!! I about fell out of my chair. My own church seems to be one of the last in my area to still be preaching from the Bible and singing hymns.... but my church is not even as solid as it was 18 years ago when I first began attending it. My daughter recently pointed out that there is a church on nearly every street corner in Alabama and how good that was. But I had to remind her not to be fooled, because we are as more spiritually sick than we have ever been. However, let's keep giving thanks to God.... even in these times, He still reigns and surely He will be coming quickly! There is much work to be done.... "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labouers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest." - Matt. 9:37-38. Great blog post by the way! Thanks for the info!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Another thing.... check out this church in Birmingham, Al. I can't link it because the feature is broken on my tablet, but if you google "futuristic church with twelve lane", it should be the first thing that pops up. It is a church that just built a twelve lane bowling alley, and all kinds of other things to attract people. They spent MILLIONS of dollars on it, and are advertising "open house". Maybe it's because we are kind of sheltered here in the south, but I have never seen anything like it! It makes me nauseous!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I grew up in the south and lived there almost 40 years before moving to the midwest for a few years (which was very similar to the south). It is so frustrating trying to talk to people about the Lord who have gone to church enough to "know the language" and think they're saved...they tend to get very offended if you talk to them about sin because they're "good people."

    So I was excited when my husband got a job in Maine - I thought it would be great to live somewhere where the people aren't deceived about their own salvation. I had this wild idea that people were wanting to hear the gospel and we prayed that we would see God working in our new state. However, in our six years there I never met anyone who wanted to hear about the Lord.

    I love Mainers - I love their work ethic and their frugality and their dogged self-sufficiency, but these things make it difficult for them to think they need anything they can't provide for themselves. They are so blind to the truth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for that testimony, GtY! So true, that those who "know the language" don't want to hear about sin... proving their state of religious deception.

      "However, in our six years there I never met anyone who wanted to hear about the Lord."

      This was the most encouraging (and yet of course sad) part of your comment... encouraging in that it comforts me to know we are not alone facing such hardened hearts... your experience mirrors that which my husband and I have been facing in our area... pretty much zero reception to things of God. Sad of course, seeing people hardened after spending a lifetime rejecting Christ.

      -Carolyn

      Delete