A beautiful day in Harrisburg, PA greeted members from Ascension Lutheran Church when they went out to proclaim the gospel in the surrounding neighborhoods. It was a joy and privilege for Praise and Proclaim Ministries to come and lead this efforts
Harrisburg is the capital of Pennsylvania and nestled in the fertile fields of the Susquehanna. With a population of about 50,000, the city served as an important backdrop during the Civil War. It was a major training place for Union troops and an important rail center that linked the Midwest to the East Coast. The National Civil War museum is in downtown Harrisburg.
Across the Susquehanna River from downtown Harrisburg, Ascension Lutheran Church have been faithfully providing a gospel ministry for the past forty years. They currently have a membership of 87 souls and are led by Rev. Robert Green who has served at Ascension for twelve years.
Praise and Proclaim Ministries received the privilege of partnering with Ascension Lutheran to train members how to proclaim the gospel. The outreach initiative is an adventure in evangelism. It includes an opportunity for members to put their training into action by going out into the nearby community to knock on doors and proclaiming the gospel. The neighborhoods immediately surrounding the congregation were targeted which includes many townhomes. A component of the outreach strategy includes adopting approximately 1,250 residences and work the area like faithful farmers for the next nine months. This includes additional mailings and door-to-door visits.
On Friday evening, a total of 29 people filled the fellowship hall on the lower level of the church facility. This included several members and the pastor from Atonement Lutheran Church in Parkville, MD (Baltimore) who drove an hour and half through freeway traffic to attend the training along with the pastor from Peace Lutheran Church from King of Prussia, PA.
Postcards were mailed out to every home in conjunction with the outreach initiative. They arrived approximately six to ten days before members from Ascension Lutheran knocked on their doors. One of the first questions people asked when a person answered the door was whether they saw the postcard in the mail. It was impressive to hear that many people remember receiving the postcard. The striking image and the phrase, “Certain answers during uncertain times. How can I find peace and truth?”
We prayed that the Lord would hold an umbrella on Saturday since Dauphin County has been experiencing an above average rainfall in the past month. The Lord not only provided sunny skies, temperatures in the low 70s, but a number of open doors to proclaim the gospel. At the end of the day, a total of fifteen people went out to door-to-door and they shared the gospel with 107 people. Later that afternoon, we celebrated the number of opened doors with a delicious meal. We trust that the Lord of the harvest will use the gospel seeds planted according to his will and purpose. In the meantime, the members faithfully carried out their role of being God’s messengers to the community where God has placed them.
The Lord not only provided opportunity to proclaim, but divine appointments. There were an encouraging number of families and adults who expressed interest to learn more about Ascension Lutheran Church and how they can find peace and truth. About a third of the people we met already belonged to churches along with people who did express any interest at all. There is a strong Catholic presence in Pennsylvania along with people over sixty-five who belong to Methodist, Presbyterian, and Lutheran churches in the area. And there were a lot of people who own dogs. Many times, we were greeted by barks from big and small dogs. And it was surprising to see the number of homes that have two or three dogs. But most importantly, it was a joy to see most of, many of people in the neighborhood who were already familiar with Ascension Lutheran Church. They not only drive by the church, but it also serves as a polling place.
There was one house that had a large Notre Dame flag fluttering in the breeze. It didn’t seem that it was going to be very likely that the people inside were not going to be interested to talk with us. But the Lord provided a surprise. The man listened intently and asked questions. Though initially reluctant to receive more information, he expressed great interest to learn more by visiting the church website.
Two ladies from the congregation visited with a nurse who was very friendly. She initially expressed no interest since she believed that churches were “full of hypocrites.” But after connected with the two ladies and seeing their light shine, she confessed that she might be ready to come back to church. The Lord provided a wonderful opportunity to check in with her in the weeks and months ahead.
Praise and Proclaim Ministries thanks the pastor and the leadership at Ascension Lutheran Church in Harrisburg for the opportunity of partnering with them to lead an outreach initiative and train members how to proclaim the gospel.
The Lord be with you, mighty warriors!