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Monday, November 22, 2010

Memo Regarding District Transformation Project

This may be the most important communication that you have ever received from me and I want you to feel free to pass it on to as many of your own contacts as you think may be interested.

After two years of assessing the strengths, weaknesses and direction of our district, it has become increasingly clear to the leadership team and to me that we must take unusual measures to focus the district on task and see transformation in our churches. Far too many of them are inward focused. To reach our communities for Christ, it is going to take significant change in the way we do church.

About six months ago, I read a book, Assaulting the Gates, by Dr. Paul Borden. In it, he tells the story of an association of churches that was transformed by employing a system designed to help churches transform themselves. I was moved. What I read was exactly what I had come to believe in my 39 years of ministry.

I picked up the phone and called Dr. Borden. Miraculously I got through and we had a great conversation. I heard a whisper in my spirit—“Ask him to be your coach.” And so I asked and he agreed.

Over the next few months we talked occasionally. I shared my passion for reaching the Northeast for Christ. He shared the methods that he had developed and then one day, as we were talking, he said, “I would like to give you and your leaders a day of my time to go over what we have learned.”

I had a scheduled a DBA/Leadership Retreat for September and I arranged for him to spend the day with us. For seven hours he shared what God had done in many of the 500 churches with which he had consulted over the years. At the end of the meeting he made a proposal regarding helping our district in turn around strategies.

After he had gone to catch his plane, I asked the team, “What do you think?” Down to the person, they answered, ”There is no way that we can let this opportunity pass. This is a ‘God-Thing’. We must walk through the door that He has opened.”

We have contracted with Dr. Borden to consult, train, and coach with our district in 2011. He will be with us a total of 40 days. During this time, eight churches will go through this transformation process. Other churches will be prepared to be a part of the DTP process for 2012.

The first eight churches have been selected. They will soon have the opportunity to decide if they want to participate. They are…

Ridge Road
Turning Point (formerly Fort Miller)

As the district starts this process, the first order of business is to build a team of prayer warriors. Much is riding on this experiment. Our district desperately needs to experience the power of the Holy Spirit in our churches. Business-as-usual is only leading down the trail to death. In addition, the leaders of our national church are watching. The results here could impact other districts around the country.

Will you join the Prayer Team? Will you partner with us and regularly pray for me, the district leaders, the pastors and churches that will lead the way, Dr. Borden, and those who will help him? If so, please post a message or email me. Write me a note pledging your support and your desire to be part of the team. I will pledge to those that respond that prayer requests and reports of what is happening in our turn-around churches will be sent regularly from this office.

No longer will we be satisfied to be an island of disease, but rather we choose to become an island of health.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

It's the Journey That's Important

One year ago, I challenged ENY-NE pastors and leaders to climb Mt. Washington with me. That goal was accomplished on August 27. At 2:45 p.m. the last climber (me) of the thirteen reached the summit of the highest, toughest, most dangerous summit in the northeast!

As with any project, the year was full of planning, execution and set backs. My to-do list was filled with items such as

Research climbing Mt. Washington
Make a list of gear to be purchased
Get in shape—joint the ‘Y’

Following notes said— Get a nice pair of hiking boots
No cotton – get rid of jeans
Wool socks
A nice outdoor backpack
Rain gear

Along the way, experienced hikers from Hague stepped up beside me. They emphasized rigorous training. My list expanded…

Climb Hadley Hill
Climb Treadway Mt.
Climb Noonmark Mt.
Climb Giant Mt.

One by one these items were crossed off my list!

Ignore critics
Ignore naysayers
Ignore negative comments
Focus on the positive
Focus a completion of the task

Along the way, I had a bad fall on Giant Mt. Big, ugly bruises and soreness covered my body.

Ignore injury; keep going.

As I stood on top of the mountain I was reminded of why I do things like this. I attempt difficult things because of what I become in the process. And I do difficult things because of the fulfillment in taking others with me.

As we reached the summit, one of my fellow climbers, who had never attempted anything this high before, looked at me and said – what’s next?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Last night at 6:55 pm, Susan’s dad, Paul C. Cooke, Jr., went to be with the Lord. For the last two years of his life we had the privilege of having him live with us. During this time, his Parkinson’s and dementia steadily worsened, leading to his death.

Mr. Cooke served in the Navy at the end of WWII. He was the father of two, my wife Susan, and Paul C. Cooke III, of New Castle, Delaware. An industrial engineer by trade, he was employed for years by Fleer, a Philadelphia company that produces baseball cards and bubble gum. Mr. Cooke was also a pilot. In his younger years, he enjoyed flying his own plane. He loved yard work and landscaping, especially the many shrubs that he tenderly cared for. A long time member of the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows, he also was a Grand Master for the state of PA.

Mr. Cooke had a caretakers heart, himself taking care of his mother, Mary, his wife, Winnifred, and his friend, Eleanor, before their deaths.

He was a long-time resident of Bucks County, PA, where he lived at 224 Andover Rd., Fairless Hills since 1957.

He was preceded in death by his father, Paul Sr., his mother, Mary, his sisters, Anna and Faye, and his brother, David. He is survived by brother, Reg, and sister, Paula. In addition to his son and daughter, Mr. Cooke is survived by five grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren.

Though cautious and prudent in many areas, he was also known as a fearless and sometimes reckless driver, one not easily intimidated by the eastern big city drivers.

Partial to seafood, many of his meals during the last few years he was at home were taken at Dom’s, a local seafood market. More of a market than a restaurant, the owners installed a table known as Paul’s table. When he arrived, he seldom ordered. Instead, he waited patiently until his plate appeared with whatever the kitchen had decided he would have that day. Never a fast eater, he then spent a couple of hours savoring every bite.

Soon after his arrival in our home, before his dementia set in, I had the privilege to talk to him regarding his spiritual condition. On a dark, cold winter night, he bowed his head, prayed the Sinner’s Prayer and invited Christ into his heart. Susan, who has prayed for her Dad for over 43 years, sat in tears as she watched her dad, with tears of his own, acknowledge that he was a sinner in need of a Saviour.

It is our conviction that he is more alive today than he has ever been. His earthly tent, the body he had inhabited, left our home at approximately 9:30 pm, accompanied by an undertaker. His spirit, accompanied by a heavenly host, left two-and-a-half hours earlier. Heaven now becomes much richer and more real to us, especially to Susan.

Family trauma during Susan's infancy fragmented the family, leaving Susan feeling abandoned and different from other children. She remembers crying, "I want a daddy like other girls and boys." God, in His providence, gave her two years with her dad at the close of his life. "I was so proud," she said, "to have my dad for two years, to share my home with him, to love him and to be loved by him. What a special gift God gave me."

For the many of you who have asked about and prayed for Mr. Cooke over the past two years, we would like to say, "Thank you." Susan is looking forward to traveling with me. She is excited about getting to know our churches and our people better.

In lieu of flowers, we ask that you send gifts to: The Vision Fund of ENY-NE, 793 Corinth Rd., Queensbury, NY 12804. This fund aids in team building and leadership development in our district.

Susan and I would like to acknowledge the caregivers who have helped in our home, especially Mandy Starks who was with him at the end. We believe each one was a gift of God and a divine appointment. We have no regrets over the care that Mr. Cooke received. Also, we are grateful to Homeward Bound program of Hudson Headwaters Health Network and High Peaks Hospice who were generous with their care during Mr. Cooke's illness.

Finally, we are grateful to our God, who knowingly guided us to the northeast 'for such a time as this'. We eagerly anticipate his continued guidance.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Our Mission: Making Disciples

(The Testimony of Naisha Daniels)...

Three years ago, in Winter Lake, Florida I had the privilege of introducing Naisha Daniels to Christ. Her story has been an inspiration to many as we have refocused on our mission. I invited Naisha to join us at district conference to give her testimony. The following is what she shared!

I often wonder why sometimes when I share my story I cry and at other times I don’t. I think it has to do with my level of honesty--of how safe I feel in taking my ‘mask’ completely off. I hope I am able to do that here today.

Safety is a reoccurring theme in my life. I have walked through life like a wounded animal--scared, beaten, defeated. The odds were against me from the beginning. My father was a murderer. My unmarried mother was pregnant at sixteen (with me). She was a disgrace to her family and left to fend for herself.

I was born in February 1979 in Patterson, New Jersey, where my gracious aunt and uncle had taken my mother in when no one else would. It was a home filled with love and the only place I ever learned about true love and godly values. This wasn’t to last for long, however. Mother moved us out of this haven and into a tumultuous relationship with a man. This was the first of several failed relationships that she would experience.

When I was eight, we moved to Lutz, Florida to live with my mother’s twin brother and his family, people I hardly knew. Again, I was lost and scared. I didn’t understand why we had moved. My resentment toward my mother began to grow. I longed to be back with my aunt and uncle and the stability that they represented. Also, I was different from the kids at school and boy did they let me know it.

We moved often and I attended many different schools. During these years my mother would go on a date, leaving me home, lonely and scared. When I was ten, my mother met her ‘Prince Charming’. He was good to me in the beginning. I even called him “Dad”, the closest thing to ‘Daddy’ I ever called anyone besides my uncle. However, it wasn’t long before he betrayed my trust and tried to have sexual relations with me. I freaked and he threatened me. I never said a word to my mother or anyone else about this incident, or the countless other times he was sexually improper with me. I thought that somehow I had ‘asked for it’ or that it was somehow my fault. My aunt had warned me about men like this, but she wasn’t there to protect me anymore. There I was trapped by an abuser--of alcohol, drugs, and us! I swore I would never be like him or my Mom.

By the time I was sixteen my aunt and uncle moved to Florida to be near me. However, not long after their move my aunt was diagnosed with colon cancer. She fought a long, hard fight but lost her battle two years later.

It was about this time that my mom’s boyfriend moved out. The physical and sexual abuse finally stopped. By then, however, I was very damaged. My dreams of Harvard were gone. In fact, I despaired of ever amounting to anything at all. I struggled with my view of God. How could He allow my aunt, my beautiful angel, to suffer as she did? For whatever reason, He allowed my miserable existence, but why did He let her die such a horrible death? She loved Him with all of her heart. In my confusion and anger, I decided that I wanted nothing to do with a God like that.

Curious and rebellious, I started experimenting with drugs. In less than five years, my curiosity had turned into a full-blown addiction. I was addicted, not only to drugs and alcohol, but to men. I loved the power I felt and the attention I received from them. The nightlife became my lifestyle! I lived with beautiful but shallow people. And I was one of them. Under this influence, I felt beautiful, strong, confident, and powerful. These lies almost cost me my life.

In January of 2001, after consuming two drinks, I drove home from a club where I had been working. I never dreamed two drinks could affect me so. I had driven in much worse condition before that. I fell asleep for a few seconds and awoke to oncoming traffic. I over-corrected and hit a car head on. Robin Powell, a 40-year old woman in the back seat of that car sustained a severed spinal cord injury and was paralyzed. She would take years to recover. My injuries were to my face, which had to be surgically reconstructed. I was charged with four counts of DUI, serious bodily harm, and property damage. During the twenty-two months that it took to convict me, I received a second DUI. I was facing eight to ten years in the state prison.

I had no coping skills whatsoever. I tried not drinking. I tried not going to clubs. I even tried dating a pastor’s son. I tried church. Nothing worked! However, through the grace of God, the grace of the judge, and the grace of my victim, my sentence was to have addiction treatment, one year in prison, two years of house arrest, and five years of probation. I went to treatment, not understanding that I had a real problem. I just knew that my life was unmanageable. I was introduced to a twelve-step recovery program. It felt like I had come home. Others in the program were just as broken as I was.

This program taught me about a God, but He was limited to my distorted understanding of Him, since the only God I had known had taken away the person I loved most, and it seemed He was not there to protect me when I needed Him. I wanted nothing to do with that God. So I suffered through the first five years of recovery. I tried making my boyfriend my god, I contemplated suicide, I looked to other humans, but all failed me.

It wasn’t until July of 2007 that I decided I had had enough pain--enough to bring me to my knees. I walked into a church by myself and heard Pastor Paul James speak. He invited people to come forward but I was too ashamed and proud. He had mentioned that he was available if anyone wanted to make an appointment to talk to Him about spiritual things, so after the service, I spoke with him and asked Him if I could have an appointment. The next afternoon we met, he shared the plan of salvation with me, and I gave myself to Christ. He asked about my story and I said, ”Which one?”

I walked on cloud nine my first year as a Christian. My life could not have gotten better. I was on fire for the Lord. However, I guess I had not built my foundation on solid ground. Pastor Paul performed the wedding ceremony for my boyfriend of four years and me. Shortly thereafter we learned we were expecting our first child. Paul and Susan moved away to bless New York. Our New Christians group dissolved, friendships and trusts diminished. My faith in this God I was learning to love wavered.

I grew resentful. I was living in unchartered territory as a Christian, a wife, a new mommy and a full-time employee. I was afraid and overwhelmed and my fear held me captive, so that I was unable to reach out. I was ill prepared and not wearing the whole Armor of God. But in all these experiences, God has been teaching me a lot.

I have learned that, no matter where I have turned or how much I have allowed Satan to deter me, the Lord’s glory is there. I truly believe and understand that when I asked Him into my heart, His beautiful Holy Spirit filled that abyss I had for all the years prior. And although my heart can get polluted with my insecurity, fear and negativity, Satan can not reach there and never will be able to. I am a princess of the King. I am a child of God, and I am learning through this, what it’s like to be refined. In my spirit, I am aware that the Lord loves me, even with all of my imperfections. That means the world to me. I always believed that I had to earn acceptance, approval, and love, and though it is hard to wrap my mind around, I know that all that and more is given to me through grace and mercy.

One tremendous example of this was evident in my last court hearing that took place just before I was to come to New York to speak here at District Conference. My probation was terminated four months early. Robin Powell stood before the judge (she has healed over the years) and stated that she believes I have paid my debt to society. She added that she understands that people make bad choices and that she hopes that I use my experience to help others. She also said that she forgives me, and although she will never be the same, she holds no hatred. On top of all that, she invited me to contact her if I ever need anything. And then she asked that I give her a hug. All of the guilt, shame, remorse and suffering came to a head in that embrace. I could so easily want to erase everything that occurred. However, I just thank the Lord for allowing me to laugh, live and love again.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Immediate, Radical, Costly Obedience

Several years ago I witnessed a man share the vision that God had given him. Rick, in his executive conference room, leaned back in his chair and talked for two and a half hours.

"I believe," he said, "that God wants us to mobilize a civilian force of compassion using the worldwide distribution network of millions of local churches."

Several lines that he used impacted me.

"Obedience is how we express our love to God," he said. "God is interested in immediate, radical, costly obedience!"

My mind flashed back to earlier days in my ministry to a time when I was unloading a U-Haul truck in muggy, 104-degree weather in central Alabama. I knew no one. I was 26-years old with a wife and two small children. However, I had heard the voice of God.

I recalled leaving a thriving, life-changing church to go to a place with no church. This time I had three children, a core group in the single digits, and a dream.

Another line that caught my attention was, "What is there about my life that God would want to multiply?"

He continued by telling of the largest House-Church Movement in China. The leaders had come together for a time of training. For hours they prayed and discussed their mission. Someone produced a large world map that indicated the spiritual temperature of each country. As they studied this map, the pastors/leaders--mostly rural Chinese farmers--felt impressed that someone among them was called to be a missionary. Finally, one lady raised her hand.

"I am the one God is calling," she said, "To Myanmar."

Later, the missions speaker went to sleep in the same room where the meeting had taken place. When he awoke the next morning, the lady was no longer there. Upon inquiring, he learned that the Chinese had been up all night.

"First, we had to pray to see who was called to go with her," a leader reported. "Then we had to get money together for tickets. The lady--a medical doctor--and her companion left on the first bus this morning for Myanmar. They traveled on one-way tickets."

This was obviously immediate, radical costly obedience.

The ENY-NE District has a goal to plant five churches in the next five years (2010-2015). "Would it be possible, Lord, to speak to men and women regarding the need and opportunity in the northeast? People who could catch your vision for impacting this crucial area of our country? People willing to relocate, get jobs, build relationships and start life-changing churches? Would you place in the hearts of several families a willingness to become core members of a church planting team? Would it be possible that some Bible School buddies or seminary mates would feel compelled to do something significant together in the northeast? Lord, would you give us leaders with immediate, radical, costly obedience?"

"It is possible," He replied. "In fact, I am already about the task. I am just waiting for them to hear and heed. Get ready! Church planters are headed your way!"

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Letter to My Nephew

Dear Ben,

Recently you Facebooked me and asked about Success University. Instead of a short answer, let me write in this blog, and let's call it, A Letter to My Nephew.

Years ago, when I was in Kansas, I wanted to coach/mentor some of my pastors. After hand-selecting seven guys, I invited them to spend one day a month with me. We called these meetings Success University. My plan was to spend six hours together--two hours on spiritual growth, two hours on personal development, and two hours on church growth. The materials that we used came from my years of reading and listening to CDs.

As word spread, more and more pastors wanted to participate, so in year two, 20 individuals joined. Results continued to be good. In year three, 40 pastors were a part of SU.

When I returned to the pastorate, I missed these coaching opportunities. I wondered if SU would have the same positive results on laypersons. I selected a dozen leaders of my church and watched as amazing things took place in their lives--things that were beyond anything that we could ask or imagine.

I took a group of 20-somethings through the same course. Again, life change happened.

Now that I am in the northeast, Success University is a big part of our effort to turn churches around. Three groups of pastors meet every month, and I am seeing outstanding change take place. I would hasten to add that SU is not for everyone. Attitude toward the process makes a big difference. Some get it; some don't! Some will embrace the process; some won't. What makes the difference? It's a mystery--a mystery of life.

I can hear you asking, "What do you study? What materials do you use?"

I have learned that what we study is not nearly as important as the process we go through. The first hour of each meeting we share stories of what has happened during the last 30 days in our homes, in our churches, and in our personal lives. Through peer pressure, we are held accountable for moving toward our goals (goals which we have set earlier in the year).

We discuss the balanced life--finances, health, education, spiritual, family, social and ministry. We discuss books that we are reading (some start reading for the first time since college). We go through leadership lessons by people like Maxwell, Warren, and Hybels. We discuss personal development concepts from motivational speakers like Rohn, Tracey and Waitley. We study church growth systems by Searcy. Most of all, we develop team spirit, encourage risk and provide an atmosphere of encouragement to our team mates in the battle. We provide a safe place where one can be real. Ben, it is the most exciting thing I do each month. As my team grows, I am fulfilled. Watching them succeed is more fun than succeeding myself.

I have watched others try similar programs that have not lasted as long or succeeded as well. My gut feeling is that too much emphasis is put on the material and not enough on the relationships. You cannot package love, passion, team spirit and accountability. That all comes from the heart--usually from the heart of a D.S., coach, or mentor. This key person--the heart and soul--intuitively understands that this is different from a denominational program that is neatly packaged and arrives in the mail.

Ben, there are lots of materials that would work in SU; however, there are few individuals who bring the experience, passion and love to a group. A coach/mentor is key! One of the things that I dream of doing in the years ahead is to find groups of young leaders like you, and spend a day a month pouring into their lives. My experience tells me that SU would impact the lives of the participants both now and throughout the next 50 years.

If you are really interested, get a group of like-minded individuals together--individuals who want to make a difference. Perhaps I could come and share what SU is and does. We could see where things go from there.

Still growing as a life coach,

Uncle Paul

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Vision Tour - Part 2

Why The Northeast

Recently I read an article on the JHOP website that clearly makes a case for renewal efforts to reach the northeast. This is what it said...

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

The academic institutions of the Northeast, including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and several others, are "linchpins" in the American university system. Philosophies which are born and bred in the classrooms of these schools are later transferred to every other university in America - and often the world.

A brief survey of American history will show that the colleges and universities in the northeastern corridor of the United States have always been used of God to unlock the heart of the nation.

The spiritual darkness that presently characterizes the northeastern colleges and universities of our nation reflects the spiritual condition of the rest of our society. This should come as no surprise to those who are aware of America's Christian history. For good or for evil, for the past 370 years, the Northeast has been the spiritual focal point of America.

The politics and ethics of the United States were birthed in the Northeastern cities of Boston and Philadelphia. The spiritual climate of the United States has also been deeply affected by this area. The most significant event of 1700s, barring the revolution, was the Great Awakening - which began among young people in Northampton, Massachusetts. The World Missions Movement was begun at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts as the result of a prayer meeting held by three students.

In the early 1800s, the Northeast was a center for sporadic spiritual revivals on many of the college campuses. The spiritual, moral, social and political foundations of the United States had their beginnings in the Northeast.

Since the beginning of the 1800s, however, the Northeast has become a breeding ground for anti-Christian ideas. Humanism, in the form of Transcendentalism and Universalism, had its roots in Massachusetts. Social philosophers, such as Emerson and Thoreau, contributed to the destruction of the Christian foundations of America. These ideas found a haven in the colleges of the Northeast. In the 20th century, Marxism, humanism, existentialism, socialism, radical feminism, New Age philosophy and immorality of all types have also found refuge in the many colleges and universities of the Northeast.

Despite this growing tide of wickedness, a gleaming ray of hope appears. God has a destiny for the college campuses!

Harvard University - Reverend John Harvard gave half his property and his entire library to start this world renowned institution. Harvard's original motto was: "For Christ and the Church." The goal of a Harvard education was to establish Christian principles in the minds of students according to the Word of God. In addition to ministers, Harvard also produced some of the greatest statesmen of the 1700s, such as, John Hancock, John Adams, and Samuel Adams.

The schools of the Northeast are the hub on which the entire academic system of the nation turns. God himself is concerned with these schools; He had a hand in bringing them into being. He always honors His covenants with men and virtually every college in this area was founded with the purpose of bringing greater glory to God.

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

While walking the Boston Commons, two of our pastors encountered young people from South Carolina. This youth group, on their spring break, was touring the northeast, visiting and praying over the great educational institutions of the area. Two hundred and fifty thousand students flock to Boston when school time rolls around to attend one of the sixty colleges and universities in this city.

Could it be that God is preparing another Great Awakening? As a district, are we prepared to pay the price to participate in the plans and purposes of God? Are there others who are reading this who feel challenged to join the team to multiply life-changing churches?

To read more from the JHOP website, follow the link I especially recommend Why Boston, Harvard Roots, and The Mandate.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Vision Tour

It all started as an idea:

If our goal is to plant five new churches in the next five years, wouldn’t it be helpful to take a few leaders on a vision/prayer tour of the most populous and untouched parts of our district!

At first it was to be a ‘car tour’—five men in a sedan. That plan was abandoned when it became obvious that a car wouldn’t hold all those who were interested. We moved to a ‘van tour’. One day in conversation with General Superintendent, Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, I mentioned our Northeast Prayer & Vision Tour. “Paul, that sounds exciting,” she replied. “I’d like to go.” That week, by faith, I made a $500. deposit on a fifty-five passenger bus. It was obvious that God had bigger plans than ours.

Dean Brown, our Evangelism and Church Growth Director E&CG, and Cam Engert, our Office Administrator, took hold of the logistics and things began to come together.

Soon, large-capacity, high-influence individuals from other organizations who care about our district and our vision began to sign on for the tour. They brought expertise, enthusiasm and faith, and were available to coach and mentor us as we traveled. What an amazing array of talent God put on that bus to encourage us. In addition to Dr. Lyon, we were joined by…

• Stan Hoover, District Superintendent, Chesapeake District, a district that encompasses the Washington, DC area. Stan is also the chairman of the Wesley Seminary Board.
• Wayne Wager, District Superintendent, Central New York District (CNY), our neighboring district to the west.
• Lynn Ensign, CNY District E&CG Director and pastor of Mt. Pisgah Wesleyan Church in Smithfield, PA.
• Chris Conrad, Director of Church Growth, E&CG Department of The Wesleyan Church, who has planted two churches.
• Phil Struckmeyer, church planter, West Michigan District. Phil has planted Impact Church in Lowell, MI, a church that now runs 900. He has daughtered two or three other churches out of Impact Church, and has been one of the influences that has helped West Michigan plant 21 churches over the past five years.
• Wayne & Amy Otto, a dynamic church-planting team from North Michigan District, who are filled with enthusiasm, have planted six churches and have a goal of planting five more in the next five years.
• Ryan Kozey, Founder of The Infinity Alliance, whose mission statement is… 'We exist to engage in God’s redemptive mission by reaching every man, woman, and child in America through starting and partnering with missional churches'. His five-year goals include networking with 1,000 like-minded leaders, to discover 50 places where God wants to initiate movements, and then to initiate training for those 50 places through Renovation Centers that are being established.

We left Albany, NY at 7:00 am Monday, March 8 and returned at 8:00 pm Tuesday, March 9. Forty-nine hours of vision, prayer, mentoring, coaching, encouraging, growing, seeing, feeling, experiencing… During our travels we saw…
• Poughkeepsie/Fishkill/Newburgh area of southern NY (pop. 290,000).
• White Plains, NY, Westchester County (pop. 941,000).
• Stamford, CT, Fairfield County (pop.883,000).
• Bridgeport, CT, Fairfield County.
• New Haven, CT, New Haven County (pop. 846,000). While in New Haven, we spent an hour on the campus of Yale University. Amazing! And we dined in Mystic, CT, a quaint seaport town, complete with draw bridge, seafood and shops. Mystic is very near the largest submarine base in the world.
• Providence, RI, Providence County (pop. 622,000), a beautiful downtown, where we over-nighted and then walked the campus of Brown University before leaving on Tuesday morning. We also prayed over the Capitol Building.

(I digress… What an awesome district we have! The diversity is amazing. Long Island Sound, Cape Cod, Adirondacks, Catskills, Berkshires, Greens and Whites. Seaside villages and world-class ski resorts. Tiny villages and great cities. Four distinct seasons. Off-the-charts fall color. Winter wonderland. Flowering springs and mild summers. Educational universities whose thoughts influence the entire globe. Wow!)

• Boston, MA, Middlesex County (pop. 1,500,000). We walked the Boston Commons, where Dr. Lyon talked her way into a tour of the Park Street Church. We rode through the campus of Harvard University, and went to the top of the Prudential Building, where we saw community after community in all directions, many inhabited by 100,000 or more souls. We looked down on Fenway Park and on the home of the Boston Pops. We saw mile after mile of the brownstones of South Boston and Beacon hill. We saw the Charles River, site of many regattas. And we saw the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
• Hartford, CT, Hartford County (pop. 860,000), where the vice-chairman of the Local Board of Administration of the Hartford Wesleyan Church prayed over us.
• Springfield, MA, Hampden County (pop. 456,000), then we continued across the Berkshires.

As the day darkened, we approached Albany, capitol of the fourth most populous state and one of the most influential. Passing by the State Capitol Building, we prayed for a revival of moral and spiritual values to take root there.

Exhausted but exhilarated, the 40 of us went our own separate ways. We had spied out the land, and found it to be a 'land flowing with milk and honey'—and opportunity!

To be continued…