A Bend in the Road…
…but not the end of the road. In a dramatic turn in the direction of our lives, we are now ensconced in Massachusetts to be close to our children who will be able to more closely monitor our life’s journey. We are in good health and reasonably in our right minds and we’ve not totally cut the umbilical cord from the place where we have spent most of our lives–far and away our happiest years!
After 45 years of wonderful ministry with The Bronx Household of Faith, we announced to them about a year ago our intention to be closer to our children and grandchildren. The reaction to the news, on the part of some, was almost like the stages of grief. In this case, shock, tears and resignation.
Indeed, I have shed my own tears when thinking about the separation from people that I have known and loved over the years and who have shown their love to Jeannie and me in so many ways. With all the imperfections that an insider can see, I couldn’t ask for a finer group of believers to be associated with. It is an understatement to say how blessed of the Lord we have been to be a part of BHOF, our only ministry since seminary.
The BHOF family demonstrated that love in an absolutely wonderful, lavishly prepared, joy-filled farewell celebration which said more about the them than it did us. There were friends from as far as Florida and Illinois in attendance.
Earlier that day ( April 15th) I gave my farewell sermon. I told the congregation that I had never preached a farewell sermon before. It was my first and most certainly my last. What do I say? My first thought was to convey something profound, you know, a “memorable” sermon.
I ended up preaching from Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, today and forever.” In the midst of a changing world we must ever increasingly be like the unchangeable Christ. In that message, I spoke about matters that our people had heard many times before: loving and caring for one another, moral purity, being content, and submitting to God-ordained leaders in the church.
There was nothing really new. That was intentional. Those were the things important to me along with thoughts I wanted to leave with them.
During this transition time, well-meaning people have said to me, “I hear that you’re retiring.” The first time I heard that, I thought to myself—Yikes! They’re being polite but to be frank, I do not like the word, at least not for me. It is a terrifying thought to have nothing to do, much less not being involved in the work of the kingdom. For Jeannie and me there will always be opportunity for ministry and we will continue to be on the board of Hope Academy, BHOF’s flagship outreach ministry.
But what about The Bronx Household of Faith? How will the work go forward? The story of The Bronx Household of Faith is not about me or any one individual at all. It is a beautiful story of the providence of God. By providence I mean how God takes the events of our lives, each of which can be explained by the normal process of cause and effect, and weaves them into a beautiful tapestry that is the pattern of His divine purposes.
It is an amazing story where the church ended up geographically in The Bronx, to purchasing houses on different streets with an adjoining backyard that has been used for youth ministry, to meeting in a school by means of a legal victory (thank you Jordan Lorence of ADF) in the federal courts to finally constructing our own building on the same block where we have ministered all these years, a building which we own free and clear of debt, to establishing a school, Hope Academy, where we can work more closely with youth (30 hours a week instead of 2).
The leadership remains in the capable hands of Jack Roberts. If it wasn’t for Jack’s willingness to take more risks than I, who knows where this ministry would be today? Actually Jack along with his wife Pat, are the founders of BHOF in 1971. Jeannie and I rolled into town in November, 1972. It was to be a short one to two year stay which, in the providence of God , was stretched out to 45 years.
There is younger leadership in the wings as well. Jack’s son Jordan and his wife Kate along with their three children, are getting settled in an apartment here in The Bronx, after graduating from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.
Jordan is an elder in training and is now dividing his time between Hope Christian Center and The Bronx Household of Faith where he is working with youth and doing some preaching.
It was gratifying to leave on such a positive note having baptized four people on April 22nd, the most in a long time and taking them along with 2 others into membership the following week. The Lord is at work.
I would urge you to continue your support of this ministry. Might I recommend that you direct your gifts toward Hope Academy, a viable and necessary ministry under the dedicated leadership of Dr. Naomi Woodmansee.
Thank you for your faithful support over the years. We love you.
“No one is indispensable, but everyone is irreplaceable.” Although I believe the second part to be true universally, I’m not so sure the first part is true for Bob and Jeannie Hall. BHOF’s “Household Words” have been shaped in countless and inestimable ways that cannot be reproduced in the days, weeks, months and years that lie ahead for this pilgrim band here in the Bronx. They have served this body of believers in both public and unnoticed, but vitally essential, ways that will become holes in the fabric of our lives together.
Yes, the ministries will continue: someone else will do the office work for Hope Academy, tell the stories for Pioneer Girls, share missionary requests in prayer meeting, take the minutes for our covenant members’ meetings. Yes, the preaching/teaching and planning will continue: someone else will do new members/baptism classes, pre-marital and marital counseling, make the worship/preaching schedule and do numerous administrative tasks behind the scenes. But Bob and Jeannie did all those things, and much more, without hesitation, without complaint, without coercion and without fail. And they did them with excellence.
Now the torch is in the process of being passed to the younger generations, and we are excited about the future. Jordan brings a fresh perspective on church life which seminary and a vibrant church experience in Philadelphia gave him. His gifts and vision are joined with his knowledge of BHOF’s history and culture. His wife, Kate, before marrying Jordan, lived at Naomi’s house for four years and enriched our outreach efforts to the Muslim and Hindu communities in our neighborhood. They, with their three children, are expanding the in-reach and out-reach of our church as Jordan serves as an elder-in-training.
Other members are continuing to grow, to serve and to lead and we are encouraged and challenged by the prospect of new and greater opportunities which healthy change brings. Developing younger leadership to carry BHOF forward has been a goal which we are seeing realized and will make the church stronger and better positioned for the future. Life goes on, but Bob and Jeannie are irreplaceable.