Our team arrived early for the 10 am service. The building is impressive and even more so from the inside, partially because of the wonderful architecture inspired by the last great move of God ushered in by the ministry of Charles Grandison Finney in 1868. This old building represents the hearts of men; men provoked and excited by the glory of God that was so tangible, so palpable, they couldn’t help but exhibit it in grandiose architecture. No, it was far more than the beautiful sanctuary with it’s vaulted wooden ceilings, it’s marvelously ornate wood beam trusses and the magnificent huge ceiling to floor stained glass windows, spectacularly illuminating the entire sanctuary. I imagined this room filled with worshippers hungry for God. Many churches we have visited displayed great optimism by the number of seats provided, anticipating church growth. However, by the time worship was complete, some looked like Shea stadium at the end of a losing season. What a pleasant surprise at City Harvest Family Church. They’re getting ready for the World Series.
With a bit of pessimism, I counted the seats in this large sanctuary and began to watch them fill. At first, about half were occupied, but as attendance approached three quarters, I began to turn my head and carefully watch with guarded expectations. Finally, by the end of worship the ushers were searching for seats to accommodate all the people waiting to be seated. The church had arrived! The building was full. People were even being asked to move to make room for families. Incredible! Something wonderful is going on in City Harvest Family church.
At the conclusion of a powerful Praise and Worship service skillfully offered by a team of eleven, an associate Pastor named Collin Mbango presented a rap song entitled “Thank the Lord” that had the hundreds in attendance clapping and laughing as he praised God in the most innovative way. Then some sixty plus children in attendance were prayed for and released to the children’s church downstairs in this ample facility. But before doing so, a young boy was given the microphone as the pastor held him high for all to see. He was then asked to repeat the scripture that represented the Word of the Lord for the Church. This precious 7 year old preacher proclaimed loudly with precise eloquence: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9). He received overwhelming applause.
Then, up stepped Senior Pastor Ernest Fink to the pulpit, smiling and comfortable amidst his marvelous family of believers and seekers. He gave a hearty prayer for the Nations, for Washington, D.C, for our local government, and for the upcoming National Day of Prayer where people across the Nation will join together in UNITY to pray. He rehearsed once again the vision of the church so as to impart its noble purpose. City Harvest is attempting to target every ignored and overlooked racial, ethnic and nationally diverse section of our complex local population and fill them with Jesus. Pastor Ernest has targeted groups like the large population of Guianese, neglected in the past but now focused on by City Harvest. He proceeded to explain that the congregation represented over 32 countries from Asia, Indonesia, South America, Europe and Africa. In fact, the rapping Pastor Collin is an expatriate of the country of Zambia. Not only do they minister to various nationalities represented in the Capital District, they have a staff composed from that diversity ministering to the flock. At City Harvest, leaders are not born, but they are fully equipped and then released. If you are bilingual, more than likely you will find a ministry here at City Harvest. Special services are specifically provided for Filipinos, Kenyans, Ugandans, Pakistanis, Congolese, Rwandans, Koreans, Russians, Indians and all Spanish speaking countries. I am sure that I have neglected to mention language groups that are also the focus of this marvelous ministry of Christ. Obviously, with so much diversity, International Missions are also at the forefront. South Korea and the Philippines are the destinations of Pastor Ernest in an upcoming trip in May. If ever I have seen UNITY of purpose, it is here. This is not a “kumbaya” type church. They don’t gather together hoping God will show up. They pursue God’s presence as if to say “We will accept nothing less.” This same attitude prevails in every ministry they pursue. They go after what they hope to achieve, not waiting for someone else to do it. They take the mandate of Matthew 28 to “Disciple all Nations seriously and “lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of” (Philippians 3:12). Pastor Ernest told us that he doesn’t have the luxury of indulging in time consuming diversions, but concentrates all his energy on things that build the Kingdom of God.
He prayed for peace among the churches from the pulpit. Upstate New York Ministry Network’s sole mandate and vision is to help establish UNITY among Christ’s Church in the Capital District. UNITY is partially achieved through making peace. Similarly, it is Upstate’s main purpose to help build God’s Kingdom. Likewise, we also are intent on avoiding time consuming diversions. As Pastor Fink Earnestly seeks God according to Heb. 11:6, he will be rewarded with the desires of God’s heart. According to John 17:23, God desires that there be UNITY among the churches. This will be the inheritance of City Harvest Church; one church, many congregations.
His message this Sunday morning was entitled “Enthroned over the Flood”, consisting of 7 parts: 1) Wake up, Eph. 5:14, 2) Shake up, Ezk. 1:37, 3) Pay up, Matt. 6:21, 4) Make up, Matt. 7:12, 5) Fired up, don’t be a closet Christian, 6) Cheer up, Acts 27:25 and 7) Shut up. Prov. 10:19. Christ is always enthroned upon our problems. This encouraging word explained that if we look to God in the midst of our turmoil and tribulation, we will prevail over all adversity. All opposition is opportunity. Don’t let opposition take you down. Look at the promises, not the problems. Then he proceeded to illustrate how City Harvest Family Church has overcome the flood using these principles all over the world. In closing, he prayed for all of us to be “enthroned over the floods” in our lives.
8) Listen up! Every seat in this church is a great seat. If you have a preference where you like to sit, I strongly suggest you come early. You will not be disappointed. If you love Christ and you love your community you WILL love City Harvest Family Church located at 585 Central Ave. Albany NY.
Church Website – https://cityharvestalbany.com
By Michael Frati
(Contributing writer Donna Hansen Munafo)