Minister Faye Cohen was awaiting my arrival, greeting me at the door and making introductions. I recalled being in this building about 10 years ago, working with children through a local music program. As she showed me the various rooms, including a food pantry, classrooms, gym and a large youth room, I realized that this church had always made an impact on the inner-city youth in Albany. What I did not know was the massive extent of their outreach!
Pastors Fred and Evelyn Sanles founded Reigning Life Family Church in 1982. In 2000, they moved into their current facility and soon began a formal meal program. Because of the large influx of youth to their church, they created a game room, gym and a commercial kitchen to help minister to them through various recreational and educational programs. They are currently in the process of a vast building expansion to include a modern, multi-purpose room in their auditorium and a new learning center. In the rear of their auditorium I noticed a wall with the names and ages of about 20 young people who had lost their lives due to violence, most of them being either shot or stabbed. They pray for the families of these victims and are committed to keeping the neighborhoods safe for the children.
When Pastor Fred Sanles saw us, he came over immediately to introduce himself. The service was about to begin, and they escorted us to the front row. Pastor Fred lead the worship music with his electric Fender Stratocaster, along with some singers and other music accompaniment. The songs were full of life and creativity, with several of the songs being written by Pastor Fred himself. The uniqueness of the songs reminded me how God works through each one of us differently. The songs that came forth were truly God-given, and the words penetrated deeply. Then God gave me a WORD, but not a typical “word” or message one would give. This was a SINGLE word given to me about Pastor Fred and Reigning Life Church. “UNRESERVED!”. Googling this on my cell phone, a synonym for this was FREEDOM! And as we all sang to the “Holy Spirit”, God’s presence was strong. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the SPIRIT of the Lord is, there is FREEDOM!” (2 Corinthians 3:17).
Pastor Fred then asked for those to come up to the front that needed healing in specific areas. Several came up and the congregation reached out their hands as they were prayed over. Minister Faye Cohen then welcomed us and invited us to share. I always love to speak about what God is doing through the Upstate NY Ministry Network and the church journeys to help bring UNITY to the Body of Christ! Pastor Evelyn Sanles got up to speak afterwards, and the love of God poured out from her. I sensed an instant connection between us. She spoke of all the plans God has for Reigning Life’s building expansion. Her heart to reach the children and to LOVE them into the Kingdom was apparent. She shared the countless times that God had provided in miraculous ways and she trusted that He would again. She thanked the congregation for their faithfulness and sacrificial giving. And what a blessing it was when she prayed for the ministries God has called me to. She spoke of the importance of connecting with other churches. This is clearly a Kingdom minded church! Then, in complete humility, she asked the entire congregation to pray over her.
Pastor Fred’s message was just what I needed to hear. It was entitled “Seed Time & Harvest”. Expounding on this title, he explained how we first plant the seed, then time is needed to water and grow it, and then we will then reap a harvest! There is time in the natural realm and we are to flow in it by faith. Jesus was the seed of David, and 2,000 years later this Seed is still being harvested. While we wait for the harvest, we must meditate on and trust in God’s word. He needs to be the source of our lives. Let us thank God in advance for the harvest. God is able to do immeasurably MORE than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Give and it shall be given! We need to plant the right seed and victory shall be ours. And when we give, God will choose who will give to us! It often comes back to us in unexpected ways. God is not a cheapskate. He will give by GOOD measure. Always give as unto God, and God will take the seed and MULTIPLY it. Forget about addition!
At the end of the service, Pastor Evelyn prayed for one of the church members who had a financial need. She took an offering for him and I watched as she assisted him in making some necessary phone calls. She has such a heart to help people of all ages. It was amazing to see how much this church gives. They truly practice what they preach. They have planted and watered countless seeds since coming to Albany over 30 years ago. They have spent much time waiting on God, and they have seen His faithfulness and blessings in great and mighty ways. They have experienced many harvests and there are many more on the horizon. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9).
God is calling some of you to volunteer with their youth outreach, “The Dream Club”, especially during the summer months when their need for volunteers is the greatest. You can also help through financial giving which is vital to this type of ministry. Come and plant seeds into the lives of the children in Albany’s South end.
Church Website – www.reigninglife.org
Sunday Service – 10:30 am / Wednesday Night 7:00 pm
Volunteer Opportunities – Contact Pastor Evelyn at (518)-892-7729 or firstname.lastname@example.org
By Donna Hansen Munafo