As soon as I entered, I was greeted by Pastor Fred Gilmore and his wife. Shabbat School began right at 10 am, and those present were in tune and ready to receive the message. There were so many beautiful, colorful hats throughout the congregation. The large bin of tambourines and small percussion instruments by the door seemed to be patiently waiting for the music to begin. I found a seat by the entrance where I was able to observe the inner-city activity through the glass doors. Upon this Rock Tabernacle is in the perfect location for evangelism. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” (Matthew 9:37). This urban mission field is ripe for harvest. What a wonderful opportunity for others to come alongside of them to reach the lost. Street ministry is literally right at their doorstep!
As Pastor Fred spoke, I was on the edge of my seat gleaning all I could. He spoke about how Joseph was wronged by his brothers and sold into slavery because of their great jealousy. Joseph maintained a Godly character even after all of the intense trials he endured. He didn’t quit because he knew who sustained him. In Genesis 45:3-5, Joseph, now second in command after Pharaoh, stood before his brothers who were terrified at his presence. But Joseph said, “Do not be angry at yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you”. Joseph knew that everything that had occurred was what brought him to this position of power and authority. He was a man of character who stepped over the hurt and into love. We often go through trials before we are elevated. We need to maintain a Godly character through every circumstance. God’s hand was on Joseph, and His hand is on us no matter where we are. Joseph praised God, even in the midst of tribulation. He maintained a right attitude and was always filled with joy. Therefore, God used him mightily.
If we possess a Godly character, we are destined for greatness! There are many times when we are wronged by people … even our own family members. Let’s be “a Joseph” in our families! The Apostle Paul often started his letters by stating that he is a “prisoner of Christ”. He knew the author and finisher of his life. When he was in prison he was singing and rejoicing in the Lord. Like Joseph and Paul, we need to be content in all things, and praise God anyhow.
The keyboard was armed and ready all throughout the service. The music came forth, and Sister Gilmore lifted her voice in song from the rear of the sanctuary as everyone joined in. “Praise Him with tambourine and dancing…” Psalm 150:4 (NLT). I excitedly went to the bin of tambourines and chose my weapon of praise. As we were singing, I noticed a homeless man passing by the church. Then a woman entered with a young child for some bread. We said hello as they made their way to the row right in front of me. I lifted my hands and prayed over them during the worship and asked God to be with this woman and child and to bring them to greatness through their current hardships.
Pastor Fred then spoke about the importance of having the young children involved in the service. It was apparent that this family man loved kids. The children’s church teacher had her class stand before the congregation as they took turns sharing one of the 10 commandments. After this, they sang “Jesus Loves the Little Children” and the congregation joined in with them. It was a precious site to see these little ones speaking and singing before the people, stepping out in faith and boldness at such a young age.
This was my first Shabbat (Saturday) service ever in my life! Though they recognize the Sabbath Day and meet on Saturdays, they do not hold to the Jewish laws and customs. They also observe some of the Jewish holidays including Yom Kippur and Passover. Pastor Fred shared with me how they have done Seder meals with another local church, “The Seed of Abraham”. Shabbat School is held at 10 am with the morning worship service following at 11 am. They hold noon day prayer on Mondays and Fridays. On Wednesdays at 7pm they have a special time of prayer, healing, praise testimony and Bible study. And my favorite … they have street evangelism every Friday at 5:30 pm.
“Upon this Rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18 KJV). For over 15 years, Pastor Fred Gilmore has lead this church. Built upon the solid rock of Yeshua (Jesus), they know, just as Joseph did, that God is always with them. Our precise God has placed them in this precise location, in this precise time and for a precise purpose. I for one am going to go buy myself a colorful hat and tambourine for my next visit to Upon This Rock Tabernacle. This mission field is waiting for faithful workers. Let “Here am I! Send me!” be the cry of our hearts! (Isaiah 6:8)
By Donna Hansen Munafo