This evening, Kim and I were able to join about 30-40 other ministry couples (pastors and wives) as we worshipped together and were mutually encouraged after a particularly tough year in ministry. Pastor Paul Purvis and Mission Hill Church in Temple Terrace were so gracious to put on this event.
To get us started, we were led in some wonderful worship in music. We didn’t simply watch a performance on stage. The worship leader led us to the Throne of Grace and encouraged us to sing from our hearts to the Lord.
Over the past few months, Paul Purvis has been able to build a relationship with Jim Cymbala of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. So, Paul asked if Jim and his wife, Carol, could lead in a time of worship and encouragement for ministry couples.
As Jim and Carol Cymbala took the platform, my heart was overjoyed. It wasn’t so much who they were (they are huge names in the Christian community). It was what their ministries had done for my wife and me.
Let me share just a little bit of what this special ministry couple means to Kim and me.
In 1994, I moved to Memphis, Tennessee to work on my Master of Divinity degree. While there, I attended Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Southaven, Mississippi (1994-1996). The church choir was singing some powerful music that was feeding my soul. I loved it! So, I eventually joined the choir and heard that many of the songs they were singing were written by Carol Cymbala and sung by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. Even though Carol does not read music, she had grown and led the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir to ultimately lead others to worship the Lord – but, also, to earn seven Dove Awards and six Grammy Awards.
I went out and bought the cassette tape, “The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir: We Come Rejoicing Live.” Very soon, I knew every word of every song. Just click “Play” to listen to The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir sing one of the songs on that album.
I also started reading books like “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire” by Jim Cymbala. Jim’s books awakened my mind and heart to realize that Christianity was always intended to be something more than lifeless religion. In his books, Jim shed light on so many wonderful biblical principles but he also provided powerful stories of how those principles played out in the lives of real people at the Brooklyn Tabernacle.
Quite a few years ago, Kim started a habit that she enjoyed for many years. She went on walks and spent much of that time praying. She also often listened to sermons by Jim Cymbala. Her heart was always encouraged, her spirit was lifted, and she grew in her faith as she put herself under the teaching of such a Spirit-filled ministry.
If you want to listen to an incredible sermon by Jim Cymbala at a Gaither Homecoming Concert, just click “play” on the following video. In this sermon, he spoke on the necessity of prayer in the life of a believer and church.
I suspect that every ministry couple who attended last night’s gathering had been equally impacted by the ministry of the Cymbala’s. We have watched their ministry and knew that it has stood the test of time. They are the real deal. They love the Lord and desire to spend their lives leading others into a closer walk with Jesus.
At the end of Pastor Cymbala’s message last night, he called all of the pastors forward who desired for God to move powerfully in their congregations. As far as I know, every single pastor went forward to pray together and pray for each other.
As you can see, Jim and Carol Cymbala have been used by the Lord to be such an encourager to so many people, including Kim and me. So, it was such an honor to finally meet them last night.