A Simple Man for a Great Mission: Jim Cymbala (Includes Story About His Daughter)
Fresh Wind Fresh Fire
Have you ever read a book that changed your life?
Years ago my husband and I read a book that changed our perspective on relationship with God so drastically, and on so many levels, that after reading it we were never the same.
This article is in honor of Pastor Jim Cymbala; A very simple man who God called to a very Great Mission.
Jim Cymbala, Pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle
A Simple Man
I call Jim a simple man based on my impressions of him through reading his book, "Fresh Wind Fresh." Jim comes across as an everyday kind of guy. There's nothing striking about him. If you or I met Jim Cymbala on the street, I don't believe he would stand out from the crowd. He doesn't possess a flashy or charismatic personality nor is he a man to draw attention to himself. God’s glory shines through this unassuming, simple man. Fire
Jim Cymbala never considered the pastorate. He had no Bible College training and no experience in ministry. Yet God chose him.
Jim was an ordinary man who possessed BIG faith. He loved God and answered YES to God's call on his life. God used Jim to begin a spiritual awakening in an unlikely place.
Jim says in the early days of ministry he had no clue what he was doing. It was Rev. Clair Hutchins (Jim's Pastor since junior high school and also his wife Carol's father) who convinced Jim of God's call on his life.
Rev. Hutchins urged Jim to shepherd a struggling little Church in Newark. Though Jim felt overwhelmed, he accepted the call.
I felt sorry for Jim. His account also humored me. As a newbie, Jim dug into the Bible and, as he says, practiced preaching before a live audience on Sundays.
The Brooklyn Tabernacle
As if the little Church wasn't enough to overwhelm this novice, Jim's father-in-law entreated him to take another temporary position for a Church in crisis. Reverend Hutchins asked Jim to preach at this Church for about four Sunday nights.
This Church was a multiracial congregation called The Brooklyn Tabernacle. Though Jim felt ill-equipped, his heart of obedience to God led him to say yes. This decision proved to be the most pivotal of his lifetime.
Upon his first visit to the Brooklyn Tabernacle Jim realized there were big troubles in the Church. The young pastor, already on staff, felt discouraged. The first service, Jim took part in, proved to be an unorganized mess. Jim wasn't too worried because he was thinking, "At least it's not my problem. I'm just here to help."
During this supposed short stint at The Brooklyn Tabernacle, the young Pastor announced he was quitting. The Church was left in the lurch with no one to shepherd it. Jim was being thrust into a longer commitment to travel back and forth between the Churches.
Sundays were hard as he and Carol raced between them. They were getting burned out and knew they must choose between the two Churches. Though the Church in Newark was the only paying Church, their hearts were being drawn to the Brooklyn Tabernacle. They desired foremost, to do God's will. They were convinced that if God was calling them to minister at the Brooklyn Tabernacle He would take care of them.
Jim and Carol made their decision and, by faith, moved to Brooklyn. What happened next is nothing short of miraculous. Packing up their meager belongings, they headed to Brooklyn to a broken-down church in one of America's meanest neighborhoods.
Carol Cymbala had a huge role to play in their new ministry. Anyone involved in Church ministry knows the crucial role the wife of the pastor plays. A wife can make or break a ministry. She can encourage, build-up, support, and love, or with her own hands tear down and destroy a ministry. Carol was a builder and a gifted servant of God.
As a pastors’ kid who grew up in the city, she heard the sounds of many cultures expressed through music. The classics blended with black gospel and traditional Scandinavian hymns. Early on, she felt music within her soul.
At the age of sixteen, a dream entered her heart, a dream of directing a large choir someday; Not a stiff, formal choir but a choir composed of the common people.
Her gift to the Church was her natural, God-given talent. Carol started the church choir, known all over the world today as, The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.
As the choir director, Carol trained her members to produce music blending contemporary worship with echoes of Caribbean rhythms.
To this day Carol cannot read music; She doesn't know how to write the notes either. Carol used her musical genius, the music bound up in her soul, to teach the choir by rote. When she started her choir she began with only nine choir members.
The numbers climbed, reaching about fifty. The Church platform wasn't large enough to hold everyone, so the choir stood in the auditorium's front. As the choir sang, they overwhelmed the small building with their sound.
Carol held practices on Fridays. Does that surprise you? Do you know anyone who would give up a Friday to practice music? The people of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, that's who. Carol always began with prayer, asking God's Spirit to fall on them and for His music to come forth.
Meanwhile, a band of novice players was growing by leaps and bounds. These players were as untrained as Carol yet they also possessed music in their souls.
The word about the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir spread like wildfire. Carol reached beyond the church and formed the multi-racial, New York Challenge Choir. This choir consisted of people from the Tabernacle plus any others who wanted to sing - resulting in a vast number of eighty or more voices.
In the process of this huge undertaking, Carol wrote her first song. She took the Christmas Carol "Joy to the World" and created a new melody.
When I listened to The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, I thought Carol must possess a Master's degree in music but learned she possesses no degree, it was the Master who possessed her. I also thought the choir members were professionals. But they’re not trained. They never attended college. Just, common street people whose Master is Jesus.
He's Been Faithful
This Is How It Feels to Be Free
God Speaks and God Moves!
In the beginning, Jim felt very discouraged.
He was spending a multitude of hours studying and felt like his congregation was being gypped by his less-than-perfect sermons. In his book, Jim says, "Sometimes I didn't want to show up for service - that's how bad it was."
One day, in a spirit of brokenness, tired in body and mind Jim called out to God, "Lord, I have no idea how to be a successful pastor; All I know is that Carol and I are working in the middle of New York City, with people dying on every side, overdosing from heroin, consumed by materialism, and all the rest. If the gospel is so powerful...."
He couldn't finish, tears were choking him. Then quietly but forcefully, in words heard, not with his ear but deep within his spirit, God spoke. "If you and your wife will lead my people to pray and call upon my name. You will never lack for something fresh to preach. I will supply all the money that's needed, both for the church and for your family, and you will never have a building large enough to contain the crowds I will send in response."
Directly below is a UTube video of a message Jim Cymbala preached at a Praise Gathering. It starts out slow, BUT PLEASE stick with it. Jim delivers a powerfully anointed message.
Jim speaks of how God comes to us and says: "Do you REALIZE how much you need me now? When you hit the stone wall for the twenty-third time, remember that YOU NEED ME! I have all of this, and you live with such scarcity. Come unto me all ye who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest ... God asks "Why are you so RUSHED? When are we gonna talk?"
One day God showed Jim and his wife that the Prayer meeting night would be the barometer of His Presence in the Church. To this day, every Prayer Meeting night between 1200 and 1500 people gather to worship God and unite in prayer.
Jim says, “If you beat the devil in prayer, you'll beat him on every level. If you will read the Bible consistently you will have grace flowing on every level."
Jim shares the life-giving, life-changing lessons he has learned about prayer. He shares a personal account of trials so heavy that most would have given up but instead of giving up, Jim fell into Jesus' arms and found Him faithful.
This man shares a heart-wrenching story about his daughter and how he did not know where she was for two-and-a-half years ...it was the worst kind of nightmare. Learn how God Rescues his Daughter, their family, and the Church Ministry.
Please take time to watch this Simple man.. and witness GOD at work through His humble servant.
When we showed the VIDEO below to our Church family we were brought to our knees. Hearts gripped by the reality of a living God who hears and answers prayers led to repentance.
I believe that if you take the time to watch this ...your heart will reach for Jesus and you too will experience a fresh vision to trust, serve and love God Forever.
Powerful Annointed Message By Jim Cymbala
As God's people surrendered to the Holy Spirit, God moved.
The church people never knew who might come to Christ. There were junkies, the mentally ill, prostitutes, and gays along with lawyers, successful businessmen, and bus drivers; They all turned to the Lord at the altar of the Brooklyn Tabernacle.
People flocked to the Church because they found acceptance and love, just as they were! There were Latinos, African Americans, Caribbean, Americans, Whites; You name it; they came. Once people got energized by the Holy Spirit, they began to see the differences between races as God's beautiful artistry.
Instead of railing at homosexuals, they wept over the injustices they lived with every day. Instead of looking down their noses in pride and arrogance at the less fortunate homeless or the druggies and prostitutes God gave them supernatural eyes to look past the sin and into the soul to see others as God saw them.
Fresh Wind Fresh Fire
Since this is a book review and because I could never do justice to the writings of Jim Cymbala, I encourage you to read the rest of the story. I am praying your interest has been peaked and you will get a copy of "Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire."
My Pastor husband and I were never the same after reading this book. No longer did we tell people, I'll pray for you and I wish I could do more. No, it opened our eyes to the power of prayer; There is no greater gift we can give a person than bowing before the throne in intercession for their needs.
This book transformed our Church. As my husband stood in the pulpit on Sunday mornings, he told our brothers and sisters that Sunday mornings were no longer the most important gathering of the Church. He shared the vision passed on to him by Jim Cymbala and as a result, our Wednesday night prayer gathering grew and evolved into a powerful group of prayer warriors.
We witnessed long time prayers answered, people humbled, praise erupting from hungry hearts seeking to know God. We were all drawn together and lifted to the spiritual realm. Many tears rolled and hearts changed. Love flowed like a river of life touching everyone in its path. It was a blessed experience like none other in my lifetime.
If you've skipped the video's please go back now, and as you prepare to watch this sermon, pray that God opens the eyes of your heart. Listen and watch the audience and the members of the choir; Notice their expressions and look into their faces as they worship God with singing ... Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lamb! God's anointing is upon this music.
When God's People Pray
In this video, Jim tells the heart-wrenching experience of watching his daughter Crissy walk out of their lives and disappear.
He shares the miracle of how God brought his daughter back home. It was the groaning and utterances of The Brooklyn Tabernacle prayer group that moved the heart of God to bring Crissy back to the fold and back into the love and protection of her family and her Church.
If you have a wayward child, let this story lift you up and strengthen your faith. That's what it did for me. God brought my own rebel child back to the fold too.
© 2010 Susan Ream