I have been delivering books to subjects of Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot for two and half months. At this writing, I have nine left to deliver. I suppose I could have saved myself a lot of money. None of them remembered that the release form they signed granting me permission to publish their stories entitled them to a free book. One man commented how kind I was to give him a copy. I didn’t deserve that compliment and reminded him that it was a debt.
My publisher’s marketing department is ahead of me in the marketing marathon. They are calling bookstores and coffee shops trying to set up events for me to sell books. I asked them to slow the pace. I want to satisfy my debt before I sell books at events. On the heels of that request, I scheduled three churches and three events; so much for a slower pace and accomplishing one goal at a time. Then hurricane Isaac blew through town disrupting my plans.
A week of no electricity, phone service and internet withdrawals later, I started rescheduling. Two churches rescheduled for October. One declined indefinitely. I was disappointed by the loss, until I received an invitation to address a joint book club meeting. Book clubs are guaranteed sales; churches are iffy. For a while, it appeared the hurricane also cost me an opportunity to sell books at an international woman’s conference in Houston – another disappointment. Until the speaker, who had invited me to put books on her product table, signed a consignment deal to sell them for me.
While I was signing the consignment deal, my cell phone rang. Sabrina wanted to know where she could find my book. Her husband had already brought twelve books to the Gideon’s International Conference in Dallas, and they wanted to share more books. I met Sabrina and her husband at a garage – where their tire was being replaced – thinking they wanted one or two books. They wanted ten books. I only had seven. Wish I’d left the house with more books that morning.
Three times this week, I’ve been asked, “Where can I find your book?” The average reader is unaware of the massive changes in the publishing industry and has misconceptions about authors. People think I am rich, and my book is in bookstores. The truth is: few authors are rich and in in most cases the author must create a demand before a bookstore will risk stocking his or her book. An author’s hope is that word of mouth will create a demand for the book compelling bookstores to stock the book. Until then, most sales by new authors are done at book events, speaking engagements and via internet websites.
If you are interested in Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot, check my schedule at teenalmyers.com and purchase a copy from me for $15 or visit Tate Publishing’s website to purchase a copy for $16.99. If you would like to make it easy for future purchasers, go to your local bookstore and order a copy. IF enough people do that, bookstores will be happy to put them on the shelf.
The retail price for Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot is $16.99. The price is set by the publisher not me, the author. I sell my book for a discounted price of $15. Amazon has undercut my price by offering the book for $13.25. If you have not bought your copy yet, you won’t find it cheaper. There is one left and more on the way.
The first time I met Ruben Israel, I thought former drug addicted ex-convict who led a motorcycle gang with an iron fist radically saved in a blinding flash of light. The cliché “looks can be deceiving” explains why I was wrong. While many young people were rebelling against the government and sending themselves on drug induced trips, Ruben attended church and worked. He grew up sweeping the floors in his father’s barber shop as men discussed sports, politics and religion. He learned through is father’s example to stand up for his beliefs as he listened to the animated and at times testy conversations. His family sat at the kitchen table monthly to pray for America and for his brothers who served in the military. Ruben never fell prey to the excesses of the hippie counter culture. He loved God and country, but he did rebel against complacent religion.
In the late 1960s, Ruben and his father exited the Los Angeles landmark Clifton Cafeteria. At 7th and Broadway, they paused to observe an unusual site. A man wearing checkered pants, striped shirt, with his hair in disarray, stood on the corner holding a Bible. He preached as though he held the attention of a stadium filled with mesmerized listeners. Ruben looked up at his father. “Street preacher,” said his father.
Ten years later, Ruben gently picked up his newborn daughter. He gazed into the face of innocence and thought, how do I want to raise this child. He reflected on his own life and concluded his life must be right to raise his daughter right. That night he cried out to God. A serious, systematic study of the Bible provoked questions about the faith he had been taught, so he made an appointment with his priest.
“The meeting was short,” said Ruben. “The priest told me the Bible would confuse me, and I should not read it. My job was to come to Mass. As the priest walked out the door, he asked me if I would be at Mass next Sunday. I wasn’t happy with the outcome of the meeting but said, ‘Yes.’”
The following Sunday, Ruben’s mother was seated in their usual pew when a friend tapped her on the shoulder. “Ruben is outside screaming at everybody.” His mother walked outside to witness her son standing on the steps in front of their church preaching his first sermon – Know the God of the Bible. As their neighbor walked up the stairs, Ruben said, “You have the biggest family Bible I have ever seen on the coffee table in your living room. The pages are stuck together. You have never read it.” Mrs. Smith hurried inside, and two men approached. “Mr. Johnson, you have been coming to this church for 20 years, and you can’t quote one Bible verse. Mr. McDonald, you don’t keep Sunday holy. After church, you sit in front of the TV with two six packs of beer.” Ruben’s mother thought he was going through a phase and would find a new pursuit in a few weeks. Years later, his mother would learn that Ruben was God’s answer to her prayers.
At a young age, Ruben’s mother felt God had called her to a life of Christian service. She joined a convent and was studying to become a nun when she heard rumors about the decadence of Mardi Gras. Even though Mardi Gras had its roots in Lupercalia, an ancient Roman festival, the church had incorporated the pagan celebration into its faith. She knew her church did not endorse Mardi Gras, but they winked at the belief one could sin with abandon without consequence. Troubled by her church’s practice she often prayed for New Orleans and her church that refused to confront sin.
Two weeks before graduation, Ruben’s mother already had doubts about serving a church that winked at sin when her sister came to visit. She held her sister’s baby and wondered if she really wanted to live a life of celibacy or have a family of her own. After many tears and prayers, she laid a fleece before God. She had never seen a yellow rose in the convent’s garden. If she saw one before graduation, it would be a sign God had released her to leave the convent. As she walked through the garden praying, she spotted a yellow rose. Convinced God had released her from becoming a Nun, she married and bore five children.
Ruben never lost interest in his evangelistic activities. A Bible study he attended evolved into an international network called Bible Believers. Initially, they set out signs declaring “Trust Jesus” at intersections before they left for work. As they grew stronger in their faith, they began preaching to small groups on the streets. Eventually, they moved on to larger crowds drawn by numerous events held in Los Angeles.
The large banners that mark his ministry were created by one of the men from the Bible study, who also coined the name “confrontational evangelism”. The first banners were canvas and metal. Today, they use vinyl to confront sin with bold declarations. If boisterous crowds drown out their voice, they can’t miss the message on the signs.
Ruben brought his ministry of confrontation to New Orleans in 1982. After returning from his second evangelistic campaign at Mardi Gras, he had dinner with his parents. During dinner, his mother revealed the burden of prayer she carried for New Orleans when she studied to be a Nun. Ruben and his mother realized God had answered her prayer. Every year thereafter, to the day she died, Ruben’s mother laid her hands on her son’s head and prayed for him before he departed to do what her church failed to do. Boldly confront sin instead of tolerating it on Tuesday and absolving it on Wednesday.
Ruben Israel is a point of controversy in the Christian community. Some believe confrontational evangelism does more harm than good. Others applaud Ruben’s boldness to confront sinners and announce their guilt loud enough for a city block to hear. Unlike many ministers who disdain him, he is not compensated with offerings from the faithful. His rewards are hostile: time in jail, punched, spit on, doused with beer, and even ejaculated on. One thing is certain. His motivation to come to New Orleans is strong, and he won’t be dissuaded from returning.
CLICK HERE for the archived Live Talk Radio interview with Judge Eve (a retired judge and Jewish believer in Christ) about my salvation and how God led me to write. Listen to the Oct 6 2012 show. During the interview I state that I need to come back to the “young minister with a beard” but time ran out. I tell the complete story in the chapter titled Thank You: David Rodriguez in Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot.
After a three-year process of applications, engineering studies, legal red tape, tower searches and prayer, New Horizon Calvary Chapel has been awarded a license by the FCC for their very own full-power radio station, which will broadcast on channel 88.7 fm by the summer of 2013.
Pastor John Raymond says, “It’s a miracle that New Horizon Calvary Chapel has been selected as the recipient of this extremely valuable media asset and effective ministry tool. Ten other non-profit organizations were competing for the same license including some huge national radio conglomerates. We praise God for his favor in this decision!” Plans are moving forward to build the radio station, which will be housed inside New Horizon’s 27,000 square foot church facility located at 3401 Pontchartrain Drive in Slidell.
Pastor Raymond received permission from the people at Educational Media Foundation to use the former name of their station in Baton Rouge called “The Bridge” since EMF changed the station’s name to K-LOVE after acquiring it from Bethany World Prayer Center some years ago. K-LOVE’s generosity didn’t stop at just the name. They also donated about $50,000 worth of specialized radio station equipment to The Bridge to assist in building the studio.
The Bridge Radio will be a huge full-power frequency that will broadcast the FCC’s maximum allowable 100,000 watt signal. This will make The Bridge Radio the most powerful Christian Radio Station in Southeast Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast potentially reaching 2,000,000 listeners or more! (The actual coverage area map can be seen on www.thebridge.fm)
Just like many Gulf Coast churches and business, the relatively new non-denominational church was hard hit by Hurricane Katrina and relaunched in their current facility after their temporary location was destroyed by the storm. The family-oriented congregation at New Horizon is excited about this new development and wants to share it with the rest of the Gulf Coast community.
“The Lord said, ‘To whom much has been given, much will be required,’” Raymond says. “We consider it both a privilege as well as a great responsibility to be the overseers of such an incredibly powerful and effective method of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and the whole counsel of God’s word through diverse Bible teaching and contemporary Christian music.”
New Horizon is adopting their Mission Statement directly from the words of Jesus found in the Gospel of Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
The official call letters of the station are WOTB, which will stand for “We’re On The Bridge,” a spiritual reference to Christ as the heavenly bridge for mankind, as well as a reference to the many actual bridges located within the station’s enormous coverage area.
Raymond says the name came to him as he drove across the twin spans from Slidell to New Orleans to appear on WWL-TV 4’s morning news show as a celebrity commentator for the popular CBS Survivor Series, which featured Raymond as a contestant in Thailand a decade ago. Raymond didn’t win the million dollar prize, but his church has won this radio station which, he believes, is worth far more than the prize for being the sole survivor.
Pastor Raymond hopes the entire community within the Greater New Orleans, and Gulf Coast region will feel like this is their personal radio station. The Bridge intends to incorporate many local ministries, businesses, issues and events into their 24/7 programming. Local Christian bands are encouraged to send in their demo CD’s to be considered for radio play. The Bridge is currently accepting inquiries from Churches who may be interested in launching their own radio presence as well as potential business sponsors who are supportive of Christian programming.
“Being an independent station is a real plus for us and our community,” states Raymond with enthusiasm. “It will give us the edge in establishing local programming and allow much more on-air flexibility for our listening audience than nationally syndicated radio stations are able to offer.”
One hope for the future would be for The Bridge to sponsor a national Christian Music Festival in the Greater New Orleans area. Much like the internationally famous Jazz Fest, this Christian version would bring in many of the most well-known Christian artists over a period of multiple days. This is just one way The Bridge intends to bring our churches and community together.
Anyone wishing to partner with the station through prayers or by making a tax-deductible contribution can log onto their website at www.thebridge.fm and check out the exclusive benefits of becoming a Bridge Builder Partner.
Free window decals will be given to anyone by request via the website or by calling the station. An online Programming Survey is available to submit your ideas for your favorite local and national ministries, musicians, events and more suggestions of what you would like to hear over the airwaves.
For more information about programming, personal opportunities, sponsor spots and questions contact The Bridge Radio at 985-781-3174 or you can email them through their website at www.thebridge.fm.