Highway’s original name was a mouthful. The church incorporated in 1899 under the name, “Union Highway Mission Tabernacle Un-Denominational Church.” It was known as “Highway Mission Tabernacle” long before that became their officially registered name 1984, on the occasion of Highway’s 90th anniversary.
So, why Highway Mission Tabernacle?
One of the first orders of business for the young church was to secure a Gospel wagon, which they used to take the Good News to the streets of Philadelphia. Their goal (as it was translated in the King James Version that was in use at the time) was to “Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in that my house may be filled.” (Luke 14:23, KJV) Rather than waiting for “seekers” to come to their door, they took to the Highways of Philadelphia, with the Mission of spreading the Gospel, and the wagon as their Tabernacle.
Just as in the days of Moses, when the Israelites carried the Tabernacle through the desert as a mobile structure inhabited by the Spirit of God, the Gospel Wagon was a mobile structure by which Highway carried the Spirit of God out to the streets, where the people were. The mission continued in that manner until 1931, when changes to Philadelphia’s traffic laws necessitated the retirement of the Gospel Wagon. Thus, the mission shifted from the Tabernacle to the Temple, but, as Solomon proclaimed when he prayed over the newly built temple of the Lord in his day, “The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” (II Chronicles 6:18) Though Highway could no longer take to the streets, its mission still extended beyond the walls of the church, because the message was just as great and the need even greater than it had at the beginning.
Otto Wegner, who pastored Highway in the 2000s, repeated to the church that “the presence of God’s people guarantees the presence of God.” He instilled the culture of the Gospel Wagon, that, as believers, our mission is not just to meet with God in the temple on Sundays, but, more important, to carry the presence of God with us wherever we go, and everywhere the need is.
———————————— P.S. – Can you spot E.S. Williams, former pastor of Highway Tabernacle and general superintendent of the Assemblies of God in the pictures of the Gospel wagon? For help, check out the images in the historical pages of Highway’s web site.
Talk about a mission! Read the life of David and see amazing events unfold! David received a call from God to lead the nation of Israel into a relationship with the Lord in order that it would become a great witness to the nations of the world. The Bible summarizes the events of David’s life and mission at the end of 2 Samuel. It is interesting to note here that almost a whole chapter is devoted to naming David’s “mighty men.” Of Benaiah, for example, it is written, “And David put him in charge of his bodyguard” (2 Samuel 23:23). There is no way David could accomplish the mission by himself. He had to learn to delegate and put others in charge, trusting that God could accomplish more when he viewed the mission as “team work.” As we look around us today, we see a vast harvest field ready for workers. Amazing events lie just on the other side of obedience! So many people are waiting for someone to bring them the hope of Jesus. None of us can do everything, but together, we can do great exploits. During the past two weeks, missionaries shared with us about their mission…and ours. After listening to them and praying about what they said, I believe the Lord’s message to us is: “Be willing to be a witness of Jesus.” Be open and available to tell others about the hope you have in Christ. May Jesus open our eyes to see the ripened harvest field all around us. God has an assignment just for you. There’s someone to whom God wants you to speak, to share hope, to demonstrate the love of Jesus. Together, let’s pray for God’s kingdom to be seen and experienced! May we work together with other missionaries to share Jesus and build up believers!
Sometimes we do things over and over and forget the reason why. This Sunday we begin a special Missions Convention. Why? Is it just because it’s “something we’ve always done”? Is this just an event on the yearly calendar? Why emphasize missions at all? The answer comes from the life of Jesus. His whole life was a mission. He came from God to hurting, lost people and made a way for us to know God! Then, in a dramatic moment before leaving this world to go back to the Father, He turned to his disciples and proclaimed, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21). We don’t have a missions convention just to give you the opportunity to meet special people who serve locally or share the gospel in places all over the globe. The greater purpose is to ignite the love of Christ within you for the mission He has given you! If you are wondering what your mission may be in life, read the account of Jesus calling His first disciples. He was walking beside the Sea of Galilee and saw Simon (Peter) and Andrew, and said to them, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Here Jesus presents the mission of life for a disciple of His: to follow Him and to help others know and follow Him. The specific details of our personal mission in life are as different as our gifts and talents. However, the core remains the same. Jesus loves us and wants us to walk with Him…so that we may know His heart and His ways. From this relationship, He gives us the mission to love others and influence them toward the Savior. So, the focus of missions at Highway Mission Tabernacle is not “out there” somewhere; it is inside your heart. May our love for Jesus connect us to His heart, fulfilling His mission to share the hope we have in us with those without hope. Our vision: “Following Jesus, loving people, sharing hope!”
Who said it would be easy? The person who receives Christ and expects a smooth, carefree cruise into the Kingdom will be sadly disappointed. Growth, advancement, and progress in the ways of God in the midst of this world take great focus and determination. Consider our Lord Jesus. Isaiah prophesied of the coming Messiah saying, “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame” (Isaiah 50:7). To accomplish the mission of God, Jesus needed tremendous focus and determination. Although tempted many times toward lesser things, He succeeded in finishing the “main thing” God called him to do. Luke 9:51 declares, “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” His face was set and His determination was firm. No other priorities or responsibilities would sidetrack Him from His mission to die for the sins of the world. Aren’t you glad He stayed on mission? If Jesus is in you, He has called you to do something…to trust Him and obey His will. In the midst of this unpredictable and rapidly changing world, our biggest temptation will be to “crowd out the call.” Too many believers have drifted away from Jesus. They don’t hate Jesus or curse Him; they just don’t pay much attention to Him. The superficial has replaced the eternal. Don’t let it happen to you! Pay attention. Stay determined. Pray often for the heart of a true disciple, steadfast and focused. The rewards for obedience are worth it! Isaiah says, “I will not be disgraced” (50:7).
“I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. The decision has been made. I have stepped over the line. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, or back away. I won’t give up, shut up, let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, spoken up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till he stops me. And when he comes for his own, he will have no problem recognizing me. My banner is clear: I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed!”
“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7). These words from the Apostle Paul to the believers at Corinth warned the people not to elevate personalities, but to exalt God. The Lord Himself is the source of blessing and growth. We are privileged to work in His Kingdom by planting “seeds” of faith and watering them with prayer and follow-up ministry. However, all lasting fruitfulness comes from the miraculous power of God. This past weekend, we hosted a special event, “Fall Friendship Weekend.” I thank God for those who donated, planned, and worked hard to make it happen! God blessed us on Saturday as we served about 200 hamburgers and hotdogs to the people of our community. We also had a special service on Sunday with worship, special music, and testimony—ending with a delicious meal. Our prayer and goal for this event was to spread the gospel by serving and connecting with the people of our community. Let me tell you about some of the connections and conversations opened to me through this event. First, a number of people shared heartfelt thankfulness that we, as a church, would give our time and effort to demonstrate tangible community appreciation. We brought the church to them, and they felt the Lord’s peace and presence through our love and kindness. It would have been nice to see more visitors in service on Sunday, but we know that seeds don’t always sprout right away. For me personally, the process was as important as the event itself. I worked with the leaders at Clemente Park, who welcomed us with open arms. I was able to find favor with two of the leaders from the Community Association in Fairmount. One of them came to the cookout and expressed how pleased he was with our event. We were given a generator to use by the Garden Association, and I met the contact person twice. He was pleased about our event and expressed appreciation for the people of Highway. When I brought the generator back, he said we could use it anytime. Also, the principal and teachers at Waring School met with me on several occasions; they opened the parking lot to us and advertised the event. We are currently helping Waring by painting their “School Store” room. All these people, leaders in our community, witnessed the people of Highway demonstrating the love of Jesus! This is a big win-win for all of us. We entrust the eternal results with our Lord…and may His Kingdom grow!
There’s a parable of Jesus I live with every day. It’s on my mind, motivating me and convicting me at the same time. In Matthew 25 Jesus gave “The Parable of the Talents” to his disciples. The theme of this parable is: “Invest what God gives you!” Jesus begins the story by saying, “Again, it (the kingdom of heaven) will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them” (Matt. 25:14). What jumps out at me here are the words “his property.” Jesus reminds us that the talents, gifts, and opportunities we have are not “ours” but God’s. They are “entrusted” to us with the expectation that we will use what we are given to bring increase to the owner. Looking ahead, we realize…there’s coming a day of reckoning. “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them” (v. 19). The servants who gained by investing the master’s property are commended by the master with the immortal words, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things!” (v. 23). The servant who did nothing with the master’s property receives frightful condemnation.
Here are a couple “every day on my mind” takeaways from this parable:
1) Words are not enough. The master doesn’t say, “Well said”, or “Well taught, or even, “Well preached”…it is “Well done”. The world today is filled with people spouting endless words and empty promises. A faith of mere words is no faith at all.
2) Faithful service delights our Lord. The Lord Jesus not only blesses us with abilities and talents but also gives us the Holy Spirit to help us put these into practice. At the end of a life of obedient investment, He invites us to, “Come and share your master’s happiness!” (vv. 21, 23). We are saved by grace through faith. We prove the genuineness of our faith by obedient service. Let’s go after the “Well done”!
This year, we were so excited to participate in the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Drive, a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse. It was so exciting to see the momentum build, as people bought supplies and volunteered to help pack shoeboxes. What a blessing to be able to fill boxes with toys, clothes, school supplies, toiletries, and other items that will be distributed to children worldwide! Most importantly, the Gospel message will be shared with each child that receives a box!
We filled 9 more shoeboxes than last year with a grand total of 76 BOXES! 39 shoeboxes were packed for boys and 37 for girls.
Thank you to everyone who helped pack boxes, paid for supplies and shipping, and prayed!
Some pictures from our Packing Party on November 19th:
We prayed over the shoeboxes and the families receiving them at Highway Tabernacle and at our sister church Resurrection Life Church on Sunday, November 20th.
Let’s continue to pray that the shoeboxes and more importantly the Gospel message bless children and their families this Christmas!
Today I read that the IRS tax manual is now over 70,000 pages! Why is it we tend to over-complicate life? Even when it comes to church, we can tend to think just in terms of policies, committees, events, meetings, goals, and budgets. Organization is necessary, but we can get so bogged down that we forget why we’re in the church in the first place. Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood so that we might experience a new birth, and enter into His family (the church). Our personal callings are different, but the mission remains the same. As part of Jesus’ church, we are all called to be His witnesses. A witness doesn’t need to be complicated or impressive, but just needs to share the truth. The Apostle Paul was greatly educated, but everywhere he went, he centered on sharing with others the message of Christ and Him crucified. Yes, he taught on other dynamics of the Christian life (read Romans, for example), but he always came back to the basic facts of the Gospel. There were many times Paul’s witnessing got him into trouble, but he never stopped. One time, after Paul was almost killed by an angry mob, the Lord came to him at night and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” (Acts 23:11) Let’s receive the courage God wants to give us, in order to tell others the simple truth of the Gospel. In this world of so many voices calling out for our attention, people can feel confused and pulled in a thousand different directions. The testimony of Jesus gets others to think about the most important thing in life: being right with God! Once the “center” is established, all else makes sense. Be intentional. Pray for opportunities to witness. Be prepared. Keep the Scriptures and good literature with you to give to hungry hearts. You can do this—it’s not too complicated. Jesus said, “You will be my witnesses.” (Acts 1:8b)
I heard a message many years ago which I will never forget. The title was, “Make Room for the Evangelist!” The speaker challenged leaders and churches to invite evangelists into their lives and into the churches because they have a special calling and ministry to offer the Body of Christ. This past week, we were challenged by the “Revival Ignited” ministry of Evangelist Jason Jablonski and his wife Laura. Their gift of evangelism is helping stir our church to action! My biggest “take-away” from their ministry is summarized in 2 Tim. 4:5: “Do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” Even though we may not have the title or calling of “evangelist”, we are all called by Jesus to be his witnesses. So, on a practical level, the evangelist motivates us to do what we already know to do—to share the Good News of Jesus with people every day. To do this, we need to change our way of thinking. Rather than thinking of witnessing as a “dreaded responsibility” that Jesus is angry with us about, we need to see this as a great privilege. The truth is, we get to tell those who are lost and hopeless without Christ, the way to life and peace with our Lord! Evangelist Jason reminded us of Romans 10:1 which says, “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.” Paul won many people to Jesus because he prayed and God stirred him with a desire to share the Gospel. That’s where we also start. Pray with me that the Lord will give each of us a greater love for people. Pray for your heart to break over what breaks the heart of God. Pray for opportunities to speak to others about Jesus’ love and His amazing gift of salvation. We are called to do this. People are waiting for the Good News!
I used to live in an apartment building that had a fast-food restaurant by the ground-floor entrance. Without very much advertising, the restaurant tempted me every time that I walked into the building. It was the aroma that attracted me.
This is one way that we, as Christians, are to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission to take the Gospel to the world. We are to live lives that attract non-believers even before we say a word. This is something that we can’t do on our own. Fortunately, Jesus, in Acts 1:8, promised us help in the person of the Holy Spirit, who would give us power to be his witnesses.
When we allow the Holy Spirit to fill our lives, he produces his familiar fruit in us – love, joy, peace, and all the rest, listed in Galatians 5:22 and 23. His fruit is what makes us attractive to a world that needs hope. The Bible gives a wonderful example of this attraction in the story of Paul and Silas in prison (Acts 16:16–34). It was the witness of Paul and Silas’ actions, not their words, which moved the jailer to ask, “What must I do to be saved?”
However, the power that we receive from the Holy Spirit is also undeniably verbal. Whenever we see, in both the Old and the New Testaments, an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, it is accompanied by speech. When Christ’s promised outpouring was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, the believers were immediately empowered by the Holy Spirit, “declaring the wonders of God” in languages understood by the crowds visiting Jerusalem (Acts 2:11).
If we, as a church, are looking for the kind of life that attracts unbelievers and for the power to declare God’s message with boldness, we must seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit – for ourselves individually and for the church as a whole.