“Enter to Worship, Leave to Serve” is the motto of my church, Apostolic Temple of Jesus Christ (ATJC), and they have truly been a ministry of ‘God’s Love in Action’ to me. When I talk about, think of or feel their many expressions of love towards me, I sometimes weep with overwhelming heartfelt gratitude for the people of this love-inspired ministry.
I joined ATJC after moving back to Queens when I could no longer afford my Bronx apartment. It had been a year and a half since I stepped out on faith and resigned from my job in 2010 to pursue ministry full-time. I depleted my 401K and faced eviction before I had the know how, drive, courage or confidence to monetize my gifts and abilities and create a sustainable ministry. I was always more comfortable working behind the scenes to bless others through my time and talents. I always felt that gifts of the heart were more valuable and, or maybe because, I never had much money or material assets.
ATJC had been the neighborhood Cleaners, during my churchless childhood, and was later transformed into a beautiful eye-catching spiritual edifice. As I passed by during weekend visits to see my mom, I determined to attend a Sunday service. The high praise and sweet worship was gloriously live and lovely. The word was rightly divided and passionately delivered. I felt free to openly enjoy and participate in the service and vowed to attend every time I spent the weekend with mom. I joined within a month of moving back to Queens. I had come full circle returning to my childhood home and to a church I loved that was also within walking distance.
The warm and immediate acceptance I experienced from the people and leadership made me feel right at home and within the first few months of membership, I graciously accepted invitations to present for a women’s workshop, sing with The Women’s Choir, MC a program and share my inspirational poetry. Yes, “Enter to Worship, Leave to Serve” was indeed in mutual effect. As an added blessing, I usually sit in the row behind the Mother’s Board, whose encouraging words, phone calls, and loving embraces remind me of my late grandmother multiplied and allow me to be vulnerable and feel safe. In addition, when I had surgery in April 2014, I received a get well card with money in it from the Missionary Ministry; and Chaplain Elaine Harbin, the Women’s Choir Director, hand-delivered a food care package to my home and also braided my hair while there.
In 2013, Sister Theresa Watkins, our coordinator of the annual International Believers Fellowship (IBF) convention, called me. “Sister Meekins, if I get the Trustee Board to pay your hotel fee, will you be able to contribute anything toward the bus fee and attend the convention? You have to go on this trip, you’re our worshipper.” Honored, humbled, thankful and filled with joy, I responded, “Sister Watkins, if you would do that for me, then I would work toward paying the entire fee for the bus.” Subsequently, I had an absolutely perfect time on that Virginia trip that was balanced with rest, provision, service, and fellowship. Thank you, God! Thank you, Apostolic Temple of Jesus Christ!
The most surprising and memorable act of love towards me occurred in 2012. My bank account was on “E,” bills were due and I didn’t even have carfare to go out on Mystery Shops to earn some money. I was struggling to generate a consistent monthly income that would meet my needs and for every two steps forward, it felt like I was pushed three steps back. I received a call from Chaplain Harbin who, after hearing the stress in my voice, feeling the low energy of my spirit, and pulling from me the reason why, suggested I present my need to the church. I can honestly say that the thought had never entered my mind. I was still relatively new to the congregation and I was busy busting my brain for other possibilities. After my initial resistance, I reasoned that it couldn’t hurt to ask and wrote a letter requesting financial assistance to present to the head of the Trustees Board that Sunday. On Monday, I delivered my required supporting documents to the church. After Tuesday night’s prayer service, Min. Watkins approached me a with a $500 check, told me the church was also going to pay my bills for the month and added, “It’s not what you asked for so I hope you’re not too disappointed.” I instantly burst into tears, speechless with heart piercing gratitude and ever increasing love for my church family. By the end of that evening, I had a check in hand, two monthly bills paid online at the church, driven to the subway station to receive two purchased $50 MetroCards and taken home. Wow God! … Thank you for favor and this amazing Ministry of Love in Action!
There are more examples of God’s Love in Action to me and other members of this ministry; but this is my love-inspired story and I can’t tell it all, so I’ll close with the following summary:
This persevering entrepreneur has been fed, clothed and transported to and fro by the ministering servants of ATJC; and thanks to their continued love and support, I’m currently experiencing the manifestation of a long held desire of my heart. When I was newly saved in my early 20’s, I desired to be married to a Christian man who would partner with me on my walk with God. I never wanted to take this journey alone and dreamed of being in ministry with my mate. Well, that didn’t happen. However, I’ve been blessed with two ATJC Sisters-in-Christ, who help me spread inspiration through my ministry. Sister Avril Connell volunteered to help me sell my books and has sold several to clients at her hair salon; and Sister Cauline Williams bought my books to give away as gifts, given me the money to purchase new books to sell when I ran out, gifted me with money just because “the Lord said,” and bought me two suits to wear for ministry.
Through ATJC’s continual loving support and encouragement, I’ve learned to:
I will be forever grateful that my steps are ordered by the Lord, who directed me to Apostolic Temple of Jesus Christ under the leadership of Pastor Marcus D. McKnight and a Ministry of God’s Love in Action. This is my testimony
Jo Anne Meekins is the founder of Inspired 4 U Ministries and Inspired 4 U Publications; and an author, publisher, coach and speaker.