Timothy Keller started Redeemer Presbyterian Church in 1989. Now almost 6000 people attend 5 services there each week.
But who goes there?
“Jeffrey,” a Jewish musician, is one.
For his story¹, push through the DOOR.
Jeffrey was a New York City musician, raised in a conservative Jewish home.
Both his father and mother suffered terribly with cancer, his mother succumbing to it. Because of a variety of physical ailments from his youth, he took up the practice of Chinese healing arts, along with Taoist and Buddhist meditation, and became extremely focused on physical wellness. He was in no state of “spiritual need” when a friend began taking him to Redeemer. He liked the sermons “until the Jesus business came around at the end” at which point he’d stop listening. Soon, however, he became jealous of his Christian friends’ joy and hope for the future that he had not encountered before.
Then he began listening to the ends of the sermons and realizing they posed an intellectual challenge that he had not wanted to face. Finally, to his surprise, during his times of meditation he discovered his “moments of normally pure quiet and stillness were constantly interrupted by visions of Jesus on the cross.”
He began to pray to the Christian God, and soon he realized that his dominant life narrative had been the escape and total avoidance of suffering. Now he saw how futile such a life goal was. When he understood that Jesus had surrendered his physical health and life to save the world–and him–it moved him deeply. He saw a way to get the courage to face the inevitable suffering of the future, and to know there would be a path through it. He embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ.
[For Kelly’s story (the 3rd of 3) see the next post.]
¹Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (Dutton, 2008, Kindle version). Keller, educated at Bucknell, Gordon-Conwell, and Westminster Theological Seminary and a pastor from Hopewell, Virginia, felt called to go to Manhattan to start a church in 1989. As of 2008, his church, Redeemer Presbyterian, has nearly 6000 weekly attendees at five services, as well as a “host” of daughter churches, and is planting churches in large cities throughout the world. Jeffry’s story is cited verbatim from Keller’s book.