NEW CASTLE —
Does God care about the people of New Castle?
Just ask Mitch.
The Rev. Randy Crum of Vision Ministries was wrapping up his second downtown crusade in as many months, inviting members of his Riverwalk Park audience and even passers-by to step to the middle of the plaza if they loved and wished to praise Jesus. Eventually, he turned and looked across East Washington Street to see a man wearing a Steelers ball cap, yellow shirt, cut-off sweat pants and a look of both longing and confusion looking back at him.
Crum enthusiastically invited him over. Though the man seemed to hesitate at first, he soon strode purposefully across the street and took his place in a line of celebrants, eventually falling to his knees with his face to the pavement, even as others clapped and danced for joy.
Mitch requested prayer, and a circle of worshippers enveloped him, hands on his and each other’s shoulders. There Mitch shared that he was in desperate financial straits, and had been asking God to lead him. Suddenly, there was Crum, beckoning to him.
“I didn’t know if you were calling me at first,” he said to Crum. “I stood there, and you called again, and I said, ‘Lord, if this is it, I’m going.’ ”
Mitch, still embraced by worshippers even after Crum’s prayer ended, is why the evangelist believes it is important to bring the gospel to the streets of New Castle.
“People ask me what’s the problem with his town,” he said during his message. “The problem with this city is the same as it is in Detroit, or California or Pittsburgh. It is the absence of God in people’s lives.”
Preaching from the banks of the Neshannock Creek, Crum remarked how he used to swim in the river near Paper Mill Bridge, where last year he performed baptisms. He recalled how much cleaner the creek was in his youth, and noted that people, too, tend to become less clean as time passes and they wander further and further from God.
But citing Revelation, he noted that one day a “river of life” will flow from God’s throne “as clear as crystal,” and that with it would return the tree of life, from which Genesis says man was barred after falling into sin.
“God is going to bring paradise back,” Crum said, noting that mankind received a twofold curse of death — physical and spiritual — for disobeying God in the Garden of Eden.
Spiritual death, he went on, is alienation from God, “but Jesus took that curse away from us. We may still have to die, but we don’t have to die alienated from God. That curse was lifted so that we may enjoy eternal life with him in paradise.”
For that reason, Crum said, is he is taking Jesus to the county’s various municipalities through his crusades. It’s also why he tells those attend who to do the same.
“God said it is not his will that any should perish but that all should come to repentance,” Crum said. “And I’m taking that to the bank. That’s why I’m not giving up on this city.
“All we’ve got to do is to do our jobs — to testify, to preach the word of God and talk about the Lord wherever we are. If our tracks aren’t leading people into the kingdom of heaven, then we need to rethink our lives and turn things around.”
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