Jim Cymbala is seeing white.
When the pastor of The Brooklyn Tabernacle lifts his eyes, he sees the fields that Jesus described in John 4:35—fields that are ripe and white for harvest.
That’s why Cymbala is committed to encouraging both pastors and youth to get involved with Rock the Lakes this summer. The two-day Festival that blends high-energy music and Gospel teaching from Franklin Graham kicked off in Rochester June 16 and 17.
With a little over a month remaining until Rock the Lakes Green Bay, Cymbala joined with area Christians on July 10 to pray for friends and loved ones who need to know Jesus, and for God to transform their region.
“My goodness, at the last two prayer rallies in Rochester and Buffalo, the people were wired,” said Cymbala during an interview at the Billy Graham Library last month. “God sent conviction on the young people, drawing them.
“I’ve been in a few prayer meetings in my life and these times of prayer were really heart-felt. They were led well.”
Cymbala said his role at the prayer rallies is to remind people to look at the fields. “You can get so overwhelmed by the minutia of every day life and what you’re going through that you forget what Jesus said about lifting your eyes from the thing you’re doing.
“Pastors, especially, don’t get involved in things many times because they’re so discouraged with their own work. So, I am at these events with the hope of encouraging them.”
Although he is busy with his own church and with writing books, Cymbala enthusiastically supports “anything that Franklin Graham does to proclaim the Gospel.
“Franklin has been led by God to aim at the number one target, not only the church of tomorrow, but its future leaders,” said Cymbala. “Reaching youth is the hardest mission field. When a child is just 10, 12, 14, 16, if Satan can snuff out their faith or scar them for life, it’s very hard to turn that around.”
In fact, said Cymbala, when Billy Graham started preaching, people felt that the teen years were most crucial. “Forget that now. I’m meeting 11- or 12-year olds who have seen more of life than some adults. Where they live, the exposure to darkness, it’s crazy.”
But, he added, Christians should be the light of the world. “We’re the salt of the earth. And if we’ll just be what God intended us to be, America will be changed. Rock the Lakes is going to change people because it’s the church that God works through. Not the White House.”
In his role as pastor of The Brooklyn Tabernacle, Cymbala oversees a congregation of close to 16,000 people, but it wasn’t always that way. When he first assumed leadership of the church in the 1970s, the struggling congregation numbered less than 20 people and met in a small, run-down building surrounded by the physical and moral blight of the inner city.
The area was ripe with challenging social problems and urban decay—kind of a “forgotten mission field.” But Cymbala and his wife Carol believed that this was the very spot where God’s love could meet the most desperate of human needs.
Right away they realized the necessity of real prayer to secure God’s grace and power in their ministry. The Tuesday Night Prayer Meeting, though very small at the start, became a central feature in the life of the church and has remained so to this day.
“When you have a prayer meeting on a Tuesday with close to 3,000 people there calling on God, praying for you, it is a great encouragement,” said Cymbala. “And I have pastor friends I can call—you know, iron sharpens iron.
“But in the end, the main way any of us get encouraged is by being alone with the Lord. Open the Bible, talk to Him. Open your heart to God. Persistent calling upon the name of the Lord breaks through every stronghold of the devil, for nothing is impossible with God.
“For Christians in these troubled times, there is simply no other way.”
Jim Cymbala has been the pastor of The Brooklyn Tabernacle since 1971. He is also the author of the bestselling titles: Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire; Fresh Faith; Fresh Power; Spirit Rising; and The Heart of Ministry. He lives in New York City with his wife, Carol Cymbala, who directs the Grammy Award-winning Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.
Help Us Bring the Gospel to a Hurting Generation
Youth are starved for the hope of the Gospel. You can help bring them the love of Christ by donating to Rock the Lakes or other BGEA ministries.