“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16
Over the years, we have seen more and more opposition from the police as we have shared the gospel at events and recently in Philly. On a warm summer night, I headed out to South St. to witness and preach the gospel with some of my friends. I was giving out lots of tracts, when I saw a store owner come out to oppose us. He then proceeded to involve the police as we continued to proclaim the gospel. As five policemen converged on our area and watched, a woman came up to Mike Stockwell as he declared God’s word and exposed herself. This was the end of our night as Mike was cited for disorderly conduct. Supposedly, it is ok to walk around topless, but it is not ok to preach God’s word. The officers were just looking for a reason to shut our ministry down. It makes you wonder, “How much freedom to we really have in our country?”
Departure of the Summer of 2012
Our last beach outreach of the summer was at Rehoboth Beach, DE. Mark Johnson and I were joined by our friend Darrel Davis and his son Jeremy. It was a good week of preaching the gospel and handing out tracts. We ended our time by traveling to Ocean City, MD to hit the boardwalk with Frank Robertson and preached to large crowds at the sand sculptures while handing out a thousand tracts. I can remember two Catholic girls asking, “So how can I know whether I will go to heaven?” It was a blessing to share the gospel with them and point them to Jesus and not the Catholic Church as the means of salvation. One hour later, I opened up Isaiah 53 to share the Messiah with two Jewish ladies who were finishing their ice cream as the heard the gospel, while sitting on a bench next to us. On a warm afternoon at Seaside Heights, NJ, I was holding my cross, when a young man and his buddy said, “Are you ready for what?” They had been reading my cross, which states, “Are you ready?’ I was able to share Jesus with them and leave them a tract called, “This is your Life”. It is such a blessing to be able to share Jesus on the boardwalks of NJ, DE, and MD.
In the middle of August, my Dad traded time for eternity. Wendy and I traveled to NC to help my mom bring him home to Reading, PA from the beach house never thinking that my Dad would go to heaven that night. My dad struggled with Alzheimer’s disease for a number of years, and now is whole again and worshiping Jesus. My dad was a big help to me over the years and I will never forget the verse of scripture that he shared with me as I struggled with the call to ministry. Come, Follow Me and I will make you a fisher of men. If Jesus could make me a fisher of men, who was I to argue with him. For the last 28 years, I have trying to fulfill that calling from God. Thanks Dad for your encouragement and support. I miss you.
I am so grateful to all of you who helped us with school supplies this year. We had three large outreaches in the Logan and North Philly sections of the city. We were also able to supply a first grade classroom taught by one of our friends and to partner with our friend Pastor Ken Rozier for a community outreach next door to his church. Many moms, dads and kids heard about Jesus and their need to be saved.
Arrival of the Fall of 2012
Every fall is back to school time for our family. Adam is in his last year of high school, so for us it soccer season as we put on our soccer mom and dad hats. Wendy is back teaching this year after a year off and is teaching high school environmental science and tutoring kindergarten, first grade and second grade at two different private schools. It keeps her super busy. In my case, it’s back to the college campus to share the gospel with the students. We have had two new additions to our family this fall. Seth and Suzy were blessed with their third child, Joseph Alexander, (our third grandchild.) Just this past weekend, Jared married Crystal Sarah on Emerald Isle, NC, so we have added our second daughter in-law. It was a beautiful beach wedding on a beautiful fall day, but more importantly, it was a God honoring ceremony.
On a cool drizzly day, I headed to Kutztown University to meet Mark Johnson. The crowds are usually large on this campus with much interaction. It started out slow as the students did not want to stand out in the Drizzle to hear the word of God. As I paused from preaching between classes, I saw a familiar looking young man named Dan. Dan and I met at Delaware County Community College and now he is a student at Kutztown. Dan, who is an atheist, hung around all day and was talking to Mark when I heard him say, “Hey Joe, should I start reading the New Testament at the gospel of John.” Another student handed him a Gideon’s New Testament and said, “Take my Bible. I have another one.” We have had some good crowds at each college, even the tougher ones such as the University of Penn and the University of Delaware.
At Penn, it was hard plowing one day and then a large crowd developed with great interaction and all of a sudden the campus police dispersed the crowd. I was engaged in a conversation with a female student and all of a sudden I had a policeman on both sides of me. They smiled and nodded their heads as I continued to share the gospel with her. A few days later, we headed to the “cemetery”, which is my nickname for the University of Delaware. The crowds were small until Mike Stockwell joined us and two lesbians decided to make a sport of mocking us, which drew a large crowd. We ended the day with two hours of interaction with questions and answers. So far this fall, we have been to Temple, West Chester, Kutztown, Delaware, Penn, Penn State-Berks, Delaware County Community College and have been blessed to work with some other brethren who have stopped to help us as they tour the country. If our country’s future is to change, this generation must be reached with the gospel, because changed hearts will lead to a changed nation.
On one of our center city outreaches, Dave Braun and I met Sally Thomas. She wandered into one of our open air meetings near the Gallery Mall and has been working with us two to three days a week ever since. Sally has a deep passion to see people come to know Jesus. She gives out hundreds of tracts each week. Recently, I received a note from a woman who repented of her sins after reading one of the tracts that Sally gave to her. Her presence is a big encouragement to both Dave and I.
The Christmas season will soon be here. If any of you are planning on helping us with our Christmas stocking outreach, we will need the stockings after Thanksgiving and no later than December 1, 2012. Thanks for your willingness to help us with this project. If you have any questions, just contact us.
As a family, we thank you for your faithful support and prayers. We are blessed by your desire to be a part of our ministry here in Philly and beyond. God Bless You.
Proclaiming Jesus as Lord,
Joseph Toy, Jr.