East Lawrence, KS
By: Mark Schoenberg.
Eastside Bible Fellowship began about four years ago in East Lawrence, Kansas. Leading up to this, the Lawrence Bible Chapel had targeted this area for a new assembly. On Wednesday evenings, several car loads of people from the homeless shelter and Salvation Army would be transported to the Lawrence Bible Chapel for Bible study followed by a meal with the welcoming believers. There were other contacts through an established women’s Bible study at the local county jail. Neighborhood visitation by Samuel Mutfwang (now back in Nigeria, his homeland) helped bring about a weekly neighborhood Bible study at the East Lawrence Recreation Center. It was the only church some of the attendees knew and they called it “church.”
During this time in June 2010, the GNOM Team and “Good News, Eastern Kansas” made East Lawrence one of their targeted areas. Three thousand packets were hung on doors. Ministries included Kids’ Club at a local park and Cowboy Clinic for kids at a housing complex. The Lord opened up several venues, (Douglas County Jail) for Vicki Gaynier’s dramatic presentation of Corrie Ten Boom, Jabe Nicholson spoke on the subject “Does God Care?” at the downtown Community Building. One of the contacts from that summer was brother Keith, who continues to meet with us. We also met Stan, who called the designated phone number in response to the “Need Prayer, We Care” magnet. He doesn’t know how the magnet ended up on his refrigerator, but he was feeling far from God and longed for spiritual reality. He was one of two strangers who agreed to meet on a dark Tuesday evening in a thunderstorm at the South Park Gazebo. That was the beginning of a one-on-one Bible Study. Later, this Native American man was hired to remodel the Palathe Indian Center, which would became the home of Eastside Bible Fellowship. The building had been purchased by a local believer who hoped that it would be used for the Gospel. Its purchase was quite remarkable, in that it was never publicly listed on the market, but became available after inquiry was made.
Joe Bradshaw and Mark Schonberg (deacons at the Lawrence Bible Chapel) were exercised to ask the elders for their approval to start a new meeting. The elders said they would pray about it for a year. Meanwhile discussion continued. About a year later the elders said they were in full agreement. (At the time it seemed like a long wait, but definitely worth it. We have continued to enjoy good unity and heartfelt prayer support from the larger meeting, and the elders come and speak on Sundays from time to time.) How do you go from deciding to start a meeting to actually doing it? What level of management by the parent assembly is required? Not really knowing the answer, nothing happened for a while. Then the Workers and Elders Conference came to Kansas City in the fall of 2012, hosted by The Bible Chapel of Shawnee. The subject was ‘passing the baton’. Some of the elders from Lawrence attended. Several weeks later, they called Joe and Mark to meet with them. They said, “give us a date” and December 9 was decided upon. In advance of that date, at the fall conference, the local elders prayed and laid hands on Joe and San Bradshaw, and Mark and Mona Schonberg. On December 9, 2012, they and several other dear believers began meeting at the new building in East Lawrence. The next Sunday, Stan, Jr. visited for the first time. We had seen him on the roof of the building shingling with Stan, his father; but never inside. “Zaccheus…come down.” He made a profession of faith that very day after the fellowship meal, and was later baptized.
People have come and gone. A few have stayed, so we have grown a little. Our gathering is too small to hide interpersonal issues, which is good incentive to make things right. We are excited about “simple church” and enjoy gathering like a family. Generally, if visitors stay, it is because they are loved. Love is of God, largely untapped and underestimated. Please pray that we would grow in love and truth.
East Lawrence remains in need of Gospel witness and our efforts are feeble. Without a doubt people would respond if visited. We visited to home of one lady who came the next Sunday. She told us with tears, “We were waiting for you.” Often Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons precede us to the door in the community. It is a sad commentary that we are compelled to clarify, “No, we are not them”. On a positive note, two of us were visiting with an unbeliever on the sidewalk. Two young ladies walked up and gave us each a Gospel tract. They were Bible-believing Baptists concerned about our souls!
We are grateful for the many believers who have prayed and helped us. If you are in the area, come visit! We meet downstairs. (The upstairs is rented out to the Boys and Girls Club)
Eastside Bible Fellowship, 1423 Haskell Ave, Lawrence, KS 66044
7:00 Bible Study
Elders: Mark Schonberg 785-766-0867 Joe Bradshaw 785-865-6655
“For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.” 2 Cor. 4:15