“"Upon This Rock", written by a former reporter for the New York Times, Samuel G. Freedman. It is the story of a black church in the heart of an American city, in a neighborhood of such poverty, crime, and despair that a visiting mayor once called it "the beginning of the end of our civilization." The book is about a remarkable community that has come together---a community that has daringly refused to accept a decline that seemed inevitable, a community that has come to experience miracles as everyday occasions. In little over a decade, Saint Paul Community Baptist Church has transformed one of New York City's most depressed areas into one that is vital, committed, and thriving, in the face of what often seemed insurmountable odds. I was at St. Paul’s in 1980 when the church had just moved into a former Jewish synagogue in East New York, which they had purchased amidst great opposition from leaders of their congregation. Under the leadership of its dynamic and often controversial pastor, Rev. Johnny Ray Youngblood, a man of extraordinary vision, St. Paul offers a message of hope for the present and future for those who would step out in faith to grasp what God has already made available to them. What will always remain with me is the fact that Pastor Youngblood likened the challenge of St. Paul to that of "Nehemiah" and his attempts to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem after they were destroyed by the Chaldeans. Youngblood's cited that, "Anytime you set yourself in a proactive way to build for God, the enemy will try to stop you", however what he noted from Nehemiah’s response: "When you are doing a great work for God, don't come down from the walls, don't cease the work" Here then we have the "Challenge and Response" in the midst of crisis. We do well to note that though "Nehemiah" lived thousands of years ago, it could very well be, yesterday or today, or even tomorrow. ”
J.A. McClure wrote this review Thursday, October 25, 2007.