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Before community day I prayed that all who were invited would feel compelled to come.  I longed to fellowship and worship together with them because so many of the friends I have made in the neighborhood already feel like part of my community and my church.  They may not know it yet but each has played a role in my life.   Many serve along side me, as the hands and feet of Christ, challenge me with their Bible questions, and connect heart to heart with me through prayer.  Community day to me was just a small sample of what Heaven will  be like – where we will come together and worship as one body and family from Sabbath to Sabbath.  There we will all understand each other speaking one language.  For now we pray for the gift of tongues and the Holy Spirit to come upon our humble meetings as we seek to reflect him to our neighborhood in Spirit and in truth.

– Miriam Bernstein


Simplicity worker Andrew Carroll with one of the neighborhood kids

For most of my adult life I’ve admired the way that good fathers have been able to care for their families — providing for them, paying attention to their needs, all while being firm and decisive, yet gentle. This in turn put a desire in me to be a good father, too. As God has grown me, He has shown me the particular areas of my life that needed to be healed, one being the relationship with my own father.

I have recently been studying childhood development and how my early experiences have affected my adult life. I’d like to say my childhood was generally good but there were many times I felt unsafe, rejected and emotionally abused. My father was emotionally distant, and I’ve seen him struggle with so many different issues. For years I struggled with overcoming my own sense of rejection.

When I first became a Christian, I thought, How can I tell other people about Jesus when I still have lingering feelings of doubt? I believed in the promise of new life but I couldn’t see how God was going to overcome the deeper conflicts in my life, the difficulties that I inherited from my own family history.

One of the things that God has resolved for me is forgiveness. So often in our culture we’ll hear the phrase “forgive and forget.” Maybe you’ve heard people elaborate on this idea by saying things like “Just move on,” or “They’re no good, you don’t need them in your life.” Even though we may push people out of our lives, there may still be the longing to reconcile with them and have peace. We’ve all faced rejection and abuse of some type and we desire to be better off in some capacity.

I’ve recently seen the 10 Commandments in a new light. Some may think of them as arbitrary rules but I’ve heard more noble minds consider them as blessings, and how when we become God’s children they help us resolve the ongoing complications of having a selfish heart.

Throughout God’s Word He asks us to remember His commands and how He has delivered us:

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”

—Exodus 20:8


“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt,
and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.”
—Deuteronomy 5:15


“Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered.”
—1 Chronicles 16:12


“Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant; I formed you; you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me.
—Isaiah 44:21


“Remember the word that I said to you.”
—John 15:20

God desires us to put His law in our minds so that it would become permanently fixed in our memory banks to constantly remind us who He is. Our brains are the most complicated, delicate piece of machinery ever conceived. They are finely tuned to record and categorize the information that we absorb through our five senses. As a defense mechanism our minds partition abusive memories and black them out that we might process them appropriately at another time. For years we may have been trying to push things out of our minds when that is the exact opposite of what they were created for.

James writes a powerful metaphor about the law and its power to reveal sin and abuse:

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
— James 1:22-25

The law is like a mirror that shows us the sin in our lives and helps us realize our need of the cleansing power of our Savior. The 10 Commandments, God’s love codified, reveals that we have suffered abuse. Rather than pushing it out of our minds and burying it, God longs to nudge our conscience into recognizing our need for His healing touch. For example, we read, “Honor your mother and father.” How can some individuals honor their parents when they may be so dishonorable? Some do not even know one or both parents! Not everyone has a great relationship with their family and that’s the point that God is trying to make. Jesus desires to bring peace and a sense of completion to our lives. Sin has separated us from each other but Christ can make our relationships whole.

“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself
and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”
—2 Corinthians 5:18

The concept of salvation is more than just living with Jesus in an earth made new for eternity. It is about a better life here and now. It’s amazing that the Greek word for salvation also means healing — not just physical, but mental, emotional, social and spiritual. Reconciliation is what God gives us to be at peace with one another. Others may not be able to forgive us but we can know in our own hearts that we have been made whole.

So many in the Church are suffering because they are still stuck in the old way of thinking: if something is too painful, I’ll just ignore it. It has even caused some physical pain! God can overcome the hurt we’ve suffered. When we look at the course of our lives we may think that because we have so much baggage, how can God work this all out? As we let Christ into our lives and hearts, He promises us that when we constantly remember His ways and His laws, that He will work miracles. There are deep, dark things that are hidden in our minds that may never come to the surface on this side of eternity, but God says He’ll even heal those in time.

As Paul puts it:

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
—1 Corinthians 13:12

God desires to uncover all the abuse and rejection so that there may be no shadow of sin in our lives, that we may fully know ourselves as we are accepted in Christ. When Jesus returns, He will show us how He has healed every single doubt in our minds concerning the lie we once believed — that we were rejected and abandoned by Him, when in reality it was He who took our place that we might be set free.

“…He was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.”
—Isaiah 53:3-5

Our minds will be totally healed from the stain of sin. The pain that the memories caused will be banished and overcome by the realization that Christ has gained the victory over the things that once caused us so much grief.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
—Revelation 21:4

Now back to the beginning of my story. After ruminating on these things, it hit me: the reason I wanted to be a good father was not entirely from goodwill, but because I, out of frustration, wanted to show my dad how I could be a better father than he. I was angry and confused. God has shown me that if I had that attitude when raising children they wouldn’t turn out any better than I. God is the best father in the world and now with Him living in me, I don’t need to rely on my past experiences, ones of neglect and self-doubt. Now I can be the best that He longs for me to be because He has reconciled me to my father through Christ, and I can rely on His goodness and not my own. Now I can tell others about His grace and the healing power of the Gospel.

– Andrew Carroll

Scripture taken from the English Standard Version

JoshOnLeftBy 12:45 chattering and laughter begin to fill the Simplicity Outreach center in Allentown, PA, as a volunteer welcomes and registers the children arriving for the Sabbath afternoon Kidz Church program. More volunteers and Simplicity staff sit at tables ready to great their “tribe” and encourage them to color and memorize the week’s bible verse. After a healthy lunch, everyone joins together to sing and then goes station to station – playing games, making crafts, hearing stories, and learning about Jesus’ love.


Mariely_1One family heard about the Simplicity Kidz programs from their grandmother, Josette, who a Simplicity team member began studying with about a year ago.  Since attending the Simplicity programs, the children’s behavior has improved greatly.  We have also seen the fruits of them coming to the center by their increased interest in learning about God.  Their mother has noted that they talk more to others and their family about God.  The older children have all begun taking Bible study lessons, as has their mother, who also recently made a huge step by accepting Jesus as her Lord and Savior.

BekahAmandaPlease pray for this ministry as we continue to build deeper relationships and share Christ with the families and children in Allentown.


Waiting to know God

Posted by on 06.10.2014 in Uncategorized

No one answered the door. We moved on to the next house and rang the doorbell. As we were waiting, a woman opened the previous door and poked her head out. I smiled, went over and handed her an invitation to the upcoming Simplicity evangelistic series. We talked a little about the Bible series, and then, when a little girl came to the door, we showed the woman the programs that the center offers for children and youth. She got very excited about these activities because she babysits and has two teenage daughters. She was especially interested in the teen activities because, in the past year, she had started attending a Seventh-day Adventist Church and wanted her daughters to go to church, too. They don’t usually go with their mother because they don’t speak Spanish.

At this point we told her we were Seventh-day Adventists. She got very excited. She had been praying for God to open a way for her daughters to come to church and to get answers to all of their questions about God. She has only been studying for a year and the girls ask a lot of questions about the Bible that she doesn’t know how to answer. They don’t believe in God, and she has been praying that her whole family would know God and go to church together. Before leaving, we had prayer with the mother and met her oldest daughter. The lady told us we were an answer to prayer.

There are so many people who are waiting and longing to know God. They are praying for a way to meet Him, and when we are faithful to God He will use us to meet those people. We are to play a part in sharing the gospel, and it is such a faith-building experience to see God use us to tell others about Jesus!


Posted by on 03.02.2014 in Uncategorized


Thanks for stopping by our blog. In the coming weeks we will begin posting stories, videos, biblical principles for urban ministry, and much more! Our hope is that as we share what God has been teaching us and the stories of how he has been working here in Allentown, PA that you would be inspired to reach out in your city or town to share the Gospel of Jesus with those around you.

In the mean time heres a link to a presentation so you can find out a little bit more about Simplicity.

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