We would ask you to pray for Cornerstone Baptist Church of Chicago, Illinois. The sanctuary is located in Hyde Park, near the University of Chicago.
Cornerstone is a miracle church. Courtney Lewis, founder and pastor, grew up in the Henry Horner and LeClaire Court projects in a home without a dad and was well on his way to a life of reprobation and violence. But there was a youth pastor who loved him and was patient with him. The first time the young Courtney attended a Sunday School class, he was kicked out for being unruly and uncontrollable. But the youth pastor didn’t give up on him. Eventually Courtney repented of his sins and put his faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He began to walk in the path of wisdom in the light of God’s Word, instead of the path of foolishness, and he stayed in school. Pastor Lewis’s mother died the year he graduated from high school, and that summer he moved to Fairhaven Baptist College in Chesterton, Indiana, where he completed a degree in theology. There he met his wife, Portia. She was saved through the bus ministry of a Baptist church in California. They have a good marriage and God has given them three precious girls that they are raising for Christ. In a culture where loving, stable homes are exceedingly rare, the Lewises are a shining example, not by their own strength and wisdom, but by God’s amazing grace.
Pastor Lewis and Portia came to Hyde Park in 2008 and started a new church with nothing but faith in God. Many souls have been saved, many lives changed, old homes re-built, new homes established, children loved, youth rescued from moral disaster, thousands have heard the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. The church uses the beautiful old King James Bible, the beautiful old sacred hymns, it preaches the old Gospel of salvation through Christ’s blood and old-fashioned Christian living based on God’s Word. It is a church where the Bible is believed to be the infallible Word of God from cover to cover, as it declares itself to be. It is a discipling church where the members are seriously educated in the Scriptures and taught how to study and interpret the Bible for themselves, which is a rare thing. A few years ago, the church was able to purchase the lovely old brick building where they now meet. Every step of the way, the church was a miraculous answer to prayer. It is a bright light in a very dark place.
Pastor Lewis has announced that the church intends to began congregating again this Sunday, May 18, in spite of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s executive order forbidding religious gatherings of more than ten people.
Pastor Lewis has told his people, “If you have been to work, to the grocery store, to any other business that has been open, then you should attend. The church building will be no less safe than any of those places. A week ago, I went to Walgreens with my daughter and I saw that 109 people are allowed in the store at a time. I think we will have a few less than that in the building.”
Pastor Lewis is following the CDC’s rules about wearing face masks, taking temperatures, etc., and is asking anyone who might be particularly susceptible to being harmed by the virus to stay at home. Every other pew will be taped off. The nursery will not be open.
On Friday, May 15, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot stated that she will act against churches that ignore the governor’s order, saying, “If there is a problem, I would rather be in conversation than in conflict. But to be clear, I am resolute that I must enforce the rules of the governor’s stay at home order” (“Woodlawn Church Set to Reopen,” Hyde Park Herald, May 16, 2020).
The church has legal counsel with First Liberty Institute, which has sent a letter to Gov. Pritzker stating that it will “assert any and all defenses available under the U.S. Constitution and applicable law.”
Pastor Lewis is not a rebel. He was a rebel before he was born again, but he is no longer a rebel. He simply wants to obey God, and he wants the government to give him the freedom to do that as guaranteed by the United States Constitution. God’s Word says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
No institution on earth is more essential than the church of Jesus Christ. You can’t find the knowledge of the true and living God and eternal salvation and the path of right living at a drug store, a hospital, a department store, the fire department, or city hall, and certainly not a liquor store, marijuana shop, or abortion clinic. Only a true New Testament church can prepare people for success in both life and death. Yes, in coronavirus time, the ministry of the New Testament church should be at the top of every “essential business” list.
If I were a government official, I would not mess with the church of Jesus Christ. This is eternal business of most serious gravity. This life is not the end of things.
“[Jesus Christ] Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell” (Colossians 1:15-19).
About 4,000 people have died of coronavirus in Illinois, a state of 12.5 million, which means that at this time the citizens have a 0.03% chance of dying with this particular disease. Statistically, about 90,000 people will die in Illinois this year. Of those, 25,000 will die of heart disease, 24,000 of cancer, 6,000 of stroke, 6,000 of accidents, 5,700 of chronic lower respiratory disease, 4,000 of Alzheimer’s, 3,000 of diabetes, 2,500 of kidney disease, 2,400 of flu/pneumonia, 2,700 of drug overdose, 1,800 of septicemia, 1,500 of firearm deaths, 1,100 of homicide.(“Stats of the State of Illinois,” CDC). About 36,000 unborn babies will be killed in the womb of their mothers in Illinois this year (not counting out-of-state women), many of them at the 11 Planned Parenthood clinics that offer abortion “services” (“Abortion Statistics,” 2018, Illinois Department of Public Health; “Abortion in Illinois,” Wikipedia).
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