This month we hear from one of Biblical’s most recent grads – Mark Novales. Mark graduated from our Urban LEAD program last year and is doing a great job planning a church-planting-church in Northeast Philadelphia. You will not find a more passionate pastor committed to living in mission with Jesus. Please take a minute and pray for Mark and his family when you are finished reading his story.
Here is his story:
I began my studies at Biblical Seminary in February 2011. I completed all the requirements for an Urban LEAD Master of Divinity in the Fall of 2013. Shortly after graduating from Biblical, my family and I planted a church in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia! CityReach Philly was birthed on September 15, 2014 at Northeast High School. After 6 months we have been used to reach the ONE who is far from God and have begun to see people become passionate followers of JESUS! We recently conducted 12 baptisms! God has also miraculously opened the doors of Tarken Park Recreation Center where we hold weekly Reach Group meetings (discipleship classes).
Our goal is to host a missional event every month. To date, we have fed, clothed and provided blankets for over 600 people in the city. Other events we’ve hosted include a free community block party, God Belongs in My City prayer walk, back to school backpack give-away, teacher lunch/breakfast at the high school, Paint Day at the high school, and monthly nursing home services.
We have been blessed to be able to sponsor a flag football team. Currently, we average over one hundred people at our Sunday worship services. God has exceeded every one of my church plant dreams!
Our church motto is “What does God want?” Our vision is to plant multiple churches in the city as well as neighboring cities in Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
My family has been extremely instrumental in our church. My wife currently leads the women’s ministry as well as the Cityreach Kidz ministry (She preaches as well). My son, Mark (15 years old) sings with our worship team and heads up our signage team. Joseph (12 years old) plays a huge role in our children's ministry. I’ve been able to see both of my son’s gifts and talents thrive!
My wife and I are bi-vocational pastors. Wanda is the CEO of Panamerican Academy Charter School, and I am currently on active duty US Army orders serving as a Major at Ft. Dix, NJ.
My favorite Biblical Seminary memory is one that IMPACTS me still today. On my first day at Biblical Seminary, Dr. Anderson began our class asking us the following question: “What would your community say if one day God ripped your church out of its present location? Would they be glad that there would now be parking or less noise?” That question stirred in my heart like no other. Although, I was part of some great churches, we didn’t necessarily impact our community. This question stayed within me throughout my time at Biblical and continues to stir within me. It led me to plant a church for His kingdom.
Some quotes that kept me going are: “God wants it more than you!” “God is the Senior Pastor of our church”
You can "LIKE" our church on Facebook (cityreach philly). May the Holy Spirit stir in your heart so that you can reach God's purpose for your life.