80 - Back to Bethel
On September 23, 1900, Roderick Caesar was born in St.Lucia, W.I. In 1919, this young man joined the U.S. Army transport Merchant Marines and sailed around the world with this unit.
In June 1923 his ship came in from France and docked at the Brooklyn army base. Little did he know what this docking would mean to him, to Jamaica, NY, or to the world.
While his ship was in port he heard of a revival going on in Harlem and he thought he would go check it out. Sis. Harold, the evangelist brought the message forth with power, and young Roderick fell under conviction and surrendered his life to Christ. Like the disciples, Andrew and Philip, he went to tell his family how the Lord had saved him and his witness to them resulted in his entire family being saved. This was the beginning of a life of effective witness and service to God. Young Caesar joined the Harlem Pentecostal church under the pastorate of the late Bishop Pickering where he was nurtured and taught in the word of God. He began to teach Sunday School, became a deacon, did street meetings and was ordained an Elder by Bishop Pickering. He remained faithful in the work there until the Lord sent him to work in Jamaica Long Island in 1928.
Coming to Jamaica, he conducted cottage prayer meetings in his home and going from house to house. As the Lord blessed, people became interested and after a few years, it became necessary to rent a store front. On August 22, 1932, Bethel Gospel Mission was born on South Rd., Jamaica, NY with Elder Roderick R. Caesar as Pastor.
After nine years through times of blessing and testing and faithful service, Pastor Caesar was led to purchase 110–15 New York Blvd., and it became known as Bethel Gospel Tabernacle. Believing this move to be of God, he took seriously the great task of establishing the church in the community and winning souls to Christ. In 1944 the Lord saw fit to bless Pastor Caesar with a wife and partner in this ministry. Rev.Gertrude Caesar an ordained minister came into the work with a rich background of the word of God.
God gave to this union a daughter Beverly and a son, Roderick, Jr. In 1947 Pastor Cesar felt a definite need for a Bible school on Long Island and with the help of Rev. Gertrude Caesar the Bethel Bible Institute, the first school of its kind in Jamaica, came into being. In 1948 Pastor Cesar began the Full Gospel hour radio broadcast which is still today an outreach of Bethel, seeking to interest and win men and women to Christ through the Gospel.
There were many years of struggle, but God was gratefully present. As the church grew it became necessary to have the summer crusades under the "Big Green Tent" as it was known in those days.
The results were truly marvelous. Souls were saved and filled, the sick healed, much was accomplished through prayer.
Bethel soon outgrew the small church and Pastor Caesar with $7,000 and against the wishes of his Trustee Board began to erect the present building. Pastor Caesar felt the leading of God and that it was God's time to build.
Time will not permit going into the miraculous and Marvelous Way, God provided and led in the building of the Tabernacle - That's another history, but now we can say thank God for the wisdom, obedience and foresight of our godly leader.
Pastor Caesar always with the people in his heart, established six branch churches and placed ministers in them so those who lived afar could worship in their own communities and evangelize those areas.
In 1951, Pastor Caesar seeing the needs of his flock and feeling the church should minister to the whole man, founded the Bethel G.T. Federal Credit Union, which has indeed been a blessing to many.
In 1962 Pastor Caesar was elevated to the office of bishop in the United Pentecostal Council of the Assemblies of God Inc., serving as Eastern District Bishop and later as the National Bishop. He is now Bishop Emeritus of the District and National Councils.
God honored Bishop and Rev. Caesar by calling their son, Roderick, Jr.,Into the ministry. Having prepared himself, he served as pastor of Calvary Full Gospel Church until the Lord called his mother home in 1978, then Roderick Jr. came to serve as Assistant Pastor at Bethel.
In January 1980, the Lord again blessed Bishop Caesar with a helpmate, Sister Geraldine Caesar. She proved to be a blessing to our bishop at this time in his life.
In 1984 Bishop Caesar, feeling definitely lead of the Lord, turned the reins over to Roderick, Jr., and God has truly blessed his obedience.
God has honored Bishop with a wonderful family; His son Roderick Jr., Who is our senior pastor, a daughter Beverly, who is an ordained minister and our assistant administrator; a wife Geraldine, a godly example to women; a daughter-in-law Beverly who is also an ordained minister. He has four beautiful granddaughter, Rhonda Saunders, Naomi, Lydia and Elizabeth Caesar, and a grandson, Roderick Richardson, 111, the miracle baby.
Bishop was sightless for about nine years, but he had hidden God's word in his heart and quoted scripture and on many occasions brought us mini messages by phone on Sundays. He was active with the telephone ministry, praying for and counseling those who called.
Today there are hundreds of thousands of souls who came to know and accept Christ because many years ago, a 23 year old man went to "check out" a revival in Harlem.
We will forever thank God for Bishop's faithfulness, wisdom and foresight.
On Saturday, June 26th 1999, God called Bishop Caesar Sr.unto himself.
Because of this totally committed life we will honor the legacy left to us by Bishop Caesar,Sr. September 19-22, 2013 is a celebration where hundreds will come BACK TO BETHEL where it all began for so many.
By Beverly Caesar Sherod
Pastor Bishop Roderick, Jr., Bethel Gospel Tabernacle, 110-25 Guy R. Brewer Blvd., Jamaica, NY 11433. Tel: (718) 291-2676.