Recently, I had the unique opportunity to interview inner-city missionary, Bishop Janice Hollis, about her unique missions work in the inner-city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. However, her ministry is not just confined to Philadelphia, but is also far-reaching around the world in various capacities for our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jim Linzey: What kind of Christian mission in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, are you involved in and how did this come about?
Bishop Hollis: Positive Youth Development that entails training leaders from adolescence to adulthood. As well as foreign education in Kenya, and Pakistan through our foreign mission campaign.
Jim Linzey: What kind of church do you pastor and how long have you pastored it?
Bishop Hollis: The church, Progressive Believers Ministries, in Philadelphia, is comprised of multiracial congregants. Many are educators, civic leaders, and blue collar workers. The ministry’s primary thrust is to develop informed leaders today to impact the future. We are tone setters: What I mean by that is – we believe literally in transformation in every sector. I’ve pastored for approximately 9 years.
Jim Linzey: What struggles do the inner-city youth face in your youth outreach? And where are the youth from? Tell us about this youth outreach.
Bishop Hollis: One of the prime difficulties with our youth is the ability to access harmful ideologies without limitation. The Internet, though, is a wonderful tool of advanced technology yet, but it is also the enemy of critical thinking development, impairs social enhancement, and have reduced most dinner tables to absentee teens because they’re surfing the web. Of course without supervision this is a tool of psychological destruction.
Most of the youth we serve are from single parent households. Our mentoring network T.Y.M.S. (Training Young Minds to Soar) provides participants with a comprehensive curriculum in leadership development, life skills, basic introduction to civics, cultural exchange, one-on-one mentoring for academic enhancement and spiritual enrichment.
Jim Linzey: Why, when and how did you become a Christian?
Bishop Hollis: I can recall wanting to experience a lifestyle I saw some of my relatives enjoy; they always seemed happy. At the age of 13, I began bargaining with God. Literally, I committed to serve him when I turned 18 if He would grant me access to accomplish a few things. Amazingly, my timeline to complete all those wonderful things was extended; I’m glad God has a sense of humor. Although my conversion did take place at 18; that was about the only thing I got right during that time. My next door neighbor was a pastor; he saw me reading my Bible regularly outside under the tree. One day he asked if he could speak to me. And from there my conversion took place.
Jim Linzey: As an advisor to Senator Arlen Specter, what opportunities do you take to assist him in making decisions that are pleasing to God and country?
Bishop Hollis: This tremendous endowment by God has afforded me opportunities to share solid principles, and provide debate on processes that are clearly defiant to God’s order. Not surprising at all, the Senator is always gracious, even when he disagrees with me. Yet, I know there is a spiritual journey to acquire truth. One obvious sign is the books added to his personal library. Many deal with deep theological studies about Christ, the resurrection, and hereafter. These are not typical books one readily entertains unless there’s something taking place internally.
Jim Linzey: Describe your role in National Bible Week 2009 and your upcoming role in 2010. What impact on America did this event have, and what media exposure did it have?
Bishop Hollis: I served as the 2009 Media Chair. And this year I’m working to assist the organization in a supportive role by contacting colleagues in the Baltimore area to encourage their participation.
The event stirred the consciousness of everyday citizens to increase daily reading. As a result many sought and have found a church home. We are still receiving requests to learn more about the movement.
The event captured national coverage. Pat Robertson was gracious to send a reporting crew [from CBN] to Philadelphia after learning of our mission to bring religious and civic leaders together to read the Holy Writ. Also, the organization celebrated the kickoff of Bible Week with a marvelous concert that featured numerous recorded artists, yourself, Retired Major Jim Linzey, noted scholars and support of Philadelphia’s present Mayor Michael Nutter, and former Mayor Dr. Wilson Goode who is now an ordained pastor.
In addition, numerous newspaper articles were written by the city’s major papers.
Jim Linzey: As an African-American female Bishop who is involved in evangelism, the pastorate, the social Gospel, and politics, what are the ramifications of your ethnicity?
Bishop Hollis: That’s a great question. Ironically, many say that I’m not Black or not Black enough. I am, however, of mixed race. My maternal grandfather was Caucasian.
Jim Linzey: How would you describe your future involvement in the Military Bible Association and its forthcoming “Leader’s Bible” translated by Military Chaplains?
Bishop Hollis: I’m serving in the capacity of Media director and look forward to expanding the project through all media portals, and to increase sponsorship among clergy and families of military personnel to ensure every solider has access to the Word of God in a translation they can more easily digest.
Jim Linzey: I understand that, as the candidate for Lt. Governor for Pennsylvania on the Independent ticket, you are the running mate for the Governor Candidate Jay Russell, who is also a born-again Christian and son of Christian missionaries. Without getting into politics, what are the Christian values you both have in common, and how do these Christian values effect your regard for human life and dignity, and your possible role as public servants?
Bishop Hollis: Yes, I’m running on the Independent ticket and thus far the journey has been immensely rewarding. It has provided a unique opportunity to remind the world of sacred history: to every secular leader, God assigned spiritual leadership to speak the edicts of the kingdom; to some degree, this has been lost due to the overuse and misunderstanding of separation of Church and State. Jay Russell and I both believe the danger in removing God from the national conversation will only lead to deeper alienation and affronts to the Lord. We have a strong platform to promote family, faith and service to the country. I value the position to recapture and reset the tone as a public servant – we can’t have a healthy nation without a healthy relationship with its CREATOR!
Jim Linzey: Bishop, thank you for your time sharing about your vital outreach to the inner-city youth of Philadelphia. Your experience will be an inspiration to missions around the globe.
A personal note:
It was a sincere delight to interview Bishop Hollis. From working with the Bishop in National Bible Week to strategizing about the forthcoming outreach through The Leader’s Bible translated by Military Chaplains, she is a genuine woman of faith. – Jim Linzey
Bishop Janice Hollis is primarily involved in ministry to the youth of inner-city Philadelphia, but she is also the president of Hollis Media Group, author of “The Epic Journey…Barack Obama,” Pastor of Progressive Believers’ Ministry, an aid to Senator Arlen Specter. And the media consultant for Military Bible Association, which is preparing to publish “The Leader’s Bible” translated by Military Chaplains. Bishop Hollis is, furthermore, the Associate Producer of a contemporary version of the story of David and Bathsheba, called “Iniquity.”
Dr. James (Jim) F. Linzey is the president of the Military Bible Association, senior editor of The Leader’s Bible translated by Military Chaplains, author, speaker, and producer of “The Holy Spirit Today with Dr. Verna Linzey” television programs. He frequently appears as a guest on various radio and television programs. He is a freelance writer and retired from the military after serving for nearly 24 years as a military chaplain. He served as the number one chaplain for the largest mobilization and demobilization mission in the continental United States in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the first full time chaplain for The Leader’s Training Course in the US Army Cadet Command.