Coming from a fellowship of Apostolic churches called the Way of The Cross, Pastor Arthur C. Naylor has been part of the UPCI for 29 years. “When I was in the Way of The Cross, a friend of mine invited me to a UPC church,” he said. Eventually he, with the blessings of his pastor, became part of the United Pentecostal Church International and has served as the Home Missions Director, Presbyter and Superintendent of the New Jersey Metro District. He and his wife, Barbara, have six children, 16 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Today Bro. Naylor has spread the gospel in several other countries and continents: Ethiopia, Liberia, Canada, Philippines, Israel and Europe, and is now pastoring a multi-location church in Lambertville, New Jersey that he founded over 26 years. The church has evolved into a multicultural congregation. One location flourished into a powerful church with over 600 members from various racial and socioeconomic statuses. A trailblazer and a visionary, Bro. Naylor is a church planter. “I have three churches: one in Lambertville, one in Hamilton, and also one in Matawan, New Jersey,” he explained. “We’ve started ten churches and of those churches, two have started other churches. We were running between 300 and 400, but three churches started from ours this year. I’m actually in the process of retraining people because the pastors have their own churches now.”
The Role of Prayer
Although Bro. Naylor had already been exposed to the Apostolic doctrine in the Way of the Cross churches, it wasn’t until he visited a United Pentecostal church that he was baptized in the Holy Ghost after praying an innocent, spontaneous prayer. The preacher delivered a sermon entitled “The Adoption Date at the Orphanage” in which he compared adoption at the orphanage to how God adopts a person, who then becomes His. “When the sermon was over, I just lifted my hands and received the Holy Ghost,” said Bro. Naylor. “I had been in church for almost three years.” That initial experience was the beginning of several days of what could be described as an “out of this world” encounter. For four days he spoke in tongues. When he got home, his wife had to help him with simple tasks, such as removing his clothes and washing his face.
Is it any wonder that when Pastor Naylor founded the ministry he immediately named it First Pentecostal Prayer of Faith Church? It’s not just a name either; praying is what they do. “I was always taught that prayer was the main thing,” he said adamantly. “A church without prayer is not a church. If we are going to affect our world, we need to get people back on their knees. I put prayer in the name because I believed prayer should be the beginning and ending of what a church is supposed to be about.”
Pastor Naylor believes that prayer should be top priority — literally. “Every morning we have prayer at 5 a.m.,” he explained. “We meet up at one of the churches. We arrange it to where people can come at 6 and 7. We have another prayer session at 12. It is the foundation to the ministry. I started our church with nothing but prayer.” An average of 15 people attends regularly. Over the course of the day, 25 or 30 people attend prayer, although Bro. Naylor is currently pushing for a higher number.
Every leader at First Pentecostal Prayer of Faith Church attends prayer meetings. It is absolutely mandatory, according to the pastor. “Our department heads now meet Sundays at 9 a.m.,” he said. “Then we have prayer at 9:30 so that when the people arrive for the 10 a.m. service, the church is full of prayer.” Bro. Naylor believes prayer is a missing ingredient in many churches. “I don’t even let anybody get in my pulpit without prayer,” he said. “Prayer is the key to everything. Our ministers have to come in praying. If they have to open the service and they haven’t been at the altar, I’ll send somebody else up there. You shouldn’t do anything without prayer. It opens the windows of heaven. You can get up there and preach, but if there was no prayer before the preaching, you’re not opening the windows of heaven.”
A church committed to much prayer is bound to see miracles. Pastor Naylor related a miraculous story of a lady who had stopped coming to church. “Everybody said she was dying,” he explained. “She had cancer and was in a part of the hospital that nobody else was in. You couldn’t go into her room. Only one nurse was allowed in because of the cancer. When I went into the room, she was balled up in a knot. Just before I went in, I prayed and the Lord told me to tell her she was going to live. The doctors had already told her she might die that week. But the Lord told me to go to the hospital. I said, ‘Lord, are you telling me this lady is going to live?’ I walked in and called her name. She turned over and looked at me. She said, ‘Hi, Pastor.’ I said, ‘How are you doing?’ She said, ‘Well, to look at me, you might not think I’m doing so well.’ She pulled back the covers. Sores were broken out. I told her, ‘I know what I see, but the Lord has spoken to me and told me to tell you that you’re going to live.’ In one week, she was out of that hospital. She came back to the church, got baptized and saved and got her children in the church. She stayed there for over two years living for the Lord. She joined the choir. After two years, she passed away.”
The pastor also shared another story of a man who came into the church and then was told by the doctors that he had only a short amount of time to live. “The Lord blessed him and cured him,” said Pastor Naylor. “Another lady had cancer. She didn’t know we had prayed for her. She went back to the hospital and then brought us papers. The doctor said, ‘What’s going on? Why is there no cancer here?’ All the cancer was gone.”
Yet another man in the church who had lost his leg was in the hospital, and he didn’t want to live anymore. Pastor Naylor said to him, “God is saying He wants you to be a witness. You can’t let losing your legs stop you so that you won’t open the door. God said you’re going to walk again.” The man answered, “How am I going to walk?” But once he got out of the hospital, he was given two artificial legs. “He had no money because he was poor, no job or anything,” said the pastor. “Now he sings in the choir.”
Pastor Naylor’s faith in God as a pastor was no doubt a result of the faith that came in his early walk and ministry. Formerly a computer programmer and a bus driver, he had an experience while driving a bus. “I dropped a busload of people off in New York, and I was driving back empty to pick up another load in Hightstown and had just pulled off exit 16,” he explained. “I started praising and worshipping God and talking in tongues and all of a sudden I lost my vision. I didn’t realize where I was. I was just driving. It took me about 45 minutes before I got to exit 8. My vision returned to me just when I was coming up to exit 8. To this day, I don’t remember driving any of those miles on the turnpike at all!”
Bro. Naylor continued to have unique experiences with God. “Another powerful thing that happened to me is that I was preaching in the first Hispanic congregation I started,” he said. “I had to have an interpreter because I didn’t speak Spanish at all. I would read the scripture and have somebody interpret it. One day I came to church and the person who was supposed to interpret for me was sick. I said to myself, ‘What in the world am I going to do?’ Only a few people spoke English but not the rest. The Lord said, ‘Preach!’ The power of God moved in there like they knew what I was saying. Then a strange thing happened. A message came through in tongues and God gave me the interpretation in English. I said to myself, ‘Man, I wonder if that is right.’ A guy who spoke English came up to me and asked, ‘How did you know? That’s what the interpretation was.’ I said, ‘I had no clue.’”
Pastor Naylor said the married couples meet once a month and discuss things that pertain to them. This year he is making plans for the married couples to go away together for a retreat.
The church takes a slightly uncommon approach in ministering to their youth by doing more than the average ministry does: the youth meet twice a week as opposed to once a week. They hold their own services at the Hamilton, New Jersey location. “We’re really starting to build up our youth department,” he said. “Any church that’s looking for a great revival had better hold tight to the youth. That’s where the revival is going to come from. We are hosting The East Coast Youth Conference for the fourth year. We are getting them baptized, trained and filled with the Holy Ghost.”
Pastor Naylor believes in what he calls “the slow approach.” Soul winning is about forming and building relationships. “When I started the church, I taught all the home Bible studies, doing as many as three to four home Bible studies per week,” he said. “Of all the Bible studies I conducted, I never, ever invited anybody to church. But they ended up coming. If you have a good relationship with people, they will come where you are. Relationships between God and the convert and even relationships between the convert and the church should be built over as much time as is necessary. When I came into the faith, you had to tarry for the Holy Ghost. Sometimes somebody will come in and tarry for quite a while, and through that we began to develop relationships.”
More than anything, soulwinning is a passion of First Pentecostal Prayer of Faith Church. “Our Sunday School Department is probably the largest of all our departments,” said the pastor. “Every quarter we have a memory verse contest with first, second and third place trophies for all levels. We constantly promote winning souls. We have a soulwinner of the month, and we give out a plaque to the soulwinner of the year.”
Pastor Naylor believes evangelism is absolutely vital. “We still go out into the neighborhoods,” he said. “I go out too. We knock on doors, pass out fliers and tracts; the hands-on approach is still the best.”
The command ‘Go ye’ is not figurative with the church members; it is literal. Consequently, the spirit of the pastor is the spirit of the church. “Our early church was always on the go, always mobile,” he said. “We did a lot with starting Bible studies, going into the prisons and nursing homes. In the early days, our objective was that wherever we were we would always have an evangelistic team that went out — and we still have one that goes out every week throughout all three cities where our churches are located.”
Bro. Naylor and his congregations have a very lofty goal. “Our objective is to baptize somebody every week,” he said excitedly. “If I get a call at three in the morning to baptize somebody, I’m going to get out of my bed and baptize them. If one of the ministers can’t get there, I’ll do it. We’ll baptize them in whichever church is closest!”