Pastors Sam and Tilly Giresi are the pastors at the House of Mercy Mission. It all began in 1979 when they began An Evening with Jesus Fellowship in the home. In 1982 it officially became a church. They met in North Arlington, NJ in a Presbyterian church. Shortly thereafter, the Pastors and their congregation began praying for a building of their own.
In 1985, Pastor Sam, a furniture salesman, returned to Albert’s Furniture Store located at the present Mission site, 573 Springfield Avenue in Newark, to help his nephew and another gentleman who were having financial problems with their business. Mr. Al Fastow, the owner of the store, came up from Florida and met with Pastor Sam. At the meeting Mr. Fastow inquired about Pastor’s Sam church in North Arlington and its legitimacy (ie., registered with the IRS and proper authorities). Upon receiving the answers, Mr. Fastow donated the building to Pastor Sam for his church.
In the meantime, Pastor Tilly was involved with Women’s Aglow Fellowship and initiated a Newark Chapter. Pastor Tilly met Neil and Andrea Hickey, who had founded the House of Mercy Mission which was operating out of the convent. The Hickeys expressed a desire to speak at the church in North Arlington to promote the Mission, and also indicated they were being called to Africa and they were looking for a minister to take over the Mission. Immediately, Pastors Sam and Tilly realized they were the ones, and the building being donated to the church would house the Mission. Once the transition was made, Pastor Sam sold all the furniture, making room for the new church and mission.
The new building was in poor condition and needed a lot of work. The Lord provided all the work including sending painters, electricians and even supplied pews, donated by a Catholic Church in Newark. A construction company donated their time and material, $68,000 worth, and renovated our new building. Two new classrooms, bathroom with a shower, upstairs bedroom and prayer room, were all done by professional construction workers, electricians, plumbers etc. at no cost to us. The first service for the General Assembly & Church of the Firstborn was on Sunday, November 9, 1986.
When the thrift shop opened, people began donating clothes and calling for pick-ups. We started a Sing, Spell, Read and Write Program for the children after school headed up by Sister Joanne King. As time went by Dan Cota, a Christian gentleman, built the kitchen and food pantry. Each time there was a need we petitioned the Lord, who answered our prayers, “…but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).