Faith: Transforming Mind, Body & Community

When it comes to inspiring vision among people no matter their age, background or ethnicity one Central New York church and it’s Senior Pastor, a recently published author, truly take the lead. Revs. John and Lisa Carter, Senior Pastors of Abundant Life Christian Center have made it their mission to inspire all people to reach their fullest potential by looking beyond their current circumstance into places where the possibilities are only limited by their level of faith and vision. In his new book titled, The Transformed Life, Rev. John Carter takes the reader on a journey of transformation that begins with the reader and ultimately impacts the community in which they live.  In the book he details the process that God uses to transform hurting and lost individuals into His very own children. When asked where the process of transformation begins, Rev. John Carter replied, “Everyone wants to change. There is something inside each of us that longs to be better, but real change, radical transformation requires hard work. Very often we try to make changes yet we keep coming up short. This occurs because we fail to recognize that the first step to transformation begins with God. Once a person understands who God is and who God has made them to be they can from that place begin to examine their life and the areas in their life in need of change and find the power and energy to make lasting change!”   The book is quickly becoming a discipleship tool for local churches, bible study groups and individuals who by using it as a devotional are discovering great purpose for their lives. The Transformed Life is available in English, Spanish and Russian.

The core mission of AbundantLifeChristianCenter is discipleship. By aiding in the spiritual maturity of every believer and investing in the journey of their growth and spiritual development the believer will find new purpose for their lives that will benefit the individual, their family, their community and beyond. Bringing the applicable and timeless truths of the Bible into the vernacular of this generation Rev. John Carter addresses relevant “real life” issues faced by people today and offers a sometimes overlooked alternative: vision. 

Vision is the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.  The vision of Rev. John Carter began on January of 1990, with little more than a guitar, 10 borrowed metal folding chairs, a cassette player, and a pulpit that doubled as a microwave cart, eleven people who met in Pastor John and Lisa’s apartment for the first service of what was then known as Abundant Life Christian Fellowship. More than two decades and 6 rooms later, AbundantLifeChristianCenter now ministers to over 3,300 members through four services and dozens of outreaches every week. People come from all over the central NY region — Binghamton to Watertown, Rochester to Rome. With over 35 different nationalities represented in this congregation, the original vision of a church of “all nations” has come to pass. One need only to stand in the foyer of this multicultural church to witness the euphony of languages including Spanish, Ukrainian, Mandarin, Arabic and Swahili among others amidst the friendly and welcoming smiles and hugs.

Pursuing their vision to make disciples, develop churches and reach the world Revs. John and Lisa Carter embarked on a journey not only to bring the message of vision and hope to the congregants of their church, but to take that message outside of the walls of Abundant Life and bring it to the community at large. By way of numerous outreaches the church has managed to counsel, feed, clothe, house, love, teach and inspire scores of individuals who would otherwise remain invisible and alone. In 2001, after participating in a reading program and reading to a group of children at Blodgett Elementary, an 89-year-old landmark on Oswego Street serving some of the city’s poorest children, Rev. John Carter left heartbroken by the condition of the schools library and set out, together with his congregation, to build a library that would not only house all the books the children of Blodgett Elementary could ever dream of, but a Roman ampli-theatre reading area, a space shuttle computer lab and even dinosaurs coming right out of the walls!  The library would be a source of inspiration for the children of the near west side community giving the residents a lasting sense of vision and hope. The Dream Center at Blodgett Elementary was one of the first large projects undertaken by Mercy Works, a non-denominational non-profit established to promote the church’s urban mission of giving Syracuse’s youth a sense of purpose and vision. Just a few years later Mercy Works set out to create a center where Syracuse’s youth could be mentored and equipped to succeed academically and vocationally.

The VisionCenter housed in a 1930s masonry building at 1221 Salina Street came into existence in 2005 as a venue for touching, teaching, mentoring and positively impacting the lives of middle school, high school and young college students through a variety of programs. Today they are reaching young people with inspirational and life changing programs like:

• iCan- A free hands-on class where students build, program and test a variety of LEGO MIND- STORMS NXT robots. Students will learn how to build sturdy structures, work with gears and computer program in NXT-G. Whether the participant is brand new to programming and robotics or an aspiring engineer, this class will expand their knowledge while having fun.

• Teen Tech- This exciting program provides Syracuse youth, ages 12-17, hardware and software training in Microsoft Office (MS Word, Excel, Publisher and PowerPoint). Teens put new skills to the test and compete for cash prizes in the Teen Tech Business Challenge. Plus, upon graduation participants will receive a FREE refurbished computer/monitor!

• Synergy- A unique professional development program that provides goal-oriented college students with an opportunity to learn skills that will advance them further in their academic and professional careers, and contribute to the future of Central New York’s workforce and community.

• Passport 2 Vision- Geared towards high school girls and their mothers Passport 2 Vision builds relationship & communication skills, self-esteem, and also addresses issues like teen pregnancy.

With the goal of establishing a visible witness to Christ, members of AbundantLifeChristianCenter also go out twice a month, knocking on the doors of some of Syracuse’s poorest offering free groceries, a word of hope and prayer.

Beyond it’s own backyard and borders the members of AbundantLifeChristianCenter have responded with financial, material, physical and spiritual support during catastrophic events.

These are just a few:

• Hurricane Katrina August 2005. Abundant Life brings relief with aid to many who lost homes, family members and were in much need of ministry during this devastation.

• The 2010 Haiti earthquake hitting approximately 25 kilometers (16 mi) west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital. Abundant Life responds with a 30-person relief team that traveled from the U.S. to Haiti.

• The 2011 tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri, late in the afternoon of Sunday, May 22, 2011. Abundant Life responds with a team of 40 volunteers to help clear debris and minister to victims.

• The 2013 tornado that occurred on the afternoon of May 20, 2013 impacting Moore, Oklahoma, and adjacent areas. Abundant Life responds by helping victims recover valuables and rebuild their lives.

Rev. Carter states, “We believe that God has commanded the Church to be an agent of His grace in this world by performing charitable works on behalf of the poor, meeting the spiritual and practical needs of the community. We desire to establish a visible witness to Christ by providing care for the suffering and developing creative solutions to enable the spiritually and socially oppressed to achieve their potential. ‘Let your light so shine among men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven’” (Matt. 5, James 1:27).

For more information about Mercy Works and the various programs offered at the VisionCenter please contact Gina Rivers, 315-435-6934,  For information on where to obtain copies of the Transformed Life by Rev. John Carter in English, Spanish or Russian visit

 “The renewing of the mind is the single most important factor in living the transformed life. If we will change our minds, we can change our lives. If we can change our lives, God can change our world through us”!

-Rev. John Carter

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