DAY 4: Tuesday, June 28
The fourth day of ministry is always a tough day – it is the day that the pace of New York City life and ministry catches up to you. As we had done yesterday, we spent the morning at Calvary Baptist Church. After worship that lifted our souls, we had the privilege of hearing from Jody Chadban. Jody and her family are originally from Australia, but after hearing God’s call for them to minister in New York, they packed up and moved to the other side of the world in obedience. Everything has not been smooth sailing for them since the move, but we were reminded to tell of God’s goodness, not only when a trial is over, but in the midst of the difficult times. Our students were also equipped to share the gospel with the large Jewish population in the city as they heard from Stewart Weinisch. Stewart is a Jewish native of New York who realized that Jesus was the true Messiah and now works for Jews for Jesus, spreading the good news to his own people. After being encouraged and equipped, we grabbed lunch and headed out to parks. Students again sought out opportunities to speak to strangers, to ask them questions and hear their stories. We focused on prayer today, praying throughout the day that God would bring people into students’ paths that they could share the love of Christ with. Many students were able to share the gospel today and though not everyone accepted it, we know that seeds have been planted. We returned to Calvary for much needed dinner and heard stories from students and leaders from all of the church groups about the amazing way that God worked through conversations all around the city. We took the time to pray for each story, praying that God would be at work, even after we leave. The day ended with us hearing from Matt Fearey, a pastor from Idaho and one of this week’s NYGO Task Force leaders, who challenged us to partner with others as we share the gospel.
Mission log, star date June 28th, our mission to spread the gospel to the lost people of New York. Today started out poorly – Laurel and I went to Union Square Park and walked around looking for people to talk to, when Laurel spotted someone that seemed good to talk to. So she told me to go talk to him (she had elected me as leader the previous day). When we talked to him it did not go very well, we left discouraged and defeated. We sat on a bench and prayed, we also talked about random things. Then out of nowhere a group of people came up and started talking to us, we soon found out that they were missionaries some from New York and some from Conestoga PA. The one showed us an evangelism tools, his name was Manny, (ask Laurel to see) this had given us a new zeal to spread the word. But first we practiced, sadly by the time we had finished it was time to leave. We once again felt defeated and were discouraged (but I bought her ice cream, so we felt better). Then when we were on the subway Laurel was showing the others the trick and I saw a man watch her do it. When she had finished I saw his eyes light up and I decided to talk to him, he said that he wasn’t a Christian but went to church with a friend and had a Bible that he read. His name is Luis and I was able to pray for him, it felt so good to be able to pray with someone.
I learned today that God uses our failures to do things because if we had not done poorly with the first conversation then we would not have met Manny and if we would not have met Manny then we would not have met Luis. I also learned how I need a partner, because without Laurel then I would not have talked to the guy, we would not have learned the trick, and never have met Luis.
I was very nervous for this trip that I was about to talk to people I did not know, but I kept praying for help. When we went to our first park it was a very uncomfortable experience, I got rejected many times and I also got spit on and my stomach rubbed by a random stranger while he reached for my pockets for cash. When we went to our second park today it was a different story, I got rejected many times and all I wanted to do was to give up, but I prayed with my friends and right after that I met a homeless man that was really passionate about God and he told me that I was doing a great job and that I’m respecting God a lot and after an hour long discussion I felt great. I then went to another homeless person and she started to read the Bible that I gave her but didn’t really understand it, so I explained the whole Bible to her for about over an hour, then after the whole discussion she had a better understanding about the Bible so I asked her “did you ever accept Jesus into your heart?” and she said no, so I asked her if she would like to and she said yes and right there she became a Christian!
DAY 5: Wednesday, June 29
After pouring our hearts and souls out to the people of New York for the past few days, today was a much needed free day! Thanks to our gracious leaders, students were able to sleep in and get breakfast delivered to their hotel rooms. We then departed on our day exploring the city we have called home this week. We started by going to Brooklyn Bridge Park, a new park in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge with several different active piers. We were able to relax, play frisbee and basketball, all with the Manhattan skyline in the background. After a quick stop at the busiest Chick-Fil-A we have ever seen, we then made our way to Central Park. Students teamed up with leaders and took advantage of all that the park had to offer. While some took naps, others went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art or explored. We finished our day off with dinner and shopping in Times Square. Though it was our “free day,” many students still took advantage of opportunities to talk with people, sharing the love of Christ as we traveled, relaxed and ate. This was so exciting to see as we have been reminded this week that when we go home, it is usually ordinary people, doing ordinary things, in a missional way, that God uses for the greatest impact!
Pray for students as they have to transition from their free day back into a ministry mindset. Pray that they would make the most of their opportunities tomorrow, that God would use our last full day in New York to change us and change the people we speak to.
Today my brother James and I went to go get some drinks because we were hot from walking around all day. While we were in line, James saw the guy in front of us had a hat that said Buddha on it. Because James wants to go over to Asia some day, which is predominantly Buddhist, he wanted to talk to the guy with the hat. After we get our drinks, James and I go over and start a conversation with him and his sister/girlfriend. They both spoke Thai, but the girl spoke a little English. Even though it was hard to talk to them, because of the language barrier, James was able to explain to them what prayer meant to us and we were able to pray for them. After the conversation, I felt encouraged by the fact that even though it was our free day and I didn’t think they’d want to talk, James was still on mission and sharing what God was doing in his life. For that I thank God for the passion that he has for people, and the joy you can see in his face whenever he talks about God.
The past week has been fun and challenging. It was super cool to be able to worship in a totally different environment that was just very inspirational. The messages were very personal to me and changed a lot of my views during this trip. However, as inspired I was after worship to speak to people, it did not go the way I expected. It was a lot tougher for me to start this one conversation. When I finally got over my doubt our conversation took a very quick turn as I found myself taking out my Bible in a few minutes. Even though it was cool to take out my Bible, I was then faced with many questions that I didn’t know the answer to. It was was hard for me as I soon found out that the person I was talking to was a Jehovah’s Witness. He soon described his reasoning and it felt as if he had no faith or trust in the word. He wanted the exact answer and felt as if there were many lost connections. My prayer request would be for this person (his name is Caesar) and that he would find the willpower to have faith in God’s plan for him. Over this past week I have learned that I need to have more trust in God’s plan and be able to pray more personally with him. This trip has just been a life changing and I’m very thankful that I had the opportunity to speak to people and learn more about God’s love and how to have trust in him.
Tonight was so encouraging to my heart! After the students in my pod group and I each had a chance to share a prayer request of specifically what we wanted to see God do, or a specific person we wanted to talk to tomorrow, we prayed that the God who can answer all of these requests and more than we could ever think, would do His will. After we were done praying, I had each of the students say something encouraging about each of the other students in our group. We all went around the circle and shared a few great attributes about each person in our group or something specific that we had seen them do over the last few days that could help them during their day of evangelism tomorrow. Each of the students had something so beautiful to say about each other and about myself as a leader, and it was awesome to be able to hear encouragement. Sometimes, the week and certain conversations can be discouraging, but I think that the words of a partner in the Gospel are so beneficial to lift the spirits of the students! Keep praying for encouragement and unity towards each other and that each specific request that the students prayed for would be answered in God’s plan!