Friday, July 29, 2011

NYC Mission Trip 2011

Day 7 July 28, 2011

Our last full day in New York City was the longest day so far!  Sam began the morning by reminding us that while it is Thursday for us, it was Monday for those that are still lost in New York City.  This meant that we needed to be working as though it was our first day, not our last.  There are still people that need to hear about the joy of the Lord’s salvation.   With that, we headed to our last designated ministry area, Bryant Park, in Manhattan.

 Bryant Park was filled with the local business crowd on their lunch break, tourists, and a crowd of people listening to a free concer.  Needless to say, it was packed!  We had an hour and a half to walk around doing one-on-one canvassing in the park.  We did not have our paint board to attract a crowd, or a prayer station that could be a catalyst for telling the Gospel.  Instead, we had a few tracts, surveys, our rope tricks, and most importantly, our Bibles.  This area was extremely intimidating.  Not many people could be bothered to let us talk with them, or to even take a tract.  Those that would talk with us thought that they had a better version of God and “religion” than what the Bible says.  Even though it was difficult, the Lord still opened up opportunities for us to share His word.  We were able to present the entire Gospel 43 times, and one person gave their life to Christ!

After eating lunch in Bryant Park, we began our tour of Manhattan.  We walked through the beautiful Central Park, which was a sanctuary in the middle of the city.  Next we headed to South Street Sea Port to do some shopping and eat dinner overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge.  After dinner we rode the Staten Island Ferry past the Statue of Liberty.  It was a nice time to sit back and watch the sun setting over the water.  On our way to Ground Zero Sam stopped us and told us his first-hand experience during 9-11.  It was eye-opening to entire team, and made the visit to Ground Zero more meaningful.  We ended our tour in the overly crowded Times Square.  We had 45 minutes to run around and do a little sight-seeing and souvenir shopping.  We were so tired by the time we got on the subway, but we had a blast.  We did not get back to church until after midnight, and we could not wait to get to bed!

Praise God that the van was fixed, and we have a safe ride home.  Please keep us in your prayers as we travel home.  The prayer focus for today is Missions.  Pray for all the missionaries around the world and back home.  Pray also for Sam and his Open Air team here in New York.

NYC Mission Trip 2011

Day 6 July 28, 2011

This has been another long day.  We will post more details later.  However, all of our vehicles appear to be running, and we plan to arrive home on time (10 pm pickup).  Please pray for safe travels home.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

NYC Mission Trip 2011

Day 5 July 27, 2011

“We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly.” 1 Corinthians 4:12-13a.  This verse came to mind when reflecting on today’s events.   We left the church a little before noon and headed to Brooklyn, right near the Brooklyn Tabernacle where we were Sunday.  We broke into three groups; two of them used the paint boards to evangelize, and the third set up a prayer station.  The group at the prayer station received similar responses as yesterday.  Many people were blessed by the prayers that were lifted up for them, and three people accepted Christ as their Savior. 

The groups that were heading up the paint board stations ran into some spiritual warfare, but with the Lord’s guidance, they were able to stand firm, “fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” It seemed that one after another, there was someone from another religion that tried to distract the groups from they were there to do.  The situation escalated when a black supremacist became vehemently and verbally aggressive.  He was physically imposing and threatening, and tried to run us off and publically humiliate us.  The teams responded wonderfully, not giving them a platform to dishonor the Gospel, standing bold and strong for Christ. 

We finished our ministry in the projects in Queens, where we set up free kids programs again.  Those have been a highlight for the team both days.  It brings so much joy to us to watch the kids eagerly learning about Jesus.  One of the little girls that came to the program and accepted Jesus as her Savior said that when her mom got home from work she was going to tell her about Jesus! What a way to bring our ministry to a close for the day!  All in all, there are 15 celebrations in heaven tonight, and 68 seeds planted in hearts.

It may sound repetitive, but please continue to pray for our safety.  Pray also that our team will remain bold as we go out one last time tomorrow.  Pray that God will do even more amazing things tomorrow, as only He can!  A brief update on the van situation, it is still not fixed, and we are planning on leaving Friday morning, please pray that God will provide a safe way home for us.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

NYC Mission Trip 2011

Day 4 July 26, 2011

Today was an extremely long day.  We were told last night that today would the most demanding day physically, and that we should not expect the same positive reception, or results as yesterday.  We started off the day by canvassing Woodside, the neighborhood in Queens where we are staying.  It was not a crowded area, but the sun was out, and we had the opportunity to have deeper conversations with the fewer people we came across.  After lunch, Sam took us to Union Square in Manhattan where we were surrounded by more locals than tourists.  The atmosphere was fast paced and crowded, and rejection and insults more frequent.  The group as a whole was more intimidated than yesterday.  One of our teens, Breahna Phillips said, “It was way more intimidating, but that was good, because we had to push ourselves to rely on God.”  Although it was long and mentally exhausting, the team remained faithful and hopeful that the Lord would work through us, despite the intimidation and awkwardness. 

After our time at Union Square, we walked 40 minutes south to the projects in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  There, we organized children’s meetings right in the center of the Avenue D projects.  We invited the local children and their parents that were gathered in the area to come to our free program.  The programs were complete with songs, a rope trick, an interactive word puzzle, and a story.  We were amazed at the turnout, and even more amazed at how excited the kids were, how much they participated, and how well they behaved!  In all we reached over 30 kids and many of their parents who came to watch, or were sitting close by.  When we finished around 7:00 p.m., our feet were hurting, we were tired, thirsty, and hungry, but we all had smiles on our faces.  It was so much fun to be with the kids.  It made the 40 minute walk back to Union Square for dinner not so bad.

When we made it back to the church at 9:45, we had a quick meeting with Sam to talk about the results for the day.  We were not expecting to have as high of numbers as yesterday, but once again God showed his power.  Sam added all the numbers, and in total, we gave the complete plan of Salvation 133 times, and 11 decisions were made for Christ!  We ended the night thanking God, and praying for our prayer focus, natural disasters.  Lights out was 11:15, and I have never seen so many teens go to bed as fast as they did tonight!

Please continue to pray for the safety of the team as we travel to Brooklyn today.  Each day has been more physically and mentally challenging than the day before, and we appreciate all the prayers from back home!

Monday, July 25, 2011

NYC Mission Trip 2011

Day 3  July 25, 2011

What a day! We saw first hand how the Holy Spirit works in us and through us to reach people for Christ.  We spent the first half of the day, from 11:30-2:30, spread out on different street corners sharing the Gospel with those that were near by.  It would be a lie to say that we had no anxiety about talking to people that we did not know, in a city and culture we were unfamiliar with.  The second half of the day was a little challenging due to the rain that did not stop until we were done for the day.  However, it was amazing to see the boldness of our teens, as they shamelessly shared the complete plan of salvation to 135 people!  There were seven total decisions made for Christ today, and countless seeds planted.  The team was able to witness through one on one conversations with people, and using visuals such as a painting on a sketch board, and a rope trick to pique the interests of those passing by.  Others were able to introduce the Gospel through a survey, and asking the people if they could pray for them.  All glory goes to the Lord, who used our team as a tool to spread His Word, in rain and shine.

We made it back to the church around 8:30 and spent time debriefing with Sam about the day.  He praised the group on their boldness and willingness to jump right into witnessing.  He reminded the group that we did not save anyone today, but that it was the work of God.  He also encouraged the group to continue with what they are doing, and to be sure to be right with the Lord.  During our end of the day group session, the team spent over an hour talking about what they experienced during the day.  There were many great stories to share, a couple funny, some sad, and those that were celebrated because someone came to know the Lord.  We then broke into our smaller groups to thank God for the day, and pray about the upcoming week and our daily prayer focus, which is the Military/Government.  Please continue praying for the safety of the team, and that we will “fearlessly make known the mystery of the Gospel” to the people of NYC.  

NYC Mission Trip 2011

Day 2 Sunday, July 24, 2011

We started the day early, as we needed to have the church ready for services by 8:00 a.m.  We did not attend the services at Woodside Community, instead we had the opportunity to travel to Brooklyn, and attend the Brooklyn Tabernacle.  What an experience!  We were blessed to hear the joyful singing of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, and a sermon by Pastor Jim Cymbala. The entire team was surprised by the warm welcome we received at such a large and diverse church.  It was definitely a memory that will last a lifetime.

The remainder of the day was spent in preparation for the week to come.  We had a two hour meeting led by Sam to refresh our minds on the different ways to present the Gospel, and then we had practice time.  As the evening came to a close, we had our evening group time where we went over our day, and divided into small groups to pray.  Each night we will be spending time in small groups praying for specific prayer needs that extend beyond our own mission trip.  It has been neat to watch the team connect with each other, and more importantly God, through prayer. 
The prayer focus tonight is Parma Heights Baptist Church, and the greater Cleveland area.  We encourage you to join us each day in prayer for the specific prayer focus of the day.  Please also pray for the team as we go into the Bronx tomorrow.  Pray that the team will be bold and shameless as they present Gospel to a hurting city.    

Sunday, July 24, 2011

NYC Mission Trip 2011

Day 1.  Saturday, July 23, 2011

Praise God!  After 12 hours, and one broken down vehicle, all 29 members of the mission team made it to Woodside Community Baptist Church, in Queens, New York.  The trip was not without its side tracks, as God showed us right away that our plan is not always His plan.  About half way through our drive to NYC, one of the vans decided it was time to shut down.  After a brief 20 minute rest, it started up again and we were back on the road.  We made it all the way to New Jersey, less than a quarter of a mile from the George Washington Bridge that leads into New York City, when the van once again, decided to shut down.  This time it was in the middle of a traffic jam.  Thankfully, the guys were able to push the van to the side of the road, while the girls made their way to the church in the other vehicles.  An hour and a half later, the van was given a jump by port authority, and is currently at a local garage waiting to be fixed.  The teens showed great maturity through being flexible and doing everything without griping or complaining.  God showed His provision by keeping everyone safe through potentially harmful circumstances.

When the girls arrived to the church, we were reintroduced to Sam Frey, our guide for the week, and his three summer interns, Amanda, Makayla, and Micah.  We unpacked the trailer and waited for the guys to arrive by enjoying some New York style pizza for dinner (messy!).  When the whole group was finally back together again, we had a brief together time where we discussed the house rules for the week, and found out that there are two, yes, two showers for a group of over 30 to share!  To end the night we had mail delivery, which is cards and letters that family and friends back home have written to the team.  The mail will continue daily throughout the week, and is a source of encouragement to everyone.  We finally had much anticipated lights out at about 12:30! 

Please pray that the van situation will be easily fixed, and not an issue that will hinder our ministry here this week.  Please continue praying for the team, that we will be stretched this week as we allow God to use us for His Glory.  Pray also for the physical needs of the team, as it is expected to be a hot week, and we will be spending 8-10 hours a day on the streets of NYC.   Finally, pray that God will open up divine appointments this week for us to share the Good News of the Gospel.