Saturday, July 23, 2016

Mission Trip 2016 ~ New York City {Part 3}

On Tuesday and Wednesday of our trip, 
our training groups did more of the same things that we did on Monday.
Walking, riding the subway, walking, training sessions, eating, walking,
ministry, walking, eating, final session, walking, riding the subway.

The team learned, or rather they tried learning, an interesting rope trick that the local missionaries
use in open air evangelism as an object lesson to garner interest
 in advance of sharing a gospel message.
This challenged everyone's slight-of-hand skills.

That afternoon, our group had the chance to watch these seasoned missionaries in action.
We stationed ourselves on the platform of a subway train
and simply waited for people to get on and off the train.
While we walked around the platform handing out gospel flyers for people
to read while waiting for or riding the train, this young man in the gray shirt
was telling the story of Jesus and His love for them and using the ropes as a teaching tool.
At one point, I watched a lady from our group hand a flyer to a young man
coming down the stairs to the platform dragging a large black trash bag.
I later found out this young man was carrying everything he owned in that bag.
He had just been released from a 12-step addiction program and was on his
way to a half-way house.
Just at this critical point in his life, our team intercepted him.
He was eager to hear about God and the transformative power of Jesus Christ.
You see, he grew up in another state with a Catholic father and a Baptist mother.
She took him to church where he accepted Jesus as His Savior.
As he grew up, he grew tired of the familiar and moved to New York City for a fresh start.
He met a group of friends that introduced him to substances that shackled his life.
He later told me that he almost died 3 times.
He prayed with the local pastor in our group right there at the train platform
and rededicated his life to Christ.
As we all stepped on the train together at the end of our ministry time in the subway,
he asked me if I was a part of the group:
"What you guys are doing here is a really great thing.
People need this."
He promised me that he was going to go to that pastor's church
and get plugged in there for the support he needs as he continues his journey 
to physical and spiritual freedom!

Just after that experience in the subway, our group walked to a local park
and got set-up for "Vacation Bible School."
Think a "Good News Club" format.
The pastor spread a tarp on the ground for the children to sit on,
and another set up an easel on which sat a large pad of paper for drawing and painting.

It only took moments to gather a sizable group of children and their parents
 together for singing and a fun game.
After another fun action, Bible song, a gospel story was presented.
An invitation to accept Jesus as their Savior was offered
and each child was given a gospel flyer to take home with them.
As all of this was taking place, I was sitting behind the group on a park bench
praying for my friend sitting next to me who had struck up a conversation in Spanish
with one grandmother there with her granddaughter.
My friend learned this grandmother was Catholic and felt her religion 
and her good works would secure her place in Heaven.
My friend struggled to remember the Spanish she knew so fluently as a child
but I know that the Seeds of God's Word were planted in this grandmother's heart.

As we were leaving the park, we found a lady selling this refreshing treat for $1.
Italian Water Ice!!
Who says everything in New York City is so expensive!!

After walking back to our home base, we had the most amazingly delicious 
Italian meal I had ever had.
Complete with Italian cannolis for dessert!!
To die for!!

What a treat that evening to find our pastor had flown from Texas
 to join our group
and he gave us a wonderful challenge from God's Word!

So many wonderful friends to share these adventures with..... friends to meet and get to know.

Our last afternoon of ministry took us to a more Russian community where we handed
out flyers to parents and grandparents with children inviting them to Vacation Bible School
later in August.  We didn't get as much time as we wanted for this project because our group
found ourselves directionally challenged finding the location we were to meet up with the local missionary.  We got on the wrong subway, left the station at the wrong end, and ended up on the wrong side of the highway.  We certainly got our exercise for the day walking all around trying to find our way, but it was a great taste of real life for those in ministry in New York City.

Exhausted as we stumbled onto the train for the ride back to our hotel that evening, I spotted this tacked to the wall.  Sometimes, well-meaning Christians question our mission trip leaders about the legitimacy of leading a group of teenagers so far away
 when there are needs in our very own communities.  
This poster really sums up why New York City was 
the perfect choice for our team this year.
The opportunities to minister to so many different ethnic groups is unparalleled
in New York City, and what a challenge it was to work side-by-side with
missionaries who intentionally came to such a place 
and have immersed themselves into the culture
 to reach the lost and weary for Christ!

No comments: