Thursday, July 21, 2016

Mission Trip 2016 ~ New York City {Part 1}

Several weeks ago, my two oldest girls and I had the amazing privilege of going to New York City to minister to several different people groups there and to work with missionaries who are currently living among these people groups. 
 I have to admit. 
 Visiting New York City has never been at the top of my bucket list. 
 I tend to avoid hugely crowded metropolitan areas.  
If there is a short-cut around the traffic and congestion, I'm taking it.  
I intentionally miss dollar day at the zoo because I know it will be crazy crowded and my children will have no chance of seeing anything up close. 
 So the idea of getting lost in New York City has never once appealed to me.
  But last year when this opportunity was mentioned to our family, that it would be a "Missionaries-in-Training" program with the first week attended at our church camp with intensive training seminars with seasoned missionaries, and then a week of reaching out to Jewish and Muslim communities in Queens, New York, we became really excited about it!! 
 What an incredible trip it was:

This year Ashlyn expressed desire to go on a missions trip.
She watched her sister go off to Ghana, Africa, Guatamala, the Philippines, and Mexico over the last few years,
and she felt ready to go on a trip herself.
But with her being a Type 1 Diabetic, I wrestled with letting her go off with a group not terribly familiar with the management of this condition, nor what to do in an emergency situation, and so far away from home.  But because this trip was contained within the United States, I had a tremendous peace about her going as long as I could go with her.
All of the team leaders were completely on board with this plan, thankfully, and I was excited
to get to go on my very first mission trip as well.

This trip was divided up into two legs with the first week being held at Southland Christian Camp in
Ringgold, LA.  While there, the teenagers participated in a week of regular teen camp but were also
pulled out several times a day during regularly scheduled activities for training sessions which focused on preparing their hearts for mission work, cultural awareness, and evangelism techniques.

Due to the the restraints of my husbands work schedule, and the children we still had at home, I was not able to participate in that first week.
 .At the end of that week, I met up with our group in Dallas where we jumped a plane to
New York City. 

Upon our arrival, we were whisked to our tiny hotel 
(space is at a minimum in Queens),
where a wonderful Peruvian meal was brought in for us.
What fun to get to try a different ethnic meal every day we were in NYC.
Don't let that green sauce scare you.
It was delicious over the broasted chicken, along with the beans and rice, and fried bananas!!

The following morning, the Lord's Day dawned bright, clear, and warm.
We had breakfast in the "second basement" of our hotel where we were briefed about the activities of the day.  Our ministry that day was going to be to the Jewish communities at Shalom Baptist Church.
To get there, our group of about 30 teens and adults walked several blocks that morning to the closest
subway station.  We hopped on board the train and were whisked away several miles to the stop closest to the church.  We did this every morning.
What an adventure!!

We crossed busy streets and over bustling sidewalks to the basement entrance of a large apartment building.  
As my mind processed this unusual Sunday morning commute, I thought:
"Here?  Way down in the dark corner of this building is where they meet?  How does anybody find their way here?"
But they DID!!

The walls of the church space were adorned with the most gorgeous artwork depicting Jewish scenes and symbols.  Most, if not all, had been painted by the Pastor.  He had gotten a degree in art from
the University of Michigan many years ago, and came to New York on his own to start his art career.
He got involved with unsavory friends and alcohol and ended up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning.  When he got home, he picked up the Bible for the very first time that someone had handed him not long before this.
He ended up at a church which taught Him of God's great love for Him and the transforming power of the blood of Jesus.  He accepted the Lord as His Savior.
He eventually felt called to reach the Jewish people of that community in which he was saved,
and now he uses his tremendous gifts not for his own gain, but that the love of our Messiah might reach Jewish people.

On this particular day, this church was participating in a community street festival.
They had a booth set-up with free Bibles in Hebrew, Japanese, Aramaic, Chinese, Russian,
and several other languages prevalent in that area.

We had a free painting craft open for children to open doors for inviting families to their Vacation Bible School to be held later in August.

We walked up and down the street festival and talked to other vendors and handed out flyers
inviting people to come to their church and to stop by the booth for a Bible.
I was very surprised at how gracious the people of this community were.
My pre-conceived ideas of irritable, cold New Yorkers shattered as nearly everyone kindly accepted
our materials and many stopped to ask genuine questions.

As I stood on the sidewalk behind this booth handing out invitations to attend Shalom Baptist Church, the words of one elderly lady stirred my heart:
"I was born a Jew, and I will DIE a Jew," she shot at me as she refused my hand.

So many who need a Savior, so many given the truth, so many blinded by their religious traditions.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

This was great to read! My daughter (Alaina) was also on the trip. It was a life changing experience for her. Can't wait to read the 2nd part!