For anyone that may be getting tired of hearing about the mission trip to New York, you may want to skip this blog and the next several in the following weeks. I’m going to write a series of them focusing on different areas each time. The experience we had was just too great to try to cram into one post.
I want to start by talking about the crew that went with us. Every student was invited to New York, but in the end there were 10 students that answered the call. 10 students that wrote letters, stood in the freezing cold outside of Kroger on Super Bowl Sunday, and endured boiling heat outside Wal-Mart, and took advantage of opportunities in-between to raise money to get them there. 10 students made the commitment to take a week of their summer to allow God to work in them and through them to serve the people of New York City.
Contrary to what some people may think about missions trips, this was anything but a vacation. We weren’t set up in some fancy schmancy hotel and in the morning commute to where the needs were…NO! We slept on air mattresses on the basement floor of the church that sits in the heart of where the need is, the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Each day we’d wake up at 7am or earlier for some of us and we would go all day and into the wee-hours of the morning. Between walking, serving, prayer meetings, debriefs, worship, and church service our plates were full, but we always found a way to have fun.
When we first landed in NYC and made our way to East Side Tabernacle our Partnership International representative, Brandon Watkiss, asked me, “What is the strength of the group?” In other words, how can they best be used to minister to the people of New York? My answer…the strength of the group lies within the group. Not one person outshines another. Their heart to serve, their testimonies, genuine love for one another and desire to connect with people is their strength. Everywhere they went they had an incredible ability to make everyone feel like they were part of the group; like they were part of what God was doing through them. And everywhere we went, people were attracted to their light; the light of Jesus shining through them.
THIS MOVED ME! Even as I type this now I am welling up with tears to think of how amazing it was to watch them live, laugh, and love with everyone they came in contact with. On Thursday night we had an opportunity to worship together through music and hear our rep. from Partnership International share some great stuff with us and it was at the end of that time that I “tried” to speak to them; sharing my thanks for what their service and being obedient to Christ has meant to me. I say “tried” because it wasn’t long before I was on my knees weeping uncontrollably in front of them. You see, there is something powerful about serving, sacrifice, and obedience. There is something powerful about humbling yourself and allowing God to use you and seeing them be used by God spoke to me that I had made the right decision to quit my job 2 years ago to pursue full-time ministry. It was a truly humbling experience that I will never ever forget. If you want to know what will attract people to God, to church, and to a relationship with Jesus…how these students lived in NYC is exactly what will do it.
There’s no doubt in my mind that a move of God happened in the city of New York, in the hearts, minds, and lives of the students who went, and the people of East Side Tabernacle. I made a friend there whose name is David Orama. He leads the mens group at East Side Tabernacle. He sent me a text that reads like this, “We have had lots of missions teams come our way, but you guys were a special group sent by the Lord that really captured our hearts on the humility you guys showed toward people ant that my friend is the true love of Christ! A group that will always be engraved in our hearts for years to come!! Love all yous guys!!”
I’m so incredibly blessed to have had this experience with an amazing group of students and adult leaders. I cannot wait to see how God is going to use the experience we had in NYC to impact our community here in Troy and beyond.
Keep a look out for more stories to come about the NYC trip.