What an amazing week in NYC. There are so many stories and experiences to share. I want to try to give you a glimpse of what I saw God do this week.
Redeeming Union Square
The first time I attended the Spread Truth NYC trip, Union Square ate me for lunch. We are typically out in a park from 10-4pm with a break for lunch. In the parks, we do surveys like this, “Hello, my name is Rex, and I am with a group in the park today who is trying to find out what New Yorkers think about four worldview questions. Would have time to participate?” The last time I was in Union Square in 2011, I had two, very long, discouraging conversations – one before lunch and one after. There were some others I think, but those two beat me down.
So this year as a Cord/Team leader and knowing that Union Square was our team’s first stop, I prayed for the Lord to open hearts to pay attention and to show me favor. He did. He redeemed my Union Square experience – I had a number of thoughtful, serious conversations about God’s Story. My favorite was with Ian, who once we finished said that our conversation was “refreshing.” Another conversation with Aster and Kevin ended with them saying that they wanted to consider more what we shared with them.
Worshipping with the Redeemed at Brooklyn Tabernacle
I felt like I saw a glimpse of heaven – people from every race, land, language, background, and social class lifting their voices in song and prayer so that the balcony where we were sitting literally trembled. The Brooklyn Tab choir was a sea of joy filled faces. We learned together about the life of faith from Pastor Jim Cymbala’s sermon. All this started with a solid 30 minutes to quiet ourselves before God to pray and read his word. If this was what heaven will be like, I look forward to that day with great anticipation.
Fellowship with the Redeemed
Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer (Romans 12:12).
Not everything that happened was pleasant and easy. Some of our team members, including me, had some very difficult conversations with folks. Like one gentleman I prayed for in the Bronx who was planning to divorce his wife that week. Or the president of the Muslim block association in Harlem, who sought to deceive our team to make us feel that we hadn’t gone through the proper channels to get permission to be in the neighborhood.
However, as I heard our West Lisbon brothers and sisters share their hope and suffering throughout the week, I watched God weld our fellowship stronger. God has given us a memorable experience together that has forever changed our worship, mission, and fellowship. We grew stronger in him and in our bond together. We wept with one another and prayed for one another and encouraged one another. Wow.
All the other leaders commended the faith and love of our teens to me. I am blessed, so blessed. Our adult leaders loved on the kids, and they sought God in their own experiences too. We had a few late night conversations together that were a blessing. How good it has been to serve with them on mission for Jesus.
The Story Doesn’t Stop Now
Even this morning as I was packing up and taking my luggage to the necessary location, God had a divine appointment for me. There’s a particular bell man at the hotel who has been so kind to us all week. He and I had some time to talk today, and he was asking questions about our ministry and the gospel. He called our ministry and the gospel “beautiful” after we visited.
Pray for this man and his beautiful family. He is a married father of four boys. One of his boys just this week was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. He’s walking with his son through this with compassion and faithfulness.
Heading Home with Redemption in Our Minds and Hearts
We’ll be home soon, and thoughts about wanting those in our own community to know God’s Story are already processing. Thank you again for your prayers and support.