Hey y’all. I don’t even know where to start. So Monday, I worked in the streets of Brooklyn at a prayer station. I didn’t really know what to expect going into this. Now that the week is over, if I were to ever do this again, I still wouldn’t know what to expect. I’m fairly confident every single possible scenario I could have experienced was experienced in my six hours in Brooklyn. I met a Buddhist, an Atheist, a Muslim, an Agnostic, a Satanist, and someone who thought I was Satan.
The prayer stations were really neat to work with. The first day, I got to pray with about 20-25 people or so, I got to share the gospel with about 15, I got my Muslim friend’s, Shahbaz, phone number, and I’ve been able to stay in contact with him and discuss different questions he has with Christianity. The highlight of my week was getting to help lead someone I prayed with to Christ. That was the first time that I ever had the opportunity to do that. We’ve been told throughout the week that we would be planting a lot of seeds, and watering a lot of seeds, but there isn’t quite anything like the feeling of harvesting.
I’ve had so many good conversations with people in New York. I’ve learned a lot about the diversity that I don’t necessarily know enough about. I’ve loved spending time with our youth group this whole week and getting to know all of them better throughout the week. I’ve also really enjoyed getting to know my other brothers and sisters in Christ. We’ve made friends from Illinois, Indiana, Florida, South Carolina, Texas, and all over the country. It’s been such a neat experience that I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to participate in.
As we wait for our flight back home, thank you so much to everyone who has been praying for us while we’ve been here. God is doing crazy big things here in NYC. It’s so surreal to be a part of. See y’all tomorrow at church. Thanks again for all your prayers.
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.
On Wednesday the 22nd a group of people from Streets and Parks may or may not have gotten kinda lost! We started out the day a little different then usual, we were going to a park instead of hitting the streets directly. So we decided to practice our questionnaire on each other before we used it on actual New Yorkers. The we were off to the subway (for the first time). Our route said get on the train toward the 168 St. exit. We took that as to the 168th St. exit, which was not the correct exit. We rode that subway train to the very last stop. We ended up at J.D. Woods Park, 3 hours and 24 minutes of a walk from Washington square park (where we were suppose to be).
Although thinking of it now, are we ever lost with God on our side, at this park we talked to an abundance of interesting people, whether they were saved already or had absolutely no interest in what we were saying. We ended up sharing the Gospel story with just about everyone in that entire park, before we decided to go find Washington square. We can only hope that we impacted someone in that park or anywhere else on our way, because if the Lord sent us there, there must be a reason, whether it was in J.D. Woods park, or on the subway where we ran into a kids camp that received to many bracelets, or from the random woman who said she wished people could have as much fun as we were on the subway system of New York. In all things God has a plan that is much larger then us, and we just need to enjoy the ride we’re on.
Your brother in Christ,
Here are more pictures from Day Four ministry and touring activities! We’ll try to login tonight to share more stories from team members. Thank you for praying. Please continue in prayer today during our last day ministry. Ask the Lord to fill us with joy and draw people into his kingdom through his Son, Jesus Christ.
Last night, after making it to the hotel and exploring the city a little bit, everyone here in Brooklyn with SpreadTruth met in the ballroom. We got to meet the other people we would be traveling with for the week. We sang and worshipped God, and we also had a couple speakers. Pastor Tim from the Brooklyn Tabernacle spoke to us. He has worked with this organization many times before, and he had some very wise words for all of us.
Let me just start by saying he is an extremely funny guy. I was crying I was laughing so hard. Having past experience with this trip, Pastor Tim warned us of some emotions we may feel during the week. For example, he said that we may not be able to fall asleep the first night. But, seriously, that is only the first night because it’s only been one day, but I am already exhausted. So gold star for Pastor Tim; he was spot on. Another thing he told us was that we may miraculously be feeling “not very good” in the morning. Welp. Let’s just say I woke up and thought, ‘Dang. That Pastor Tim is good.‘
So after overcoming my brief moment of anticipated sickness, we went to the ballroom for more worship time with all the team members. We’ll have this worship time every morning this week. I was pretty nervous to be going out into the parks talking to complete strangers. I’m just not that type of person. Today, we were at Union Park in Manhattan. Once we got to the park, we went out in pairs for safety reasons, but also so we had someone to help us out when we were evangelizing. Before lunch, I was with a girl named Rachel from Cincinnati, Ohio. Everyone in our cord (or group of people that we travel with every day) blended really well, and I can’t wait to spend this week with them! Rachel and I started out and we had some decent conversations with people. Some of them turned us down pretty quickly, but we would just move on and find someone else to talk to. We talked with about six different people, although none of them made any life-changing decisions.
We went to McDonald’s for lunch… exciting, I know. This city is the polar opposite of Lisbon. The amount of people in this city is overwhelming. And the restaurants go up and down instead of out, which is just weird. And nothing is fast except the train. Seriously, lines are like a million people long. I don’t think this city life is for me, guys.
But, anyways, moving on! We headed back out after eating, and we also got new partners. I was with Rachel’s mom, Karen. She is one of the sweetest ladies I have ever met. She is extremely good at starting conversations with strangers. So we headed back out into the park. The first six or seven people we walked up to either weren’t interested or claimed they didn’t feel they could give adequate answers to our four worldview questions. This was really discouraging. It did make me a little upset.
After that, Karen was just saying that we should sit down and pray that God would show us who He wanted us to speak with. As she said that, she spotted a homeless man sitting by the entrance to the subway. We walked over and Karen struck up a conversation with him about his leg that was all wrapped up in gauze and medical tape. He started telling us about this big book he had. It was kind of like a National Geographic; it had lots of pictures of all these different places from around the world. He was saying how he had visited all of these places through lots of meditation. I was thinking, ‘Oh, boy. God, why this one?’ After some friendly, funny conversation we started to inch towards the reason we were in the park in the first place.
He started to realize what we were trying to say, and he got more aggressive really quickly. He was trying to tell us how there was no mathematical or scientifical proof that anything in the bible was true. He was not accepting anything we were saying. He was trying to convince us that belief in anything is foolish and pointless because the word begins with “be lie” as in all beliefs are lies. As the conversation went on, it only got worse. He accused Karen of hiding behind her sunglasses even though it was sunny and 90 degrees outside. So we started to walk away, and he kept at it, saying, “You shouldn’t be here. New York doesn’t want Christianity.”
This sent me over the edge. I started crying uncontrollably. Karen suggested we sit down and take some time to just calm down and spend some time in prayer. Pastor Rex and another guy from our cord, Will, walked by and prayed with me and Karen. I was a little too upset to go any longer this afternoon, so Karen and I ‘prayer walked’ as she called it. We just took a stroll through the park and prayed quietly for each person sitting on the benches. The fact that we were just walking around and seeing how broken this city is crushed me. It’s so unbelievable until you see it for yourself. At one point, Karen said, “There are so many hardened hearts here.” And that is so true. So many lost, confused people who either can’t or won’t admit their need for God and His mercy.
We ended the day about an hour early due to mine and Karen’s fiasco with Mr. Grumpy Pants and also because it was pretty warm outside. We got some soft serve fruit from Chloe’s before heading for the subway. SUPER good, and we need to petition to get one in Yorkville.
I went to the 9/11 Museum with some of the people from our group tonight. It was so unbelievable. There are no words to describe how powerful it is to see and learn about everything related to that day. I can’t even describe it to you how absolutely amazing it is to experience that museum and memorial.
So, yes, today was a roller coaster of emotions; discouraging, but also eye-opening. I’m asking for prayer that we would be given the strength and courage to get back out on the streets and in the parks tomorrow, even though some of us had some rough experiences today. We need prayers for the people here in NYC, that their hearts would be softened and their ears and eyes would be opened. Also, prayers for safe travels for everyone throughout the city.
I can’t wait to see how God uses me this week, and I want to thank each and every person that has been praying for me and for the West Lisbon team. We wouldn’t be here without you all (:
Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed”—for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
Let us be free to commit all manner of abominations. Let us be our own gods. Let us rid ourselves of all restraint.
However mad the resolution to revolt from God, it is one in which man has persevered ever since his [fall in Adam], and he continues in it to this very day. The glorious reign of Jesus in the latter day will not be consummated until a terrible struggle has convulsed the nations. To a graceless neck, the yoke of Christ is intolerable, but to the saved sinner it is easy and light. We may judge ourselves by this: Do we love that yoke, or do we wish to cast it from us?
. . . despite your malice, despite your tumultuous gatherings, despite the wisdom of your counsels, and despite the craft of your lawgivers . . . He has already done that which the enemy seeks to prevent. While they are proposing, He has disposed the matter. Jehovah’s will is done, and man’s will frets and raves in vain.
At the heart of the covenant is the concept of sonship; the human partner in the covenant is son of the covenant God, who is father. This covenant principle of sonship is a part of the Sinai covenant between God and Israel. The covenant God cares for Israel as a father cares for his son (Deut. 1:31) and God disciplines Israel as a father disciplines a son (Deut. 8:5). The focus of the Sinai covenant is the relationship between God and nation; in the covenant with the house of David, the focus is narrowed to a relationship between God and the king, but the concept of sonship is still integral to this covenant. Thus God, through the words spoken by Nathan, declared of David: “I will be his father and he shall be my son” (2 Sam. 7:14); David, in return, could say to God: “You are my father” (Ps. 89:26).
The more thou troublest thyself, or art troubled by others for Christ, the more peace thou hast in Christ . . . To make peace with the Father, kiss the Son.