My teammate from New Jersey and I were walking somewhere between Broadway and Avenue of the Americas, just steps away from Times Square. It was nighttime, Thursday, July 13, and we, along with 50 others, were participating in a ministry outreach called “Don’t Walk By” with New York City Relief. This ministry gives you a chance to be the hands and feet of Jesus as you show and share the love of Christ to the homeless in New York City.
You could tell the man was a bit startled that someone was talking to him. We noticed that he was going through bags of trash on the street and removing plastic bottles. This was how he was making money. The city was bustling with people walking (day or night, New York City is ALWAYS bustling with people walking!).
When he looked up at us, the man’s eyes said, “Am I doing something wrong?” We smiled at him and simply asked how he was doing. “Do you need anything?” We explained that we were serving with the New York City Relief organization and that we had socks, toiletries, and food. A big smile came over his face. He told us his name and that he was from Kenya. We talked for a bit, and he shared that he was o.k. and didn’t need any of the items we had to offer. However, he thanked us. “Thank you for talking to me. You acknowledged me as a person.” He told us, “God bless you,” and we returned the blessing to him as well. This experience reminds me that Jesus didn’t just walk by. He engaged others that society ignored or shunned. Shortly thereafter, I was praying with a lady on Broadway that had some medical needs. These are just a couple of the many individuals that our team talked to that Thursday night.
At the end of the project, we all gathered on 31st Street, and I knew the experience had changed me. Also from FBG were three tremendous brothers and leaders in our church, Seneca Smith, Drew Van Huss, and Josh Fortenberry. They, too, had similar experiences that night talking with people on the streets of NYC. Where others just walked by, our team didn’t. We engaged with the love and compassion of Christ.
Seneca, Drew, Josh, and I were in New York from July 10-14 on a vision trip, and to say it was a powerful time where we saw the Lord at work is an understatement. Being able to serve alongside these three, as well as our dear brothers and sisters from Long Hollow Gallatin, was a tremendous blessing. We helped a church planter beautify a school in the Bronx that he’s connected with; we served meals on the Relief Bus at Chelsea Park; we prayed with the hurting; we cleaned a local park in Queens with another local church; and we handed out invitations for people to come to the church on Sunday. I could fill up an entire First Impressions with stories and experiences from this short time in NYC. Seneca, Drew, and Josh could too, and I encourage you to ask them about their experience. Subway stations, building ministry partnerships, laughing until we cried, prayers, time in the Word, sharing the Gospel, meeting needs in Jesus’ name, being in NYC, co-laboring with other Christ-followers…yeah…it was a special trip!
God is on the move in the Big Apple! Guess what?! Lord willing, we’re going again in 2018! July 9-14, we’ll be taking a team back to serve. There are a limited number of spots, so if you’re interested or have questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
God is also on the move in Gallatin! Guess what?! Let’s keep serving and sharing the love of Christ wherever He leads as we fulfill the Great Commission!
Onward and upward for Jesus!