Last Wednesday I jumped on a plane with 21 other people from our church and headed to New York City! This was our 2nd mission trip to NYC as part of Mission 1:8, and it was a very full 4 days! The first time we went this past Fall, we were there for 8 days with a team half the size of this past one, and served alongside 4 different churches that our church is supporting. This time, we focused on one of those churches in particular who just launched their first official service this past Sunday, on Easter! It was a great time, and our team was so fun! Here’s a brief overview of what we got to be a part of while in NYC (I took a ridiculous amount of photos that can all be viewed here if you’re interested):
Helping a church launch it’s first service means you have to let people know that the church is there. So, the morning of each day we headed to Brooklyn and passed out flyers to give everyone a heads up! So many of our team members got into some pretty cool conversations. It’s interesting because Easter Sunday fell on April 20 this year. On the flyer, it had the date 4/20 really big across the back. 4/20 also means something else (I’ll let you figure that out). Needless to say, we had some interest, and in turn, conversations with people who probably wouldn’t otherwise take the time to talk to us. God is sovereign, yes? :)
On Sunday, The Bridge Church had about 150 people in attendance! So awesome. Continue to pray for this church and the staff that are working so diligently in engaging their community every day!
In the evening on the first day (just felt like I was quoting Genesis), our team went with a staff member from the MNYBA on a walking tour in China Town to pray over the human trafficking going on there. It’s crazy, once you know what to look for, to realize that there are people being treated like machinery and sold all around you. We know that Houston is a hub for trafficking (both sex trade and manual labor), so seeing this in another city definitely stirs up some heartache and deep prayer on behalf of those imprisoned in both cities. I encourage you to go on a tour, whatever city you’re in, and become aware if you are not already. If the merchandise you’re purchasing is ridiculously inexpensive, there’s a likelihood that the reason is because the employees aren’t getting paid (or the people who made the product didn’t get paid). Sex trafficking is a whole other story, which I could talk about forever. If you’d like to learn more, here are some resources:
Elijah Rising tours (Houston)
Porn Harms (why porn is a contributor to sex trafficking)
Free the Captives (organization in Houston that does lots of great informational conferences)
Texas Human Trafficking Fact Sheet
Definitely be praying for your city, and that Christ would redeem those imprisoned, whether it be to their own sin or the sins of others. We need Jesus more than we know!
On the afternoons of the second and third days, our team went to Long Island City and partnered with another new church plant, New City Church. Our group split up, and half of us did residential and spiritual surveys, while the other half did trash clean up along the streets, and the next day we switched. On the first day of surveys I ended up with the spiritual surveys, and got all kinds of different responses. We did surveys last trip too, which focused more on personal experience with spirituality. This time, the surveys were focused more on how people perceived religion in their neighborhood (more for demographic’s sake), and it was sort of surprising how many we encountered that seemed to have never even thought about religion in relation to their neighborhood before. We ended up talking to one really interesting lady who had a some intriguing beliefs about who Christ is and how we “get to God”.
The trash clean up was fun too, mostly because of our fun team. :) We wore these fabulous yellow vests which had the church’s name on the back, and ended up having some interest in the church simply because people were surprised the church would send people to pick up trash. We’re praying for New City Church and that many would come to know Christ because of their willingness to serve the community in the most practical and needed ways!
Friday night, Good Friday, I got to attend Hillsong NYC Church with part of our team, and meet up with my Jersey family! The service was so good, and such a great break from a non-stop schedule to reflect on Christ’s work on the cross.
After the service, we went to Sticky’s Finger Joint and had way too much food (some of us more than others for losing a bet). ;) So good to see the fam and enjoy great food and some good laughs, too!
The fourth day (Saturday) part of our team got to go to Astoria and help Connection Church NYC with their Easter Egg Hunt, while the rest of the group was in Brooklyn. These guys are seriously one of the best churches in NYC. They know how to do community. If you are in Astoria, I encourage you to check it out!
Sunday morning, our last day, we got to attend First Baptist Church NYC. Their pastor is an incredible preacher, and his message was one of the best Easter sermons I have ever heard. Pray for this church, as they are located right in the heart of Manhattan! Pray that they find ways to reach their community, and engage one of the busiest and largest cities in the US!
This trip was a bit of a whirlwind, and those 4 days passed so quickly, I’m still trying to catch up! But it was filled with so much joy, and I’m encouraged by what the Lord is doing in New York. Each church we worked with is so faithful in obedience, and their hearts for the people around them encourages me to love the people around me, here in Houston. I hope that you are being used by Christ to accomplish His work and love everyone you come in contact with. He is good, and He is powerful to provide the strength necessary to do great things in our world! Let’s believe that.
Lastly, here’s a video with footage from our first trip last fall. Just an idea of how to pray for NYC as people seek – that they would find Christ!