This Saturday while serving in the South Bronx I met a couple whose names were Nelson and Kimberly. They were looking for Josiah (another urban missionary), but he was in Harlem that day. While I called Josiah so Kimberly could say hello, Nelson told me that he had just started alcoholics anonymous just two days prior. Unfortunately he gave into the urge and drank that morning, as his breath could attest to. After Kimberly got off the phone with Josiah I asked if I could pray for them. Before, during, and after the prayer I could sense the remorse in Nelson's spirit as I encouraged him and prayed for strength to overcome his addiction. After the prayer Kimberly gave me a hug and drew me close to her as if she wanted to whisper something in my ear. She wished me a merry Christmas and a very happy new year. The only problem was that this was no where near a whisper! As I said goodbye and rubbed my ear as it rang, I couldn't help but smile and laugh at the innocence of this gesture and the poor judgement of her whisper. As they walked away I went to check on the outreach operation and was struck with an amazing feeling of love for this job! I love the fact that when we go to our sites the only guarantee is that God shows up! Here are some of the happenings just this week...
- I was able to bless an elderly man named Jeremiah by doing something as simple as setting him up with an email so he will be able to send his resume to potential employers.
- I assisted Austin (another urban missionary) in helping a homeless man get back to Minnesota to see his wife.
- I gave hope to a young man named Matthew by praying for him and getting him information on housing.
- Personally handed out hundreds of servings of soup.
- Was able to share my story, faith, and our mission with another organization that was handing out condoms and syringes on the street.
- Met, spoke with, and connected with one of the scariest people I've ever met (a lifetime street fighter and war veteran)!
- Hosted and started a friendship with a college student named Chad who served with us this week on a short-term missions trip.
- Prayed with numerous people, giving them hope and introducing Christ into whatever situation they found themselves in.
I could continue on for pages more :-)...
Please continue to pray for our mission of reaching the hopeless on the streets of NYC. Everyday is a new adventure of changed lives and seeds planted...
I wish you and your family a very merry Christmas this year!
A snapshot of the outreach in the South Bronx this past Saturday...
Monday, December 13, 2010
This past Friday I was not having the best day in the world. I was serving in Manhattan at Chelsea Park, a spot that homeless men tend to hang out. For some reason I had woken up on the wrong side of the bed and was not my usual self. A semi-full container of soup had spilled on me so my pants were nice, wet, and soggy. And to top it off, it was exceptionally cold that day. As the afternoon wore on and the crowd started to fade I wondered if the day would bring any "success." I had not seen or helped refer one person to a detox, employment agency, or anything else. By this point I was counting the seconds till we would leave. But in the midst of wallowing in my great despair I met a man named Saleem.
Saleem was an out of work engineer. He had received his masters in aviation, but had been laid-off about a year ago due to the economy. Despite the fact of his unemployment Saleem was not in need of housing, money, or food. He was looking for was spiritual direction. An avid reader and having more formal education than myself, we were able to go deeper into the basic principles of our faith. As I began to share my story and my faith in Jesus something crazy happened: I was blown away at awesomeness my God. We discussed the craziness of how a perfect man of love took upon himself the sins of the world, brought them to grave, and left them there! How insane is that?? We talked about how when He returns all of our diseases, crimes, poverty, infant mortality, all of it, will be gone. We talked about how we as urban missionaries bring hope and healing into dark places in anticipation of that great return. By the end of our conversation I felt like I had re-lead myself back to a salvation experience!
As I was driving home I was thinking about why we do what we do... Why I do what I do... That day I was reminded what it means to be the bearers of Christ's love and hope. And I was encouraged to continue doing the work that the Master has set before me. Although I'm not sure if Saleem fully understood what we were discussing, I know the Spirit was in our conversation and a seed was planted. Please pray for Saleem as he continues his journey in search for truth. And as always please keep the ministry and myself in prayer as we bring hope to the hopeless of NYC.
I would also encourage you and your family to pray about possibly partnering with me financially as I continue to work the fields. God has been beyond faithful during my short time here and I have faith He will continue to provide. Grace & Peace to you and your family...
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.
Often when a missionary goes out into the field they usually come back impacted and humbled by those they were serving. I had one such encounter this week.
I was at one of our sites in the Bronx this past Thursday and met two women, Linda and Eleanor. Both are currently in the shelter system of New York City. Upon meeting Eleanor I could immediately tell that she was mentally challenged. As Eleanor began to share her story my heart broke. She told me of her dream to be a spokesperson for the mentally challenged. She told me of her three children. She told me of her desires to move out of the city and down to Delaware. As I was listening and trying to assess what we could do to help her I was shocked and humbled by her prayer request. She asked me to pray for the strength forgive her cousin. Two years ago Eleanor’s cousin impregnated her thirteen year old daughter. She told me that she struggled with forgiving her cousin for doing this, but she realizes that she will not be able to move forward with anything in her life unless she first forgives. Wow...
How often do we hold onto anger and hatred for both simple and major things that don't even compare what Eleanor must deal with? How often do I? I was reminded of this verse in Mark when driving home that day. What Eleanor realizes is it’s not that God won't forgive you if you don't forgive, but it’s that He simply can't forgive you. As Christians we are called to bear the light of Christ's love, hope, compassion, and forgiveness to a dark world. How can we accomplish any of this if we harbor any kind of bitterness or hatred towards anyone of our Father's children regardless of their sin?
Please pray for Eleanor. Please pray for me as God continues to work in my heart. And please pray for the ministry as we bring love, hope, healing, and forgiveness into in some of the darkest and most violent places of New York City.
From left to right: Eleanor, myself, and Linda.