Each year the high school sends seniors and faculty to New York City to minister with churches in the area. Updates from the two teams will be posted daily.
The Academy’s New York mission trip teams look forward to their last day in the city on Friday and then their return to Greenville.
On Thursday the Bethel team headed to Wall Street and Battery Park. They stepped into Trinity church in a reprieve from a chilly and wet day. Afterward they rode the Staten Island Ferry where through the mist they enjoyed a view of the Statue of Liberty. Later, in Queens, Pastor Tim Richmond talked about his Forest Hills location, including scriptural and practical reasons: in this diverse neighborhood the nations of the world have come to NYC; what better place to fulfill the Great Commission. The team went to several major subway stops nearby where they distributed approximately 5,000 invitations to a special Easter service.
After breakfast the Memorial team returned to Manhattan, and several students had opportunities to witness to people on the subway. Daniel had the opportunity to share the Gospel with a man from Bangladesh and translate Scripture through the use of a Bible app into Bengali for him to read. After a quick visit to Central Park, the team split into two groups, one going down 5th avenue and the other taking a quick walk through the Metropolitan Museum of Art. When the team returned to Memorial, they worked quickly to set up for the Kids Karnival. Before the carnival began, a group of string players and other students went with Mr. Cancino to the subway to play some hymns, and there they were able to hand out invitations to the evening service and tracts to the people who stopped to listen. In spite of the rain, many children and their mothers and nannies came to the Kids Karnival, and it was a great success. Kendal had the opportunity to converse with a German woman in German and share the Gospel with her. After the carnival, the team prepared for another service with Andy Gleiser and the children’s ministry.
On Wednesday morning the Bethel Baptist group traveled to Memorial Baptist and together with the Memorial Baptist group, heard a presentation from Craig Hartman from Shalom Ministries about ministering to the Jews in New York and around the world. The teams then went to an orthodox Jewish neighborhood to visit a Jewish book store and hand out invitations to a Holocaust Remembrance Day being held at Bethel Baptist Fellowship later this month. The teams ended their visit at Mendelsons, a diner in the Jewish neighborhood for falafel, fish, baked items, pizza, pasta, and more. In the evening about half the Memorial team returned to Memorial Baptist Church, where they first went to the park to invite children to tomorrow’s Kids Karnival and then ministered in the evangelistic service that evening. The Bethel team and the others from Memorial ministered in and fellowships with the believers in the Wednesday night prayer service at Bethel Baptist Fellowship.
Tuesday the Bethel team returned to the Bronx for a second day of ministry with Pastor Ben Hamilton. On the subway Hannah L had an opportunity to kindly challenge someone who was non-religious but believed in God. When they arrived, Pastor Ben said that he has already gotten two calls as a result of the team’s canvassing efforts. Because of cold, rainy weather, Pastor Ben send the team in their “families” (the week’s small groups for transportation and other purposes: one chaperon and four or five students per “family”) to four different subway stops to hand out tracks and the invitations to a Bible study. The team enjoyed New York pizza for lunch and were sobered as they visited St. Paul’s Chapel and the 9/11 Memorial. Pastor Jim Bickel and his wife spent time with the team in the evening, answering questions ranging from “how did you know God called you to plant a church?” to “what was your experience on 9/11?” and “what were the pro’s and con’s of raising your family in the city?”
In the morning the Memorial team made their way into lower Manhattan. They visited the 9/11 Memorial, stopped by Trinity Church and walked through Wall Street on their way to ride the Staten Island Ferry across the Hudson River and view the Statue of Liberty. After returning to Manhattan, half the team went to Queens to distribute literature for Grace Baptist Church. The students that were involved expressed how they grew to enjoy distributing the literature and interacting with people on the street. Denae shared that the experience helped her grow in her ability to share the Gospel with others. The second half of the team returned to Brooklyn and went to invite children to the Kids Karnival on Thursday. After the evening service the two halves of the team reunited for a time of fellowship with the church and then later shared testimonies about what they had been learning. Creed expressed how he appreciated getting to know his fellow classmates and working with them. Nick and Wilson had the opportunity to give the Gospel at length with a man while they were in Queens. The night ended with the announcement of a later rising time the next morning (which everyone looked forward to).
Monday morning began with the Memorial Team dividing once more into groups. The first group went underground on the subway system and was involved in some “street” preaching. The group sang hymns and distributed information about the church in one of the main interchanges of the NYC subway system while Pastor Daniel preached the Gospel. Many people accepted the literature, and several members of the team were able to have conversations with the people walking through the area. Andrew and Creed both testified later that appearances can be deceiving in terms of who will accept the Gospel. The second group went to Prospect Park to distribute invitations for the Kids Karnival they will be holding on Thursday. To attract attention, the students made and gave away balloon animals and painted faces. Anita was able to speak to a woman in Russian and invite her to the services. After lunch, the team went across the road to the Boardman Apartments and ministered to the residents through music. The late afternoon was occupied with team members passing out more flyers for the Kids’ Karnival in the neighborhood and park and others staying behind to work on setting up the Karnival. The evening concluded with the week’s first evangelistic service followed by a time of fellowship with the church.
Early Monday the Bethel group left Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn for their long subway ride to the Bronx. There the team assisted Pastor Ben Hamilton where he and his family are in the very early stages of a new church plan. The team took different sections of the Kingsbridge area, doing door hanging and on busy street corners handing out invitations for a Bible study. On their return to Brooklyn they made several stops in Manhattan. They toured Temple Emanu-El, a large reform Jewish synagogue. They also visited Central Park (and the Balto statue), Grand Central Terminal, and, back in Brooklyn, Jamaica Bay. During testimony time Judah shared his opportunity to speak with a Jewish lady while on the subway and then, during door hanging, having a providential interaction with people who were looking for a good BIble-believing church in the Kingsbridge area.
Days 1 and 2
After arriving in New York City Saturday morning, the Memorial team ate lunch, practiced some music, set off on a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and passed through Grand Central Station. They returned to Memorial Baptist Church for dinner and a good rest. On Sunday morning, The majority of the team ministered at Memorial Baptist Church where they served through music, the children’s ministry and the nursery. Between services, they ate with the church family and fellowshipped with them. The team sent out two smaller groups of students to two additional churches in Brooklyn. One group went to Bensonhurst Baptist Church. There Daniel and Jenna ministered through music, and the whole group sang; afterward the they ate lunch with the church. The second group traveled to Grace Baptist Church in Queens for Sunday School and the afternoon service. They ministered by providing special music and helping with the children’s church.
After arriving at Bethel Baptist Fellowship (pastored by Jim Bickel) in Sheepshead Bay on Saturday, the team rested briefly and then walked the Brooklyn Bridge. They later prepared for special music and children’s church. On Sunday the team provided several special selections of sacred music at both the Russian and English services as well as teaching children’s church for the afternoon service. In the evening the team visited the Top of the Rock Observation Deck and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where the students observed part of a Roman Catholic Mass—helping to give perspective on religion in the city. At the end of the day, Marcos told about an opportunity to give a tract to a man on the subway. The tract tells the story of his brother, Jona, who passed away from cancer several years ago. The team looks forward to helping with a new church plant on Monday and Tuesday.