Every spring, BJA sends a mission team to NYC to minister to pastors, missionaries and local residents for one week.
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After a morning in Chinatown, an afternoon of cleaning the churches, and final evening services, the team left for Greenville. During the trip out of the city, a late-night time of testifying about the Lord’s goodness became, for many, a highlight of the week and was a fitting conclusion for the Academy’s 2011 New York mission trip.
Only one more day left—it’s hard to believe! The Bay Ridge students and sponsors enjoyed visits to Grand Central Station, a walk through Battery Park and around the Freedom Tower, and a ride on the Staten Island ferry. Back in Brooklyn, some students ministered to those who attended the day’s children’s outreach. The rest distributed the team’s fliers (invitation to services on one side, a Gospel presentation on the other) on busy sidewalks near the church. It appears that between 2,000 and 3,000 of these fliers have been distributed so far. During a time of sharing testimonies, Drew Petersen noted God’s promise that His Word will not return void, a truth highlighted this week by at least three different situations in which people are currently attending the church because of fliers they received from last year’s team. After the evening service, the team had a special time of devotions, the men hearing Pastor Jason’s testimony, and the ladies hearing that of his wife and adopted daughter.
In the morning the Memorial team took the subway to Brooklyn Heights to work with a street-preaching pastor. Team members took turns watching and listening to him while others passed out tracts. Because of the cold weather, another group went down to the subway to sing. While down in the subway the Gospel was shared with a man who prayed to ask Jesus to be his Savior! Then, while on the way back, a woman made a profession of faith as well.
In the early afternoon, the majority of the team went to a nursing home and held a service. The rest of the team stayed at the church to prepare for the Bible Club at 4. We had many new children and teens come out.
Day five held a variety of ministry opportunities for the students and sponsors at Bay Ridge. After breakfast, some students washed the team’s laundry at neighborhood Laundromats, and other students hit the streets to pass out tracts and invitations. Later, most of the students ministered to residents of a nursing home, encouraging the elderly folks and presenting a sacred music concert. The rest of the students prepared for the afternoon’s children’s outreach. The twelve children who came played safari-themed games, sang Bible songs, learned a verse, and heard a story from the Bible.
In the evening, several students and sponsors headed to Bethel Baptist Fellowship in Sheepshead Bay to minister in music and share testimonies. Kaitlyn Unruh shared a particular blessing of the day: a Roman Catholic man asked her about differences in church denominations because the Gospel was apparently preached at the funeral he was at this week, and he had just begun to distinguish the message of Scripture compared to works-based religions.
In the morning the Memorial team went to Manhattan to ride the ferry, see Wall Street and the Freedom Tower, and walk the Brooklyn Bridge. On the way to and from, the students were able to have some good conversations on the subway. “I got to talk to a Chinese man on the subway, and he was very friendly. I got to give him a Chinese tract. I thought he was more open because of our common background. It is cool how God can use anything to open a door,” said senior Katie Taylor
In the afternoon a few students went with Pastor Christopher to visit a shut-in lady. As they were ministering to her, the students were encouraged themselves by this woman’s testimony. Most of the team hit the streets and parks again to pass out more tracts and fliers for the Bible Club on Thursday.
For the students and sponsors at Bay Ridge, rain showers marked the day. After a breakfast of Brooklyn bagels, they took the subway to Manhattan to see several religious sites and other famous spots. Lynelle Mowrey was particularly encouraged on the subway trip to Manhattan with the openness of people with whom she shared the Gospel.
Following a visit to Grant’s Tomb, the team dashed to Riverside Church in a downpour and then walked to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The team continued, umbrellas up, to Central Park to pose with the statue of Balto (particularly famous to Mr. Woods’ band students) and to 5th Avenue to visit the historic Temple Emanu-El. In the afternoon, team members once again hit the Bay Ridge streets to distribute tracts, fliers for services, and Children’s Rally invitations. The day closed with the evening service and fellowship at the church.
The morning rain changed the Memorial team plans as well. The team went down to Grand Central Station and sang in the subway. The Lord really blessed as several students were able to have long conversations with people. Students and sponsors passed out many tracts as people walked past, and the response was very positive. “It was a fantastic experience to talk to a lady at Grand Central Station. We talked about just about everything, including the Gospel. It was amazing how open she was. I really feel that God is working in her life. I’m hoping I get many more opportunities like this to talk to people,” commented senior David Allen.
While the majority of the team went down to Grand Central Station, Mr. Ericson and five students went to Williamsburg Bible Church and passed out fliers in the shops around the church. During the afternoon, team members passed out fliers for the Children’s Rally that was held at 4 in the church. The second rally will be on Thursday. In the evening the team had another service at the church with Doug Lowery.
At Memorial Baptist, day three began with a trip down to 5th Avenue to see St. Patrick’s Cathedral and to do some shopping before eating lunch in Central Park. After returning to the church in the early afternoon, the students hit the streets again to pass out fliers for the Children’s Rallies on Tuesday and Thursday. Groups went to nearby schools, parks, and the surrounding neighborhoods to get the word out. The evening featured several students playing instrumental numbers, and Evangelist Doug Lowery brought another message.
On day three, Craig Hartman, director of Shalom Ministries, came to Bay Ridge Baptist Church to teach the team about witnessing to the Jewish community in New York and challenged the students to know the plan of salvation in the Old Testament. After the session with Mr. Hartman, team member Mark Vowels shared with the team his realization of his personal need to study the Scriptures in depth. The team, accompanied by Pastor Walker and some of the church people, walked into Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge to see the Financial District, including the World Trade Center site. In the afternoon, the team passed out tracts, fliers for the services, and invitations to the children’s ministries. At the evening service, the team met a third person who had come to Bay Ridge Baptist Church this year because of fliers they received from last year’s BJA mission team. What an amazing reminder to the team that they never know how God will use the tracts and fliers that they distribute this week.
By day two, the students at Bay Ridge Baptist Church had contributed to the church’s ministry with manual labor, musical and children’s ministries, and neighborhood outreach. After completing a list of work that included not only cleaning inside and out but also moving a World War II-era desk and building a ladder to a loft for Pastor Jason Walker, some of the students were able to enjoy playing basketball with neighborhood teens on Saturday. On Sunday the students multiplied their ministry of children’s church and vocal and instrumental music by having a small group travel by subway to Bethel Baptist Fellowship and Pastor Jim Bickel in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. After lunch and afternoon services, the reassembled group learned about the city and its people, viewing Manhattan from the Top of the Rock observation area, observing the beginning of a mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and seeing the flashing lights of Times Square. The Lord used the singing of “Amazing Grace” at St. Patrick’s to challenge senior Caleb Cox to minister the full truth of God’s Word to those who are deceived in being religious but not understanding that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
The students at Memorial Baptist Church had a very similar schedule, assisting in the ministry of Pastor Stephen Christopher. They were able to take advantage of the beautiful day on Saturday and spend time with the locals at a nearby playground and a park, inviting many to the week’s evangelistic services with Evangelist Doug Lowery and children’s events with the Academy team. An evening trip to the Promenade, viewing the Manhattan skyline across the East River, ended with a time of prayer, asking that the Lord would give opportunities to share the Gospel with many, after Mr. Weathers’ reminder that “for every light you see there is a human soul.” Sunday’s ministry was also doubled, and the students who assisted at the ministry at Bensonhurst also had the thrill of providing the special music for a wedding that took the place of the afternoon service.