Every spring, BJA sends a high school mission team to NYC to minister to pastors, missionaries and local residents for one week.
After a morning in Chinatown, an afternoon of cleaning the churches and the 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 2013 New York mission trip.
In the morning the Memorial team had a service at a nursing home across the street from the church. The choir sang, the students played special music and Micah Chetta led the song service. Pastor Stephen Christopher preached as Jesse Andersen translated the message into Chinese. A number of the people living in the building were Chinese, and they were very interested in the service. Many stopped in simply because they heard the translation. The students were able to visit with some of the residents, who seemed very appreciative and glad to have them come. After lunch the team divided into different groups to witness in the park, hand out invitations to the children’s rally, and prepare for the children’s rally. The rally began as a brisk breeze blew through the churchyard, but a number of children attended. The students were able to give the Gospel to the children attending the rally and to a gentleman parked in his car. The evening closed with an evangelistic service where, once again, students performed special music and led the song service. Several students also helped out with children’s church, which had the biggest turnout of the week. After fellowshipping with church members and visitors, the team had its last devotional time. Many students shared testimonies of what the Lord has taught them and how they want to be different as a result of this trip.
Only one more day left—it’s hard to believe! The Bay Ridge students and sponsors enjoyed an opportunity to go to the Norwegian Christian Home, a nursing home where the pastor and his family have ministered through the years. There the team presented a program of vocal and instrumental sacred music for the residents. In the afternoon, the team rode the Staten Island Ferry, enjoying wonderful views of Manhattan and of the Statue of Liberty. Daniel Leung testified that the Lord is teaching him this week to get out of his comfort zone and to share the Gospel with people, whether distributing tracts or speaking directly to people about the Lord. After the evening service, the team had a special time of devotions, the men hearing Pastor Jason’s testimony and the women hearing that of his wife.
In the morning the Memorial team made their way into the city for some sightseeing. However, ministry continued as the team sang hymns while waiting for the subway, passed out tracts, and struck up conversations with the locals. After navigating their way through the inner workings of the NYC subway system, the team emerged at Grand Central Station. They then explored 5th Avenue. After a picnic lunch in Central Park, the team made their way to Temple Emanu-El, the world’s largest Reformed Jewish Synagogue, for a tour. Once the team made their way back for a little rest time, they were up and ready to hit the parks and playgrounds, handing out flyers for tomorrow’s Children’s Rally. The Lord gave many students opportunities to have in-depth conversations with people in the park. Micah Chetta encouraged himself and others to keep boldly reaching out to those around them.
The Bay Ridge group (accompanied by Pastor Walker, Evangelist Boyle and his son, and a family from the church) took the subway to Manhattan to see the Financial District, including the World Trade Center site. A visit to the 9/11 Memorial plaza was a sobering reminder of the souls that entered eternity as a result of the terrorist attacks. The second afternoon children’s outreach saw another 20 children and again new contacts for Bay Ridge Baptist Church. Wednesday evening, part of the group ministered in music and preaching at Bethel Baptist Fellowship while the remainder ministered in music and with the children at children’s church. McKinley Brown and Leah Petterson shared an unusual opportunity to witness on the subway—though apparently unreceptive, the young man they spoke with heard the Truth and is thinking about it.
The Bay Ridge group stayed in Brooklyn on Tuesday, focusing on Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s children’s outreaches. The morning’s preparations included making balloon animals, preparing the grounds, and distributing invitations as well as doing laundry. While some of the team spent time on the streets and subways to invite as many as possible to the children’s events and the evening services, others stayed at the church for the children’s outreach. A Muslim mom eagerly said that she had attended with her children two years ago and would come tomorrow. At today’s event about 20 children played cowboy-themed games, sang Bible songs, learned a verse and heard a Bible lesson. Two new adult contacts (Hindu and Muslim moms) attended with their four children. During evening testimonies, Stephen Sidwell told of the Lord’s work in his life this week through the diversity of national backgrounds here in Brooklyn showing him the need of salvation for all people groups.
The Memorial team spent the day in Brooklyn. In the morning they assisted two local street evangelists who minister in the area. As the preachers explained salvation with the aid of a picture, team members sang, passed out gospel literature and talked to those who showed interest. Esperanza Gomez had the opportunity to talk with a Catholic lady at length. In the afternoon the team split into smaller groups with some going to the parks and playgrounds while others stayed near the church to help clean and plan for the children’s rally on Thursday. During the evening testimony time a number of students expressed their desire to be bolder in their witness and to share the Gospel with greater confidence.
At Memorial Baptist, Monday began with a ferry crossing to Staten Island to see a view of the Statue of Liberty as well as the Manhattan skyline from the water. The team walked by the Freedom Tower, crossed through Wall Street and ate lunch at Pier 17. After returning to the church in the afternoon, the students hit the streets again to pass out fliers for the children’s rally on Thursday and invitations to the evening revival services. Groups went to a nearby park and the surrounding neighborhoods to get the word out. Several students were able to have in-depth conversations about the Gospel with people at the park near the church. That evening the team sang as a choir, several students played instrumental numbers and Evangelist Tom Palmer brought a second message.
For the students and sponsors at Bay Ridge, Monday had an emphasis on Jewish evangelism. Dr. Craig Hartman, director of Shalom Ministries, came to share his testimony and to challenge the team about reaching out to Jews with the Gospel. The team then had an opportunity to visit the historic Temple Emanu-El, a complement to the morning’s instruction. After a picnic in Central Park and posing with the statue of Balto (particularly famous to Mr. Woods’ band students), team members headed back to Bay Ridge to prepare for the evening service, continuing to use the subway interaction to distribute invitations to the week’s services and to share the Gospel. Andrew Champ testified that the Lord has challenged him this week through the effectiveness of the “Jona tract,” which was written after the homegoing of classmate Jona Torres two years ago. The day closed with the evening service and fellowship at the church. It was exciting to hear during the service that a lady had come to the Lord at the church on Sunday.
Days 1 & 2
By the second day at Bay Ridge Baptist Church, Bob Jones Academy high school students had contributed to the church’s ministry with manual labor, musical and children’s ministries, and neighborhood outreach. After practicing and preparing for Sunday’s services, the team cleaned the church, passed out invitations to the week’s evangelistic services and special afternoon children’s Bible clubs, and completed some projects around the church (such as mounting paper towel holders, loading scrap metal for recycling and helping clear a linen cabinet). In the evening, the team spent time with Pastor Jason Walker and his daughter and the week’s evangelist, Richard Boyle, and his son in a walking trip across the Brooklyn Bridge—getting a view of the Manhattan skyline and some of the needs of the city. On the Lord’s Day, Resurrection Sunday, the students multiplied their ministry of children’s church and vocal and instrumental music by having a small group travel to Bethel Baptist Fellowship pastored by Jim Bickel in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. After lunch and afternoon services, the reassembled group learned more about the city and its people, viewing an Easter Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and looking at the city from the “Top of the Rock” Observation Deck. As a direct result of the students’ hearty gospel singing while waiting for the subway, Pastor Walker was able to have contact with several young women who were listening nearby.
The students at Memorial Baptist Church had a similar schedule, assisting in the ministry of Pastor Stephen Christopher. During the afternoon on Saturday students passed out invitations to the evening evangelistic services with Evangelist Tom Palmer and a children’s rally. An evening trip to the Promenade with its spectacular view of 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 as a group of students assisted in the ministry at Bensonhurst Baptist Church where Jason Mead is pastor. The opening services of the evangelistic meetings were held at Memorial and the students ministered in special music. The day concluded with a trip to Times Square, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and the “Top of the Rock.” Each of these places was a sobering reminder of the empty hopes of materialism and false religion. Traveling to and from the church on the subway provided unique opportunities for students to share the Gospel and encourage believers.