BJA’s New York mission trip is one of the highlights of every year for me. Why? Because of the opportunity it is to see our students put into practice things they have learned.
We have two “teams” once we arrive in New York. Through the week our students rub shoulders with church planters, pastors, an evangelist, a missionary, and their wives, as well as believers maintaining a Kingdom mindset at secular places of work.
This year, together the two teams heard from Dr. Craig Hartman of Shalom Ministries and then walked through an orthodox Jewish neighborhood distributing invitations to a Holocaust Remembrance Day at Bethel. For the small group of students I was with, the experience was especially memorable as an orthodox gentleman wasn’t quite so gentle, tearing the invitation into small bits while energetically informing us that we were not welcome there!
The two teams had varied ministries during the week. One team ministered at Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn, pastored by Steve Christopher, with the major emphasis being their week-long evangelistic meetings. The other team, which I was on, assisted at a church planted 20 years ago by Pastor Jim Bickel, Bethel Baptist Fellowship in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, with their Sunday and Wednesday services. For the Bethel team, three others days were dedicated to helping with two church plants that have gone out from BBF.
The church plant in Queens, pastored by Tim Richmond, is moving toward becoming self-supporting. The day we helped him, we distributed around 5,000 flyers at busy subway stops within easy travel distance of the church. The Memorial team also helped in Queens, and the group they sent on another day distributed approximately 3,500 additional flyers.
The other church plant is in the Bronx. Ben and Andrea Hamilton finished deputation in late 2016. Our role was to help spread the word about Bible studies they are offering. Though our travel time was nearly two hours each way, our uncomplaining students hung door hangers all around the Kingsbridge area and stood on busy street corners of subway stops, inviting people to a Bible study.
What a joy it was to soon hear from Pastor Bickel and from Pastor Hamilton as they rejoiced about some early fruit from our labor there. Pastor Ben received several contacts as a result of our group’s work. One of the contacts had been searching for truth and travelled the hour from the Bronx to Sheepshead Bay to attend church at Bethel with the Hamilton’s. The second Sunday there he responded to the invitation and professed the Lord Jesus as his Savior!
Our students put into practice what they have learned by helping a local church with music and children’s ministry, fellowshipping with other believers there, and reaching out to share the gospel in easy and difficult situations. We thank our God not only for the opportunity to assist these ministries but also to see our students put into practice in these particular experiences the truth they have been taught at BJA. There truly is “no greater joy than to [see that our students] walk in truth” (3 John 4).