After breakfast the Memorial team went to Prospect Park to invite parents and their children to the Kids Karnival. Although the wind was brisk, the sun was shining; and the students were able to give out a number of invitations and balloon animals. After lunch, the team set up for the Kids Karnival. It began at three, and over the course of the next hour and a half about 40 children with their parents or caregivers came through. Pastor Christopher shared a Gospel lesson with the children, and a number of good contacts were made. The team then prepared for the evening service and the children’s ministry. During a testimony time, Adrienne shared how she was struck with the value of getting to know people’s background stories as you look to share the Gospel with them. Larry also shared how his conversation with a man on the street reminded him that people can be very religious and not know God and that we need to know the Word of God and share it with others.
On Thursday the Port Washington team held its second Kids of Light Day Camp with 25 children attending. The students again handled almost all of the components of the day camp from snacks to games to songs to skit. After a quick lunch, the team left for Queens to help church planter Tim Richmond of Grace Baptist Church, Forest Hills. There the team blitzed a neighborhood with door hangers inviting people to church and handed out other church invitations in a major subway station not far from the church. Returning to Port Washington the team had a time of testimonies and devotion with Kevin Vigneault. Aaron shared that he was encouraged by several people in the subway station who showed specific interest in the invitation and asked follow-up questions about the church.
On Thursday morning the Bethel team returned to the Bronx and helped Pastor Hamilton distribute door hangers for his church in the surrounding neighborhoods. After a short break for lunch, they spent some time cleaning an area of his neighborhood, following the admonition of Pastor Hamilton to “let your light shine among men” by showing some good works and helping the community. Several people stopped at the sight of the cleanup and commented upon the blessing; the team was then able to use the opportunity to invite them to Emmaus Baptist Church. One team member commented that it was amazing to see how much of an impact a group of students could have by doing something so small. For supper the team members went to Grand Central Terminal (aka Grand Central Station) where they ate, experienced the Whispering Corner, and visited The Market. Upon returning to Bethel, the team listened to Pastor Bickel’s challenge and story of God’s working in his life. The day ended with a surprise ice cream celebration for Noah W. to celebrate his birthday. On Friday the team will begin the day assisting Pastor Dan Hyden, pastor of the Russian church at Bethel, by heading to Brighton Beach, a heavily Russian populated area, and handing out tracts. After returning to the church for lunch followed by some heavy cleaning and packing, they’ll head out to Manhattan one last time in order to visit Wall Street, Battery Park and to take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry before they head back to meet the other teams before heading home.
In the morning the Memorial team made their way into lower Manhattan. They visited Trinity Church and its historic churchyard, walked through Wall Street, rode the Staten Island Ferry across the Hudson River and viewed the Statue of Liberty from the boat. After returning to the church in the afternoon, part of the team went to the park to invite children to tomorrow’s Kids Karnival. As the rain cleared, more people came to the park, and the group was able to have a number of conversations with families about coming to the evangelistic services and Karnival. The group additionally ministered in the evangelistic service that evening. The other part of the team travelled to Bethel Baptist Fellowship and participated in the song service before their prayer time. They joined the young people from Bethel for some fellowship and then had a late return to Memorial Baptist Church.
The team at Port Washington enjoyed the first day of the spring break day camp at The Bible Church of Port Washington. Over 20 children came to the two-hour event, and a grand time was had by all. Children enjoyed a skit that the BJA team put on that humorously introduced each day’s themes. The students on the BJA team also led the singing, crafts, game time, and snack time (with snacks that team members made). After lunch the team assisted in ways that substantially helped Pastor John and Kevin with various aspects of ministry. Part of the team canvassed homes where people recently moved into Port Washington with welcome packets that they first stuffed with information and coupons from several area businesses as well as a tract, welcome, and information from the church. The other part of the team did heavy lifting at the church property including raking and cleaning outside, cleaning the auditorium’s carpet, and more. After supper Pastor John shared a devotional about the true meaning of worldliness with the team.
On Wednesday morning the Bethel team started with an invigorating walk on the Highline, an elevated walk way on the west side of Manhattan that has been converted from an old rail line that was used by the meat packing industry in the past. The team picnicked at a spot overlooking the Hudson River. They then headed over to the east side and visited Temple Emmanuel, an elaborate building that houses the largest Jewish Reform congregation in the United States. They then roamed the Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Boro Park and spoke to a friendly rabbi who explained some aspects of Jewish lifestyle. In the evening the team, joined by some Memorial team members, participated in Bethel Baptist’s Wednesday night prayer service. The combined group sang their senior class hymn, “Be Still My Soul,” and fellowshipped with the church teens during the youth group time. Alex and Amber were encouraged by a member of the church who reminded them to follow God’s will in their life. “People will mock you, but just keep going…because it is God’s will.”
The Port Washington team started their day learning from Pastor John and Kevin about the local community; after which they headed out into a large neighborhood to invite families to the church’s spring break day camp being held on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday morning. The students, chaperones, and pastor’s family braved the rain and chilly temps as they talked to hundreds of neighbors about the church’s outreach ministry. After dinner (and a special treat in honor of Kathryn’s birthday!) Pastor Dan Labieniec of West Hills Baptist Church in Huntington, Long Island, shared his testimony of how God saved him and called him into the ministry. Their evening concluded with preparing for the day camp—baking cookies, making balloons animals, preparing crafts, and practicing music and a skit. During the time of devotions William shared the strong sense of family that has been evident and a blessing to him in working and sharing together in the ministry in Port Washington.
On Tuesday the Bethel team went up to the Bronx and assisted Pastor Hamilton by handing out invitations to his newly established church. They braced against the cold rain and distributed cards at various street corners. Noah W. took a wonderful opportunity to speak with a young man where he was able to lay out the complete plan of salvation with him. Additionally, the team enjoyed some good fellowship and pizza with the Hamilton’s at their home and listened to their testimony of God’s providential leading in their lives. In the afternoon the team enjoyed some time at the Rockefeller center, took a walk down 5th Avenue and strolled through Central Park. The band students even snapped a picture with the famed Balto statue! In all, the team members learned to always be about God’s work and follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting in their hearts.
In the morning the Memorial team ministered across the street at the Boardman Apartments, an assisted living home and apartment center. They played and sang hymns for the residents and read portions of Scripture, and Pastor Christopher shared a Gospel message. After lunch, half of 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. Suzanna shared how God answered her prayer for encouragement through a woman exchanging a note with a verse on it for her tract. The second half of the team invited children to the Kids Karnival on Thursday and helped with various tasks around the church. After the evening service the two halves of the team reunited for a time of fellowship with the church and then shared testimonies about what they had been learning. The night ended with the announcement of a later rising time the next morning (which everyone looked forward to).
On Monday morning the Memorial Team woke up to a snow shower and a snow-covered street! After breakfast the team escaped the cold and went underground in the subway system singing hymns and distributing information about the church in one of the main interchanges of the NYC subway system. Many people accepted the literature, and several members of the team were able to have conversations with the people walking through the area. Colin had an extended opportunity to share about the person of Jesus Christ with a man searching for answers. After lunch the team practiced music, prepared the church building for the evening service and went to Prospect Park to distribute invitations for the services and the Kids Karnival they will be holding on Thursday. The evening concluded with the week’s first evangelistic service followed by a time of fellowship with the church members.
The Bethel team, after waking to a snow-blanketed city, headed out to Queens on Monday morning. On the way they visited the reflection pools where the Twin Towers once stood and rode the Roosevelt Island Tramway. In Queens the team met up with Pastor Tim Richmond and Andrew Snavely of Grace Baptist and blitzed the subway stations during rush hour with Gospel tracts. Many team members held conversations with individuals and promised to pray for them by name. One of the students, Amber, had an opportunity to talk to a woman whose story paralleled the story in the literature they gave out: “It was more than a coincidence; in fact, it was God’s plan that Nora’s incident was the same as that man’s.” They learned that a smile and genuine concern can go a long way to reaching others. Their evening concluded with dinner at a small diner whose owner Pastor Richmond is reaching for Christ.
The Port Washington team took an early walk in 5 to 6 inches of fresh snow to the Long Island Rail Road for its “Manhattan tour day.” The day included a ride on the Staten Island Ferry; a tour of the 9/11 Memorial; a visit to St. Paul’s chapel, St. Patrick’s cathedral, and Temple Emanu-El; a walk through Central Park; dinner at Grand Central Terminal; and more. At the evening’s split devotions, Spencer mentioned how sobering the 9/11 Memorial was, as she watched a visitor pray for the family of a woman and unborn child who were killed in the attacks. The team looks forward to their days of ministry in Port Washington through the rest of the week.
NYC Day 1 and 2
After the Memorial team arrived, they enjoyed the company of the Port Washington team for lunch and then started off for an evening of seeing Manhattan. They crossed the East River on the Brooklyn Bridge and then watched the sunset from One World Observatory. On Sunday members of the team had the opportunity to go to three different churches. One group of students ministered at Memorial Baptist Church with music and children’s church, and they shared lunch and a prayer time with several church members. The group of students who went to Bensonhurst Baptist Church shared special music with the church, taught children’s church and also joined that congregation for a fellowship time. The third group went to the Bronx to minister at Grace with music and children’s church. On the many subway rides students started conversations and invited people to Memorial’s services and the Kid’s Karnival. The team finished the evening observing a service in Manhattan and eating supper at Grand Central Station.
After arriving in New York City Saturday morning, the Port Washington team ate lunch with the Memorial team. They then left to walk the Brooklyn Bridge before driving to Port Washington. At The Bible Church of Port Washington they enjoyed dinner with Pastor and Mrs. John Brackbill and the pastoral assistant and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Vigneault, and their families. Sunday the team served during Easter services through music, children’s ministry, and the nursery. They enjoyed a lunch fellowship with the church family. Sunday afternoon they learned about Orthodox Judaism as they walked with Pastor John and Kevin through Borough Park, a large Orthodox Jewish community. At the evening’s devotional time Kathryn noted the futility of religion and the need for genuine faith in Christ.
On Saturday, after a lo(ooooo)ng bus ride, the Bethel team quickly experienced their first taste of subway travel on the way to Sheepshead Bay. Later, they braved the Brooklyn Bridge through incredible wind and admired Coney Island with its vast amusements before returning to Bethel. After eating lots of pizza, they prepared for Sunday. On Sunday the team ministered through special music in both services and teaching children’s church in the afternoon service. During the afternoon service the team had the opportunity to observe a Passover Seder demonstration by Pastor Bickel. They then traveled to the top of the One World Observatory, where they viewed the entirety of the five boroughs of NY tinted by the light of the setting sun. As the team traveled throughout the day, they took many opportunities to share Gospel tracts and engage in conversation with the locals.