Bethel joined Pastor Ben Hamilton in the Bronx again, where they helped with a community service project. As the team cleaned out underbrush and trash from a stairwell, members of the community came up to thank them for their work. That gave Pastor Hamilton an open door to tell the people about his church just up the street. The team had a great time working together, singing, and laughing as they raked and picked up trash. After a pizza lunch with the Hamilton family, the team finished their last full day in New York with sightseeing. The sites seen included the charging bull, the New York Stock Exchange, and a ride on the Staten Island Ferry, followed by dinner at Grand Central Station. Once back at the church, Pastor Bickel left everyone with a few thoughts about a life in ministry: chase after God, say yes to surrender, and depend on God because “I can’t; He can.”
The Memorial team began the morning by dividing into groups and once again inviting people in the neighborhood to the evangelistic services and Kids Karnival. Some students also walked through Prospect Park taking a religious interest survey and having conversations with people. After lunch the team cleared a large room at the church to hold the Karnival, blew up balloons, and set up games. About seventy children, along with their mothers or nannies, attended the Karnival, and many of them were present for a Gospel presentation midway through the Karnival. Afterward, the team cleaned up the room, ate dinner, and prepared for the evening service. The students participated in the service through music and children’s church, and joined the assistant pastor and his family for a view of Manhattan from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.
The Port Washington team helped Pastor Kevin and the ministry of TBCPW several ways.
- Hung hundreds of door-hanger packets welcoming new move-in’s
- Completed another painting project
- Set up a new prayer room
- Deep-cleaned the kitchen
- Spent time with the pastor’s children
- Reset furniture piled together during recent repairs
They also benefited while being ministered to:
- Pastor Dan Labieniec shared his testimony with the team.
- Pastor Kevin helped the team think through how to answer the question “How do I know the Bible is God’s Word?”
- A church member provided a dinner of specialty pizzas.
- Pastor Kevin and his wife hosted the team for ice cream and testimonies at their home.
Friday morning the teams leave for Greenville—planning to spend Friday night in Virginia and to complete the trip Saturday.
Wednesday morning the Memorial team made their way into lower Manhattan. They stopped by Trinity Church, walked through Wall Street, and saw Charging Bull on their way to the Staten Island Ferry. While on the ferry, they saw the Statue of Liberty and ate lunch. After returning to Brooklyn, the team distributed invitations for the Kids Karnival and evangelistic services. They used chalk on the sidewalk in front of the church and played musical instruments to advertise the Karnival. In the evening, a portion of the team joined and fellowshipped with the believers in the Wednesday night prayer service at Bethel Baptist Fellowship. During the service the group combined with the Bethel and Port Washington teams to sing the senior class hymn, “A Passion for Thee.”
The Port Washington team enjoyed working and learning in a variety of locations and ways.
Manual labor at the Bible Church of Port Washington
- Prepping walls for paint inside the building
- Landscaping freshening: weeding and trimming (and outright tree removal)
Shalom Day at Bethel Baptist Fellowship and Borough Park
- Learning from Dr. Craig Hartman about a scriptural view of Jewish evangelism as well as an understanding of modern United States-Israeli politics
- Visiting Borough Park, an orthodox Jewish neighborhood
Visiting and ministering in prayer meeting at Bethel Baptist Fellowship
- Joining the Bethel team and members of the Memorial team in special music
- Enjoying prayer meeting and fellowship with folks from BBF
- Enjoying a debrief with Dr. Hartman
For the Bethel team, the day started with a quick trip to Coney Island: a chance to see the beach and historic sites. At lunch the Port Washington team joined their fellow students to listen to Dr. Craig Hartman, the director of Shalom Ministries. He spoke about the orthodox Jewish community of Borough Park where the teams would be going. Dr. Hartman pointed out many instances in the Bible where ministering to the Jews is highlighted, emphasizing the importance of bringing the gospel to the Jewish people. He then described current Middle Eastern politics and how that affects Jews in places like Borough Park. The excursion included a stop at a Jewish bookstore followed by dinner at Mendelsohn’s. Lizzy walked through the community asking herself why these people put so much emphasis on meaningless tradition. All three teams were represented at the Wednesday evening service at Bethel Baptist Fellowship. They sang a special for the congregation, and Mr. Henderson brought the message. The Bethel team ended the night by working on preparing tracts for the Russian church and enjoying some leftovers together before bed.
After a stop at the Bryant Park carousel and the New York Public Library, the Bethel Team ate a picnic lunch in Central Park. A quick stop at Trump Tower led into a subway ride up into the Bronx. Pastor Ben Hamilton stationed groups at major intersections to pass out invitations to Emmaus Road Baptist Church. Aaron had an enormous number of people come to him, so many that he was encouraged to continue eagerly passing out invitations far after the time was over. The team was able to eat a Taco Tuesday dinner with church members and the Hamilton family at their home. On the long subway ride back, many team members had conversations with those around them.
The Memorial Baptist team began the day with a presentation from Pastor Christopher on understanding Jewish culture and ministering to Jewish people. The team then traveled to an orthodox Jewish neighborhood and observed a portion of the funeral for Grand Rabbi Yisrul Avraham Portugal. He was a 95-year-old Holocaust survivor who emphasized a version of Hasidic Judaism that stretched back to pre-World War 2 Europe.
In the afternoon the team divided into four smaller groups. Three groups went to local parks with balloons and face paint to invite families to the Thursday Kids Karnival. The remaining group took to the courts to start up basketball games with local middle school students and share tracts with them. Darrel, Hannah, and Micah each expressed how being able to build relationships through basketball with the teens made an opportunity to share Christ with them. The team finished the day ministering in the evangelistic service through music and children’s church.
The Port Washington team experienced a variety of opportunities with the gospel on Tuesday.
- Learning: American Gospel: Christ Alone, a compelling film contrasting the prosperity gospel with biblical truth
- Hearing: Pastor Tim Richmond sharing his story of “why here?”
- Sharing: using coffee & tract table, a book table, and literature at subway stops to share the gospel and invitations to church
- Following another providential path: while the team was with Pastor Richmond, Caleb and Dr. White were at the Vigneault’s home—keeping Caleb’s foot up while enjoying the ministry of mutual encouragement with Pastor Kevin’s wife and children
- Applying: from Pastor Andy Woodard hearing “10 things” to know or do while beginning college
The Bethel Team started out the morning by walking the Highline trail along the Hudson River in a revamped area of Manhattan. After riding the tram over to Roosevelt Island, the team met Pastor Richmond in Queens. He talked to them about the diversity in Queens, the most diverse city in the world. The whole world is represented right here in New York City! Then the team went into the subways and passed out Easter invitations. Over 2000 people took them and many started reading then and there. On the subways today, they had many conversation opportunities and were able to give tracts to a number of individuals. Cede had one particular opportunity to share her personal testimony and another opportunity to connect with a fellow South Carolinian – a lady who once lived in Greenville and went to school just down the street from our school!
Monday morning saw the Memorial Team go underground on the subway system. They sang hymns and distributed tracts and information about the church in one of the main interchanges of the NYC subway system. Five handbell students also played their bells. Many people accepted the literature, and several members of the team were able to have conversations with the people walking through the area. Matt said the experience, although difficult at first, reinforced to him that you should not be ashamed of sharing your faith. The team returned to the church for lunch and then left for local parks to distribute invitations for the nightly evangelistic services and Thursday’s Kids Karnival. To attract attention, the students made and gave away balloon animals and painted faces. The evening concluded with the week’s first evangelistic service followed by a time of fellowship with the church members.
The Port Washington crew enjoyed their chilly and windy but dry and sunny day touring Manhattan.
- Rail—Long Island Railroad and subways
- Elevator—102 stories of the Freedom Tower in an ear-popping 47 seconds
- Over water—Staten Island Ferry and Brooklyn Bridge
- On land—over 11 miles on foot (according to an app), wheelchair, and air cast (eventually exchanged for a shoe)
- Animal, sort of—Karina tried for rides on Central Park’s Balto and Wall Street’s bull, but, alas, the statues didn’t move
- Pastor Kevin, with us for the day; BJA grad Jo, now living in NYC, with us for a few hours
- Mingling with people of many languages and needs
- Listening to each other’s short presentations about the landmarks we visited
- All: sobering reminder of the uncertainty of life at the World Trade Center memorial
- Renee: sincere but empty worship at St. Patrick’s Cathedral
- Meredith: importance of caring for one another both physically and spiritually
- David K: need to see life through a biblical lens rather than being manipulated by ad designs
Days 1 & 2
After arriving in New York City Saturday afternoon, the Memorial team ate lunch and set off for a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. They crossed Manhattan to view the 9/11 Memorial and ascend One World Trade Center to the observation deck.
On Sunday morning, the team divided into three groups. The first group 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 second group went to Bensonhurst Baptist Church, where they ministered through children’s church and playing the bells. After the service, they ate lunch and fellowshipped with the church. The third group traveled to Grace Baptist Church in Queens, where they distributed invitations to an Easter service. They also ministered by providing special music and helping with the children’s church. On the subway ride to Queens, Susanna had the opportunity to share the Gospel with a woman in the same car.
After arriving in the city, the Bethel team ate lunch with Memorial and headed by metro into the city. They all walked across the Brooklyn Bridge as Mrs. Uwarow explained the history. On the way back to the church, Luke struck up a conversation with a man about this man’s life story. The team learned today that starting conversations can be as simple as a greeting; all it takes, with the Lord’s help, is the willingness to be friendly and kind.
Sunday morning, the team participated with Bethel in their services, lunch, and Bible study. All agreed one of the most interesting things was to learn about the stories of the church members. They come from different backgrounds but gather together to worship as a family. At St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Miranda and Christine reminisced about how many people seemed to be seeking something apart from Christ. Right at sundown, they had the opportunity to visit the Freedom Tower. The view was breathtaking. They could see part of all five boroughs, including where they are in Sheepshead Bay.
The crew at The Bible Church of Port Washington has enjoyed
- spending time with Pastor Kevin Vigneault and his family
- handing out church literature and playing ball with locals at a nearby park
- presenting special music and helping with audio-visuals during church services
- teaching children’s Sunday School and children’s church
- preparing new-move-in packets to distribute later in the week
- interacting with church kids & teens in an afternoon games, pizza, and testimony time
- having gender-specific evening devotions with Pastor Kevin and his wife
- bonus item #1: renting a lightweight wheelchair for a team member who fractured his ankle just before the trip
- bonus item #2: a team member going to urgent care; we’re all glad he failed to become a second team member with a fractured bone. A wrap, brace, and walking boot should suffice for Monday’s day-long trip to Manhattan.