Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Looking back on NYC

The Tribeca summer project ended 2 weeks ago. In some ways it seems like it was another lifetime ago. Since then, we’ve gotten re-acclimated to life in the South, visited family and friends, spent a week at the beach and gotten back to Asheville to unpack and get ready for the semester. Through all of this I’ve been trying to wrap my head around our NYC experience this summer.

Stephanie and I both feel like the Lord used us in spite of us this summer. We had a great team of staff and students to lead. I feel like God pushed us to the limits this summer and taught us so much (a lot of which I’m still figuring out).

He taught me a lot about leading others, about speaking truth and sharing my faith. Our team was able to share the Gospel with over 100 people and saw 2 people make the decision to begin following Jesus!

God taught me a lot about relying on Him and not on myself and about finding significance in Him and not in the job I’m doing or in what others think about me. It was such a temptation to base my self worth on the popularity of my decisions and not on the fact that I’ve been adopted in to the family of God.

We learned a lot about seeking the shalom of the city (Jeremiah 29) this summer and what it should look like for a Christian to be a part of a community. In Jeremiah 29 God calls the Israelites to not set up a camp outside the city of Babylon and to separate themselves, but to move in to the city, to marry, have children, plant gardens and become a part of the city, not use it only for what they could get out of it, but to seek the prosperity of it and add to it. This is how God’s people were to be a blessing to the city of Babylon. I learned a lot about how God calls us as Christians today to do the same thing, not to separate ourselves from the culture of our communities and set up our own separate communities, but to cause change within the culture of the communities we live in and to be a blessing to them as we seek to show them Jesus.

These are some of the things that have been on my mind since NYC. Please pray for us and our students as we all continue to process through what God taught us this summer and how to bring it back with us. Here are a couple more pictures from NYC.

Yeah we ate at the original Nathan's on Coney Island. I'd still rather have a Bright Leaf hotdog with mustard, chili and slaw any day!

This is in front of the Queensboro Bridge on a double date with the Woods.
This is the view we had from the roof of our apartment building (Carl's), not bad at all. Thanks for the memories Carl!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

July 4th--a rainy day of waiting around on a pier

The 4th of July in the city is strange day. In order for us to get seats for the Macy's Fireworks show, we arrived at the pier on the East River at 2pm that afternoon! We all reserved our spots, and around 5pm the pier was blocked off so no one else could get on. It's pretty serious business! Here is our group hanging out at the end of the pier:

Around an hour before the fireworks, it started to pour down raining...thankfully Reece and some of the other guys had purchased HUGE tarps that were 30 ft X 10 ft. We had a few extra that we were even able to share with our fellow firework watchers. We created a big tent above our heads using the tarps and successfully kept ourselves dry...and had LOTS of fun in the process. Here are some shots of us enjoying it:
Reece holding the tarp up with an umbrella balanced on his head...
I married a pretty talented guy.

The rain can't get Eden and Heyward down!!

It was pretty stuffy in there, so we stuck our heads out. We realized that we looked pretty funny in the process.

Hope you all had a very happy 4th!!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Hello World, Welcome to New York City

First I want to apologize for the large gap since the last post. Life has been particularly busy this past 2 weeks. Ministry has been great, and strangely enough we'll only be here for a little over a week more. Each week in New York City, we've focused on a different area of ministry. This past week our focus was international ministry. You may have heard us talk about the Queens borough of New York City being the most diverse place on the planet according to a recent census poll--well we've certainly experience the great diversity in our backyard here.

...on the campus of Columbia University

This week we went through training on how to do ministry with international students who are studying in the US. One thing that really excited me is the idea of the world literally coming here. Jesus desires for every tribe, tongue and nation to know Him, which is a high calling for us. We have many friends who are overseas helping to fulfill that calling even this summer. But reaching the international students who have come to our country makes so much sense when we actually live here! They have provided the money for the flight here, they are the ones who desire to learn our beliefs and culture, and many times they are never befriended by a Christian American during their time in the US. All of these reasons made our week of learning how to do international ministry very necessary and exciting.

On Monday of this week, I met a girl named Celia (that was her American name...I can't pronounce her Chinese name) who is an international student who came to study 1 1/2 ago from China. Celia was so sweet, and was so open to talking about her home country and the values and beliefs she was brought up with. She told be that in her country she had never learned that their was a spiritual part of life, and had no idea who God is or how to know Him. In fact, she has only one Christian friend in China, but Celia was confused by her beliefs because she didn't know who God was. It was amazing to see her openness to talking about Jesus and our belief that He is the only way to know God personally because of His sacrifice for us on the cross. Celia walked away saying that I had given her a lot to think about. Would you please pray that our conversation would be used in her life to bring her to know Jesus?

It's been awesome seeing our students stepping out to love people in the city. They've amazed us with how they're committed to meeting people where they're at and trusting God to make Himself known. Would you also pray for these 9 students to have endurance to finish well in this last week on campus before heading home? Here is a picture of these awesome students: