Hello from New York

14 Commentsby   |  06.20.11  |  The Bronx, New York

My biggest hello from the Big Apple! My first days here have been such an adventure. It is clear God is working in the Bronx and in expanding my comfort zone.

My flight and arrival went smoothly and I couldn’t help but stare at the scale of this city as we flew overhead to La Guardia and a cab drove me through the highways and city streets to my new home. The cab dropped me off at the closest intersection and I was quickly picked up by the resident missionary of Christ Fellowship Network, Jared Looney. It was so great to see a face I recognized from Skype in such a new place.

When he dropped me off at where I would be living, I soon came to realize it was not the home of the a dominican family he had told me about. As it happens, the internship this summer is falling differently than any other because of the sheer number of people the CFN (who’s outreach to those on the fringes leads to a meager-if-existent contribution) is having to house for the next month or so. In addition to myself and my partner who will be flying in on July 1st, there are two students from ACU’s Graduate School of Theology (Penny and Carol) who are working on research for their thesis here while also interning. With a grand total of 4, the aging couple would not have had room for everyone, nor been up to all the demands that having 4 extra people living with you can entail. The money Penny & Carol raised to live here combined with a contribution from the CFN’s budget allowed them to take over the lease of a nearby apartment from the month they arrived (January) until July.  So I currently find myself living with two wonderful sisters in Christ who welcomed me and the unconventional arrangement with grace and friendship. I have never had any sisters before but they have helped me out just like a younger brother and have been great at helping me get my bearings here. My “room” is a futon in the living room/kitchen and a broom closet is my closet. They share the bedroom and have an extra mattress  for when my partner arrives. We take turns cooking every night and I am quickly becoming impressed by how many more things I actually know how to make than I had thought. I am set to move in with the family I initially thought I would be living with in late July, when the Penny and Carol return to Texas.

Once settled, I was sent to get a Metro Card, a subway map, a Bronx bus map, and explore. I went to all 5 boroughs in the first two days with a list of important religious and cultural sights to see. I saw a Synagogue in the neighborhood nearby my apartment, a Mosque downtown, a Buddhist temple in China Town, St. Peter’s Cathedral, and even went to Stock Exchange on Wall Street, what some consider a temple to Mammon. My second day, I was only allowed to speak in Spanish as I navigated through the hispanic neighborhoods around New York. It was humbling to see what 4 semesters away from immersion and 1 semester away from any kind of instruction can do to diminish your vocabulary. The rest of the week was spent in orientation meetings, reflection, and prayer.

We meet to pray every morning. We all get up at 9:00 and go to a median near the train tracks that it almost a bull’s eye center of the Bronx and pray for the city. We have been praying for God to stir the hearts of the people of the Bronx, and make our mission to go out looking for the answers to prayer. The results, even in the two weeks I have been here, have already been amazing.

A pastor in a rough L.A. neighborhood leading a church that meets open air in a park, has contacted the CFN, feeling called to move and minister in the Bronx. A Mexican brother who has been meeting off and on for the past 6 months or so, began a Bible study with folks back in Mexico through phone & Skype, and has finally begun reaching out to other Mexicans in his neighborhood.  A Ghanian brother who had been out of contact with the CFN for 3 years, called out of the blue and said he has two other guys he’s gotten connected to as well. Young single mother, Facebooked about connecting with a house church as soon as possible. A 3rd generation group, outside of any centralized CFN leadership has just begun in a friendship circle that Jared keeps in touch with. And most exciting of all, last night I got to film the brother-in-law of one of the guys in a house church I attend here, be baptized in a bath tub. He had previously converted to Islam, but has realized that salvation is found in Christ.

I meet with conversation clubs, some that use linguistic worksheets and others that use the Bible, to teach English to those looking to learn at Columbia University. I set up prayer tables 3 days a week where people can write their prayers with no pressure or find out more information about meeting with others seeking Jesus. I have prayed for people who are looking at serving a second stint of jail time, people who’s children are addicted to drugs, and people who can’t find a job that pays over half of minimum wage (or a job at all). The enemy is at work in this city but I sense God’s work as well. Scripture speaks of a God who loves overwhelming odds and responds to the desperate petitions of His children. I could not be more excited for what the next few months hold.

Thank you so much, again, for your support and prayers. I promise you that they are felt each and every day.

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