When we started this summer mission, I was very doubtful and nervous. Last year, we had 19 students and this year, we had 11. Last year, we were totally fine on budget and this year, due to 3 students dropping the week before the summer mission began, we were in the hole and had to make drastic budget cuts and decisions in order to even start the summer mission in the black. Last year, we were excited and trusting God for big things but this year, due to all the drama before the summer mission began, I was already worn out and so nervous about what the summer held.
It was like God said “Oh ye of little faith…see what I can do.” This year we ended up having only 14 less spiritual conversations than all of last summer (and that was with 8 less students/staff than the summer before) and having 11 people accept Christ! Praise God for how He moved in students’ hearts! We also came in under budget – which, if you knew the circumstances and details, is a HUGE miracle! Despite my nervousness about the summer, it turned out to be one of the best summers we have had here in the city. God did great things in our students’ and staffs’ hearts, as well as those we encountered. Here are some quotes we heard from the end of project:
- I have grown more in 5 weeks than in 2 years of knowing Jesus. I learned about surrendering my life to Christ, learned about the Holy Spirit, learned about eternal perspective (never heard that before). Sharing my faith is as easy as sitting down with someone over lunch.
- I can see how God grew me from beginning to end. I can now share the Gospel, I feel capable and equipped – it doesn’t end here!
- I came in not knowing my worth and now God has shown my worth to me.
- I learned that our faithfulness and obedience has a continuous ripple effect beyond what we can see.
- We saw God continually answer our prayers this summer. I learned to be obedient and spend significant time each day talking with God.
- The Lord revealed to me the deep root of my pride, but in that He taught me about his deep love and redemption.
- I learned that my identity is found in Christ and not in my works or my talents. I have learned to read the Word, enjoy Him, and experience intimacy with Jesus.
One of my favorite stories from the summer was hearing about Ronise making a decision to surrender her life to Christ. Ronise met Elise and Taylor in a busy area of campus at LaGuardia Community College in Queens. Ronise became so immersed in the conversation that it was like she didn’t even notice the swarms of people walking by. LaGuardia is a campus with heavy security in which we aren’t really supposed to be on the campus since we aren’t students, much less sharing the Gospel, so we try to lay low near the security guards. During the part where Taylor was sharing the Gospel with Ronise, the security guard “happened” (no coincidence!) to be distracted by something at the other end of the room and wasn’t watching them as they read Scripture and talked about placing your faith in Jesus. Taylor started crying as she heard Ronise’s heart and then watched Ronise pray a prayer to Jesus asking him to forgive her sins and make her a child of His forever – a prayer that lasted 3 minutes with her eyes closed and head down in a very busy intersection of campus.
The Lord even started teaching me some deep truths this summer that I shared with the women on our summer mission and hope to one day share with you all, one day soon when I work up the courage to be open and vulnerable for everyone to hear. I am missing this group something fierce this week as it feels like our family (or at least it has been the last 5 weeks) is missing. Thank you for the significant part you played in 154 people hearing about Jesus, 11 trusting in Him for the first time, and our 22 students and staff growing deeply in their faith!
The question we get now is “What is next?” After summer mission ended last week, we rested over the weekend before we turned around and started heavily planning, making calls, making appointments, etc. to work on ministry partner development. We will travel to SC and NC over the next 4 weeks to have some R&R, visit our support bases, see current partners and churches and meet with potential new ones. Would you pray that God goes before us, letting us share with passion and vision about what God is doing in NYC and leading people to join our team in partnership to make this vision a reality? We are trusting God for a lofty goal but, as he taught us this summer, He can make it happen!
I couldn’t end this post without sharing pictures of our weekend and 4th of July. We spent last weekend letting the kids play in the sprinklers and have a picnic in Central Park and celebrating Emerson’s graduation from pre-school group at church to the older kids and then we spent fourth of July playing in Long Island City by the water, having a cookout with our small group friends, and then watching the fireworks with different friends from our roof. I have said this before, but watching the fireworks from our roof is the best thing ever. You can see fireworks going off around the whole city in all directions AND you get to enjoy them without all the loud bangs! Who needs to watch the Macy’s show on TV when you can watch it in person? The picture below doesn’t do it justice as you can barely see the fireworks on the right hand side of the pic, so just take our word for it.
And just for those who think Brynn will never get hair, check out this picture. And I think she may even have her mama’s curls. Its about time – the girls hair is wavy, but we need one of our 4 kids to have my ringlets. 🙂
Next check-in will be from the South!