EW YORK — As part of myMISSION’s second national missions experience, 32 young women from 10 states gathered on Memorial Day weekend to share their faith alongside Baptist workers in the inner city of New York, and build community with one another.
Six volunteers from St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church in La Puente joined others from Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. They served seven local church plants by prayer-walking, conducting community surveys, helping with English classes, cleaning the streets, assisting with a women’s event, hosting children’s activities and performing other acts of kindness around the area.
“We were working primarily with new church plants who are just getting to know their communities,” said Lena Plunk, ministries consultant for national Woman’s Missionary Union. “This weekend provided a number of opportunities for God’s love to be shown.”
Taelyr Patton, 25, one of the six volunteers from St. Stephen, said, “The reason I love missions is because every time you go God shows you something new.”
She noted that the New York experience changed her “in a very personal way — God showed me His expectations of me as a leader and demanded that I meet them.” Patton added that, though she’d been on mission trips before, “this one was the most challenging because this missions experience forced me to look at myself. I saw God move in a way that I had never seen Him work before in my life.”
By spending time in the community, volunteers saw firsthand some of the needs in the area.
“Everyone is so fast-paced,” said Amanda Wadkins of First Baptist Church in Patoka, IL. “I think everyone is looking for that ‘something’ that will make them have happiness, peace and fulfillment. It surprised me how many have never heard the name of Jesus — right here in the United States of America!”
Wadkins served with Urban Nations Outreach, a church plant that reaches out to South Asians through an English as a Second Language class in Jackson Heights, Queens.
“We were located in what they call Little India. It really felt like we were out of the country,” Wadkins said.
Her group focused on building relationships in the area by helping with a women’s retreat, serving food at a graduation celebration and visiting a family at home.
As for Chazz Evans, 26, of St. Stephen, interacting with members of the community proved to be an eye-opening experience.
“This trip has made me more aware of the need for the gospel in more urban areas,” Evans said. “I’ve learned that needs go far beyond spiritual. There are health, community and financial concerns.
“We must meet people where they are,” Evans asserted.
The St. Stephen group served alongside Mosaic Baptist Church by surveying local residents and performing acts of kindness around the community, including distributing free water and lemonade to passersby.
“I loved the acts of kindness idea, to go out of our way to serve others without expectation,” Evans said.
As volunteers learned about the community’s need for the gospel, church planters also shared about the need for more churches.
New York City has a population of 22.5 million, but has only one Southern Baptist Convention church for every 83,296 residents.
“If every New Yorker decided to go to church one day, there wouldn’t be enough churches to hold them,” said Christy Dyer, community minister at New-City Church. “Our vision is that God opens the door for us to plant one new church in New York City every 18 months to two years.”
As part of that effort, volunteers spent time getting to know the community, its needs and the culture.
“Our church was so blessed and helped by the ladies who came to work with us,” said Todd Brandt, pastor of Christian Bible Church. “It was a great weekend that intensified the efforts of our church.”
“It is certain there will be some long-term partnerships as a result of the myMISSION weekend,” Plunk said.
Tyra Crump, 18, from St. Stephen, noted some long-term effects from her experience: “This trip to NYC has changed me in helping me be more open-minded and willing to try new things, but also in my spiritual journey.
“I had the opportunity to witness and engage in different types of prayer and it has shown me just how powerful prayer can be.”
Patton added, “I am grateful for the experiences that I had in NYC. I feel as if I lived a lifetime in just a weekend.”
The Californians definitely had an unexpected experience while in The Big Apple — as they were traveling on the subway the train suddenly stopped, and eventually the conductor explained that there was a fire on the subway ahead of them.
“In a state of shock people began to get frustrated and upset at the situation. Something tugged at my heart to pray, so I did, out loud with my group,” reported Candisse Terrell, 25.
“As I began to pray I noticed side conversation stopped and people could hear me. As I prayed for a change in the mood I also prayed for the subway ahead of us and all the people affected by the situation.
“Finally I finished my prayer and said Amen, and as soon as I did the conductor announced on the intercom that ‘the fire department has now arrived on the scene and we will be leaving shortly.’”
The occupants on the train began to cheer and clap. “All races, all religions witnessed the power of prayer,” Terrell recounted. “God spoke to me and I listened.
“Just imagine what God might be trying to tell you,” she added. “When you feel the tug don’t give way.”
The mission experience was a partnership between national WMU; Metro New York Baptist Association; and church planters of Christian Bible Church, Graffiti 2, Graffiti 3, Graffiti 5, Mosaic Baptist Church, New-City Church and Urban Nations Outreach.
What is myMISSION?
As WMU’s organization for women ages 18-35, myMISSION allows young
women the opportunity to learn about missions and missionaries by participating
in Bible study, prayer, community-building and hands-on missions projects.
Participants from St. Stephen also included Thomasina Wallace, 25, and Ashley McCoy, 22. Chazz Evans recently was named myMISSION consultant for the California Women’s Ministries & Missions (WMU) team.missions and missionaries by participating in Bible study, prayer, community-building and hands-on missions projects.
For dates and ways to serve on upcoming trips, visit www.wmu.com/trips. For more information about myMISSION ministries and other programs for women visit the website, or contact Eva De La Rosa, director of California Women’s Ministries & Missions.
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