Saturday, March 31, 2012

Update from New York!

     Words cannot describe how blessed I am to have come to New York on a mission. Since I've been here, I have marveled at the lights of Time Square, grieved in the sight of the Freedom towers, which is also the site of the now demolished World Trade Centers. I have seen the high lifes of District Soho, which is a very upscale neighborhood. I've been to Central Park, and seen John Lennon's memorial. This all seems fun, and to be honest, it was. But, New York has a flip side, and I saw it yesterday during Harlem outreach.

     During Harlem outreach, the NYDC came together and offered the poor and less fortunate a bite to eat, and some hot chocolate for the bitter coldness. In Alabama, we had about two weeks of coldness. I've been wearing my jacket everywhere I go here. Anyways, as we were preparing to hand out food, an ex-convict started stirring up chaos with another man in the line, and we had to seperate them before they fought. We got the ex-convict some food, and led him away to talk with him. My part during the outreach? Dispense the soup, which was basically chicken flavored Ramens. I absolute loved and enjoyed meeting new people, and being able to give them food- something they literally hunger for. I thought I had seen it all until I met a man named Jose.

     Jose had come through the line for food, and I handed him some "dry soup," which is just soup without water. He walked away, and had another member of the NYDC pray with him. But, God kept him there longer... and for a reason, too. As the NYDC crew loaded up and took off, Chris and I began walking back to our apartment (only a few blocks down from Harlem). Jose was still standing by, and I had noticed he had actually walked away. When I saw him bring out a tissue, I knew something was wrong with him. Chris and I approached him, and started talking to him more. The life he lives of going from one shelter to another, constantly running out of medication, struggling to stay alive- it broke my heart. I wanted to pack him up, and bring him home back to Alabama. He is desperate for a job, but because of his "social status" and many disabilities, he's only able to rely on welfare.

     I tell his story to say this- I never realized how good I actually have it until I met Jose. Here I am, with a steady home life- struggling, yet steady. And, this guy has no idea IF he'll get a bed at the next shelter, where they happen to just turn you away to the cold if they're full. I have an okay food supply. This guy relies on outreaches like the NYDC to feed him. The guy NEVER begs for money, and even tried turning away the money I gave to him. He's a humbled man, yet knows he's struggling. So, as we were leaving, I got to pray for Jose, and just bless him. As I walked away, my heart started to break. The last words I told Jose were "If I never see you again, you're face is forever engraved in my heart." And, he was off.

     Here I am, a block from the Freedom towers now, sitting in a Starbucks, and I'm realizing how blessed I am. God has blessed me with so much.

     I'm looking forward to coming home, and seeing everybody! I know this blog was long, but I'm glad you read it, too!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Update from New York!

      Since I've been here in New York, I haven't really been too busy. Today was my first day actually doing any type of outreach, which I loved more than anything. But, until today, I've been able to see a lot of New York, and it's made me realize a lot of things.
    Honor here is not heard of. For instance, whenever I was boarding a seven train to head to our outreach, there was a very talented man playing an accordion by the tracks. The music was beautiful, and filled the air with the sound of soothing jazz. Whenever the man finished playing, no one even noticed. He looked around, expecting some sort of applause at all, but got none. It instantly broke my heart. I wanted to go over and let the guy know I enjoyed it more than he knew, but my train approached as I was heading to him. Although no one paid attention to him, he did make a little bit of money, which I think is amazing. But, money is temporary happiness.

     New York is full of people looking for love and belonging. A lot of people come here expecting to live this high class life without taking in the true streets, and what is actually going on. Being in Spanish Harlem this week has made me step out in faith, and see New York for what it truly is, a place of hurt and despair.

     Today, as I helped at the Chelsea outreach, some of the people there began to get heated with each other over the food we were handing out. It hit me then- these people are starving. Not in just a physical way, but in many other ways. I have grown to see the yearning these people have. Overall, the people were amazing. I got to meet a few of the people who lived in the Chelsea housings, and they were so happy and humbled. The majority of them, at least. I met one man named Philip, a Hispanic/Puerto Rican man, who had lived in Chelsea his whole life. I grew to love this man, because he had a servant's heart to reach out to his community.

     Well, I don't have much else to say, but I do miss home. I hope everyone at home is having an amazing time. When this weekend comes, enjoy the Angels, and then serve whole-heartedly at church Sunday. What you're doing is setting the level for the generations behind you, so that when you do pass the torch, the plan is already clear.

     I love you guys! Please continue to be in prayer for me as I roam these streets, showing the love of Christ.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Third Day in New York

     Sorry for the late post of my trip. So much has been happening.

Sitting in one of the NYDC staff meetings, I learn that these people are SO passionate about this city. They have outreaches literally every single week. It's truly amazing, and I'm blessed to be a part of it. Pastor Brad Reed, the pastor of NYDC is actually at All Access right now in Dallas, so his wife, Stella, has been leading the meeting, and I can tell they have an amazing heart.

Sitting in Pastor Brad and Stella's apartment is luxury from what I've seen so far. Space is scarce in New York, and it's considered luxury if you actually have a little bit of it. The housing is so close together, it's easy to stalk someone here. Not that I am, but I have seen inside of people's houses, and privacy is not to their advantage. It's amazing that people don't even mind.

So far, I've been able to see the majority of the city. My first day here, I saw the Empire State Building, which isn't as big as it's portrayed. I also got to sit in a Hillsong NYC service, which was amazing. We were nearly turned away because there was little space. I come to find out that they actually have to use two different venues for there weekly services. Their Sunday services are in a theater in downtown Chelsea, NY, and they have about five or six services. I go to Highlands, and after two services, I need a nap! It amazes me how they handle it all.

My second day here, I saw Times Square, Ground Zero and the Freedom towers, and many more places that I can't even remember. I ate at a McDonald's in Time Square that was three stories tall. RIDICULOUS! Talk about people hungry for obesity! I'm kidding. But, it was really nice.

I've ridden in a subway for the majority of my travels. It's so sad seeing some of the people on these trains, knowing they're homeless, hungry, and just desperate for love, affection, attention, anything that they can get. Yesterday, I encountered a man on a subway, twice, begging and crying for money, food, anything that could e spared. Even begging for the smallest cent that could be given. A penny would've made the guy happy. My heart broke for this guy, knowing I had no cash, only my debit card.

I can't wait for Highlands to get to experience what I'm experiencing here. God is needed so bad in this city. I walk down the streets, and brush shoulders with complete strangers, and I instantly feel the hurt, pain, suffering, sorrow, every possible depressing thought you can think of. But, I remember this, God IS the God of this city. The Scripture says that "Blessed is the nation whose God is LORD." And, I see this City, and declare that over them.

I'm excited to see what the rest of this trip will reveal.

I miss you guys, and pray God is continuing to do thing in y'all's lives.