If You Can Make It in New York, Part 1: Getting There Is Just the Beginning

It is the best of cities; it is the worst of cities. If I may borrow from Charles Dickens just a bit in order to describe New York City.

Recently I had a chance to visit New York City for the first time ever. I was there with some people from my church, and our reason for going was to do what is known as “open air evangelism” or “street evangelism.” It’s pretty much walking up to complete strangers and telling them about Jesus Christ, allowing them an opportunity to place their trust in Him. At least that’s the point of it. Somehow over the centuries, we’ve made it so difficult on ourselves to do something that should be so simple, but we were determined to do this.

Now that you know why we were there, let me back up several months to briefly explain how this came about. Ever since last year, the church I go to (Woodcreek in Richardson, Tx) has been doing something called “Everybody Matters.” Why? Because they do. Humans made in the image of God matter to Him, so they should matter to us. Because everyone matters, we should be reaching out to them. Not far removed this overarching theme/objective, our young adults community was exploring what that meant to us as, well, young adults in North Texas. Towards the end of last year and the beginning of this year, we were given lessons (for lack of a better word) on how to share the Gospel with various groups of people. This culminated with the idea to take what we were trying to do beyond our little bubble of life into somewhere else, and a missions trip was born; without going into a lot of details, NYC became the destination.

This idea was presented to us, and it was opened to anyone interested in taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to NYC; it had started with young adults but soon grew to include anyone within the church. From the moment I heard this announcement, I was on board. It wasn’t because I had everything figured out or knew what to expect. Quite the contrary; frankly, I had no idea what to expect. Something you should know about me is I like trying new things and sometimes going to new places. I’d been on a couple missions trips prior, but those times the objective was different, though related; I’d also never been to New York (almost did in 2010). So this was perfect for me, and I was gung-ho to go.

As the months passed, my eagerness ebbed and flowed; life has a way of doing that to our excitement for future events. And then came the event. I don’t know that I was ever fully prepared for this trip, as I didn’t necessarily have any pre-conceived expectations, and when I got there, I was never fully taken in by the sights (as in “this is the most awesome place I’ve ever been”). Don’t get me wrong, there’s something about New York City that kind of draws you in, but at the same time, maybe there’s this sort of disconnect I can’t explain. Or maybe it was just me; after all, I was in a new place with people I’d somewhat gotten to know before this trip. We all were there for the same purpose, yet there were times when it was basically just me with my thoughts in a city I didn’t know.

We arrived on a Sunday afternoon at the church we would be staying during the week. The church we stayed at has multiple services in different languages on any given Sunday, which means the building was not ready for temporary habitation when we arrived, so what did we do in the meantime? Our leader Sam liked to say, “the best way to kill time is to work it to death.” So he had us go do what we came to do, but I’m pretty sure none of us were prepared for that just yet. I think we were expecting to get to work the following day after getting our bearings and such, but that first day we got right to work. And that is where this story really begins.


First John: Poetry Bible Edition

Word of Life, from the beginning
                 We have heard Him
                 We have seen Him
                 We looked and we touched
 Life manifested to us from the Father
                 What we witnessed, we proclaim
 We fellowship with the Father
                 And His Son Jesus Christ
 This is our joy. This is our message.
                 God is light, possessing no darkness.
 If we say we have fellowship yet walk in darkness,
                 We live a lie, not truth
 But if we walk in the Light, we have fellowship
                 And Christ’s blood cleanses our sins.
 If we say we don’t sin
                 We live, though deceived
 But sin when confessed
                 His forgiveness receives
 If we say we don’t sin
                 We call God a liar
                 His word is not in us.
 Little children, don’t sin
                 That’s why I write
 But if you do sin
                 Your Advocate is Christ
 For us and the world
                 Sin is why He died
If we obey Him
                 We know Him.
 If we say we know Him
                 But do not follow Him,
                 Do we really know Him?
When we keep His word,
                 God’s love is perfected
 But when we don’t listen,
                 His word’s misdirected.
To walk as He walked
                 This commandment’s not new
 Though you heard it before
                 Yet I rewrite it to you
A new command I also write
                 To hate your brother
                 Is darkness, not light
                 To walk with hate
                 Is to walk without sight
 I write to you, children
                 Your sins are forgiven
                 And you know the Father
 I write to you, fathers
                 You know Him
                 Who is from the beginning
 I write to you, young men
                 You overcame the evil one
                 You are strong
                 God’s word is in you.
To love the world,
                 Its lusts, which are passing,
 Is to hate the Father
                 The One who is lasting
You know the truth
                 It’s to you I write
 You believe Jesus
                 Is He who is Christ
 Those who deny this
                 Deny Father and Son
 And are not anointed
                 By the Holy One
Now this is a promise
                 We have in Christ
 We’ll not end in death
                 But from the grave rise
 For God grants His child
                 Eternal life
This is a promise
                 That you can receive
 For you are His child
                 If Him you believe
How great is God’s love
                 To be called His child
 Yet the world does not know us
                 For it did not know Him
Abide in Christ
                 Then when He appears
 Your confidence assured
                 You’ll have nothing to fear
Though we know not what we’ll be
                 When Jesus we see
 We know we’ll be like Him
                 He is our surety.
 In this we hope
                 And live with purity
Sin and lawlessness
                 Are one and the same
 Yet conquering sin
                 Is why Jesus came
 Sin is of the devil
                 So don’t live as he
 Righteousness is of God
                 So live righteously
 This is how a child is known
                 Which father he has
                 Whose seed has been sown
 The seed of God results in what’s right
                 Love for one’s brother
                 Love for each other
Look at Cain
                 His brother he killed
                 The reason because Cain was e-vil
Don’t be surprised
                 By the world and its hate
 Give me a moment
                 I’ll elaborate
 Death and life are mutually exclusive
                 Hate is of death
                 Life is of love
                 Hate is from below
                 Life is from above
What does it mean?
                 Perhaps you might ask
 Let me illustrate
                 With one simple task:
 You can help someone out,
                 A brother in need,
 Yet choose to ignore him
                 That’s living selfishly
 Love not in word only
                 But also in deed
 Love is best expressed
                 When sacrificial, you see.
In this assurance
                 Our hearts can confide
 By this we can know
                 It’s in Christ we abide
 This is confirmed
                 By His Spirit inside.
Now not every spirit
                 Represents Jesus Christ
 Don’t follow the false ones
                 His humanity they deny
 They are of the world
                 They follow a lie
Love is of God
                 Let’s love each other so
 That we demonstrate love
                 Of the God that we know
 His Son’s death on the cross
                 How His love He did show.
No one’s seen God
                 That much is true
 But of this we testify
                 And pass on to you
 Jesus is God’s Son
                 Who came in the flesh
 This is a truth
                 His children confess
By this you can know
                 Your love is sincere
 When you live in the world
                 Yet without fear
 Of the day of judgment
                 As it draws near
Love casts out fear
                 And God first loved you
 Because of God’s love
                 You can love too
Now if you say you love God
                 Whom you’ve not seen
 But then hate your brother
                 How can this be
 When love’s a commandment
                 God gave unto thee?
Christ is of God
                 His life He did give
 In order to show us
                 How we ought to live
The world full of fear
                 Cannot know love
 When it denies
                 The One from above
 This is the world
                 That Christ overcame
 If you believe Him
                 You’re promised the same.
Both water and Spirit
                 And also the blood
 Testify that Jesus
                 Is man, yet He’s God
 The Spirit is truth
                 And so cannot lie
 This is the message
                 That He testifies
These three witnesses
                 They all agree
 Christ put on flesh
                 Yet is still deity
 God’s Son is the one
                 Who grants victory
These things I have written
                 To you who believe
 And know eternal life
                 Is what you receive
Since we’re God’s children
                 He hears our prayers
 He gives what we need
                 And that shows He cares
 So if you have a request
                 He wants you to share
If you see a brother
                 Who’s caught in sin
 Pray that God will grant
                 Victory to him
There is a sin
                 Which leads not to death
 But sin at its core
                 Is unrighteousness
Those born of God
                 Cannot keep sinning
 For God who is holy
                 Is the one who is winning
 And He is the one
                 In whom we’re depending
 He’s also the one
                 Who gives understanding
Here’s one last thing
                 That I wish to convey
 It’s by Christ’s death
                 Sin’s washed away
So follow the truth
                 Not that which is false
 It wasn’t the idols
                 That died on the cross.

Romans Abbreviated

The Gospel, God’s righteousness communicated
By creation, God’s glory demonstrated
By suppressed truth, man’s sin condemnated
By Christ’s blood, God’s wrath satiated
By faith, God’s holiness imputated
By His Spirit, Christ’s life and death emulated
By Israel, God’s promises illuminated
By mercy, God’s character applicated
In the end, God’s faithfulness vindicated
PS. Paul’s people commendated