NOTE: Since I moved my blog from MSN to Blogspot, I have archived here some popular posts from the old MSN site. Here is a post from July 10, 2005:
Jesus is in New York City
Tonight as we gathered for group devotional before going to our rooms, I asked the group, "Now that you have been in New York City for 24 hours, what struck you most? What really caught your attention?" Immediately, Rob P. said, "Jesus is in New York City. When I visited here before, I wasn't sure if God was here. But after today, I know that He is." Everybody agreed, not only because we found many people who were friendly and glad to give us directions, but because today we visited two very different, but very ALIVE and growing churches.
This morning we went to The Journey, a church that meets in the Grand Ballroom of the Manhattan Center, a theater withint sight of the Empire State Building. They had a big crowd, awesome contemporary music, and a pastor who preached a simple, clear message about the gospel and challenged people to do missions locally, regionally, nationally and internationally, like Acts 1:8 says. They do all kinds of missions in all of those areas. The Journey has three services, and probably had 500 people in the service we attended. God is blessing, as just last week 9 people accepted Christ at their church. The Journey is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, and is only a three-year-old church. They use a lot of video clips in their services, and a great deal of humor. But they were dead serious when it came to sharing the gospel.
We then left and rode the subway (carefully keeping our travel groups togethr; I was much better today) to the World Trade Center site. My sister Nancy met went to church with us at The Journey and escorted us around Manhattan. We saw St. Paul's church nearby, where there are memorial displays from September 11 of pictures of people who died, and banners from people. We saw people signing a banner to the victims of the London bombings.
After lunch downtown, we rode the subway to Brooklyn, and worshiped at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. It was packed with over 4,000 people for the afternoon service. They have three services every day. The people dressed more formally at this church, and the majority were African-American, although there was a large minority of whites and also a fair number of Latino and Asian people. The service lasted 2 and a half hours, and was highly intense with emotion. But instead of contemporary music, they sang gospel songs, many that we already knew, and sang with all their hearts, clapping in a loud rhythm as they sang. The Brooklyn Tabernacle choir sang with such conviction and power that at times I was moved to tears, at other times my heart was raised in praise, and at times I was nearly knocked down by the power of the choir. Pastor Jim Cymbala preached a great sermon on facts to keep in mind about the Second Coming, and gave an invitation, and a large number of people came forward to receive Christ.
On the subway ride back to the Hostel, a woman from Philadelphia asked me about our "Paint the Town" nametags, and I was able to tell her that we were painting the schools to share the hope of Christ in the city.
No wonder the scripture I shared today in our devotional was Acts 18:9-10: "Don't be afraid, but keep on speaking and don't be silent. For I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to hurt you, because I have many people in this city." That is our prayer for the city as we begin to paint Middle School 207 in Western Bronx tomorrow.