Kevin and Kristi Cabe love the view from Sunset Park in Brooklyn, N.Y. The park overlooks a backdrop of tall buildings and skyscrapers in Jersey City, Manhattan and Staten Island. Further in the distance one can see Queens and the Bronx.
“It’s really an amazing place to stand and see it all,” writes Kevin on his blog that documents the couple’s recent move to the city.
It’s a much different view for the Southerners. Both have North Carolina ties and were living in Knoxville, Tenn., a few weeks ago before uprooting to the Big Apple. The couple packed up their possessions, sold their car, quit their jobs and moved from a “comfortable life” in Tennessee to Brooklyn.
They now live in a one-room apartment in Bay Ridge, a community of 70,000 people packed within two square miles. As Mission Service Corps missionaries with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) the couple is working alongside Cornerstone Church in Bay Ridge – the only Baptist church in their neighborhood – to help lead locals to Christ. The church, which launched Sept. 11, 2011, is part of NAMB’s Send North America effort to start new churches in cities across the country.
The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina also is involved in several of these Send North America partnerships that include New York, Toronto and Boston.
“It was simply about being obedient [to God],” said Kevin, who spent most of his life growing up in Canton, N.C.
“We had great jobs. We were comfortable. We were secure.”
Kevin has served on staff in the past at Biltmore Baptist Church in Arden and also helped start Pinnacle Church in Canton. He attended Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest. Kristi also attended there and graduated. But the couple didn’t meet until after Kevin moved to Knoxville in 2008. There, he served as student minister at Belmont Heights Baptist Church. The Cabes married in May of 2011.
Kevin and Kristi Cabe, as Mission Service Corps missionaries with the North American Mission Board, is helping with Cornerstone Church. They are coordinating volunteer teams and hitting the pavement to tell others about Jesus and the church.
Kevin first felt called to New York City about two years ago. While on a six-hour layover in Newark, N.J., as he and a mission team returned from an overseas trip to Poland, the team set out to explore the city that never sleeps.
“It was just the enormity … the high rises, knowing that there are millions of people here,” said Kevin, noting there are more than 170 languages represented in the city.
“And knowing that in the South we have churches on every corner. But up north that is not the case.”
Though Kevin concedes there are some “church buildings” in Bay Ridge, there are few congregations that identify themselves as “evangelical” or those who put their sole trust in Jesus Christ for salvation.
“Our goal [is] to help a church as well as lead people to Christ,” he said.
The move has required some adjustment.
Without a vehicle, the Cabes must walk or take the subway to get where they need to go in the city. The people “talk fast” and the cost of living is much higher. As Mission Service Corps missionaries the Cabes are endorsed by NAMB, but they are responsible for raising their own support.
“We were fortunate to raise enough support that will keep us here for several months,” Kevin said.
“But we are going to need jobs … which is good because it will allow us to meet more people.”
Right now the couple has applications out and are actively looking for employment.
The Cabes are working with Nathan Tubbs, a bi-vocational pastor of Cornerstone Church and a 7th-grade science teacher. The church meets in a hotel with about 25 people who attend each week.
As an associate pastor, Kevin leads worship, works with youth and leads a small group. Kristi’s main role with the church involves leading a women’s ministry.
Both have helped Tubbs coordinate volunteer teams and lead groups to hand out flyers and information about Cornerstone. Some of the flyers can be found hanging in stores and in other places around the neighborhood.
“We were afraid that people in the local businesses would be like ‘we don’t want this,’ but they were really friendly and really receptive,” Kristi said.
“Being from the South you always hear that people from up north are rude, and I haven’t experienced that since I’ve been here.”
While riding a subway, Tubbs shared on his cell phone how the Cabes are an answer to four years of prayer.
“Having another couple come in and help out, [Cornerstone’s] ministry has been tripled,” Tubbs said.
“We’re meeting people who have never been in a church before, and no one in their family has been in a church before.”
Tubbs described the work in Brooklyn as being similar to ministry among an “unreached people group” overseas.
According to one study, 83 percent of New York City residents affiliate with some form of organized religion, but only 3 percent claim to trust Christ alone for salvation. “We’re about 97 percent lost,” Tubbs said. “We’re right on the verge of what the International Mission Board would call a people group that’s two percent lost … unreached.”
Overall, the work is going to take time and persistence. “The relationships here are incredibly slow,” Tubbs said. “It takes days, months, years to have the opportunity to share with someone.”
“That’s why a couple like Kevin and Kristi Cabe are so important to our ministry because they come and they stay … and are going to see the long-term benefits of doing that.”
For more information on how your church can become involved in similar partnerships through the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina contact Michael Sowers, senior consultant with Great Commission Partnerships at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5654, or [email protected]. You also can follow the Cabes on their blog at kevinandkristicabe.blogspot.com or contact them at (828) 273-1536.