When Barry Lawrence pulled into the apartment complex in Rocky
Mount he saw something that would be a rare sight back
in New York. He saw members of
his mission team from New York. City
knocking on doors and meeting people. Lawrence
had to pull the car over to take it all in. “It was that moving,” he said.
Going door-to-door doesn’t work as easily in New
York as it can in North
Carolina. Many apartment buildings do not have easy
access for guests, and Lawrence
said people just aren’t as open to people they do not know.
That didn’t matter to the 11 men who came to North
Carolina to serve for about a week. They were willing
to try whatever strategy might work in the context in which they were serving.
They’re willingness paid off, as that day five people prayed to receive Jesus
Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
This was the first time for members of Union
Church in Rocky
Mount to reach out to people living in this apartment
complex. Pastor Gene Brooks said the mission team’s excitement and eagerness
for evangelism motivated the church in their outreach.
The church and mission team served alongside one another in
the Saturday outreach event as they hosted a lunch and played games with
children, led in music and shared the gospel. The night before the mission team
led the congregation in a special time of worship.
Brooks said he realized that night how long it had been
since he truly worshipped God, and he is grateful for the team’s ministry in
leading worship. “It was cold water washing over my soul,” he said.
Union Missionary members have been to New York twice this
year to serve. On their second trip they met Boto Joseph, pastor of House of
Worship Church in Queens. Joseph helped Lawrence
coordinate the mission trip to North Carolina.
For the past year Lawrence and his wife have managed the
David Dean House in Brooklyn. Later this year they will
move back home to North Carolina in
order to plant a new church.
The team Lawrence
brought from New York represented
three different churches: House of Worship; New Testament in Yonkers
(which planted House of Worship about six years ago); and Amazing Grace in Queens.
The team helped lead worship services and shared their testimonies in different
churches. They also led worship and volunteered at Cameron Boy’s Camp.
Joseph said the team spent many hours in prayer before the
trip, and then they saw God answer those prayers. “I saw God doing everything.
In every service, something was happening. It wasn’t us. I saw God work,” he
said. “I saw Him do what He intends to do. I could see everything unfold in
front of my eyes.”
What unfolded that week were lives changed by the gospel.
The team saw nine people come to faith in Jesus Christ.
One Sunday morning during service a young boy, a middle-aged
adult and a woman in her 70s all came to faith in Christ. “It was a great
picture of what God can do,” Joseph said.
All Joseph could say at first about the baptism later that
day was, “oh my goodness,” at a loss for how to describe what he experienced in
his heart. The team participated in a baptism service for a woman who prayed to
receive Christ as her Savior when she went to New York on a mission trip. She
met Joseph and other team members while in New York working with ministers’
wives. During the baptism service, her son prayed to receive Christ.
It took a visit to New York
for a North Carolina woman to
open her heart to the gospel — and it took a trip to North
Carolina for a man from New
York to open his.
A 22-year-old team member prayed to receive Christ during
the Sunday evening service.
“When (Metro New York Baptist Association) and North
Carolina Baptists began this partnership, we both wanted to see what took place
on this mission trip — the mutual sharing of gifts and ministries that would be
mutually beneficial,” said George Russ, executive director of the Metropolitan
New York Baptist Association (MNYBA).
The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina began a
partnership with MNYBA last year through the Office of Great Commission Partnerships
“Partnerships are what happens when relationships, a mutual
concern and a shared commitment come together. This is what is happening
through the partnership between North Carolina Baptists and MNYBA,” Russ said.
As part of the mission trip the team also went to Southside
Baptist Church in Greensboro.
Pastor Patrick Fuller went to New York City earlier this year on a vision trip
with GCP, and a team from Southside will go this summer to serve. Southside has
developed a five-year commitment to adopt House of Worship, New Testament
Church and Amazing Grace Church. They are also committed to working with them
to help plant between 5-10 new churches.
After the mission team led a Thursday night worship service
at Southside, Fuller said the altar was full. “We had people saved and people
made rededications. God really moved in that service,” he said.
Fuller said hearing testimonies from team members about how
God saved them and how much they want others to know Him as Savior was
“Sometimes we can become complacent and take for granted the
church. They (the team) are very much filled with the Holy Spirit and engaged
in a relationship with Jesus.”
To learn how your church can get involved in New
York City, visit www.ncbaptist.org/gcp or contact Michael
Sowers at (800) 395-5012, ext. 5654, or [email protected].