This blog, in general, is intended to offer thoughts and guidance on missional communities and the missional response of the church to situations of our time. My thoughts and my writing is born out of my experience as a minister and a pastor in a few different churches over these last 2 decades and most of it is now born out of my experience here in New York.
Occasionally, I’d like to invite you into what God has done in my church as a means to encourage you and spur you on to believe God will do great things through His church.
The first 2 weeks of December were an amazing time for our church. Every year, our church participates in His Toy Store, an event that serves to offer presents at a discount to our neighbors in need each Christmas. This year was different for us as we added to our usual engagement.
Over the last 2 years, God has answered an immense amount of prayers for us as a family in our neighborhood and at my children’s school. By God’s grace, we watched a parent of our son’s classmates come to believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ and she has become the “person of peace” to our neighbors. She grew up in our neighborhood and knows everyone (I call her the mayor) and has become someone who wants the whole neighborhood to know Jesus and His love.
So this year, we hosted His Toy Store in our neighborhood and she invited her friends and families, but we went beyond that. We decided to have a worship gathering and Christmas party the following week, inviting our neighbors and our church to come together for the true hope and joy of Christmas.
When You Look Up and Realize God has Answered Your Prayers
As the night approached, I was really nervous about how it would go and yet hopeful. We wanted it to be a night where families from our kids’ school and the neighborhood experienced the hospitality of Christ by being welcomed into our church family and know the true joy of Christmas throughout the fun of the night.
The night itself went better than I could have even imagined. We ate together as if one family, we danced, laughed, and extended the love of Christ to everyone there. It was absolutely amazing.
There was a moment in the night when I looked around and I saw a crowd of people dancing, having fun, and laughing. Our neighbors had become friends with our church and everyone was having an amazing time together.
As I stood there watching, I realized that this was an answer to decades of prayers that I had forgotten about.
Suddenly, I felt as though God was reminding me of prayers we asked God for long ago and He was revealing that He was in the midst of answering them.
My wife has been praying for New York City for 2 decades, longing to be a part of serving under-resourced communities here to see many know Christ and experience His love. I began praying in college for the Northeast and that God would move to see people come to know the love of Christ in the gospel and experience His love through His church. God graciously allowed us to experience a picture of His answered prayers.
He has and continues to answer our prayers and I’m humbled by it. I’m humbled to be a part of a church that is in love with Jesus and can’t wait to share this love with others. I’m humbled to see God save and then move His gospel into the neighborhood just as He did at the first Christmas.
When You’re Ready to Give Up, Remember God Hears
As you read this, my encouragement to you is to keep praying. So many times we offer prayers to God, wait for Him to respond…tomorrow…or next week…and then we trail off in asking assuming God wants to do other things in our lives and our city.
When you’re ready to give up, remember that God hears. Remember that God wants to do more than you are asking, but as your Father, He loves for you to ask and persevere in asking.
You may find that you look up after a year, 10 years or nearly 20 and realize God has answered in better ways than you could have imagined when you first asked.Have you given up on God answering your prayers? I had & then God answered decades of prayer.
As You Receive The Answer, Ask for More!
For those of you who have seen God answer prayer, keep asking, seeking, and hoping for God to do more. We so quickly move on and begin to stop asking God for more than He has already done. But we need His Kingdom to come and His will to be done beyond what we have seen or even imagined.
Let the answers to your prayers increase your ability to imagine what God can and wants to do in and through your community.
May this Christmas bring you hope to persevere in your prayers and may enjoying His presence be what you hold on to most tightly until you see how He answers your presents.