Deuteronomy 10:18 says, “He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.”
Last week 20 teenagers and 6 adults from our church family went to New York City to work with a church planter in Manhattan. Our ministry primarily involved serving in the food pantry ministry of the church. This ministry receives thousands of dollars worth of food each week which is distributed to the poor and needy in the community. This food is distributed over the course of five services during the week in which the Gospel is preached. Anything left over is often taken directly to the needier areas in the city and distributed out of the back of a vehicle. Our teens sorted the food, distributed the food, and ministered in song during the services. We also held two open-air outreaches and an open house at the church in which we had the opportunity to tell many of Christ. While there are a lot of things we could say about this mission trip, here are just a few of the things the Lord taught our group.
1. The Providence of God
The trip began with our bus breaking down only two and half hours from home. The repairs needed were serious and we had to have the bus towed. Not knowing whether the trip would now be possible, we returned home. Yet, the Lord had another bus waiting for us. A sister church graciously allowed us to borrow their bus for the week (literally) on a moment’s notice. For that we give thanks as we see the providence of God in the whole situation.
2. The Provision of God
It is difficult to imagine ministering to the poor all week without walking away with a profound sense that God has blessed our lives far beyond what we need to survive. This lesson was repeatedly driven into our hearts over the course of the week. It was also a blessing to see God’s provision of bread open opportunities to tell of the True Bread that has come down from heaven.
3. The Power of God
Much of the team’s ministry took place from midnight to 2am. Such long hours continually pressed home the need for God’s grace and strength for service. It is easy to keep tempers under control when our lives our fine. However, after several days with little sleep, the charade soon comes to an end. The reality of our need for the Lord quickly sets in, as our frailty becomes more apparent. This reality must drive us to the cross all the time.
4. The Word of God
One of the things that I believe everyone on our team will acknowledge is the need to dig deeper into the Scriptures, to know what we believe and why. Often we have a naïve view about our knowledge and ability to accurately communicate the Gospel. Such trips (like this one to NYC) serve as a wake-up call to our spirits. The city has a way of stripping the confidence of Christians who live in fairly religious communities. The cold truth is that we don’t know the Gospel as well as we should.
At Suber Road, our desire is not merely that missions get done through the church, but that the church gets done through missions. In other words, we desire the Lord to glorify Himself by growing us through our experiences on the mission field, both at home and abroad. That is exactly what the Lord accomplished this past week.