Today's post was written by Phyliss Wright, our Associate Children's Minister. To read another post by Phyliss about short-term trips to New York, click here for her story on "Fasting and Tattoos."
While leading a mission trip to New York two summers ago, my team and I discovered the people group we were sent out to work among typically did not get up and out until sometime after lunch. What were we to do? Do we sit in our hotel rooms until then? NO! We were in New York City…so much to see, so much to do! We made the decision to be tourist-y, but prayed each morning that God would keep our eyes open to those around us who might need to know Him. And God graciously granted each person on the team the opportunity to have a gospel conversation with someone while we were sightseeing.
Mine came on the subway late one afternoon. Just before we entered the subway station, I stopped in a small convenience store to buy a bottle of water. I had learned earlier not to drink too much water when we were traveling since there are no restrooms on subways. I really don’t know why I purchased the water, but God had a plan for a $5 bottle of water (things are not cheap in New York). While on the subway, I noticed a man behind me coughing uncontrollably. At first I was a bit annoyed. Germs are a concern when you are in such close contact with so many strangers. Then God reminded me of the water bottle in my backpack. I reached in, pulled it out, turned around, and handed it to the Puerto Rican man sitting behind me. He very gratefully took it.
At the next stop, the woman who was sitting next to him got off, and he invited me to sit down. I cannot tell you how the conversation began, how it moved to the gospel, or how it ended. However, by the time he got off at his stop, he had heard the gospel and was the proud…I mean, shout “Hallelujah” proud… owner of a pink Bible. The only one I had left of the $5 Bibles I had purchased at Lifeway before leaving for New York. The water bottle and the Bible cost the same amount…go figure.
I realized during the conversation that I was more concerned with what the people on my team were thinking of the conversation than I was about the Puerto Rican man. Was I sharing the gospel clearly? Did I leave anything out? Did I sound stupid?
Why was I worried about what my fellow teammates thought? Even more than that, why is it so much easier to share the gospel among people we have never met and will probably never see again? It has been said that it is easier for a Christ-follower to face death than to consistently share the gospel with the people we see everyday. We don’t want to face consistent rejection. We want others to like us. We want to be comfortable. We know that we are supposed to be intentionally sharing the gospel and making disciples right where we are. But we don’t.
I came home from that trip determined to be more intentional, and I have done two things to force me to be more intentional. I started going to the same nail salon each week, so the shop owner and employees would get to know me and I them. This familiarity gives me opportunity to weave gospel threads into our conversation. I also recently began teaching ESL to a group of ladies with the intent to befriend them and to have gospel conversations with them.
Recently, I allowed the sweet Vietnamese lady who so perfectly does my nails each week to wax my eyebrows. Not a good idea. She told me in broken English that my eyebrows were “too manly.” I proceeded to tell her I liked my thick eyebrows, but I was fine with her “cleaning them up” a bit. She insisted they were “too manly” and that she would take care of me. Against my better judgment, I allowed her to wax my eyebrows. Next time she does my nails, she is also getting an invitation to my ESL class.
I am thankful for the opportunity to lead a trip to New York each summer. Through them, I am reminded of the need for daily intentionality, and God uses these trips to refresh me to live faithfully throughout the year.
If you would like to join Phyliss on a short-term trip to New York this summer, visit this site to learn more and to register. To learn more about other short-term trip options, visit this site.