[caption id="attachment_559" align="aligncenter" width="944"] "NYC at Night" by FaceMePLS / CC BY 2.0 / Cropped & Altered[/caption]

We walked in New York City all morning, praying for opportunities to speak with people–trying to reach out to love and point people to Christ.

And, to be honest, we were tired.

Our ministry partner on site encouraged us, and in a way gave us permission, to take a break at some point in the day—a little time of respite. We figured McDonalds was as good as any place to stop. Maybe it wouldn’t be as crowded as some other places.

It turned out quite the opposite, we walked into a packed restaurant. So much so, that we needed to share a table with folks —a common occurrence in New York, something to which we Southerners aren’t quite accustomed.

Elizabeth spent several years working in China. And, of course, because of that experience has a great love for Chinese people. She takes any opportunity to make those cultural connections. Anywhere we go, she has this uncanny knack for spotting Chinese folks and reaching out to them.

While we were getting our food she saw a Chinese girl in her early 20’s. It just so happened (we say it’s Providence) that a spot opened up at this girl’s table and we opted to sit and chat with her. We sat down to eat our meals, and soon learned that she was 22-years-old, from China, and traveling in New York. She was participating in a couchsurfing exchange—a website that coordinates stay for travelers on others’ couches while they are passing through town. She was waiting for her host, someone whom she had never met, to come and meet up with her. In the course of our conversation, we also found out she was an atheist.

While we were talking, her host, Mohammed, arrived. We learned that Mohammed was a Muslim. We were able to sit and talk with them for some time, and even reconnect with them the next day. It was such a beautiful time as we listened to them both share about themselves and their beliefs, and we were able to talk through what we believe and even have conversations about misconceptions about Christians that may be widely held in the world.

We learned again that God’s plans are often different than ours. And they’re much superior. We went into McDonald’s for a “break”—He knew better.

This experience and other similar ones were the hallmark of our trip. God consistently stretched us and surprised us. After seeing the “Go Together” global campaign, our small group decided to take a short-term trip to New York together. We weren’t sure what exactly to expect, but we learned that the unknown can be good—because, when you don’t know what to expect, you have to rely on the Holy Spirit. Going on this trip with our small group was especially impactful. We prepared for the trip as a small group—it became another facet of our study time together. Because we already knew each other well, we were able to share leadership and assign responsibilities according to gifting. Everyone was needed and carried out their roles beautifully—a tangible example of the body of Christ working well. We grew together as a small group, and learned deeper things about one another.

We also learned skills that will serve us well here in Birmingham. Most especially, the importance of building in and
creating space in our daily lives for the Holy Spirit to work. It can be as simple as taking time to talk to people, being intentional about making connections and going deeper with people you encounter in your everyday activities.

Go out of your way to make new things a possibility.



Melissa Cantley and Elizabeth Mayfield have been attending The Church at Brook Hills for two years and co-leading a women’s small group for a year and a half. Melissa is an ESOL teacher at a local high school and Elizabeth teaches second grade. They are both international culture aficionados; love a good book, time with kids, and a lively game of Frisbee. For more information on how your small group can Go Together, visit brookhills.org/global.