Going into New York, I didn’t know what to expect. What I heard is that it would be a challenging week and that the Lord would be stretching us through this time. To an extent, I believed it. But in my head I thought, “How hard could it really be?” I knew how to pray with people, and I felt that we had been well-equipped on how to share the gospel. So other than a little nervousness, I was ready.
On Monday, we started the week off in prayer. We spent Monday afternoon praying over the community—its buildings and its people. As we went around to people, there was either a language barrier or a heart barrier. There was one guy at a Wendy’s whom we asked if we could pray with. He refused, rolled his eyes, and said, “I don’t believe in God.” It was discouraging because not only did these people not know God, but they had no desire to know him and wanted nothing to do with him. After that day, our whole trip began to feel pointless. It was hard to see why God would bring us all the way to New York just to walk around the streets and be ignored, and how we were going to find the “jewel” as we were sifting through the haystack.
The Lord quickly showed us how the next day. Going into Tuesday, I was still feeling some of the discouragement from the day before. After much prayer and Bible study, I was refreshed and hopeful for a better day. And that it was! During our training, we were reminded that even though we may not be seeing the results, our interaction with them may be one of the first times some of these people have ever heard about Jesus or encountered a Christian. And even though we may not see the results, our first and second encounters are just as important because we are planting and watering seeds, but ultimately, God will bring the increase. As we went door to door on Tuesday, although we still received some no’s, it was amazing to see the Lord open people’s hearts to even be willing to talk with us and hear the gospel. We were connecting with people. I found myself becoming excited for what the rest of the week would hold, and how God would move.
So Wednesday came, and I was ready to go back out! At first, the day started off slow. There was nothing exciting that happened during the first part of the evening, and our day was ending with an hour shift of handing out Bibles at the Bible table. About ten minutes before our hour ended, a young guy that looked familiar was walking by the table. Immediately, one of my team members, Katie Lee, and I were like, “Yo, you’re the dude from Wendy’s!” Laughing and looking at us like we were crazy, he responded “yeah.” I was hesitant to ask if we could pray with him again, because there was no way that he had changed his mind in less than three days, but I figured we didn’t much have to lose.
So, we asked him again, and he said no and reminded us that he didn’t believe in God. Since we had time, and he seemed more light-hearted this time, we started chatting with him to see why he didn’t believe in God. We talked about faith and got to share part of the gospel with him. As we were sharing, there was a point where he asked us if we were in school and if so, where. So, we told him how we were from North Carolina, and we were in New York just for the week to share Jesus with people. He was in shock! The fact that people would give money to support us, and that we would go out of our way to New York and share the gospel just as Jesus went out of his way to come to earth and die for us was crazy to him.
In that moment, I felt pure joy that we got to share how valuable the message of the gospel is! Although we didn’t get to finish the conversation because he had to go, it was one of the highlights of my time in New York. It was so amazing to see the Lord open his eyes even just a little bit to God’s goodness and His great love for all of us.
Often it’s easy to get discouraged in our everyday life as we try to share the gospel and love of Jesus with friends and family around us. We think we have to say the perfect thing for it to click in their heads, but that’s not the case. Through this encounter, and so many others, God showcased his power and reminded me that he is in control. Whether it’s over a timespan of three days or three years, he is turning hearts and drawing his people to himself.
–Candace Robinson (City Project Student)