Posts Tagged With: NYC

Our Ministry- Surprising Global Opportunity

(I originally wrote this article for the blog SBCVoices.com)

In a town across the waters live members of one of the world’s largest unreached people groups. In the past 20 years, their population in this city has grown from about 8,000 to around 60,000. While their home country’s political situation is tumultuous, in this new city there is stability and religious/political freedom, including the freedom for missionaries to preach the Gospel to them. Like many other people groups in large cities, they have clustered in several major neighborhoods and have assimilated in a variety of professions, from doctors to taxi drivers.

This people group is the Bengali. While their homeland is made up of the country of Bangladesh and the bordering Indian states, a high population and good work ethic have enabled them to scatter to other cities around the globe.

The city, however, is not the desert towers of Dubai or the congested streets of London. The waters one must cross to reach these 60,000 Bengali are not the Bay of Bengal or the Pacific Ocean.

These 60,000 members of an unreached people group live here in the United States of America, in New York City, to be precise. The trip across the waters is a plane flight to LaGuardia or a ferry ride across the Hudson or East Rivers.

And in just a few months, Lord willing, my wife and I, along with our 9-month old daughter, will be loading up our family car to make that trip from here in Kansas City and settle into the borough of Queens where about half of these Bengalis live. The twists and turns God used to bring us to this point were not always easy (wanting to go overseas with IMB, health issue making living overseas impossible for the time being) but He has proven his goodness to us throughout. I can still remember my jaw dropping when I learned that one major people group was the Bengali, the people I had lived among for half a year doing a missions apprenticeship as a college student!

Many unreached people groups are in the US, especially in New York City. One of the like-minded people we will be working with in NYC wrote an entire book with pictures and profiles of 82 of these people groups. (available on Amazon or learn more at ethNYcitybook.com.)

We are excited to be able to work with the Bengali of NYC. It will take a lot of work: prayer, language learning, bold evangelism, discipleship. There are many obstacles. While some are suspicious of church plants because of experiences of ”sheep-stealing”, we don’t even have that option as 95% of our people group is Muslim and about 5% are Hindu! That’s not leaving many Bengali Christians left. New York is an expensive place to live and do ministry. Bengalis face temptations on both sides- their cultural religious traditions and the materialistic individualism they find in NYC. Despite these obstacles, we believe that God has brought these people to our shores for a reason. Our vision is to see faithful, reproducing churches of Bengali believers in each of these various neighborhoods in the 5 boroughs of New York City.

If you take a look at the states listed in our SBC Voices blogroll, you will see some states missing. I am hoping to see New York added this June and to use my writing to share about how God is molding, teaching, and using us to share the Gospel among the Bengali people of NYC. I’m a firm supporter of international missions; I wanted to be one for 11 years or so! But it would be irresponsible stewardship of us to completely ignore the mission field God is bringing to our shores. Would you take a moment today to pray for the spread of the Gospel in New York City and among the people groups found therein?

If you would like more information about our ministry or how you or your church can be involved in praying or partnering with us, email me at joshcollins8 AT gmail DOTCOM.

To learn more about SBC work in New York, check out:

Metro New York Baptist Association

Baptist Convention of New York

NAMB’s SendNYC initiative

Categories: NYC Work | Tags: , ,

The end for Church Planting in NYC?

Today, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in a case regarding whether churches could use New York City public school facilities for “worship activities” during times when the school buildings were not in use. For many church plants in NYC, where gathering space is hard to come by, as well as countless new church plants meeting in school gyms, cafeterias, etc. around the US, this was seen as a major blow to the ability of these churches to gather. Already in NYC it is common to find small church buildings with 4, 5, 6 different congregations meeting on a Sunday, as the English-speaking church finishes, the Korean-speaking church is waiting at the doors, and the Spanish-speaking church is on deck in 2 hours. The Sunday queue may be a little more packed in the coming months, as church plants still meeting in NYC schools (they were allowed to keep meeting during the appeals process) will have to find new homes effective January 1.

Now of course, I do not think this is the end for church planting in New York City. And here are a few reasons why:

First, many planters are not utilizing “big spaces” for their churches, focusing on small church groups that can meet in living rooms or office spaces, etc. (That’s what we plan on doing in the Bangladeshi neighborhoods of NYC.) I think a Gospel movement in NYC will have to look different than the brick-and-mortar church structures found in other areas of the US.

Second, church planters are nothing if not creative. I remember hearing Rick Warren talk once about Saddleback’s early days when they were in different facilities on regular basis, but how that chaos and confusion led them to develop good community as they had to keep in touch regularly as a church body just to know where they were meeting. Other church plants in the US already deal with space issues like having to rotate every month or two between schools as meeting places.

Third, this situation has huge missional opportunities in neighborhoods across the city. Not only will churches find other spaces to worship, but perhaps they can display the love of Christ by continuing to serve the local schools where they can no longer meet. What would look more like Jesus than churches serving and saying, “You (the schools) don’t exist to take care of us. We are Christ’s body that exists to care for you.”

Fourth, as I mentioned before, some church space is already being utilized by multiple congregations, but more can be shared. Perhaps this will lead some existing churches to also be generous with their facilities. Perhaps it will cause some bridges that were burned between older and newer churches to be rebuilt for gospel mission.

Fifth, Jesus will build his church. (Matthew 16). He will. It’s a promise. The word of God is not bound, despite the restrictions and obstacles Christians throughout the centuries have faced. This circumstance is nowhere near the scale of the attempts to purge China of Christianity during the Revolution. And yet, the Church there flourished and found new ways to grow. Could we pray for the same kind of effect in New York City?

So is this the end of church planting in New York City? I don’t think so. What effects do you see as happening from this ban?

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

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