Subject: West Side Update - February 23
February 23, 2015
Joanne recently shared her testimony at our services. She volunteers with A House on Beekman, a Hope for New York affiliate that works with families in the South Bronx to create long-term change to break the cycles of poverty.
I volunteer in the Babies to Three Program at A House on Beekman. Every Tuesday morning, I take my 19-month-old daughter with me and provide childcare for this community of amazing people. I love caring for the babies and toddlers. But back in September, I was a hesitant mom making excuses not to serve.
Week after week at church, I’d read about all the available volunteer opportunities, and I would feel a tug at my heart to do something. But my mind would come up with a variety of reasons I couldn’t: Who would watch my toddler? Do I even have any applicable skills? Would I be safe traveling to unfamiliar neighborhoods? Despite these doubts, I attended a Hope for New York information session, and one of my biggest obstacles was removed: I found out that for A House on Beekman, I would be able to take my daughter with me.
The other fears were completely washed away the first day I served. Yes, adorable babies have a way of doing that, but I know it was God who changed my heart. Although I believed in Jesus’ amazing grace and love for me, I compartmentalized my life so I wasn’t sharing the relationship I have with Christ with the world — and especially not with people who were different from me. I was hesitant and fearful, and I wasn’t living the Christian life God intended for me. Through serving at A House on Beekman, God has worked to open my eyes and heart to those around me.
God is even using our commute to the Bronx to show me more about his love. On the train and the bus, my daughter engages with everyone around us. She doesn’t judge or discriminate — but I did, especially in the beginning. I would see someone riding with us and think, “Please don’t make eye contact with that person.” And sure enough, my daughter would start smiling and waving at that very person. What has been so surprising is that the person always smiles and waves back! I’ve begun to see people in the city differently, realizing that God loves this stranger as deeply as he loves me, for they are also made in his image. I’m now also compelled to share God’s gift of salvation, and I’ve been able to talk with people on the bus about the joys of volunteering and God’s grace.
As a church of Jesus Christ, Redeemer exists to help build a great city for all people through a movement of the gospel that brings personal conversion, community formation, social justice and cultural renewal to New York City and, through it, to the world.
February is a month that tends to cast a shadow across my soul. The twinkling lights of Christmas are a distant memory and the promise of warm sunshine and colorful daffodils seem more a tease than a balm. I find myself tempted to experience these cold, dark days the way C.S. Lewis described Narnia, “always Winter but never Christmas.” But the other day as I was walking home I noticed a subtle change – it was light during a time when it had been dark just the week before. The days were getting longer! And like Lucy in Narnia, when she realized that the snow was melting, I “felt that deep shiver of gladness that you only get if you are being solemn and still.” The Christian pilgrimage can at times be like the cold winter days of February – empty of warmth and hope. But Lent, with its orientation towards Christ’s death and resurrection, reminds us that the journey is one that will ultimately lead us into the arms of the one who John described as a light who “shines in the darkness, and the darkness had not overcome (him.)” So as you put one foot in front of the other in your own Christian journey, remember these words penned by John Bunyan in Pilgrim’s Progress:
“This hill though high I covent ascend;
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." – John 14:1-3
Rev. David Bisgrove
Here are some highlighted opportunities to serve the city with Hope for New York. As always, you can check HFNY’s volunteer page to search a full list by neighborhood and service type.
Thank you from HFNY!
Thanks for celebrating HFNY Sunday with us yesterday. Want to get involved serving the poor and marginalized of our city? Create a volunteer profile you can use to sign up for all HFNY volunteer opportunities. Overwhelmed? Come to HFNY's Volunteer Info Session on Thursday, March 12. More info here.
Here are a highlighted events happening across Redeemer. For a full listing, see the Connect.
How People Change
"But [Aslan the Lion] made no noise, even when the enemies, straining and tugging, pulled the cords so tight that they cut into his flash. Then they began to drag him toward the Stone Table." - C.S. Lewis, from The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
Prayer from today's Lenten Devotional:
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