Faith and Waiting

Arkansas native Bryan Johnson grew up in his father’s church, and at age 25 he committed his life to fulltime ministry. Over time, the Lord developed within Bryan a love for the people and diverse communities of metro New York City. The young pastor landed in NYC and began his ministry; but he certainly was not expecting the turns his life and ministry would take.

Bryan’s story — one of building his city ministry, leaving the city discouraged, and then returning to the city hopeful — is a picture of faith and perseverance. Today, Bryan and his wife, Kristi, and their daughters are serving the fellowship at Mosaic Baptist Church in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The road to Brooklyn has been long and sometimes unclear, but the family is at home in Crown Heights and ready to dive headfirst into serving their neighbors.

Faith in Hardship 

In 2004, Bryan first moved to metro NYC. He served within a Christian camp ministry north of the city, and over the course of seven years God enabled him to minister to families in the South Bronx and contribute to a Bronx church plant. But, six years in to life and ministry in NYC, everything changed dramatically. Bryan abruptly found himself a divorced pastor and single father to teenage daughters.

“It was so unexpected, but God preserved us,” Bryan said of his “new” life. “In a short time I went from being an urban minister and church planter to being a divorced single dad, jobless, and homeless. But, God is faithful.”

After a period of healing and restoration, Bryan reconnected with a childhood friend – a lady named Kristi from his home church in Arkansas. During their courtship the couple connected through their mutual desires for Kingdom service and a desire to live and serve in NYC. Bryan and Kristi married and the family continued serving in NYC for a few months until it was clear the Lord leading the family back to Arkansas for a season of prayer and waiting.

“I knew in my heart we would come back, but it was tough moving 1,200 miles from where your heart and calling is,” he recalled.

Faith and Waiting 

As the family faithfully waited, Bryan contacted the North American Mission Board to inquire about their church planting vision. Doubtful that NAMB’s NYC church planting network would be accepting of a divorced pastor, Bryan was led to at least start a conversation. Bryan was connected with Steve Canter, NAMB’s NYC Send City Missionary. Canter encouraged the family to visit the city to engage church planters face-to-face as the family waited for God’s call. The family concurred and made their way to NYC and eventually Crown Heights. They met Pastor Stephen and Sonya Stallard and the Mosaic Baptist Church team during a community block party Mosaic was participating in. Instantly Pastor Stallard and Bryan developed a connection over shared ministry passions.

“It was one of those things where everyone immediately knows,” said Bryan. “Kristi and I were standing in the middle of the street and said, ‘Welcome home.’”

Crown Heights is approximately two-square miles and has nearly 200,000 residents that represent over a dozen major ethnic groups. Quickly Pastor Stallard and Bryan began to work toward getting the Johnson family relocated to the city, immersed in the Crown Heights culture, and establishing Bryan on the Mosaic Baptist Church staff.

“Stephen has valued my ministry experience as well as the difficulties in my life. He sees these as things that God can use to help grow the Kingdom,” Bryan said.

Funding the Call 

Answering God’s call to Kingdom service in Crown Heights meant securing funding to support the Johnson family in a place with one of the highest cost of living in the United States. Bryan would become a staff member of the church, but he would be personally responsible for fundraising his salary.

“When I was serving in NYC for nearly a decade before, I raised support. I hated it. I was poor at it. I dreaded it,” said Bryan.

Bryan attended NAMB’s Ministry Partner Development (MPD) training and prayed he wouldn't have to raise support. MPD training encourages and educates self-supporting ministry families in trusting God to develop their financial support through developing a team of ministry partners.

“God answered my prayer. I don't raise funds, I make partners. God doesn't need money, He wants hearts. He wants our obedience,” said Bryan. “The biggest part of partner development is the time spent with Him in prayer. The rest is simply sharing what God has done in our lives and what He is doing in NYC and inviting people to join with us.”

With a costly family move on the horizon, the Lord provided partners and funding. The family’s church in Jonesboro, AR, Central Baptist Church, has made the family a part of their mission strategy. Central Baptist Church has become a supporting church partner with the Johnson family and Mosaic, meaning they are actively participating through prayer, providing financial support for Bryan, and sending mission teams to serve with Mosaic. Additionally, the Johnson family’s support has came from, and will continue to come from, individuals – ranging anywhere from $200 to $10 monthly gifts.

“God has taken care of us in so many ways I hardly know where to start. From the selling of our house in Jonesboro, AR, to the amazing apartment He gave us in Brooklyn. He even gave us front door parking in front of our apartment for the moving truck as we unloaded, now that's a miracle! God is faithful,” said Bryan.

On the Ground 

In May the Johnson family settled into their Crown Heights apartment. Located just six blocks from Mosaic Baptist Church, the Johnson family loves the diverse, multi-cultural neighborhood they now call home. Bryan is serving at Mosaic as Director of Mobilization, and works to engage teams from around the country to come and serve with Mosaic.

“Not only are there many cultures and religions here, the economic diversity is growing quickly,” Bryan said. “Our neighborhood is up and coming with many people from all backgrounds and financial status moving in. I like to say we have "hood" and "hipster" in the same neighborhood.”

In the coming day, weeks, and months, Bryan asks for prayer for the summer mission teams that will assist Mosaic with community outreach programs. Pray for Bryan and his family, as they continue to find and develop ministry partnership. Pray for the Mosaic team as they continue to share what God is doing and invite people to join their mission through praying, giving, going, and sharing. 

 

 

Date Created: 6/9/2015 11:16:54 PM

blog comments powered by Disqus

5 minutes with… Pastor Nathan Creitz

After completing seminary training at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and serving in ministry since 1998, Nathan Creitz and his wife, Kim, sensed God’s call to minister to the people of New York City. The Lord let the couple, and their two children, to Ridgewood, Queens, one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods the United States. In early 2013 Pastor Creitz launched City Life Church with the mission to share the good news of Jesus Christ, for the glory of God and for the god of the city.

Recently Pastor Nathan gave of five minutes of his time to talk ministry, family, and serving.

When did the City Life Church launch? 

In March 2013 I had 70 college students from Alabama working with me. We targeted five neighborhoods in Queens and I sent them out to do servant evangelism and prayer walking. Towards the middle of the week, it seemed clear that Ridgewood, one of the five neighborhoods we were targeting, was more receptive to the kindness, prayer, and witness of these students. I contacted a Romanian church in Ridgewood that was strategically located and asked if we could use their building to host a Bible study for a new church plant. They agreed to let us meet there for free! The following week we launched our first Bible study with eight attendees. By September, we also began meeting on Sunday afternoons and averaged 25-30 people.

Where does your church gather?  

Our church still meets in the Romanian Baptist Church building. They have become strong partners as we work together to reach our community. Please pray for them as they minister primarily to Romanian speaking peoples.

Where does your family live? How are you enjoying that community? 

One month after we started the Bible study, our family moved to Middle Village — which is about a mile and a half from our church. The Lord providentially opened the door to our current house. It was listed as a two bedroom, single family home, but it has a finished basement that is almost as big as the main floor. We have our two children in their own rooms and made the basement into a master bedroom, as well as office space for my wife and I. All of this for the cost of a two bedroom apartment in Queens!

How can we specifically pray for you, your family, and your church family? 

We appreciate your prayers! Please pray for us that God may open doors in our community for the Gospel. We need boldness and genuine relationships with our neighbors. Pray for the 100,000 people who live within a mile of our church location (about half of whom are foreign born and around 20,000 of them are from unreached people groups). Please pray for our Spring and Summer outreach projects and mission teams.

Where does your church gather?  

Our church meets in a church building owned by a Romanian Baptist Church that is also part of our denomination. They have become strong partners as we work together to reach our community. Please pray for them as they minister primarily to Romanian speaking peoples.

How do you see the Lord moving among the people and families of Ridgewood?  

Just within the past couple of months we have seen several individuals who are going through extremely difficult circumstances find help and support from the church. We have prayed with them, offered counsel, and have done our best to demonstrate love in practical ways. Several people are going through our membership process and are candidates for baptism. 

Website:www.citylifechurchnyc.com 

Twitter:@citylife_nyc 

Date Created: 5/14/2015 9:53:07 AM

blog comments powered by Disqus

April SEND New York City Update

Flowers are blooming and trees are budding across New York City and her boroughs! 
 
Holy Week in NYC provided many influential and powerful ministry opportunities for our church planters. Easter weekend Send NYC celebrated the launch of three church plants in metro NYC! The Lord’s hand was on Iglesia ABC in the Bronx, Iglesia Crossroads on Long Island, and Mosaic City Church in Queens. Years of prayer, planning, and work went into the launch of these fellowships. Please pray for these churches and their ministry teams as they grow. 
 
If we can be of service, please email Send City Missionary, Steve Canter at scanter@namb.net. 

Praying for NYC 

Hundreds of our 4-5-1 Initiative prayer partners are faithfully praying over a metro NYC community 4 times a week for 5 minutes a day for 1 metro NYC community.

Mott Haven, a community of roughly 50,000 people in the Bronx, is fighting to overcome physical and social ills. Violent crime, domestic abuse, teen births, and failing schools are just some of the difficulties Mott Haven residents face. Thankfully, Graffiti II, a Mott Haven church plant of Graffiti Church NYC, is offering the community after school programming and a safe place for spiritual growth. Easter weekend Graffiti II hosted its annual Easter Egg Hunt and welcomed over 4,000 community residents.

Consider praying for Mott Haven, or another neighborhood, by joining the 4-5-1 Initiative and signing up here.

Experiencing the City 

A “Catch the Vision Tour” (CTV) is a short, but powerful experience. You and your church staff can travel to NYC for a two or three-day experience. These are your primary opportunities to meet church planters and ministry leaders “on the ground” in metro NYC. CTV tours enable ministry teams from around the country to explore NYC in-person to gain an understanding of the who-what-when-where-how of church planting in the U.S.’s most densely populated urban environment.

  • May 28-29
  • September 10-11
  • November 12-13

Click here for move information on our upcoming CTV experiences. To inquire about CTV events and logistics, contact Steve Canter at 718-902-7174 or scanter@namb.net. Come catch the vision for how your church can join God’s activity in the city!

Planter Highlights  

Slava Kovalenko and his wife, Olga, are a Russian-speaking ministry team from Kiev, Ukraine. Slava served the Church in Kiev for many years until hearing God’s call to the U.S. The Kovalenkos relocated to NYC in 2000 for Slava to attend seminary. Upon earning his Master of Divinity in 2003, Slava was called as an associate pastor to Grace Baptist Church in Brooklyn.

The couple lives in Nyack, New York, but love serving and working with the Russian-speaking population spread throughout metro NYC. In Manhattan, the couple has established an Upper West Side hub to reach Russian-speaking people throughout the boroughs of the Big Apple. Additionally, they are working toward launching the Russian Baptist Church, also on the Upper West Side. 

Read more about Slava’s ministry work here


 

 

Date Created: 4/20/2015 10:26:15 PM

blog comments powered by Disqus

Graffiti 2 celebrates 10 years of making Easter weekend memories in the Bronx

Mott Haven, a community of roughly 50,000 people in the Bronx, is fighting to overcome physical and social ills. Violent crime, domestic abuse, teen births, and failing schools are just some of the difficulties Mott Haven residents face. Thankfully, Graffiti 2, a Mott Haven church plant of Graffiti Church NYC, is offering the community after school programming and a safe place for spiritual growth.

Easter weekend Graffiti 2 joined with local civic and faith-based organizations of Mott Haven to host their tenth annual Easter Egg Hunt at St Mary's Park, just a block from the church. Over 4,000 were in attendance and enjoyed face painting, games, clowns, and hunted thousands and thousands of Easter Eggs. The gospel message was shared with many of those in attendance, and everyone had a great time judging by the smiles, giggles, and joy expressed by kids, teens, and parents.

Graffiti 2 and the event were blessed by the work of over 270 volunteers. Graffiti 2 Community Ministries continues to fulfill their mission within the Mott Haven community by meeting the needs of children, teens, young adults, adults, and families.  To find out more about their work feel free to visit their website.

Consider praying for Mott Haven, or another neighborhood, by joining the 4-5-1 Initiative and signing up here.

Date Created: 4/15/2015 9:59:31 PM

blog comments powered by Disqus

5 minutes with… Pastor Slava Kovalenko

Slava Kovalenko and his wife, Olga, are a Russian-speaking ministry team from Kiev, Ukraine. Slava served the Church in Kiev for many years until hearing God’s call to the United States. The Kovalenkos relocated to New York City in 2000 for Slava to attend Alliance Theological Seminary. Upon earning his Master of Divinity in 2003, Slava was called as an associate pastor to Grace Baptist Church in Brooklyn. Olga is a professional violinist and holds a master's degree in Christian counseling.

The couple lives in Nyack, NY, but love serving and working with the Russian-speaking population spread throughout metro NYC. In Manhattan, the couple has established an Upper West Side hub to reach Russian-speaking people throughout the boroughs of the Big Apple. Additionally, they are working toward launching the Russian Baptist Church, also on the Upper West Side.  

Recently Slave shared five minutes of his time with us:

When will the Russian Baptist Church launch?

We are planning official launch on September 27, 2015. We are already having regular Sunday services, fellowships, and Bible studies. You and your friends in the area you are welcome to visit. We met every Sunday at 5:30 p.m. at the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association building, in the first floor chapel. Our worship conducted in English and Russian. (www.russianchristiansny.com)

Any special events coming up for the Russian Church that we can be praying for?

1. Weekly worship gathering.

2. Memorial Day picnic (May 25, 2015)

3. This summer we are planning several outreaches with short-term mission teams in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn.

Briefly describe your call to ministry.

I was born in the Soviet Union. My parents were committed Christians and active members of the Baptist Church during Communist régime. I graduated from Medical University in Kiev, Ukraine.

Within approximately one year after receiving Jesus as my personal Savior and water baptism at Central Baptist Church in Kiev, I was invited to lead small Bible study group. Then I became a Youth Pastor in the same church. In 1993, I was called to be in the ministry full time – I became the Regional Director for Medical Ambassadors International (MAI) mission in Ukraine.

In 2011, I was called by NAMB to begin church planting among Russian-speaking people in NYC. At this point, our Russian Core Group is having consistent weekly fellowship gatherings on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

How can we specifically pray for you, your family, and your church family?

1. Stability of the core group members

2. For partners who could help our Russian Church Plant

3. Resolution of the crisis in Ukraine, where much of our family still lives 

Date Created: 3/20/2015 2:23:02 PM

blog comments powered by Disqus

SEND New York City March Update

Spring is headed to New York City, and we are so thankful! Metro NYC has experienced the coldest February in since 1934. Snow and bitter cold temperatures have proved challenging for our city but, praise God, our church planters and ministry teams have been able to bundle-up, brave the weather, and further the cause of Christ.
 
There is much to pray for in the coming weeks. Our Send NYC team will host a Catch the Vision tour and our church planters will welcome Spring Break mission teams and prepare for Resurrection Sunday. As always, we remain thankful for your prayers and continued support.
 
If we can be of service, please email Send City Missionary, Steve Canter at scanter@namb.net.

Praying for NYC

God has continued to bless our 451 Initiative (451prayer.org), providing hundreds of prayer warriors willing to pray 4 times a week for 5 minutes a day for 1 metro NYC community each week. But, there are still NYC neighborhoods that need a prayer partner.Jersey City sits just across the Hudson River from Manhattan in New Jersey. There are over 250,000 people living in Jersey City and it is one of the most diverse cities in the word with no ethnic group making up a majority of the population. It is an influential city with a great need of the gospel. Consider praying for Jersey City, or another neighborhood, by joining the 4-5-1 Initiative and signing up here.

Proclaiming the Gospel

In early February, downtown Brooklyn church plant The Bridge Church hosted a student ministry event at Long Island University – Brooklyn Campus. The event, titled “Everything You Need to Know About Love, Sex, & Dating,” gave LIU Brooklyn students the opportunity to ask questions about how the Bible is relevant to relationships and, more importantly, hear the Gospel message.

“This program is continued evidence of God’s favor upon this campus,” said the Bridge team. “The administration is completely in our corner and now we are meeting students who need and want guidance.” Read more about the event here.

Under the leadership of church planter James Roberson, The Bridge Church gathers in Downtown Brooklyn every Sunday at 4 p.m. The fellowship is currently walking through a sermon series, also titled, “Everything You Need to Know About Love, Sex, & Dating.” Follow The Bridge on Twitter and Facebook.

Planter Highlights

Pastor Daniel Bondad has served the church for many years, working as an executive pastor in Pasig City, Philippines, and planting several Filipino churches in Makati and Manila, and also in Cambodia. In 2014, the Bondad family followed the Lord’s call to relocate to the United States and reach the diverse population living on Staten Island. Together with his wife, Lot, Pastor Bondad is working to launch The Vine’s Church in early 2016. Bondad is planting in a highly populated, vibrant, and diverse Staten Island neighborhood near Clove Lakes Park.

Pray for Pastor Bondad and The Vine’s Church team as they seek a location for the fellowship to meet. Pastor Bondad recently shared five minutes of his time to tell us more about the Gospel movement he is praying for on Staten Island, read more here.

Date Created: 3/12/2015 3:14:06 PM

blog comments powered by Disqus

The Bridge Church talks relationships with LIU Brooklyn students

 

In early February, downtown Brooklyn church plant The Bridge Church hosted a student ministry event at Long Island University – Brooklyn Campus. The event, titled “Everything You Need to Know About Love, Sex, & Dating,” gave LIU Brooklyn students the opportunity to ask questions about how the Bible is relevant to relationships and, more importantly, hear the gospel message.

As preparation for the event, throughout the winter months The Bridge ministry team began work to reach the students of LIU Brooklyn. The Bridge began cultivating relationships with the LIU Resident Advisors (RA’s) through the delivery of care packages. They followed up by hosting a workshop where three RA’s committed to help plan and promote the February event.

“We have heard so many students talking about relationships since we arrived on campus. So we structured a program to speak truth into their lives and offer a chance for them to do some Q&A with us,” said Josh Edney, Bridge Church Discipleship and Collegiate Director.

Edney and The Bridge team were told by the LIU Brooklyn administration that the program was valuable for the student body, but LIU Brooklyn events typically attract less than 10 students.

“We felt like with the relevancy of this program, our presence on campus, and the RA’s taking ownership in helping us plan, that more than 10 students would attend,” said Edney.

The team moved forward with planning, promoting, and praying that students would attend and the Biblical stance on love, sex, and dating would be well received. The night of the event arrived and The Bridge was thrilled to welcome 52 students. Students enjoyed food and music, and then James Roberson, Lead Pastor of The Bridge, led the discussion. The Bridge team was pleased to see four LIU Brooklyn administrators in attendance as well. 

“This program is continued evidence of God’s favor upon this campus,” said Edney. “The administration is completely in our corner and now we are meeting students who need and want guidance. Because of this program’s response, we are scheduling a second event in March that we are going to promote campus wide to increase our exposure and so that students can hear biblical truth about relationships.” 

The Bridge Church gathers in Downtown Brooklyn every Sundays at 4 p.m. The fellowship is currently walking through a sermon series, also titled, “Everything You Need to Know About Love, Sex, & Dating.” Follow The Bridge on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

Date Created: 3/1/2015 11:59:44 PM

blog comments powered by Disqus

Terms of Use

  • We strive to maintain an atmosphere of free and open discussion, but comments are moderated.
  • Comments must be signed by your full name. If you log in through Twitter or Yahoo please include your full name at the end of your comment. Anonymous comments will not be published.
  • Comments containing profanity, personal attacks or other inappropriate content will be edited or rejected at the sole discretion of the North American Mission Board. Comments are the responsibility of their authors and do not represent the position of NAMB.