Serving the weak and vulnerable in NYC

 Raleigh Sadler 
Sadler speaking on the steps of Manhattan's City Hall.

In 2012, the Lord used two events to grasp the attention of Raleigh Sadler. Over the course of one month Sadler’s job was eliminated, thus he was faced with losing the benefits and security that comes with full-time employment, and he said goodbye to a best friend taken by cancer.

“During this time, God opened my eyes to the fact that I have an expiration date,” Sadler said. “I began to think about my passion to serve the weak and vulnerable in a major urban area. After much prayer and with no guarantee of success, I sold everything and moved to NYC to serve as a NAMB MSC (Mission Service Corps) missionary.”  

Sadler, who always said he’d never end up in New York City, found himself serving the city’s weak and vulnerable though two ministry positions: Director of Justice Ministries at Metropolitan New York Baptist Association (MNYBA) and Pastor of College and Justice at Gallery Church.

Much of Sadler’s ministry is advocating for those living in the anguish of human trafficking. Sadler recognizes that watching a documentary or reading statistics about human trafficking can be a heart-wrenching, moving experience, but nothing breaks your heart like realizing that those close to you, friends even, have been impacted by sex trade.

“In NYC, I have several friends that have been prostituted,” Sadler said. “Hearing their stories is heartbreaking. However, I am reminded that God is at work and will use the Church to help bring an end to this injustice.”

Sadler, age 35, is driven by a passion to see the local church love God and love their neighbors holistically.

“God has not called us to proclaim the Gospel alone, but to demonstrate it as well. As Christians, we talk about being ‘the hands and feet’ of Christ. However, we will never be the hands and feet of Christ unless we are his eye and ears,’ Sadler said. “We must be looking for those who are weak and vulnerable in our community before we will ever care for them. With that said, justice ministry happens when we carry out the ‘Great Commission’ through the ‘Great Commandment’.”

To enable Christians to look for and then serve the vulnerable, Sadler started the Let My People Go (LMPG) movement. He explained that the LMPG movement was created to call the local church to recognize that God desires to set people free. 

“For example, as Moses went to Pharaoh, he was not merely asking for Israel's physical emancipation alone,” Sadler said. “He called for their freedom to worship God freely on the mountain. The physical redemption of God's people as well as the spiritual redemption are inextricably linked.”

Sadler’s vision for LMPG is to know that evangelical churches around the country strategically find, reach out to, and care for the weak and vulnerable within their communities.

Sadler leads LMPG Immersion Experiences, which are unique short-term mission trips for college students that desire to minister to a segment of metro-NYC’s most at-risk population.

Sadler said of the Immersion Experiences, “The goal is to expose students from all over the country to brokenness in NYC. Typically when the students arrive, they spend the mornings learning about different elements of social injustice. Then they are sent out to pray over and survey brothels in Manhattan. Throughout the week, they also work with two vulnerable populations: the homeless and at-risk teens. As they go home they are not mourning the end of a trip, they are celebrating the realization of the mission to which they are called.”

As Sadler continues his ministry, pray for his personal wisdom, clarity, and for a continued dependence on the Gospel. As for his ministry, Sadler requests prayers for his ability to build relationships with financial partners.

For additional information on the LMPG Immersion Experiences and to follow Sadler’s ministry efforts, see www.RaleighSadler.com, and follow him on Twitter: @raleighsadler and Facebook: www.facebook.com/raleighsadler.

 

 

Date Created: 7/19/2014 1:28:25 PM

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Five Minutes with Jon Carr

With 125,000 living in a three-square-mile area, Sunset Park, Brooklyn, needs a Gospel witness. Jon Carr, church planter and lead pastor of Metro City Church, is hoping to be such a witness in Sunset Park. Together with his wife Bonnie and their daughters, Kayla and Emily, Carr is preparing for a fall launch of weekly services. Carr recently took a moment to share about his community and Metro City Church.
 

 How did the Lord place NYC on your heart: My initial experience with NYC was a mission trip. Through a long and gradual process, the Lord gave us a great burden for the people of New York and led us to this great city. 

How are you reaching Sunset Park: We had a community BBQ a few weeks ago, we also set up a prayer stand in the community. We work in a local senior center and help clean up our streets and parks. In the future we will host various family events.  

When will Metro City Church launch: We have worship services at 4 p.m. on the last Sunday of the month during the summer and will launch weekly services the last Sunday in September.  

Snapshot of your church body: We are a multi-ethnic church reaching mainly second and third generation immigrant families. We have families with children as well as young professionals and students.  

What has been your church’s largest struggle: About a year after moving to NYC, we went through a period of great trials. We struggled to find a location for the church, we were publicly attacked, and were emotionally and spiritually exhausted.  

The Lord was faithful throughout our trials and used them for our good and His glory. He led us to our current community and provided a team, a meeting location, and is granting us favor in our neighborhood. 

How can people be praying for your church: Pray that the Lord will continue to give us favor in our community and as we reach new people they will learn to continually learn to follow Jesus. We have a worship team to lead through the summer months, but will need a permanent team starting in September.  

Who are your sending churches: North Metro Baptist Church (GA), Cornerstone Church at Bay Ridge (NY), Sandy Plains Baptist Church (GA), Gilliam Springs Baptist Church (AL) 

Twitter: @metrocitychurch 

Facebook: facebook.com/metrocitychurchnyc  

Date Created: 7/7/2014 11:01:19 AM

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Life Change on Staten Island

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Just a ferry ride from Manhattan, Staten Island is a retreat from the busy New York City streets for nearly 500,000 residents. Full of parks and beaches, the borough is steeped in history and boasts a strong community. For Pastor Nick Mustakas, Staten Island is a rich mission field. Mustakas and his church plant, The Journey Church Staten Island, are passionate about reaching the 86 percent of Islanders that do not have a relationship with Christ. 

Mustakas has spent nearly all of his life on the Island. With his wife Julie, he is now raising his son, Noah, on the Island. New York City’s third-largest borough, Mustakas says Staten Island is packed with culture and home to people that place a major emphasis on relationships and family.

“Soon after deciding to follow Jesus in 2007, I felt the call to ministry and over the past few years God laid it on my heart to go back to the people I know to share His love and how they can find freedom in him,” he said.

Mustakas led the formal launch of Journey Staten Island on Feb. 9, 2014. Prior to launching, Mustakas and his launch team led the congregation during monthly services and community outreaches.

“Our launch team have become like family – we literally do life together,” Mustakas said. “They help Julie and I as we raise our new son and as we start this church.”

After their winter launch, Mustakas and his launch team thoughtfully worked to maintain momentum going into spring. Every first-time guest to Journey is presented with a handwritten note from Mustakas, a book on Christianity, as well as a $5 gas card. In the days following their visit, first time guests also receive an email that thanks them for attending and includes information about church events.

To further build relationships, Mustakas also reaches out to second-time guests with a personal letter containing a $5 Starbucks gift card and follow-up email.

Mustakas is thrilled to see his church family starting to impact Staten Island for Christ. As of late-May, 49 people had made decisions to follow Jesus Christ. With great celebration, on July 20, the church will host a time of baptism on the beach for all of Journey’s new believers.

“Every week we get to experience life change,” he said. “People bring family and friends and we see them accept Jesus and see God move in them. It’s so cool to see!”

As Mustakas continues to reach Islanders, pray for his spiritual growth and strength as he balances his responsibilities as pastor, husband, and father. As for Journey, pray that the church becomes widely known as a place where the people of Staten Island have an opportunity to learn about Jesus and grow in their walk with Him.

For more information on Journey Staten Island, follow them on Twitter @JourneySI.

Date Created: 6/25/2014 8:30:28 PM

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Though still young, Brooklyn's Mosaic Baptist is already reaching the nations

 

Over the span of six years God laid a burden on the heart of Steven Stallard to plant Mosaic Baptist Church, a multi-ethnic church that will reach the nations. Stallard and his wife, Sonya, felt the Lord was drawing them to Brooklyn, the most populous of New York City's five boroughs.

The couple, with their daughter Malia, landed in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, a two-square-mile neighborhood of around 200,000 people. With the support of five partner churches and NAMB, Stallard has begun the work planting Mosaic.

“It is an ethnically diverse neighborhood with a distinct Caribbean feel. It has a unique history of racial tension,” Stallard said of his neighborhood.

The family started a small group Bible study in their apartment, a group that is preparing to multiply into a second venue. Stallard and the Mosaic’s members are conducting community outreach events around Crown Heights and are prayerfully looking forward to a formal launch of weekly services on Sept. 7, 2014.

Though still young, Mosaic is already reaching the nations. Stallard says Mosaic is, “ethnically diverse—with eight different countries represented so far; the church is 75% non-white, as well as generationally diverse.”

Stallard and the church are working to help on-the-go New Yorkers slow down their rhythms of life to commit to Christ and His Church. As the church approached their formal launch, join them in praying for their momentum and influence in Crown Heights. 

For updates on Mosaic, follow the church on Twitter: @mosaicbrooklyn.

 

 

Date Created: 6/15/2014 7:42:07 PM

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Sharing Life, Serving Others, and Savoring Christ in Yorkville

Spring has been a blessed season for Cross Church NYC, an Upper East Side church plant under the leadership of Pastors Drew Griffin and Andrew George. Cross Church NYC (CCNYC), prayerfully launching in 2015, has welcomed four mission teams this spring which have accomplished much in the church’s target neighborhood of Yorkville. 

The teams, one from partner-church First Baptist Church of Inola, Oklahoma, and three from Hunter Street Baptist Church of Birmingham, Alabama, were able to serve a Yorkville institution, the Museum of Motherhood (MOM). Teams assisted by cleaning and restoring several exhibits and preparing the MOM for relocation. While working with the MOM, the teams were able to engage several individuals in gospel conversations.

The owner of the museum said, “this is why people throughout history have always wanted to live by Christians, because they were the ones who would serve others and love other unconditionally.”  

As part of CCNYC’s desire to “Serve Others” and “Share Community,” Pastors Griffin and George also engaged the mission teams in ministering to the Yorkville homeless through their “Don’t Walk By” initiative. The teams were able to feed and interact with several homeless individuals. 

Additionally, the mission teams spent considerable time prayer walking throughout Yorkville, praying specifically for potential CCNYC meeting sites, outreach areas that can be engaged this summer, and for the families and leaders of Yorkville.  

This summer, Griffin and George are working towards beginning their second and third small groups and preparing for additional mission teams. Griffin and George request prayer support that they would make much of Jesus, continue to build community in Yorkville, and make the gospel known in the city.

 

 

Date Created: 6/10/2014 9:44:06 PM

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Sharing Christ's love on Long Island 

By Emily Griffin 

 Sterling Edwards 
Sterling Edwards

When he talks you don’t hear a Texas twang, just tales of a love for sharing the gospel with the people of Long Island.

Native Texan Sterling Edwards is the lead pastor of Crossroads Church of Long Island, which he launched in Farmingdale in 2006, and followed with a second location in East Islip in 2012.

Edwards’ road to Long Island started after the tragedies of September 11, 2001. The membership of First Baptist Church of Katy, Texas, began praying about how they could reach those so closely affected by 9/11. The church began setting aside funds for a metro-NYC church plant and also started a conversation with Edwards about sharing the gospel in the nation’s most influential region.

After months of prayer, interviews, and assessments, Edwards entered into a partnership with FBC Katy, NAMB, and additional financial partners to afford the his family the opportunity to move to Long Island – the 118 mile island branching into the Atlantic Ocean from New York Harbor.

“We knew nobody – we didn’t have a launch team, we didn’t have a building – but in the process the Lord has broken our hearts for the people of Long Island,” said Edwards.

As the Edwards acclimated to Long Island they found the personality and culture of Long Island to be uniquely its own. Islanders tend to be highly educated, highly cynical, and highly skeptical – a church planting challenge to say the least.

“They take nothing at face value,” said Edwards. “Thusly, the relationship that we (Crossroads Church) build with them is pivotal. You can’t just hype up and event and expect people to come, you have to first build a relationship, then a friendship, and go from there.”

With a population of nearly 3 million people, the two counties that comprise Long Island (excluding the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens) are in desperate need of gospel presence. Statistics on Long Island’s evangelical presence are bleak:

  • 61% of the population in the East Islip area are 45 years of age or younger.
  • 87% of those 37 years of age or younger do not plan to attend a church service this year.
  • 94% of those 27 years of age or younger do not plan to attend a church service this year.

“There are currently a total of 8-10 English speaking Southern Baptist Churches on Long Island. Yet, Long Island possesses a population of nearly 3 million people,” said Edwards. “If you were to combine the total memberships of all of the Southern Baptist Churches on Long Island, it would come to less than 300 people.” 

A largely affluent culture, Edwards shared that the tangible and economic needs of most Long Islanders are met, but they do not recognize that they have spiritual needs and most lack the comfort, hope, and forgiveness that comes through a relationship with Christ.

As a pastor, Edwards often sees first hand the cynicism and skepticism of his fellow Islanders, but, he says that his fellow Islanders are some of the nicest, kindest people one could ever meet.

“My family and I genuinely love the people, we genuinely love living on Long Island. We could not image living anywhere else — but that has been a process, it was not how we felt when we first came here.”

Edwards’ love of Long Island and her people inspired him to share what he had learned through the launch of Crossroads Church. In 2011, Edwards and Luis Rivera, co-pastor of Crossroads, founded Reconcile 519, an organization that works with NAMB to serve as a church planting multiplication center on Long Island.

Reconcile 519 is looking to establish 20-25 churches on Long Island in the next 20 years in Long Island’s Suffolk and Nassau Counties.

“It is just about reaching people, and figuring out how we are going to connect and share the name of Jesus with people,” said Edwards. “It is about individuals and being purposeful.”

Since the launch on Reconcile 519, the organization has welcomed hundreds of volunteers onto Long Island to reach the community for Christ.

To make the Reconcile 519 vision a reality, additional pastoral leadership is needed. Church planting on Long Island is challenging both in term of cost and the emotional toll it takes on pastors.

“We need leadership even more than money,” said Edwards. “We need to see pastors develop – we’d like to raise up leaders in existing churches and plant out of existing churches. We are to a point were the leadership is essential and we are making it a part of our discipleship process.”

Edwards explained that pastor and ministry leaders are trying to give everything they have to advancing the gospel – and naturally they tire and yearn to see more growth, movement, and progress.

“We know God is doing a great work on Long Island, we need to see renewal and refreshment – we need to stay focused,” Edwards said.

Currently, Edwards and Reconcile 519 are working to plant a church on the campus of Stony Brook University and assisting church plants in Shirley, New York, and Kings Park, New York.

For more information on Crossroads Church of Long Island or Reconcile 519 see www.crossroadsli.org 

Date Created: 6/4/2014 1:54:37 PM

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First Person: The Eyes Of Brooklyn


By April Smith

Six months ago the Lord led me to Brooklyn, New York, but little did I know how much Brooklyn would tug at my heart. I had been to New York as a high school student, but at the time I was convinced I would never live here or even come back. 

April SmithHowever, God ended up having a different plan because He brought me back for a second visit and now a third time to serve as an intern at Cornerstone Church at Bay Ridge.

Each time I have been here has been significant. Especially in the season I am in now, God has been teaching me so much. I have only had my feet wet for six months, but I’ve discovered that living here isn’t as bad as I would have imagined. 

When I thought of New York I was overwhelmed with thinking about how a small town girl like me would manage living here for a year, but God has reminded me that nothing is impossible.

I have also learned to “never say never” to God. He knows what I need, and I didn’t know how much I needed New York! No, it’s not the rolling hills of Kentucky, which is where I am from, but Brooklyn has a beauty of its own. 

I love looking around and never knowing what I will experience! I love seeing all the different shops and I love the smells from the bakeries—which makes up for the “other” smells in the subway. 

However, there are other joys to encounter while riding on the subway—like meeting new people or seeing random people sing. Brooklyn is a colorful place—there is just so much to experience.

Serving at Cornerstone Church has allowed me to experience new friendships such as my developing relationship with my pastor’s neighbor, who is Arabic. I’m still getting to know her, but she already shares her awesome Baba ganoush with me—something I don’t get back home!

If you plan to visit Brooklyn or New York, you must be willing to be open and put away your stereotypes of New York in order to really appreciate it. I could write all day about my experiences but to be honest you just have to come. 

If God were to call you here I would tell you "obey, obey, obey!"

Date Created: 5/5/2014 3:01:08 PM

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