My family and I have been living in New York City for almost a year now. This is not that great a feat I know – literally millions of people are living in New York City. Believe me I know, I am sure half of them have honked at me. The thing that has made this year different than others is that we moved from Oregon with a 2, 4, 6, and 8 year old boys. We came from a farming town of 30,000 people. Why? Great question. The short answer is Jesus. We are passionate for overseas missions. We joined International Project and have been in the Equip program for the last 9 months. Our desire for this year was to reach the unreached in our neighborhood.
Why New York City and Why the Bronx
Most people thought we were crazy for moving four boys to the Bronx. “I have it covered” I’d say, “we found a 2 bedroom apartment.” The experience has been an adventurous one to be sure. We decided to put our boys into public school. We’ve experienced public school and homeschool both over the last few years. This was quite a different but wonderful experience. One of the difficulties that faces people in missions, especially in a city like NYC, is finding the people group you are looking for. In three schools we were able to meet and talk with people from The Dominican Republic, Yeman, and Bangladesh. Children are a wonderful tool for building relationships with people both American born and foreign born.
The fruit from public school
As I look back at the relationships we have built over this year, it was interesting that almost half of those were because of school. Largely this was because of my wife. Picking kids up from school, dropping them off, and playing at the playground has led to wonderful relationships to mothers. This is significant because often mothers spend a great deal of their time in the home. School has given us common ground with people where we normally would have had none. I’ll share a conversation my wife had with a mother from Bangladesh at the school playground.
(Bengali Mother) “Hello”
(My Wife)”Hello, how are you?” [simple niceties were exchanged]
(Bengali Mother) “I have seen you with the other mothers. I have wanted to meet you. You are so nice”
(My Wife)”Oh, thank you. It is not me though. I follow Jesus Christ and He gives me such joy.”
The relationship began there and has continued throughout our time here. So many of the cultures here in NYC seem to keep to their own people.
Taking opportunity given to us
It seems that people have taken an interest in our family. Our family does stick out here in the Bronx, our boys are the only Caucasians in their schools. The thing that has set us apart most is truly caring for our neighbors. Having a desire to enter into someone’s life and living as a Christ follower has opened the doors the widest. We have done our best to use school, parks, our presents in the neighborhood to build relationships and to share Christ.
So If you find yourself in a community like the Bronx, realize people might think your crazy. More importantly though, realize that your children provide wonderful opportunity to build relationships and share Christ with Unreached people.