Amidst the holiday hustle and bustle, Kimberly and I were blessed to be able to visit New York City in early December while Eloise and Evelyn stayed with their grandparents in Knoxville. We were hoping to test our cold weather prowess, but were met with sunny skies and temps reaching the 70's. Kimberly's warm natured Southern heart was very thankful for this curveball, but Sam was sweating through every sweater he packed as we logged more than 20 miles of walking in 3 days of scouting out neighborhoods.
The purpose of the trip was twofold in that we were hoping to get a chance to begin to understand the landscape of the many neighborhoods of New York City in which one we will eventually call home, and we were also there to participate in an event with Cru City Millennials to continue to grow our vision for our new ministry assignment.
In the first category, we certainly saw a lot of New York neighborhoods in our 60 some hours in the Big Apple. We checked out Carroll Gardens, Park Slope and Crown Heights in Brooklyn, and the Upper West Side and Chelsea in Manhattan. It was so encouraging to begin to picture our family living in one of these neighborhoods and to begin to pray with God for the impact that He would allow us to have in whichever one He has for us. Choosing a neighborhood is such an important part of our process as it will begin to define where we will begin to build movements of young professionals living there, churches we will partner with, what local church we will invest in and where we will spend the majority of our time. We learned so much more about each area talking with locals and experiencing it first-hand, but if we had to draw some conclusions, we would say that having more information doesn't necessarily make the choice any more clear. Housing is such a commodity in New York City and we believe that what is available and in our budget when we move will play the biggest factor as to where we will live. We are eagerly anticipating, and trusting God with where He will provide a home for us. We are continuing to do research to narrow down our search and praying to see what kind of place God would lay on our hearts.
We were also so excited to be a part of a Network Wide Event for Cru New York City. The "Party with a Purpose" was designed to be one of five annual touch points for every one involved with Cru's Leadership Development Groups and other activities, but also to personify one of Cru's values of meeting specific needs of New York City. The issue that Cru wanted to bring to light was that many young women (and even some men) are trapped in human slavery with many being involved in having their bodies used for sex. Three organizations shared their expertise in fighting this horrific world epidemic, shared their experiences about how New York City is being affected by it and what they are doing to fight sex trafficking (and each organization is doing something different) at a systemic level.
We were very encouraged by the content of the evening, but also to see what opportunity there is for us to be joining this already thriving ministry to see it expanded to a new part of the city. We were excited to see how many young professional hailed from the Upper West Side in New York, as it is one of the neighborhoods we are considering. Casey and Brook are a couple we met at the event who took us through their home and neighborhood on the Upper West Side afterwards. This couple has so much influence as the both work in the production and journalism industries, and yet they are seeking to grow in their capacity to both flourish in the city but also to be a blessing in the city. What a privilege it was to meet a couple we could be potentially pouring into, but also to catch a vision for how God could use us on the Upper West Side.
We feel so blessed to be a part of this team. Our challenge in coming to New York is to be leaders recruiting our own team of part-time staff and volunteers who would want to be a part of reaching Millennials in New York alongside another vocation or calling. These people above represent Cru's staff shepherding a growing network of Millennials across the city.
It is very easy for us to identify with the experience of the spies sent out by the Israelites to spy out the promise land. We have a huge challenge ahead of us: raising our financial support to live in one of the most expensive cities in the USA, logistically figuring out a move with two young daughters and discerning God's will for what neighborhood we should live in. But we have a choice, do we take heart in what is in front of us, or what God has called us to? Pray, journey and join us as we trust God together!