Daniel Bridges, GoNow Initiative: 2015
After a smooth drive with a few stops from Asheville to Durham, I opened my door and was immediately reminded of the weather that was to be expected for the duration of my trip. That being hot, humid, and just generally nasty.
Move in went well and I met my suite mates, two of whom go to NC State and the other three UNC.
Later that night the City Project crew ate ice cream and played games so people would be able to get to know each other.
Today started with an early morning run. The weather was surprisingly hot.
Then, we all met at the nearby church to have breakfast and have many sessions. It was refreshing to start with what was most important, worship and the gospel.
The GoNow team made it clear that the main reason we are here is to be a people whose roots are the gospel. Everything we do should branch out from that.
After being at the church from 9AM to 2PM we gathered in a community field to play a crazy relay game that involved a lot of shaving cream and too much activity for the 90 degree weather.
All in all it was a good morning and afternoon; and now during my afternoon break I will lay by the pool until we rendezvous back at church in a couple hours.
Thursday was my birthday and it was a long day! Everyone sang to me in the morning because Tina told everyone there that it was my birthday, and she knows I don’t like being sung to.
We were at the church from 8 am to 4 pm learning things about New York, evangelism, our international trips, and reading the Bible.
After some free time in the afternoon we met back at church for late night activity, which consisted of creating a skit with assigned groups and performing to be judged by a panel of “celebrities.” People were surprisingly creative and it was a fun time!
Friday we went to Duke Gardens to reflect and be with God from 8:30 am – 1 pm. It was beautiful. I spent a lot of time praying and reflecting on what God was teaching me. I love the verse in Psalm 27 that says:
One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
I prayed this verse that God would give me the desire to always be with Him and to look upon who he is. I honestly wasn’t feeling very connected in the gardens, and I didn’t really feel like I was getting too much out of my time, but this is one thing I did see.**
Later that night we had a cookout on UNC’s campus and then had worship time and a mapping ceremony where we had all the different international groups go up and put their picture on the country where they were going. Then we prayed for each group individually. It was a good time of community, worship, and prayer (despite being on UNC’s campus ).
Just this morning I was reading Ephesians 2:1-10. It is a great picture of the gospel. I thanked God for His son and what He has done for me, and then I was reading a book called Cross Centered Life by CJ Mahaney. It talked about the danger of relying on your subjective feeling to determine your walk with Christ. He talked about how the Word is true and isn’t subjective and we should first ask ourselves “Do I believe this?” instead of “How do I feel about this?”
This directly addressed my “feelings” yesterday and made me humble about how God’s Word is always the truth and it saves no matter what I am personally feeling. It was great to hear that because I know I am anchored to Christ’s unchanging gospel no matter my emotional state.
I was very busy this week. God has shown me many things and worked in me so much. I’m not sure I can write it all down in a timely manner, but I’ll try.
After being in a bus from North Carolina to New York City for over 12 hours, our team was tired. When we got to NYSUM (New York School of Urban Ministry), we were debriefed and then sent out into Manhattan to look around and eat dinner.
For Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday our mornings followed this structure.
- Wake up and eat breakfast between 7 and 8 am
- Quiet time until 9:15 am
- We gather and walk to Woodside Community Church to receive our daily evangelism training* and worship time.
- Then, we are with our evangelism group at our assigned locations from 12:30-9:30 pm.
- After this we reflect as a group and go to sleep around 11 pm to midnight.
*The ministry we worked through is called Global Gates Church. They say that because “God calls us to go to the nations, what an opportunity we have when the nations come to us.” Their vision is to sift through the nation’s most diverse cities and find “people of peace” (those whom God has been readying to hear the message or willing to start a house bible study/church). Once these people are found they have much better access to the countries they are from than we do.
6/1 & 6/2/15 Monday and Tuesday
On these two days we focused on asking the Holy Spirit to move through the city, and we prayer walked for hours around the locations we would evangelize on Thursday and Friday.
At first, I was downcast because in my heart I didn’t want to pray for the people, the city, and for the Lord to move for hours and hours. I didn’t fully believe that God was going to do more than we could ever ask or imagine, as in Ephesians.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, (Ephesians 3:20)
But through prayer walking, I asked God to give me a heart to pray, a heart for the people, and for the Holy Spirit to embolden us to evangelize. It was hard, but through prayer I learned much about God, and also felt the Spirit working in our midst. The two days we did this were good preparation for what was to come on Thursday and Friday.
We hung around after getting our tickets, and then went to the show at 2 pm. It was awesome to see what Broadway was like!
After that my group (me, Tina, and a couple of others) went into Chinatown where we were approached time after time about buying Ray-Ban sunglasses and Rolex watches! Then, we strolled through Little Italy to have dinner, and then made our way back to NYSUM.
On this day we were given a survey and information sheets to fill out and use while going door to door. The survey went like this:
“Hello my name is Daniel and these are my friends. We are Christians from Global Gates Church and we are just asking several short questions to help us better serve the community.
- How long have you lived in this community?
- What language do you speak at home?
- What is your religion?
- Would you consider yourself a very religious person, and how often do you pray?
- Have you heard of Jesus?
- Who do you think He is?
- If we were to offer you a Bible in your own language, would you want one?
- And finally, we believe in the power of prayer, and we’d like to know if there is anything you want us to pray about right now?”
We faced rejection again and again, but God was faithful, and I was able to use my Spanish language skills to communicate with people who didn’t speak English.
One lady invited us in. Her name was Amanda and she was a Columbiana Christian who prayed and worshiped Jesus but didn’t own a Bible. We prayed over her in English for her spiritual life and unity with her family living in Colombia. She prayed over us in Spanish and thanked God for sending us to her door and for giving her hope too.
I felt joy and peace and so many things as she sent this prayer, because I knew that God used me personally to touch that lady’s life and remind her of his never fading presence. I learned that God rewards those who follow his commands with overwhelming joy and satisfaction. I’m so glad I was able to experience that first hand. I hope and pray that the Bible she receives will allow her to grow closer to God and even tell her family in Colombia about Jesus.
Monday night I suggested that our group eat at a Nepali restaurant where Pema was our waitress. She was very nice. I told her I was going to Nepal. Later that night she asked me what I was going to do there, and I said mission work. She asked what that was and my group leader, Leah told her that we were all on mission. We spoke with her about what we believe and she told us what she believed.
She was Buddhist in thinking but open to talking, and she said that she would read the Bible just to read it if we provided it. We asked her when she was working again and she said she was off Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so we returned that Thursday for dinner with a Nepali pastor and a Bible.
After we sat down we asked about Pema. They said she wasn’t working that night. We were surprised and saddened because we had brought Pastor Silvanus all the way there and she wasn’t even working. We weren’t going to just leave, so we stayed and ate.
Our waitress this time was named Avi. It was her first night working, and we were very kind to her. As Pastor Silvanus shared his testimony, Avi listened intently. She told us later that she was interested because her brother had just gone through a tragedy, and he had become a Christian. He gave her an English Bible and called her every Sunday to read. She was an infant believer, and we ended up giving her the Bible in Nepali so she might understand more and get connected with Silvanus. We also gave Silvanus Pema’s information so that his wife could contact her! God works in many amazing ways, indeed! We learned that night to always trust in His plans over our own, because God’s plan is better — perfect.
Our last day of evangelizing was rough. We got kicked out of an apartment complex within 10 minutes, and then as we went to another down the road, we faced a lot of rejection and fear from the enemy. Satan didn’t want us there and I could tell, because I was unnecessarily afraid.
We worked our way door to door from the 6th floor down and met a man named Ronald. In the dimly lit hallway I was able to get through the survey. I explained to him what we believed and shared the gospel of how God loves him so much and wants him to know that he did everything to cover his brokenness. He openly listened but didn’t want to make a decision then and there. I pray that God will soften his heart and turn his life over to Jesus.
Later, after dealing with barking dogs and people slamming doors in our faces, we saw a man just getting in and we thought, “should we go knock if he just got home and his door is open?” We decided to go and we met the man whose name was Tom Williams, a nurse at the local hospital. As we went through the survey we found out that he used to be a Christian, but his wife was a Muslim and had made him become Islamic.
He was nice and invited us in to talk more, and we found out more about him. He and his wife were having a huge fight and she had gone to Morocco, where she is from, with their son to get away for a little while. He said the only thing holding them together was their beautiful son. My friends and I evangelized and I prayed fervently over him.
We felt the Holy Spirit putting the words to say on our minds. He was so happy for us to pray for him and said that he honestly thought that prayer was the last thing that might save his marriage. He said that he thought God sent us there, and we all said, “He did!” He commands us in Matthew to go make disciples of all people, and that’s what we were doing.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, (Matthew 28:19)
He said he still believed in Jesus and Christianity, just that his wife didn’t know. I encouraged him saying that God loved him and wants to help him make the marriage work. This again was just another picture of how much God wants to use us to bless others and redeem lives. I hope and pray that Tom will turn back to God and that his wife might somehow come to Christ so their marriage will last and their son will not be a part of a broken marriage.
We got back to NC on Saturday at 7 pm after a very long ride. We were exhausted, but it was a good week.
Thanks for praying and the support! Love you church fam!
Sunday I served at Blue Ridge, went to lunch, and spent the afternoon with Tina. It was a pretty good day!
This summer for Monday through Thursday is going to follow the similar structure. Mornings start at 9:30 am at church with a devotion. Lessons are from 10 am to noon. Then, lunch from 12-1 pm. Our internships go from 1 to 5 pm. Typically, we have something to do every night around 6:30 pm, so our days are full.
My internship involves me working with Summit Outreach team in the Benevolence Department, where they take calls from people in need and decide if and how to help them. I’m not sure what I will be doing permanently, but I’m here to serve and pray, and to have a heart that wants to serve.
The focus of Monday was to read the Bible better.
On Tuesday our focus was on learning what it means to truly be a disciple.
I’m so busy, it’s hard to find time to blog. I will try my best to post, when possible, what God is teaching me throughout this summer! God bless!
A couple quick notes: Blue Ridge is my Summit Church campus, which I attend on Sundays. This is where I go during the school year. The Summit Outreach team has many different parts to it. I am working with the Benevolence department, which is in responsible for taking calls and helping people need and can’t afford to pay rent or bills because of a certain crisis.
I apologize for not posting sooner this week. A couple of days have been hard, and it’s difficult to keep heart. Thanks for understanding!
It has been tough coming off of the spiritual high of NY, being back in Durham and having fully packed days. I have been getting into the Word, but haven’t really been getting much from it, and I feel like my relationship with God is on a down turn. I know it won’t last long, but still is discouraging. I finished the Cross Centered Life, and it showed me many great things about the gospel in a new way.
On Saturday, the 13th, me and many others from Summit went to Eno River State Park. It was fun getting out into nature for the first time in the Raleigh Durham area. We hiked about a mile to an old quarry, which is now a lake. There’s a nice place to jump off a 20-foot cliff and float and swim and chill. It was a good day!
The Summit prayer pastor, Chris Gaynor spoke about prayer. It was amazing to learn from him. He spoke about how prayer should start in adoration of God and also involve confession, thanksgiving, and finally petition. Praying is not just a time to ask God to make your life better, but a time to adore Him and enjoy His presence.
Kids Week: Monday, June 22nd to Thursday, June 25th
The past two weeks have been crazy. Kids week at the Summit Church vacation bible school attracts over 700 kids to 4 or 5 different campuses around Raleigh-Durham. I worked at the North Raleigh campus, and the daily drive, which should have taken 26 minutes, ended up taking 45 or 50 minutes, because of traffic.
I was the co-leader of a group of seven preschool kids who were a lot of fun. The songs they sung were all gospel-centered, and the lessons they learned were all about Jesus and his ministry. I felt so fulfilled after leaving every night, because the kids are so sweet and innocent (Sometimes!). It made me realize how God sees us as his children.
How much do our earthly parents do for us? They do, a lot. They are always there when we’re sad, and provide for us when we are unable to provide for ourselves. They teach us great things about the world around us.
I love how the Bible talks about how much our earthly fathers care about us, and how much more God cares about us — providing the Holy Spirit to those who ask. We are children of God who can’t even begin to fathom how great our daddy is, and that is amazing. So, all through kids week I was reminded that I can just sit back and adore my Father because he is awesome and so worthy to be praised and adored.
Saturday, June 27th
Now, for the down side of kids week. I came down with strep throat on Saturday morning. It was probably due to being with the children. But it was still worth it. Although being sick still wasn’t fun, God actually taught me things during this time.
In the morning when I got up with my throat hurting, feeling weak and cold, with a fever, I still got into the Word, and it was great. I prayed to God, and He put realities on my heart. My hope doesn’t depend on how I feel or on my health. My hope is in Jesus’ finished work on the cross and on the God who loves and cares for me and lives inside me through the Holy Spirit.
It was hard to get through the sickness, but God was faithful and didn’t let me “die”. (My fever got so high that my suitemates joked about it).
Monday, June 29th
Tina took me to the urgent care center near my apartment. I got a prescription for antibiotics, which helped immensely. Then, we drove home to Asheville. Tina drove the White Stallion, because I was feeling too terrible to drive. The first day home I couldn’t be near my mom. That was hard, but I knew God is with her and He will never leave or forsake her — He is all she needs.
Tuesday, June 30th
I was glad to be there for mom when she came home from surgery on Tuesday.
I am excited to leave for Nepal. Please pray for safety and peace as we travel for 25 to 30 hours to get there. Love you all, fam!