By Adam Miller
Illustration by John Labbe
PHOTO BY RANDY CREAMER
Painting schools in the bronx
New Hope New York approached Adolfo Carrion Jr., president of the Bronx
(similar to a county commissioner) in 2004 to find out what project they could
do to engage the Bronx community. Adolfo told them they could paint a
The school they showed us hadnt had a face lift in decades, says Dave
Howard, recalling his days as executive director of MNYBA. We knew we had a
mammoth task at hand that seemed impossible to do before school started.
Impossible except for a miracle.
At the end of two months and hundreds of volunteer hours, 500 people from 70
churches in 15 states had taken part in the miracle. In August, the Bronx
school had received its much-needed face lift, and the Bronx school system
responded with immense gratitude and a rush for other schools to be painted in
the summer of 2005.
This affected the Bronx commu-nity on so many levels, Howard says. We were
able to interact with politicians, school officials, teachers and other
educators. It really was amazing how the community responded.
The project also provided New York churches opportunities to take leadership
roles in organizing their congregations and to start projects with schools in
When churches take part in this project, people in their communities
associate their church with an immense act of kindness, Howard says. This pro-
vides them with ministry opportunities they wouldve never had, and members
realize hey, maybe I am a leader.
Youve reached the offices of the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association
at 236 West 72nd Street in Manhattan. You ride the lever-operated elevator, a
piece of machinery that came with the nearly century-old building. Stop at any
floor, pull back the accordion-like gate and the metal door, then peek around
the corner. Today you discover that Randy Singer is teaching a leadership
class. As special assistant and general counsel for the North American Mission
Board, Singer brings to the training both executive and legal perspectives. On
yet another floor of the six-story building you find Gary Frost, executive
director of the association, on a conference call with Steve Allen, a
church-planting missionary who directs the multi-ethnic ministry throughout
Greater New York.
Your tour of a sampling of the New York associations development of leaders
lasts well into the night. In the evening you meet with David and Lily Gu,
church planters from mainland China who are reaching the Asian population in
Brooklyn, Queens and the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The Gus ministry is
offspring of the Graffiti Church, a fellowship started by NAMB missionary
As a NAMB Strategic Focus City, New York is a nerve center for ministry
among multi-ethnic groups, big business and media, college campuses, the rich,
the poor, populations representing every area of the globe and just about every
other facet of North American missions. Its a microcosm of the world.
We want to engage the culture in every possible fashion, says Dave Howard,
NAMBs director of Strategic Focus Cities, who formerly served as the New York
associations director of missions. If you define leaders as influencers, then
its the Churchs responsibility to take leadership roles into ministry, the
marketplace and everywhere else.
236 West 72nd Street is more than an address where church leaders get
together and chat about their ministries and the needs of the city. Its a
greenhouse where leaders are discovered, developed and empowered to reach a
city in need of Christian leaderslay and careerwho will take light and love
into the dark places. This is the North American mission.
PHOTO BY GIBBS FRAZEUR
My experience has shown that, if you find the right people, God will develop
them into leaders, says Gary Frost, executive director of the Metropolitan New
York Baptist Association and a former vice president of NAMB. Thats what Jesus
did. He didnt just say who wants to be my disciple? The task of developing
leadership is to identify those who have the raw material.
PHOTO BY MEREDITH DAY
A Lighthouse in Brooklyn
Before David Gu and his family moved from Oklahoma to plant a church in
Brooklyn, there was no Southern Baptist church solely devoted to reaching the
Chinese and other Asian populations of New York City. Now, as they gather with
their people in homes in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens,
the Gus are seeing the result of Gods work through their day-in and day-out
ministry. Most of those who attend weekly services and Bible studies are the
fruit of this daily work.
I spot Asian people in the parks and subways who could use some help finding
their way around, Gu says. So, I hand them a city guide that Ive published and
a subway map with my business card attached. Then I tell them about
New York Lighthouse Baptist is the church Gu started with support and
direction from the MNYBA and the Graffiti Church, a Southern Baptist fellowship
started by NAMB missionary Taylor Fields.
Several nights a week, David and his wife, Lily, hold home Bible studies in
one of the three boroughs. Men and women who have emigrated from China sing
hymns in Chinese, then settle in for an hour or so to discuss their real-life
Some are new to the Christian faith; others converted years ago and have a
more developed faith. A few are pre-Christians. They discuss practical life
issues such as finding jobs or dealing with the legal system. A majority are
first generation immigrants from mainland China.
I take whatever opportunity I have to raise up new Chinese Christians who
are already in the community and help grow them into Christians who can reach
their families and friends, he says.
Through his own outreach and the members of his church who are beginning to
share their faith, Lighthouse lights up the darkened corners once shadowed by
poverty, language barriers and eastern religions.
For more information on New York Lighthouse Baptist Church click here.
Frost himself is a testimony to how God prepares and develops leaders.
Before joining NAMB, Frost served for 18 years as pastor of Rising Star Baptist
Church in Youngstown, Ohio, where he worked in urban ministries. His work at
NAMB put him in close contact with ministries to diplomats in Washington, D.C.,
and gave him opportunities to strategize effective ways to reach the urban
centers of North America through NAMBs Strategic Focus Cities (SFC) initiative.
He brings to his New York position a range of experiences and strategies in
reaching people groups in urban contexts, plus leadership development skills
and an appreciation for the importance of placing qualified leaders in
strategic locations. He has done it all.
Through well-placed leaders like Frost, the SFC initiative and NAMBs
training materials called Next Level Leadership, NAMB can assist churches and
associations in finding and developing leaders who will take the helm.
They may be ministers, pastors and laypeople at the local church level or
missionaries and people in associations and state conventions throughout North
America. NAMB assists in developing
leaders among all age, socio-economic and ethnic groups by providing
resources and training materials for state- and association-led programs.
Everything we do is through partnerships with our state conventions, says
Chuck Allen, NAMBs chief operating officer. One of the obstacles organizations
have is always assuming that equipping leaders means just holding some workshop
out there. Equipping leaders is at the root of our existence as a convention.
We have to have a solid theology of leadership so that at our core we are
You dont develop leaders corporately. You develop them one person at a time.
This is why developing leaders is done most effectively through mentorship at
the state, associational and church levels.
Without vision the people perish, and without leadership theres no vision.
And without a large number of believers accepting the leadership roles to which
God has called them, theres no one to carry out the vision God has given the
Church. Leadership is foundational. Without Christ there is no church. Without
the leadership of Peter, there is no foundation. Without Pauls vision, the
gentile world might have continued in spiritual darkness.
Of course God is not calling all believers to the same level of leadership,
but all believers are called to be leaders. When we talk of leadership we talk
in terms of circles of influence. No matter who we are there are people in our
lives whom we influence. Whether its our family, our friends, or our state
legislature, God calls us to take the helm of leadership where we are. We are
the leaven who are called to weave salt and light through assisting in church
planting, taking part in evangelism projects, heading up Bible studies in our
apartment complexes or places of employment or mentoring our children to be
This is the North American Mission Boards vision as we move further into a
new century, a new millennium and an ever growing, ever diversifying North
Adam Miller is associate editor of On Mission.
RESOURCES FOR DEVELOPING LEADERS
Looking for ways to better equip the leaders in your church? NAMB helps
develop leaders through conferences, online information and other resources.
Heres a sampling of some opportunities and materials for developing leaders in
Next Level is NAMBs leadership development initiative
providing resources and other opportunities for developing lay leaders,
ministry leaders and leaders in the North American marketplace (www.nextlevelleadership.com).
Impact Zone is an opportunity for high school students to
understand the importance of their leadership in school, work and the world.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC