In 1857 Jeremiah Lanphier led a prayer emphasis for New York City. Soon
thousands of people in New York were praying on the noon hour. A revival swept
through New York and then the northeast and then the rest of America. It didn't
take long for this revival to move from nation to nation across the world.
Revival in our major urban areas today could mean another Great Awakening.
Could cities like New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Vancouver really become
lighthouses of the gospel? All it would take is for Christians to join together
in prayer and action to change our cities. What are we waiting for?
When you picture any big city, do you see bright lights, tall buildings and
swarms of people? If you've ever been to Times Square in New York City, you
know just what I'm talking about. Walking through Times Square is like swimming
upstream through a river of people. These few blocks of city seem to light up
the entire night as if its the middle of the day. But when you look into
peoples faces and think about spiritual lights in the city, the picture starts
to grow dim.
Healing in New Orleans
BY MAGGIE WILLIAMS The Brantley Baptist
Center in New Orleans opens its doors to all kinds of people. My problems were
loneliness, lack of family support, depression, joblessness and alcoholism.
The Brantley Center has saved my life more than once. When Im all alone I
can always check in, and they always revive me back to healthspiritually,
mentally and physically.
When I lost my job I became hopeless and depressed, and I almost gave up on
life. Without family support, I was left to fight a thousand battles with
people in offices who are supposed to be there to help you. After the warfare
in society I was left spiritually, mentally and emotionally drained.
Since the 1980s, I have been able to turn to the Brantley Center for
assistance in times of mental anxiety. I thank God for the support of the
people at the center. They never looked down on me and never changed on me. I
see a real Jesus love.
I was able to go back to nursing school to renew my nursing assistance
license and C.P.R. card. Thanks to the prayers of staff, visiting ministers and
friends I kept my focus and completed the course!
I now feel better able to overcome adversity in my family life and the
problems in the world around me. I have applied for a job at a Medical Rehab
Hospital, because I have compassion for those who believe that against all odds
they can rehabilitate and get back to a whole new life.
There is a healing spirit in the building at 201 Magazine! The Brantley
Center fulfills the true mission of the church in that they help the whole
person. They fulfill what is recorded in James about pure and true
Today, 64 percent of North America's population lives in the 50 largest
cities. However, only 25 percent of Southern Baptist churches are in those
areas. Throughout the years, our major cities have become centers of spiritual
darkness. As populations in our cities have grown, the percentage of Christians
has declined. Urbanization has been the trend over the past century and is not
expected to slow in the 21st century, says Doug Metzger, director of Strategic
Focus Cities at the North American Mission Board (NAMB).
The spiritual darkness of New York City is reproduced with variations in
many North American cities. The churches in these cities face many of the same
challenges. A city by definition means more of everything—more buildings, more
traffic, more crime, more money, more poverty and most of all more people. How
do you reach millions of people with the gospel? In order to change our cities
we first have to identify the greatest needs and then attack those needs
through prayer, ministry, church planting and evangelism. As we spread His
message, God can bring light to urban darkness.
Plagues of the cityCrime, homelessness, poverty,
indifference and immorality are just a few of the ills that plague our
They say that most people are only two paychecks away from being out on the
streets. Imagine looking for a safe place to sleep every night. You curl up on
a bed of cement, and if youre lucky you have a newspaper for a blanket.
Thousands of people live like this everyday in North America.
Cities offer their inhabitants an immeasurable number of unhealthy
diversions. There are ads for immoral activities plastered
everywhere—billboards, walls, subway trains. A person could drown in the flood
of information that engulfs every street. In the city, personal relationships
are traded for impersonal anonymity. With anonymity there is no
accountability—individuals feel free to live by their own set of rules.
God is urging us to mend hearts and cities, but we have to be willing to
reach out to those in need. In Isaiah the Lord urges His people to break the
chains of injustice, free the oppressed, cancel debts, share food with the
hungry, invite the poor into our homes, put clothes on the naked and be
available to our families. If we do this, our lives will glow in the darkness,
and the lives around us will be bathed in sunlight.
Mercy in the streetsThe church is called to care for
the widow, defend the fatherless and to reach out to the poor and unjustly
treated. We are called to practice our faith through our actions. As
individuals and as a church we need to put hands and feet to the gospel message
and live it out in our daily lives.
Not too far from Wall Street, on the Lower East Side, live many of the
city's homeless and working poor. East Seventh Baptist Church, nicknamed
Graffiti, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, has developed a very successful
ministry in their neighborhood. They provide emergency help for the homeless,
offer educational opportunities for children and youth, administer job
development programs and engage in Christian discipleship. Graffiti is a
lighthouse in the community sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.
The church should be the first place to look for a model of community.
People in the city need a place of rest where they can find peace in the midst
of chaos. The church should be a place where people are accepted and cared for.
It's a place to build relationships and share accountability.
Reach the wealthy?One of the largest unreached people
groups in the city are the urban wealthy. New York City is seeing a decline
among the poor and an increase among the urban wealthy as are many major cities
in the U.S. "The church has done a good job of providing ministry to the poor,
but we haven't kept up with the rise of the young urban professional," says
Nelson Searcy, pastor of The Journey. As Christians we are called to be
sensitive to all social levels—taking the gospel to the rich and powerful as
well as the poor and downtrodden.
Two new churches in New York City have taken the lead in reaching young
urban professionals. The Journey is committed to being a church that is as
relevant as today's newspaper while holding to the timeless teachings of Jesus
Christ. On Sunday mornings The Journey meets in a small theatre on the Upper
West Side and Sunday nights in Greenwich Village. Mosaic Manhattan is a church
that grew out of Southern Baptists' response to 9/11. The church meets downtown
near the financial district.
"We want to be a church that reflects New York City," says Jay Lyons,
creative arts pastor at Mosaic. And mosaic is the perfect way to describe New
York with its rich diversity.
Both churches provide a casual atmosphere where non-Christians can get
answers to tough spiritual questions and build authentic relationships in a
non-threatening environment. Christians in New York City will find a place
where they can grow spiritually, serve others and make a difference in their
In a city like New York it's hard to get people to make church a priority.
It's sometimes easier to get people to come out for special events. Both
churches have found innovative ways to reach people. The Journey hosts movie
nights, coffee houses and athletic groups. A favorite event is Dog Day, a party
in the park for dog lovers. Mosaic has hosted events like the recent Comedy
Night featuring some of NYC's hottest comedians. Both churches also are
involved in servant evangelism projects to minister to their neighborhoods.
Recently, The Journey helped New York University students move into their
dorms. Mosaic hands out bottles of water on hot days and coffee on cold ones.
They've also sponsored block parties and back-to-school events in the
People in the city need a place to gather with other Christians to receive
Truth, love and care.
Crossroads of the worldThe Lord is bringing together
people from various countries and ethnic backgrounds in our urban centers. New
Yorkers don't have to cross the ocean to meet people from another country. All
they have to do is cross the street. The world is entering our cities at an
extreme rate. All major urban centers in North America are experiencing this
trend. Vancouver, B.C., is being called the Hong Kong of the West. Los Angeles
is the second largest Hispanic city in the world. Miami is becoming known as
the Latin capital of the world. The New York City borough of Brooklyn alone is
home to people from every country represented in the United Nations.
Internationals are vulnerable when they first move to a large city.
Many come without jobs and don't have the support of family and friends.
Language and cultural barriers can make them feel alone and isolated. The
church has a great opportunity to impact lives by opening its arms to these
A lot of our urban churches find innovative ways to make people feel at
home. Offering worship services in multiple languages, providing English as a
Second Language classes and job training are a few of the ways churches can
impact internationals and perhaps even the world. Some internationals will
eventually return to their native country. Imagine what will happen if they
take the gospel home with them.
Pray for the citiesMore than anything our urban
centers need prayer. Change in the cities requires a heart change in the
people. The church has the power to transform the human heart and therefore
transform whole neighborhoods, communities and even cities. Unified prayer is
one of the first steps to making a difference in the city. Jesus wept over
Jerusalem. How often do we weep over the mega cities in our nation? We need to
feel compassion for the millions of people who practically live on top of each
other in our urban centers. To learn how you can pray more strategically for
North American cities email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Urban lighthousesHistorically, most cities were built
with the church at the heart of the city. In recent years, the trend has been
for urban churches to move out to the suburbs, abandoning the city. For
Christians to impact our cities we have to see a resurgence of urban churches.
The church will have an easier time impacting the city if it dwells among the
city's residents. The church at the heart of the city can change the hearts of
the people who live there.
The urban church has a huge task. The church needs to be proactive in
researching demographic changes ahead. Lets face it, neighborhoods change. A
church can either try to adapt to the needs of the community or it can move out
of the city. The successful urban church will find ways to adapt to a changing
community. And to adapt to the ever-growing international community, many
churches in New York City have started providing space for multi-cultural
congregations. One church in New York has as many as four congregations meeting
in its facility—English, Spanish, Korean and Filipino.
Churches need to find ways to communicate the Christ-centered message of
hope. Urban churches have the opportunity to become beacons of light to people
who are lost in spiritual darkness.
New Hope New York
For many years New York has been a spiritually dark city, but that seems to be
changing. The North American Mission Board has chosen to make New York City a
Strategic Focus City at a time when New Yorkers are spiritually hungry and at a
ripened state for a great harvest. New Hope New York is a call to churches
across North America to come to New York and bring new hope to a city that
needs healing. New Hope New York is focusing on five areas: prayer, church
planting, collegiate ministry, church strengthening and pastor leadership
Prayer. The emphasis for New Hope New York begins with
prayer. One of the best things that any church can do is pray for this area.
After 9/11 thousands of people prayed for New York, and New Yorkers felt the
after-effects of those prayers. NHNY is hoping to enlist 100,000 prayer
warriors to pray for the city. For specific prayer requests visit praynewyork.com.
Church planting. There is an overwhelming need for more
churches in New York City. The goal is to plant 25 churches that have church
multiplication in their DNA. There is a need for established churches to
partner with a new church start to provide prayer, financial and volunteer
support. When you put a church planter on the field in New York City, youre not
only impacting the city, youre impacting the world.
Collegiate ministry. There are 685,000 college students and
more than 130 campuses in the area and only four college ministers. Countries
from around the world are represented at these colleges and universities. If we
can impact college students with the gospel we can impact the world. New Hope
New York is looking for thriving campus ministries to adopt a campus in the New
York metro area. College ministries can commit to pray for a campus or take a
mission trip to the campus during Spring Break. The best way to reach college
students is with other students. NHNY is challenging college students from the
Bible belt to come to school in New York or take a semester or year off from
school to work as a college minister at a local church.
New York City is the financial capital of the world, the media capital of
the world, the political capital of the world and the entertainment capital of
the world. Our hope is that New York City will become the Christian capital of
For more information about how you or your church can pray for and partner
with New York visit www.newhopenewyork.com.
For You, MiamiGreat food, hot music and beautiful
beaches—Miami's got it all. But more than 90 percent of Miami's five million
residents do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The city known
for its extravagant hotels has the worst poverty level in the nation (32
percent of the population lives at or below the poverty level). Miami is a city
of immigrants from 160 countries speaking more than 140 languages—51 percent
were born outside the United States and 38 percent of Miamis population is not
U.S. citizens. The most common languages are English, Spanish, Portuguese and
Miami has been described as a salad bowl. The people who live here bring
their own unique style to the mix, but live together in one community.
Only about 60,000 Southern Baptists live in this city of millions and there
are only 266 Southern Baptist churches. The opportunities to minister and share
the love of Jesus Christ in Miami are endless.
For You, Miami is a Strategic Focus City emphasis to bring the gospel to the
Miami-Dade County area. They hope to address the needs of the city by
presenting the love of Christ through prayer, physical care, sharing of faith
and church growth.
Already, there have been 19 new churches started through For You,
Miami—seven English, eight Spanish and four Haitian. Plans are underway to
start 16 new churches before the end of this year.
For information about how you or your church can pray for and partner with
churches in Miami visit www.foryoumiami.com.
Vancouver, the Wests Hong KongA hot noon meal five days
a week is the only lifeline for several dozen inner-city unfortunates in
Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Five minutes by car from Vancouver's infamous Hastings
and Main district, the heart of the city's deepest misery, Community of Hopes
storefront ministry is a point of light in an equally dark place. Low rent,
high unemployment, rampant substance abuse, single parent families,
homelessness, malnutrition and all its associated grief characterize the area
where Pastor Yong-Woon Kim chose to plant his life eight years ago and make a
Several years ago, Pastor Kim was at prayer in the pre-dawn hours when he
received a vision that stirred him deeply. He saw an arm, scarred with needle
marks, oozing blood. While attending seminary Kim did an inner-city practicum,
and his heart broke for the people and their living conditions. In the midst of
their suffering, some exhibited a faith that inspired Kim, and he decided to
Kim began at his own expense serving hot coffee, day-old donuts and a
message of hope to about 50 people a day in a 120-square-foot room. After a
year he had exhausted his resources and considered quitting. But local Korean
churches got involved as well as a partner church in Kansas, and the ministry
expanded to a 1500-square-foot storefront nearby. Hot meals, daily worship,
free Friday haircuts, summertime ball games, childrens ministry on Saturdays
and baptisms in the lake are some ways that Vancouvers hopeless are getting a
glimpse of Gods grace. Kims dream is to keep growing and provide shelter,
showers, a detox center and job training. Without work, people are hopeless and
helpless, Kim says.
Visit www.Immanuelfellowship.com for more information about this
ministry. For information about the Strategic Focus City emphasis in Vancouver
Connie Cavanaugh, Cochrane, Alberta
8 million people in NYC
21 million people in Metro New York
213 Southern Baptist churches
685,000 college students in NYC
4 campus ministers
3.5 million people in Dade County
55-65 percent are Hispanic
266 Southern Baptist churches
9 languages spoken among churches
2 million people, almost half are of Asian descent
43 Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists (CCSB) churches
22 ethnic churches
8 languages spoken among churches
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC