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In the last blog, I wrote about the first two and a half weeks of outreach. Now let me tell you about this past two weeks!
So after Washington, D.C., we heading to Pennsylvania. In PA, we stayed in Lancaster and Stowe. While in Lancaster, we attended Sights and Sound theater to watch Jonah. It was so good and super encouraging. First of all, I have never seen such an amazing production. They used the entire theater to bring the story of Jonah to life. Secondly, God spoke a lot through it. Most of you should know the story of Jonah. God sent him a message to tell the people of Nineveh that He has seen their wickedness and His judgment is coming against it. Now Jonah did not like Nineveh because they were ruthless people. But he knew God’s heart was merciful and he was afraid that if the people of Nineveh were to repent of their sins that God would forgive them. So instead of going to Nineveh, he went the opposite direction to Tarshish. Now the boat that Jonah had taken to escape God’s call on his life, was full of people that didn’t know God. God sent a terrible storm across the ocean and Jonah knew that the only way to stop the storm would be if the people threw him overboard. So the people threw Jonah overboard and were awestruck with God’s great power. This caused them to give their lives to service to God. This is also when Jonah was swallowed by a giant fish. While in the fish’s belly, Jonah had a change of heart and decided to go to the city of Nineveh to give the message of God. Just like Jonah had feared, the city repented and the Lord turned His wrath away from them. This angered Jonah and God, being the loving father He is, taught Jonah yet another lesson involving a tree. He provided a tree for Jonah to use as shade and then killed the tree the next day. He used it to show Jonah that he has no right to be angry. That his heart needs to be for people’s lives to be saved by God. What God spoke to me in this play was that God can even use our disobedience to show His glory to others because He bring good out of anything. Also, God could have used anyone to send the message to the people of Nineveh but instead, He chose Jonah already knowing Jonah’s heart. God used him not only to save the sailors on the boat and the people of Nineveh but also to save Jonah and change his heart to become more like God’s heart for people.
In Stowe, PA, we went to West Chester University. At this particular University, I was walking around with 2 of my team members and made a comment, “Okay, next person that walks past me, I’m asking them to do the God Test.” Well sure enough, no one walked past us for a good 5 minutes. Then, this one particular man did. His eyes looked baggy and that he hadn’t been getting enough sleep or that he was going through a rough time. I popped the question and he said “Why not? I’m early to class today for some reason.” So we go through the test and he was my first No for believing in God. But his answers lead me to believe that he did at one point and then turned away. We got to talking after and he made a comment, “Shitty things happen to good people and I can’t understand why God would allow that.” So he definitely had some hurt that I still didn’t know, so I shared with him my testimony of being attacked. How I agree, bad things happen to “good” people, but that doesn’t make God a bad God. He then asked, “Well why does my mom have cancer then?” I was honestly at a loss of words. I didn’t know how to respond. So I just let the compassion side of me take over. I told him, “I don’t know why your mom has cancer, but I do know that God can go beyond medicine and heal her sickness and pain. I’m so sorry.” We hugged after and I asked if I could pray for him, which he let me! I may have not had the right words to say or knew what to do but I am trusting that God is still speaking to him and his mother at this moment and making Himself known to them.
We now have spent the past 7 days in Chatham, New Jersey. These just might have been my favorite days.
We took a trip out to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. At Ellis Island, I was determined to find my Great Grandfather’s records. No one in my family had luck doing so but I was still going to try! I called my dad and texted my grandpa for any names that he made have been known by, this age, the year he may have came, and where he came from. Before researching, I watched a video that described that when they arrived, most of them didn’t know how to spell their name so the person checking them in had to guess what they said and hand-write their name down. So after I couldn’t find my great grandfather by the names I was given, I decided to think outside the box. With handwriting, ‘V’s could look like ‘W’s if the person was in a rush or just had sloppy handwriting and then putting it in the computer someone could have translated it wrong. Therefore I looked up all the Moroz’s with a W first initial. Sure enough, I found our missing Great Grandfathers record of arriving to the states! His name, as recorded, was Wlodzimierz Moroz. He arrived in the states at the age of 16 in 1927 from Poland. Although my family is Ukrainian, a cool little history fact is that at that time there was a war and Ukraine become Poland for awhile, therefore resulting in him having come from Poland. My great grandfathers original name was Vladimir but translated to Polish is Wlodimierz and in English is Walter, which is why Walter is the name for boys in my family! It was so cool discovering all these neat little things about my family that I never thought I had an interest in until then. The building on Ellis Island is the same as it was when my great grandfather came. After figuring out that he had actually been there, I took a moment to walk the halls and look at the walls and the floor, taking in that this was the exact place my great grandfather had been. What is even cooler is that I found a picture of New York during 1930 so it was actually a picture of what my grandfather would have seen when he arrived to New York!! I can’t get over how amazing it is to have discovered this information and be there. I’m so thankful to God for that experience!
Afterwards, we got to go into New York and just see the city. Holy Cow, it’s huge. The buildings just make you feel so small but yet make you stand in awestruck with how big they are. The smells of the city, however, I would be okay with never experiencing again.
One main thing we did while in New Jersey was landscaping the church’s property that we were staying at. We tidied up the place and gave it a fresh look! This church had gone through a rough patch and lost many members but now they are refocusing on Christ and in expectancy, hoping that God will fill their parking lot again.
We also went to Kean University to do our God Test. This was my first time meeting a New Age person. They believe there is a higher being, and that its about being spiritual but that also every religion can get you to where you are going. I know that God had wanted me to talk to this person. We were walking around campus and a little upset that we couldn’t find a Dunkin Donuts (because we are too good for Starbucks). I made a comment to my friend, “We should totally go sit by that guy on the bench and just do the God Test” well I thought about it too much and talked myself out of it because it would be weird for just a stranger to come sit by you. But then… he took a sip from his Dunkin Donuts cup! That was our ticket into a conversation. We walk up and ask where he got his drink from but it was actually a Dunkin Donuts off the 95 exit. So then I just started a normal conversation about what program he is in in college and then got into the God Test. At the end of the conversation, I didn’t feel like there was any new revelation of God and Jesus but I do know that what I said will leave an impact and God wanted the conversation to happen. He is actually an Education Major so I was able to encourage him in that and wish him luck in his Student Internship, which I will be doing next fall!
One of my favorite ministries is working with the homeless. I have always had a heart for them. Now I am aware that some have put themselves on the streets because of poor choices and decisions, but we are called to “have the same attitude that Christ had” Philippians 2:5. Jesus ate with the prostitutes, the tax collectors, and many other disreputable sinners. He didn’t care what they smelled like, what they looked like, or how the world saw them as. What He did care about was their heart. We, who are called to be the image of God, need to care about peoples heart. So part of our time in NYC was working with New York Relief. We volunteered Thursday night for Don’t Walk By, which is self explanatory. If you see someone homeless, don’t walk by them. We had messenger bags filled with hygiene kits, socks, blankets, a map of where to get free food, ect. We set out into the city at around 6:30 at night simply looked for the homeless to engage in conversation with them and see if we can help them out with what we had. I love this type of ministry so much. It really expresses God’s heart for His people. No matter what you’ve done, no matter how messy you are, you are loved and noticed. Most homeless people don’t even feel human because they are constantly walked past and considered the scum of the earth. Imagine going days, weeks, months, or years without human interaction, physically touch, or even a smile shown at you. How down and alone would you feel? Anyone one of us could become homeless. I don’t believe people truly intend to live out on the streets. One person that my team had met was actually going for a job interview the next day! How great is that. My point is that people are people no matter what and I believe, just as Christ did, we need to love everyone regardless of anything.
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