Friday, December 19, 2008
City of Lights
New York City is a city of lights. I was reminded of this in the fall when I flew home at night (and circled around and around due the inevitable delays at the airport). Looking down on the city at night is breathtaking. The lights of the many bridges (I’m still not sure exactly how many there are in the entire city!), at Times Square, and the Empire State Building makes it seem like the whole city is lit up. I’m reminded now, as Christmas lights and decorations line the streets in Brooklyn, or light up the many trees at Rockefeller Center and Macys. However, I recently had a new glimpse of some other very bright lights in New York—our ministry sites. Each fall, we meet with all of the sites we partner with to thank them, bring some words of encouragement from the groups, and give a tithe donation from our groups during the year. It’s always a highlight of the fall.
However this year, as in many of your cities, NYC has been facing economic strain and we have noticed it the most with some of our sites. As food prices go up and there is less funding, there becomes less food and resources to supply the sites while many soup kitchens and pantries are seeing more people come for help. Amidst this struggle, many of the sites are rising to the occasion as a light of encouragement and strength to the people they serve.
While visiting our sites, one of these lights I saw was Sister Washington, from a soup kitchen we work with called We Care. They are connected to the Little Rock church in Brooklyn, and have been running the soup kitchen out of the church twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. When Tracee and I came, they had been praying for provision for the soup kitchen as funding had to be cut for the soup kitchen. Sister Washington and the other volunteers had been supplying the soup kitchen and food pantry with their own money to make ends meet, and were just hoping for enough resources to host a Thanksgiving meal for the soup kitchen. Sister Washington embodied someone who is completely committed to her ministry and the people that it serves. In a city where change is inevitable and frequent, and pantry shelves are becoming barer while the line outside grows longer, she is a light shining forth.
I look at Sister Washington and others who are the reason CSM exists, to come alongside their ministries. It reminds me of a verse we shared on the prayer tour when I was a CSM host, “let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). We then prayed that we would be a light to the city, which is my prayer for our groups and staff in NY!
-Noelle Sefton, CSM New York Co-City Director