New York seems like a long time ago now even though its only been a week. I am not sure where I should start. I thought I would deal with the practical stuff as it were! So this is how it went: 9 of us from Bristol Vineyard went to New York to hang out with 2 of the 3 NYC Vineyard congregations (Upper West Side and Submerge/Midtown).
Myself and Gary were the only members of the team not staying in Brooklyn. We had been told we were staying in Greenwich Village which turned out to be untrue – we ended up staying one block from Wall St and Ground Zero in a very flash apartment with a guy from Submerge called Ryan.
It was a great pad and it even had a 14th floor with a communal lounge with pool table and widescreen TV..and a rooftop terrace! So on the Thursday night, after Gary and I had been at the NYC Vineyard leaders meeting, we were up on this roof terrace at a party which had a free bar and most amazing view of NYC at night…Empire State Building and all…what an introduction! Another bonus of the night was me having to administer first aid to a rather nice Canadian girl who had put a 4 inch gash in her knee (see..people laughed when I packed my first aid kit!!) I think she liked the fact that I was English and sober (most of the guys at the party were not). I did make it clear that it was not normal practice for me to be holding the leg of a girl only 2 hours after meeting her and in no way was it my way of chatting her up. I think she believed me!! Gary thought it was all highly amusing!
We had the days free on Thurs and Fri and we did some sightseeing stuff: Empire State Building, 5th Avenue, Central Park etc
The pattern for the “work” we would be doing involved us being ministry team at the events we were helping Matt Turrigiano at. (Matt’s parents Mike and Char oversee the NYC Vineyard). Following the Leaders meeting on Thurs night we had a bbq at Mike and Char’s place in Brooklyn – huge amounts of food and some especially fine cigars were a feature of the evening. Another feature was Gary and I getting lost on the subway and taking 2 hours to get back to Wall St -after a minor and slightly scary detour to East Brooklyn – yikes!
Saturday was a good day as we had a Spiritual Gifts Seminar Day at the Vineyard Centre. It was hot, the air conditioning wasn’t on, we had several fans and despite the fact that it sounded like we had several hovercrafts parked next to us, had a great time! God spoke through Matt, Mike and Clint who were doing the teaching, we had great worship and all of us on the team were able to pray and share some prophetic stuff with many people. God was definitely in the house in a big way!. It was great to be able to bless and encourage those in the Vineyard family.
We had a couple of hours off, hung out in a groovy bar in Greenwich Village and then went to see a church linked to Vineyard called Tribe. They are a slightly bohemian bunch as exemplified by their bi-monthly meeting being called “Big Hug“!! Mike T spoke on signs and wonders and we prayed for some folks there and once again God turned up with some style!! In fact despite our tiredness not only did God seem more than happy to use us to speak clearly to people there, we were immensely blessed too!
So Sunday rolls around and by now all of us on the team have definitely fallen out of the tired tree, and snapped a few branches on the way down! In the morning we went to UWS (Upper West Side) Vineyard. Matt led worship, and spoke on “intentional love” and the team prayed and shared for people. Once again God kept His side of the bargain and turned up! Very cool!
After the service, there was UWS’s compassion ministry. Some of the team went to a homeless hostel run by a member of UWS. They took food and prayed for some the residents, a few of whom had Aids/HIV.
Some of us went on the L9 ministry which involved praying for people on the subway! Ten of us went out and split into 2 teams of 5. We took different subway routes and then adopted the following tactics: find a platform, await subway train, get into last carriage, make the following announcement “We are from a local Christian church and are here to pray for people, not to preach to you, its free and discreet and we can pray for anything you want: family, friends, health. Just let us know as we walk down the carriage”. Repeat for each carriage until you have completed the train, get out, find new train and repeat whole process again!
Between the 2 trains we prayed for about 70 people and I have to say that it was the most scary and most exciting thing I have ever done as a Christian?! Not sure how it would go down on the Tube in London though…?
Sunday evening (after taking a quick breather) we all went to Submerge(the evening midtown congregation). Matt and Kenny P led worship, Matt spoke and Ian and I shared a bit about what we and the team had learnt that week. Funnily enough, God turned up during the ministry time and He seemed to speak to a few people….!!
By now we had very little energy left so thought we would expend it on Monday by going on the Staten Island ferry, and looking at the statue of Liberty (rather small I thought). Then we had a bit of retail therapy before heading home but not before Gary and I tried our best to miss the plane.
Due to a glaring lack of communication between all the team, we arrived at Newark Airport and hung around till we were due to check in. Gary and I waited right next to International Check In and waited for the rest of the team – 3 hours later and with 45 mins to go before the plane left we were going mad! We had not heard from any of the others and were quite anxious! No reply to our calls and texts. We had no idea whether to get on the plane or not. Then with 30 mins to go we got a text “we are boarding! where are you?”. Aarrgh!
We checked in, getting a lecture about timekeeping from Continental Airlines staff, was told we had missed the flight and would have to get a different flight. I made a small protest and eventually Gary and I got our bags through, and got through the security cordon (which see leather sandals as dangerous apparently!) and then had to get to Gate 125 as the plane was about to leave. Gate 125 was at the end of the air corridor – roughly about a mile!!
With “You will have to run to make it” ringing out, I found myself sprinting barefoot through the airport terminal trying not to panic. It truly was a Jerry Maguire moment. I have always wanted to run desperately through an airport..and now I know what it feels like. You certainly sweat a lot and probably gash your foot quite badly too if you are anything like me. Gary made it too and we found the team very worried but waiting patiently at the gate as boarding had been delayed for 20 mins….aaarrghh!!
When we did get on board, the plane had to wait for over an hour on the taxiway due to congestion….aaarrghh! Then when we got home, Mel, Karin and myself had to change a flat tyre on Mel’s car before we could drive home…aaarrghh!!
Phew…so that was New York Part 1 done…part 2 will follow at some point…not sure when though!