In 2001, I moved to New York City. I met my wife, Hylma, at the Manhattan Church of Christ, and The Bronx has been my home for the past 14 years. I love the Northeast region, New York City, its people, and the city's amazing international diversity. I've watched people move from unbelief to faith in Christ. I've experienced new communities of faith blossom, and I've seen salvation come to broken households. Despite the truly difficult challenges that accompanied these moments, ministry in the city has been -- and continues to be -- simply amazing.
After serving in the city for over a decade, I had the opportunity to take what we've learned through experience as well as missions research and start Global City Mission Initiative (GCMI). The journey so far has been thrilling. We've partnered with NYC International Project to provide highly effective evangelism training in NYC, and I've played a high level role in that program. GCMI is utilizing that training partnership to launch new missionaries to work in strategic global crossroads. A great team of missionaries has begun to emerge in NYC, and we're beginning to actively cast the vision for disciple-making ministries in other cities as well.
Over the last year, my family had begun to feel the need for a change. Despite the great things happening in NYC, it is a challenging place to live. We've been through some scrapes & bruises in ministry as well. My wife and I prayed about our direction for several months. Reconciling what we were feeling as a family with a strong calling to continue this ministry, two things were clear:
- A strong conviction to keep leading and developing Global City Mission Initiative (GCMI).
- The need for our family to consider a new city from which to continue our work with GCMI.
We began to pray about cities that would provide a change for our family but still represent the global nature of the mission of GCMI. My wife and I developed multiple criteria for narrowing down our next steps. After much prayer and discussion, we made a survey trip down to Tampa, Florida. Tampa Bay is receiving numbers of refugees, University of South Florida is enrolling international students, lots of Northeasterners are resettling in Tampa Bay, and numerous immigrants from South America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East are making Tampa their new home. Following that exploration, we felt at peace with making a move to the Tampa Bay area. I discussed the future move with our board of directors, and they were, of course, very encouraging. As we press on with the mission, here are some key points:
- A GCMI team will continue our work in NYC, and Equip training in NYC will continue to be one of our primary platforms for mobilizing new GCMI Mission Catalysts. As a result, I will likely be visiting NYC every year.
- Lord permitting, my family will move to the Tampa Bay area near the end of 2016.
- I will continue to serve as executive director of Global City Mission Initiative.
- We hope to see Tampa Bay open up as a potential new GCMI missions site.
- GCMI will continue to work with our partners to expand as a missions network, training and sending missionaries to global cities both in North America and around the world. With my love for NYC, this move will actually help me, as the director of GCMI, to focus on our ministry's larger vision. We are actively working to mobilize cross-cultural disciple-makers in strategic global cities.
This is a big move for our family, and we believe a great step for GCMI. Our shared ministry in NYC will continue to advance the Gospel in the world's leading global city. Our family's move will both facilitate my role as developing the wider GCMI vision and may potentially open up a new city as a GCMI mission site.
We are so thankful for all of our ministry partners. We are sharing an amazing ministry as God works through his people at the global crossroads of our world. Pray with us for our ongoing ministry in New York. Pray for new Mission Catalysts who plan to begin new initiatives in additional global cities. Pray for our family's upcoming move to Tampa Bay in late 2016. God is at work, and we are grateful for the ministry we share together.