May 17, 2023
East Texas Baptist University sent three Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) students to New York City from Tuesday, May 7, through Sunday, May 14, for mission work throughout the city. The group of students and ETBU Director of Baptist Student Ministry David Griffin partnered with Redemption Church in Red Hook and pastor Edwin Pacheco.
Once considered the “Crack Capital” of the United States, Red Hook is a densely populated community with a long history of poverty, crime, and brokenness within its walls.
Redemption Church is a church plant with a heart to help others by meeting needs, disciple others, building relationships, breaking down socioeconomic barriers, and bringing hope to their community while sharing the gospel as opportunities arise.
During the first day, the ETBU group was guided through the community by Pastor Pacheco to learn more about the town.
“He guided us through the streets of his neighborhood and gave an in-depth background and context of their vision as a church body, as believers, and as servants,” said Faith Smith, a May 2023 Elementary Education graduate of ETBU.
The ETBU group joined with Pastor Pacheco in prayer as they walked through the neighborhood.
“That was really neat to not only join in unity with others but also just to publicly be a light where others don’t necessarily see that happen every day,” said Smith.
As a church plant, Redemption Church shares space with a local school, and Pastor Pacheco’s office resides in a converted classroom. One of the ways the church meets the needs of the community is through a food ministry, and ETBU students played a part in unloading the shipment of food and portioning the items to be distributed the next day.
The school that Redemption Church shares space with holds an after-school program called “Peacemakers” with the goal of teaching students how to resolve conflict without resorting to violence before they reach high school. ETBU’s Faith Smith and Andrea Latham were able to serve the school and students through their assistance at the graduation ceremony for “Peacemakers.”
Thursday saw the students distribute food to those within the community who arrived and wrapped around the building to participate in Redemption Church’s food ministry. After the distribution of food was complete, students participated in a prayer walk around the area.
“We prayed Christ would make the spiritually hungry filled and that the city would come to know that God blesses those who are spiritually poor and broken,” said Christian Studies sophomore Allen O’Daniel-Diaz.
After a change of plans with the group they were to serve with on Friday, the ETBU students had the opportunity to site-see throughout Manhattan while stopping to pray at key locations in the community that God would move within the city. On Saturday, the students visited the American Museum of Natural History for the day before calling it a night after a pizza dinner.
The ETBU contingent concluded their visit with service at Redemption Red Hook by preparing gift bags for Mother’s Day and setting up sound equipment, moving tables, and preparing the space for Sunday church service.
The worship service was more relaxed than those students are accustomed to as the church sat around tables and conversed, similar to a home group setting. Following the service, the ETBU group helped set the cafeteria back up for the school to serve meals and said goodbye to their new friends at Redemption.
“Taking the team to NYC provided the opportunity to help our students see the reason for home missions or church planting,” said David Griffin, ETBU Director of Baptist Student Ministry. “The need for workers is immense. Prayerfully, I hope that graduates of ETBU might decide to plant their lives in NYC to help our Baptist church planting efforts; it is something any of our graduates could do, regardless of their major or future profession.”