Thursday, October 27, 2011

Our blog has moved!

Hi All,
We have changed the hosting company of the MTW and Operation Exodus blog.

Please now follow us at

Thank you,

Monday, October 17, 2011

New York Operation Exodus Video

Let us know if you are interested in serving in New York City in the coming year!
Contact for more info

Friday, July 8, 2011

Summer has begun in NYC!

It is getting rather late and I can't seem to get images to upload to the blog fast enough, but wanted to at least post one image to say that teams have arrived and summer program has begun at Operation Exodus! So far the kids are having a blast! Tomorrow students at our Inwood site are going on a field trip with the volunteers (mission teams) to Governs Island!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring Break 2011

Graystone Pres came to NYC March 5-11 and served with Operation Exodus but also a few days at Infinity Church NYC in the Bronx. Here is a short snap shot into their week. Disclaimer regarding this video there are images from our downtime either on the subway or in the evening they by no means represent the work the team was doing but rather showing the fun the team had bonding together on subway rides, waiting for the subway or after program was complete.

Friday, March 18, 2011

MTW - Disaster Response in Japan

I know this blog is about MTW & Operation Exodus in NYC, but I think this is important to to share.

MTW has produced this video for churches to use to communicate the needs in Japan and the efforts that are being made to relieve the misery and loss. Churches can download the video from Vimeo to show during their worship and/or time of offering as well as embed it on their website. Please share!

MTW - Disaster Response in Japan

MTW - Disaster Response in Japan from Go Global on Vimeo.

MTW - Disaster Response in Japan

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ruminations on Exodus

***Note that though you'll read something about a limousine, you will probably not have this same experience. It just so happened that a limo was able to take them to the hostel for the same price as a taxi.**** :)

First Presbyterian Church, Stanley became interested in New York City immediately after the 9/11 attacks. Just like the rest of the country, our hearts were broken for the people of NYC and we wondered what we could do to minister to them. A call to MTW Atlanta put us on the trail of Operation Exodus and in the summer of 2003 we took our first trip to Manhattan. We took a limo from the airport to the Youth Hostel on 103rd and Amsterdam – one of the largest youth hostel in the US. Everyone just stared at us as we emerged from the limo… picture the Beverly Hillbillies riding into Beverly Hills! ha-ha

Wildness ensued!! The early years of working with OE were both challenging and exhausting – I’m originally from Tennessee, work in an NC town of 3,500 people, love the mountains, and only speak hick-English. Arriving in Manhattan was a culture shock to say the least!

During our first summer experience we lived in a youth hostel, did OE in Riverbank State Park, and basically just survived. We were in over our heads and sinking fast. We brought crafts with glue but there was no place to wash your hands… we planned some drama skits but the kids were spread out between the basketball court, pool, water fountain, and soccer/track… we planned groups games but the kids would rather jump rope…. Our entire group was stretched beyond our capability. But God upheld and sustained us and we managed to finish the week. Whew!!

When I returned home, I slept for 3 straight days. My wife thought I had some strange virus. She is a former InterVarsity campus minister who has lead Global Mission Trips in Africa and Europe. I have lead at least 12 mission trips myself, so we’re no rookies. But that first year of OE was the hardest mission trip I’ve ever taken. So why am I telling you all this?!

Because after two weeks of being “dog tired,” I wanted to go back! And go back we did for 4 straight years. God grew in us a love for the students and tutors at OE that could not be thwarted by physical, mental, or emotional hardship. All our team could think of was those faces/names/people we had ministered to (and who had ministered to us). So from 2003-2006 we left the country for the city and followed the call of our great and awesome God to serve NYC and Operation Exodus.

Things obviously changed from 2003-2006 – OE found a ‘home’ to host their program, tweaks occurred that made the relationships between OE and churches thrive all the more, and the OE kids became more open to the “veterans.”

Then from 2007-2010 we took a break from Manhattan and served in rural MS. But the adults and youth of the church couldn’t get the kids of OE off our hearts/minds. So after a several year hiatus, God has called us back to OE and we look forward to re-establishing old friendships, making new ones, and being transformed by God’s renewing grace. God helping us, we hope to love and serve the kids/tutors of OE and be stretched beyond our limits again so that we can see and experience His mighty hand at work in us and through us – for His glory and our good. Hope to see you there!

Scott Deneen, Associate Pastor of First Presbyterian Church Stanley, NC

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Reverse Culture Shock

It may sound like I am starting with the end when we should be thinking about the beginning, but is important to think now about what will happen after. We talked about in the last post about debriefing on the field but also once home. It is also important to begin thinking about Culture Shock, yes even though you are still going to a city in the US, your team will experience culture shock in one way or another.

Many people are surprised at how well their cross-cultural adjustment goes on the field. In fact, some find it harder to readjust once they return home. They experience Reverse Culture Shock. The individual has had a wonderful, hopefully life-changing experience, which causes him to view the world, the church, himself, and life in general from a new perspective. Yet friends and family to whom he returns have not had such an experience and do not share the same perspective. Prepare your participants to expect the following when they return home:

• Being out of sync.
• Conflict in values: change in perspective concerning American
• Disinterest in mission experience from others: encourage your team to have an open and accepting attitude towards family and friends who do not share the same experience.
• Individualism vs. Team: seeking God and doing ministry at home typically as an individual as opposed to being a part of a community.

Encourage team members experiencing reverse culture shock. The following ideas/responses might help your team cope with reentry.

• Encourage team members to remain a “team” at church and involve the community of believers in ministry.
• If someone boasts, "This project has made me more Christ-like," explain that your life should reflect the difference Christ is making and that this kind of comment may invalidate itself.
• Encourage team members to listen to what family and friends experienced while the team was on the mission field. Don't forget your responsibility to spend time with your spouse, children, roommates, parents, and siblings. Do not ignore the needs of those closest to you as you readjust and they readjust to your being home.
• Make sure your team integrates peers left behind. How do you avoid being cliquish? How do you exert a positive influence without coming across as spiritually superior?

Friday, February 18, 2011

On Field Debrief & Follow up

This post is direct towards Team Leaders.
It is also important from the beginning to think about how will debrief your team.

How will you debrief?
1) Structured debrief
• nightly team meetings
• scheduled small group/one-on-one time
• questions for reflections (Devotional material)

2) Unstructured debrief
• seize the "teachable" moments
• set up one-on-one relationships

For additional resources on debriefing, I recommend reading Seth Barne's blog sessions on debriefing, to read click here.

Follow-up debrief

On the mission field, Christ becomes the all-consuming passion. Being in an environment where we are dependent on our powerful Lord will cause some participants to realize how passive and limiting their relationships are with Christ. This will powerfully inspire them to seek the Lord’s goodness and abundant blessings in their own lives. Upon returning home, encourage team members to apply the ministry mindset at home to expand the Lord’s kingdom wherever their daily influence might be.

Reverse Culture Shock

Many people are surprised at how well their cross-cultural adjustment goes on the field. In fact, some find it harder to readjust once they return home. They experience Reverse Culture Shock. The individual has had a wonderful, hopefully life-changing experience, which causes him to view the world, the church, himself, and life in general from a new perspective. Yet friends and family to whom he returns have not had such an experience and do not share the same perspective. Prepare your participants to expect the following when they return home:

• Being out of sync.
• Conflict in values: change in perspective concerning American
• Disinterest in mission experience from others: encourage your team to have an open and accepting attitude towards family and friends who do not share the same experience.
• Individualism vs. Team: seeking God and doing ministry at home typically as an individual as opposed to being a part of a community.

Encourage team members experiencing reverse culture shock. The following ideas/responses might help your team cope with reentry.

• Encourage team members to remain a “team” at church and involve the community of believers in ministry.
• If someone boasts, "This project has made me more Christ-like," explain that your life should reflect the difference Christ is making and that this kind of comment may invalidate itself.
• Encourage team members to listen to what family and friends experienced while the team was on the mission field. Don't forget your responsibility to spend time with your spouse, children, roommates, parents, and siblings. Do not ignore the needs of those closest to you as you readjust and they readjust to your being home.
• Make sure your team integrates peers left behind. How do you avoid being cliquish? How do you exert a positive influence without coming across as spiritually superior?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Setting the Foundation

Prepare your team. Ninety-five percent of what happens on a mission trip has been pre-determined before you leave home. The degree to which you prepare your team will be the degree to which you will be able to process, understand, and respond to what you experience.

Plan ahead. While preparing for all the elements of the project you may find yourself overwhelmed, and forgetting the ultimate goal, may quickly forfeit potential spiritual growth.

Identify assumptions. The assumptions and expectations you have about what you think God will do in and through your team will largely set the tone for the project. We encourage team leaders to view short-term projects as a blessing from the Lord as He uses you to expand His kingdom and sanctify your hearts. Our powerful Lord is capable of producing much change on a short-term trip. First, we need to be open to the change the Lord is making in our hearts. Then, we will be ready to process this change.

Preparing for debrief
Definition of debrief. Debrief is the process whereby the team discusses and reflects on experiences - sharing insights, blessings and personal application. This time helps team members process change in their hearts and look at implications for the future. If you plan debrief at the beginning, you can carefully gauge team interactions so that specific goals are accomplished.

There are two assumptions we are making regarding debrief:
• The short-term experience is a catalyst for growth and ongoing involvement in missions.
• If the short-term experience produces a heart change, then that participant will in some way be out of sync with the world. This is referred to as reversed culture shock and will discussed later.

Identify goals. Set goals as you debrief so your time is constructive. Goals should help participants apply experiences to their personal lives, building a ministry mindset at home with a clear understanding of kingdom growth. Also, discuss re-entry adjustments and practical applications.

Potential goals for your team:

Spiritual (Discipleship & Worship)
• Understanding of Christ
• Understanding of Scripture
• Understanding of my role in the Lord’s Kingdom Ministry (Servant-hood)
• What does a servant’s heart resemble?
• How can I develop a servant's heart?
• How can I continue genuine ministry at home?

Relational (Fellowship)
• What do we want our team to relate?
• How can this experience change how I relate to people?

Let us pray for a strong foundation for our teams serving at Operation Exodus in 2011

"Debrief during and after a project is more directly responsible for reaching your goals than the project itself." - Dan Faber, Missions Pastor

Friday, February 4, 2011

Two New Weeks Open for June

Hi friends,
We now have two weeks in June that we need mission teams to come serve at Operation Exodus!

June 18-25 - We need to team to lead our after school program so that we can having training and planning for our summer program staff.
June 25-July 2 - The new start date for Summer Program at our Inwood site (Heights will start a week later)

Please contact MTW for more details

Will you pray with us that the Lord will provide teams for these weeks?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Team leaders do not forget that your Project Orientation Trip rsvp forms are due by 2/15

Friday, January 28, 2011

High school trip to Texas!

Hey everyone!

That's right, Exodus' high school students are going to Texas this summer! This year, we've really expanded the high school program: as you know, we now have our own room (yay!) and we've focused our purpose for the group even more. The goal of the high school program at Exodus is to help our students graduate from high school and to get into and succeed throughout college. We offer SAT prep, college trips, cultural projects, community projects, and homework help. As part of our summer program, I will be taking the kids to Texas for a week.

So...why Texas??? In August, I (Leah) started working at Exodus as an Americorps Vista volunteer, with the goal of helping to develop the high school curriculum. I'm a born and raised Texan, transplanted in New York City. For the past five years I've worked and volunteered with Extreme Youth Leadership Training Camp, a camp I attended as a high school student. The staff facilitates young people in developing a plan of action targeting the problems that they face in their community. The camp brings together hundreds of youth who are passionate about changing their world. Every student who attends EYL camp is treated like a rockstar. Because there is such a positive environment at the camp, we often have probation officers bring in their youth. This is the perfect opportunity for our high school students to get out of the Heights, and into a new environment, surrounded by teens making healthy decisions.

After camp, I am taking the students to my hometown to visit my family's ranch. Dilley, Texas is a tiny town about an hour south of San Antonio and an hour north of the Mexico border. At the ranch, the kids can ride horses, look for arrow heads, and watch the deer walk up to the back porch. None of them have ever been to Texas, and many of them haven't been out of the city. This is an awesome opportunity for them to see what life is like outside of Washington Heights.

We are currently fundraising to get the money for our trip. I want all of our 15 students to be able to come, which means we have a lot of money to raise (about $650 per student). In hopes of finding sponsorship for the group, I made this video to allow people to get to know a few of my students.

If you feel moved to support us financially, checks can be made out to Operation Exodus and sent to us at 21 Wadsworth Avenue, New York, NY 10033. Otherwise, we would greatly appreciate your prayer support.

I can't wait to meet yall this summer! See ya soon!

Leah Foster

Friday, January 7, 2011

Operation Exodus Video

Friends of Exodus, check out this video! Please pray about coming to New York this summer to serve. We'd love to talk with you about opportunities for you and/or your church.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hey Everyone! Read up on what God is doing in New York City and contact us if you'd be interested in taking a team to Operation Exodus... or if you simply want to go by yourself! We still have openings for the summer, but let us know as soon as you can... the weeks will fill up quickly!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Explaining colors to a blind person....

‎Today, I had a great debriefing call with a team leader who lead a team to Thailand this summer. During this call, Ellen made a statement that captured my attention!

"Every believer should go on a short term mission trip at least once because explaining missions to someone who has never gone is like trying to explain colors to a blind person." -Ellen

Have you ever tried explaining colors to a blind person? What about sound to a deaf person? Yes, you can explain it but is it the same as experiencing it? As Ellen stated, it is the same with missions, you can understand on some levels without going, but to see taste and touch the mission field is like seeing colors for the first time.

What is holding members of your church back from sending short term mission teams? Are members of your church gifted in ESL? Youth Ministry? Theological Education? Construction? Praying for others? Community Development? If so, there are needs in all these areas and others across the globe.

Are you interested? Let's chat.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

High School Program has own room!!

Great news! As of October 4 our H.S. program has their own room! The students were SO excited and are already decorating. :)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fact 7

Since 1983, over 10 million Americans have reached the 12th grade without having learned to read at a basic level. Over 20 million have reached their senior year unable to do basic math. Almost 25 million have reached 12th grade not knowing the essentials of U.S. history.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


MTW is working to create a set of resources that teams may use to get ideas about debriefing during a mission week and after the team returns home.

Would you share your ideas and methods of debriefing by answering the following questions? Your ideas do not need to be specific to New York. If you have led teams on other missions and use different methods for different places, please share those as well. The ideas we compile will be available for all 1-2 week teams both domestic and international.

#1 How do you prepare the team ahead of time to expect debriefing during the week?

#1: How do you encourage the team members to talk about their days experiences? What are some games or methods you use?

#2 In what ways do you engage do you engage (debrief) your church back home during the week?

#1 How soon after your mission do you conduct the post-trip debrief?

#2 Do you have more than 1 post-trip debrief? If so, at what intervals do you have them?

#3 Do you use a list of "leading" questions for each team member to complete? If so, what questions do you ask?

#4 What is the benefit of debriefing? Please share any examples you may have relating to the importance of debriefing.

You can leave an answer to one or all these questions by commenting or you can email me at

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Disciples or Consumers?

While reading Grace Pres, Chelsea PCA's website, we came across this quote:

"The mission of the church is about “otherness." This is the very essence of worship, exalting someone else. The church does not exist for itself and what it can get out of it. The church is sent on a mission by Jesus to continue the work that he started. The church is sent by God empowered by the presence of Christ to extend and build the Kingdom of God equipped by the Holy Spirit to transform the world. Our goal is to make disciples of Jesus Christ not consumers of church programs."
What are your thoughts on this?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Highlights from One Volunteer

"When I signed up for this mission trip, I wasn't really sure what to expect. I knew that I would be working with kids in the city, which was really exciting for me. Other than that, I really didn't know what to expect.

I am from Bel Air, Maryland, which is near Baltimore. I chose NYC because there was a need for people there, and because I have a great love for the city.

When I was participating with Operation Exodus, I helped teach Kindergarten. There was one boy in pre-school in our class, and during reading time I read with him because he was not as far advanced in reading as the other kids in the class. At the beginning of the week, he struggled with even simple words and I had to help him a lot.

By Thursday, he had shown a huge difference in his abilities. On Friday, I told him that he was doing awesome and how excited I was for him. He looked at me and said, "I can read better because you helped me." This was just amazing for me to hear, and I will always remember that as a highlight of my trip.

Another favorite memory of my trip was with a youth group I roomed with from South Carolina, Cornerstone. It was about the fourth night we were there, and the whole team met on the terrace of the hostel. That night was our night of encouragement, and as we sat and ate delicious pastries, everyone had something encouraging to say. It was awesome to see how much they all cared about each other (and me), and how they were willing to take the time and compliment everyone. This time with them really helped me to connect with the team and see God's love pouring out from others.

The challenging thing about this ministry, for me, was becoming so close to the kids in my class and then having to say goodbye to them. I became very close to a few of them, and I think about and pray for them often.

I definitely came home from this trip feeling closer to God. I learned on this trip the power of prayer, how important it is for us to do, and how God can really answer. The final, but very important thing that I learned, was how important it is for me to have a selfless attitude when serving others. It may seem obvious when you think about it, but acting it out is very crucial.
Summing it up, I had an absolutely wonderful week in New York City at Operation Exodus, and I would greatly enjoy serving there again if the opportunity arose. "

***If you have stories like this you'd like to share, please email them to or We'd love to hear from you!***

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Remarkable Impression

*Note* For the security of the people mentioned in this blog, the student has been named "M" and and the volunteer, "D".

“M was so moved by the volunteer, D, who came last week,” said M's mom about her 7th grade son. “D gave M his personal Bible - who does that?” she continued, noting that she was very pleased with the program. “I am a single mom so when someone is in your child’s path to influence him in the right way, there are no words. I am just blessed.”

M's mom said D gave her son his phone number to keep in touch. Friday was the last day for the volunteers from Briarwood Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and M's mom says it was particularly hard for M to say good-bye. “M stayed past the time he was supposed to stay at Exodus. That day he didn’t even want to eat. When he came home, he cried.”

This year is M’s first experience with Exodus’ Summer Achievement Program. He attended Exodus’ After-School tutoring for two years in a row – taking a year off in 2009. “I thought my son didn’t need the program, because he does well academically, but he does,” said his mom. “Last year, he would come home late after school because he liked to hang out with kids I don’t know. I was worried sick.”

“What I do know is that M can easily follow the wrong crowd; not because he is a bad kid, but because he wants to please,” his mom explained. “Please sign him up for next year. I don’t have any money, but I know you can help.”

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Why Cities Matter - By Tim Keller

This sermon answers perfectly the question of why minister in cities. If you are asking yourself why you should bring a team to serve in NYC, watch this sermon by Tim Keller, Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City, he answers the question very well!

Tim Keller Feb'09: The City from Newfrontiers on Vimeo.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tearing Down the Walls

July 8, 2010 by Ashley Gonzalez

Have you ever noticed that when you pray to God in the morning and allow peace to completely settle within you, your day goes much smoother?

When I woke up this morning I had a little chit chat with daddy God and let him know my desire for today and my complete trust in His power to make everything happen.

Maybe it was just us, or because it is the end of the week, but for the most part today went a lot smoother. They cooperated a lot more with the activities we planned and with the tutors and us, the volunteers. There is a girl who has become really close to me and was crying a bit on and off today because she said she was “triste”, or sad that we were leaving. She has come to love us and respect us and does not want us to leave. After that a few of the other kids asked why she was crying and when I explained to them we we’re leaving quite a few of them had these looks of surprise and confusion on their faces.

While most of them speak English fluently as a second language, the rest speak Spanish whenever possible as a comfortable habit, leaving 2 new girls who just came from the Dominican Republic to struggle in the English world. But in the realistic news that in two days we would be back at home as they were getting ready for bed seemed to crush all of them. Despite language barriers, they all understood of our departure.

It is so awesome to see happiness light up their faces and pride of their good work pump up their day. Yes, there is a tiring amount of reprimanding, scolding, teaching, and rebuilding being done, but there are more than a handful of joyful moments in all of the chaos that we are reminded why we are here.

Today one of the team and I were leading praise time for the middle school kids. After a ridiculous amount of time spent on hushing everyone and trying to gain some control my teammate closed the bible, and got up, and with what I mistook as giving up, actually turned around and shared his story of his faith. His past, his lack of direction and purpose, and the hope he had found. He openly and loudly preached his story, which is now God’s glorious story. I was fighting back hot tears at the courage and leadership shining through him. But not everything comes with a fantasy ending.

The kids were disruptive still and loud and rude and disrespectful to what he was saying. They acted as if they could care less. Which caused the both of us to fight back some serious tears and control all the emotions raging inside of us. Their parents came to pick them up and as we gained control over ourselves we stayed silent. I gave him the biggest hug I could because my brother, my brother in Christ, showed so much love and compassion in his actions that my heart couldn’t help but break and then swell with joy and pride for him. As we chatted not too long after, we both agreed that maybe we planted seeds and even if we didn’t see it we hoped that his decision to be open with them would help some day, in some way.

And it was in that moment I felt the strongest bond in this place and for these people. My heart reached out as we walked across the streets and wove through a community so undeniably rich. Not in money or clothing, but the soil here is so rich, ready for righteousness and goodness, faith, joy, and life to be planted. We may not be here to see it grow, yet I trust that we are doing our part in Gods plan for this place and these people. And that He will have them rise in His name.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Fact 6

"Youth who participate in mentoring relationships experience a number of positive benefits: better school attendance, a better chance of going to college, lower risk of substance abuse, positive social attitudes and relationships, and better communication with their parents." -- from a study published by Child Trends.

*If you live in New York City, get involved with Operation Exodus weekly Saturday mentoring program! First day is Sept. 18!*

Saturday, September 4, 2010

We Went to China

July 7, 2010 by Ashley Gonzalez

No, no, no we did not go to China, as in the country, but we did head our way to China Town. All 140 of us.

Just imagine taking all the kids on a train that we had to transfer about 4 times just on the way there due to service issues. And for any of you with doubts, the answer is no. We did not leave not one, single kid behind at all today. When we finally reached our destination we split into two groups. One was going to eat at the Chinese restaurant first and the other the park and then we switched. It was hectic and chaotic. But delicious.

As the kids passed fish markets, baskets of odd produce and an Asian community completely unbeknown to them, they walked and stumbled in amazement at a culture completely not their own. Surprisingly, these kids have lived in New York all of their lives, but rarely stepped out of the borders of their own neighborhoods. To them, everyone was Chinese and lived by the laws of a monk. Bowing, always peaceful, and full of old age wisdom.

But whether to their disappointment or pleasure they were greeted by a culture similar to their own. Food markets, loud yelling, another language other than English, and adults who sat in their doorways and bargained over fruit.

The park was diversified and they had a blast getting wet in a fountain, jumping all over the playgrounds, shooting some hoops, and kicking the ball around.

At the restaurant I could not help but stay silent in thought watching these kids. Their restaurant manners for their age could use help. Afraid of sesame seed chicken and fried rice they loudly criticized the food and one or two even flat out said, “i’m not eating that!” So used to their culture, their world, they already show signs of being offended of others not of their same kind. After awhile they struggled to learn how to eat with chopsticks and eventually were licking their bowls and taking leftovers back with us.

At the end of the day I had the pure pleasure of watching one of the kids in my class get ready to take her and her 6 year old sister home. They walk home alone, or rather the little on is carried on a hip. All the kids in my class, more so the boys, cooed and ahhed over her and made every attempt to be her best friend. They were so kind and sweet that I was blessed with seeing a beauty I’m sure they would not even recognize.

Fact 5

"Working mothers report that 3 -6 p.m is the time of day when they most worry about their children's safety."

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fact 4

"As many as 15 million kids have no place to go after school." -- U.S Census

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Looking Beyond a Face

July 6, 2010 by Ashley Gonzalez

The day just finished, or part of it at least, and looking at the clock I realize many of you will be worshipping, learning, and praising God tonight at Waters Edge. At this same time were all in the Heights exhausted from rounding up the last of the children and sending them home before it gets dark or handing them over to equally exhausted parents.

Day 2 with the kids was a lot better than yesterday and I must say we headed off to a great start. Yesterday night in our private, team meeting we discussed what could have gone better and how we could try various approaches in the different parts of the day to engage our groups and interact with them. To be honest, after only three days of being in New York the last thing I wanted to do this morning was get out of the bed. Simply because I was sore; and not just physically.

I woke up with aches and pains in my emotions and my Spirit that I had not really had the bittersweet pleasure of dealing with before. I may have been stubborn, ignorant, and maybe even a little heart broken now and again, but nothing, and I mean nothing, could top this. After only one day with these kids I walked away, as I’m sure everyone did, with such a deep and sincere love for these kids. A respect for how far most of them have gotten and their dreams.

So today I said, “God, please, please, let me do this in YOUR name. Let me show them to you, through me. Allow me to connect with them.”

I remembered that throughout the day in the classroom, the whole 2 hours were watching over one-hundred children in an inner city park full with strangers, as we did the activities and big ideas the team worked so long on and still keep advancing on every moment. These kids are so mature in more ways than they should be and their personalities are so strong, that as Deidrick mentioned in the Exodus devotional this morning, they are being torn in a Spiritual battle. And they do not even know it.

They fight, they argue, and boy do they have some mouths, they have these thick walls barricading any slip of emotion other than anger and annoyance and a forcefield around their minds. Or so they think. They are so strong, sometimes I think too strong because they are trying so hard at only 6-13 years old to be in complete control of their lives.

But we see the Hope and Innocence in them. We see it in their moments of laughter when they forget about other responsibilities and the fear they have when they actually voluntarily open up. They cast looks around the room as if challenging someone to criticize or oppose them when in reality they are all wondering the same things.

It was when I was sitting talking with my group of 6th grade children, putting all activities aside and delving into a conversation God prompted me into. There was one girl who talked about her home life and how she felt alone and pretty much not loved. Another talked about a girl in his class who he tries to stand up for, but often ends up on the other side joining in on the abuse, criticisms, and jokes about her. And they all started with the same phrase: “How do you expect us to…..(basically stand up and away from the crowd and stand up for the cause of righteousness)”.

I just stared at them with a smile and told them that I cared for them, and shared stories of my youth explaining the truth of their reality and how they have more than enough moments in the day to choose right and wrong. And right before we started that talk it occurred to me that I have heard so many times in the last two days do not do this/do that, that is wrong/right…but never have I heard the reasons explained to them or seen them move forward in understanding. They are stuck.

I made it a point to explain, not just demand. Their personalities, as I mentioned, are fiery and its a pleasure to be with a youth who are so passionate. They just need a direction and some help along the way.

Please pray over these kids. They are difficult at times.



But so extremely loving in their own way.



And above all, they have a Hope in themselves that they try so hard not to believe in because they have been not just told, but shown, that they are to be like everyone else, when it is so clear they are called by God to change their world. Not just the Heights, but themselves, their families, and anywhere they shine their light on.

Fact 3

"Educational researcher Reginald Clark has documented that economically disadvantaged children who participate from 20-35 hours per week in constructive learning activities during their free time get better grades in school than their more passive peers." -- The Children's Aid Society

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fact 2

"Non-school hours represent the single largest block of time in the lives of American youth. Youth spend about 32% of their waking hours in school. By contrast, about 40% of young people's waking hours are discretionary - not committed to other activities such as school, homework, meals, chores or working for pay." -- The Children's Aid Society

We Can Handle This…Wait…Did I Sign Up for This?

July 5, 2010
By: Ashley Gonzalez

It is the first day at Exodus, the organization we’re working with. Some of you may be wondering, “So what exactly is my daughter/son, loved one, friend, etc doing over there?”

Well we’re working with the children of the organization ranging from grades K-8 in the summer day care program. The majority of the children know each other and the tutors from the after school program held during the school year. So we have the sweetness of seeing everyone befriending someone, but the headache of finding and stepping into our roles here.

This place is like a family where everyone works together and everything is done for the primary goal of being a light and helping hand to the kids. When the kids get here we join in Assembly, basically attendance, separate into classes, the tutors teach on different topics, lunch, two hours in the park, come back to Exodus, all the kids have a snack, which is a small portion of an actual meal, and then creative time and praise time which is where all of our planning comes into play. We all drop in exhaustion, have a meeting with Ashley, our go-to gal, eat, clean, make our way back to the Hostel, have a team meeting, and then disperse for the night. By then its getting pretty dark and all we want is a shower.
It is tiring work and even though the schedule is repetitive, the experiences most definitely aren’t. When we went to go meet at the park, we were recruited in a detour to make almost 150 ham and cheese sandwiches for the Exodus branches in Washington Heights and in Endwood. And packed ours to take to the park. Its been a hot day and extremely stressful.

None of us really know what we expected, if anything, but nothing prepared us for the next generation filled with sass, pomp, and a defensive nature. We did our best and the day was in no way a waste, but we all agreed we need to revamp ourselves and our mission and try some new techniques.

These children threw us off compared to the kids we deal with back home or on other mission trips some of the team have been on. But with disciplined Spirits and pure hearts we are going to sleep to wake up to new opportunities tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fact 1

"Violent juvenile crime triples between after-school hours 3:00 - 6:00pm. After-school programs help to reduce youth crime and other at-risk behavior." -- The Children's Aid Society

Monday, August 30, 2010

Interested in sharing your NYC story?

If you have served with us in NYC this past summer or even in years past and would like to post share a story from your time with us? Share a special photo or video clip? or what about telling us your story in video? Please email us

Skyscrapers & Gucci

The next few post are going to be by Ashley Gonzalez, from 12Stone Church. This was 12Stones first year serving with us in NYC, they served July 3-10. These blog post are a great perspective into a week serving in NYC!

July 4, 2010

"After sitting for so many hours between carpooling, waiting for our terminal to be called, just watching for Jonathan to be one of the million people checked by airport security, and almost a 2 hour flight later we arrived safely to New York City.

Upon arrival we were less than fanatic about city life than we were about showering, orientation, and sleep.

We took a bus, the first time for most of us, across the city to Manhattan which is where our Hostel and Bobbi Jo were waiting for us. Strangers had no shame staring us down with our obvious fascination of graffiti, local garage shops and homeless men smiling and feeling completely comfortable in their disparity.

Erin's loud amazement of every, single gas station we passed only drew more stares as if in Atlanta we rode around in horses and buggies.

There are drunk, homeless men, broken bottles and trash on streets. Loud conversations, immodest dress, and daring looks of opposition on many sides. There is a fear, and a spiritual poverty over this place. Sure the building are bright and shiny and tall. People walk around with Dolce, Gucci, Prada, Coogi, and the latest sneakers and fashion. Some spend carelessly, while others haggle desperately.
As much fun as we as a team have and dedication to this trip before this weekend, I believe the precise moment of this mission began at orientation. Sitting on a balcony eating New York pizza and learning of four other young women who were joining the team here allowed the purpose to set in. In silence we all reflected on why we were here and just how great this could be for us.

We raised questions, concerns, curiosity and then, like the children you know us to be, scampered all over the Hostel and across roof tops. There were a few ambulance sirens, a questionable SUV at the corner street, people sitting in their doorways, and helicopters above in the sky. But even with those elements like we see in the movies and hear about from New Yorkers nothing could explain the peace felt just laying on the rooftops and watching the city.

We cruised through Time Square, shopped and dined in China Town, and took the wrong train towards Brooklyn, instead of Manhattan. We ended up almost in Queens. Ooops, did I just tell you that? It was an adventure.

Tired, full, and anxious we all forced ourselves to rest and sleep. Despite our preparations we do not know what to expect on Monday. And as great as surprises are, sometimes just not knowing can drive you crazy.

With prayers and thanksgiving to God we have released all power and Glory to Him. We just focused on flexibility and openness to whatever may come."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sign up now for 2011 Mission Trips!

Yes, it is still August of 2010, but 2011 will be here before we know it! It is never to early to start planning for 2011 mission trip opportunities. MTW has opportunities for your church or college group to serve both in New York City with Operation Exodus and around the globe!

Curious what opportunities there are? Let's chat! CONTACT US!

MTW Go Global

Gen-Y is coming on strong and leaning into missions - on mission trips, as interns, 2-year missionaries, or serving as office staff. We believe God is calling us to reach, equip, and mobilize this new missions force. Check out our new site Go Global

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