transitions JOIN THE MOVEMENT SUMMER/FALL 2008
What’s The Point? Are your friendships truly “iron sharpening iron?”
HOLY TRENDS Is your style santicifed for church?
Friend of God
What does it mean to be a friend of God?
MEN OF EXCELLENCE
Beyond simple male bonding, this is the power of community at its best!
a movement of passionate young adult followers of Jesus Christ working for cultural transformation in NYC
outreach spiritual formation
What’s The Point?
Men of Excellence
Volume 1/Issue 2
Features “What about your friends?” 9 Friend of God Do you ever question God’s love? What does it mean to be a friend of God? Nola Ufondu answers these questions in a manner we all are familiar with.
16 The Good and Perfect Gift There are some gifts that once you receive them, you hold onto them and never let go. Shaina Dupuy talks about the truly perfect gift.
18 Rock Wall Community When you
get discouraged or tempted to give up, who has your back? Sheresse Alexander talks about her support system.
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 5 The Friendship Survey A recent
poll of Transitioners revealed some interesting facts about our friendships and what draws us together as a community.
8 My Friend: Susan Amnath reveals the value of a friend.
Summer/Fall 2008 Volume 1/Issue 2
TRANSITIONS SUMMER GUIDE 25 Music/Movies/FREE Events!
MIND OF CHRIST 34 Theological Musings
Pg. 10 Pg. 20
Advertising Guide Nancy Pierre Ministries
ON THE SCENE Community/Outreach 20 Project Compassion 22 Missions Corner 30 Speak Your Mind
A letter from the editor
riends or rather friendship is defined as an interpersonal relationship between humans. So while, we may like to believe that a dog is man’s best friend, they were never created to be that. Two or more humans in relationship with one another, comprise a friendship. Its those people in our close circle that we call when we’re happy, sad or indifferent. The people who we can’t imagine our lives without; not to be confused with the 1000 plus people listed as our ‘friends” on Facebook. While virtual communities allow us to keep track of everyone we have ever met, its the real community of people around us willing to be honest, open and loving at all times that add meaning to our lives.
Yolande Morris Editor in Chief/Creative Director
Our Heavenly Father desires for each of us to have meaningful friendships. His word mentions friendships in various capacities. One is found in Exodus 33:11 “where the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” The God of the Universe considered Moses his friend! Other references to friends in the bible include David and Jonathan who remained best friends inspite of Jonathan’s father, Saul who tried many times to kill David.
proverbs written about friendships, in Chapter 17:17, it says “A friend community....” Oflovestheatmany all times....” , Chapter 27:6 says “Wounds from a friend can be trusted...” and vs. 10 says Do not forsake your friend and the friend of your father”. However the best scripture on friendship comes from John 15:13 where Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit - fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.” In that passage, Jesus lays out the theme of all our friendships, ...LOVE! When we are in community with one another, His love is manifested in us. Whether you are new to the Transitions community or have been around for some time, we hope that you feel loved and appreciated. Also that our meetings and fellowships have given you an opportunity to establish long lasting friendships. This issue is for you and your friends. ENJOY! “We need each other; we need people; we need community; we need relationship; we need God. They are all interconnected, and it flows in both directions. We try to fill our vacuum for God with people, and we find ourselves frustrated and empty. When we turn to God, we find our hearts open to people and discover our need for them more than ever before.” -Soul Cravings by Erwin McManus
What’s The Point? Will you love Jesus more When we go our different ways? When this moment is a memory Will you remember His face? Will you look back and realize You sensed His love more than you did before? I pray for nothing less Than for you to love Jesus more -Phillips, Craig & Dean
e’re something else, we Christians. We seem to have this irrepressible tendency to compartmentalize things that are “spiritual” from things that are not. For example: Spiritual Things: -going to church on Sundays -spending time in prayer with God -serving in Project Compassion Non-Spiritual Things: -chillin’ with friends -eating dinner -going to work Did you know that there is no Hebrew word for “spiritual”? I didn’t, until I recently watched a video by Rob Bell entitled Everything is Spiritual. Why is that? How come there was no Hebrew word for “spiritual”? That’s kinda weird… weren’t they supposed to be the people of God? See, to those living in Biblical times, to label 2 Transitions
by Amy Nuttall
Are our Christian friendships t
something as “spiritual” would imply that there are other things that would not be considered “spiritual.” For them to say that certain aspects of life were not God-centered was almost blasphemous. God IS everything and is IN everything, and He created us as spiritual beings – so EVERYTHING is spiritual… which would include our friendships. “Duh, Amy. Of COURSE our friendships are spiritual! I mean, we go to church together and to Transitions together. We’re Christians! And outside of church, we make sure that the time we spend together is pleasing to the Lord. We don’t go see R-rated movies or go clubbing – we just hang out and play games and go out to dinner and stuff.” As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17 Tell me something – at what point did we (and I put myself at the front of this list)
their days chillin’ at Paul’s house, playing “Grand Theft Chariot” and talking about the cute girls that Paul had come across during his second missionary journey. -Additions, Chapter 2
truly “iron sharpening iron”? reduce God-ordained friendship to a selfcentered enjoyment of watered-down and Christianized worldliness? At what point did we start to think that God’s plan for our friendships was for us to avoid sin when we “chilled”… and, to be honest, some of us even struggle with that! Do we find that in the Bible anywhere? Do we see any Biblical stories that go like this: So David and Jonathan met regularly each week to have a good time. They were good little God-followers and didn’t go to the Caananite festivals that offered children up as sacrifices – by no means! Instead, they sat and played Scrabble and talked about sheep. -from the book of Additions, Chapter 1 (found right after the book of 1st Misconceptions) How about this one? Paul and Silas were homies. They spent
No! They were working for the Lord, evangelizing, praying, talking about the things of God. They were sharpening one another in the faith! The focus of their friendships was not themselves – in fact, it wasn’t even the other person in the friendship. The number one focus of the friendship was God. Most of us would say that our friendships are Godcentered… but are they? Well, let’s check the fruit. Do we leave our gatherings with friends with a deeper passion for Jesus? Do we feel so much more encouraged and emboldened in the Lord after we get together with our buddies? What do our conversations sound like? I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me and voiced their frustrations about the superficiality of the majority of their friendships. Do we even know our friends? Do we know our friends’ testimonies and what the Lord has brought them through? Some of us have known our friends for years and we still don’t know how they came to Christ or couldn’t list anything that they need prayer about. I’m not talking about just acquaintances – I’m talking about those that we consider close friends. Do we know how they are struggling right now… and are we doing anything about it? Are we even praying for them? Some of you are thinking I’ve gone off the deep end. You’re right . But before I get back to that, here’s what I’m NOT saying. I’m NOT saying that we can never watch a movie with our friends or go out to dinner or talk about work – of course not. However, I AM saying that even those things should be Transitions summer/fall 2008
Christ-centered. If we’re going to talk about work – let’s pray about it when we’re done! If we’re going to hang out, let’s talk about things that actually have meaning! A couple of my friends told me about a time when they went out to dinner some weeks ago and were talking about the things of God, and a man came right over to them and started asking questions about the faith. Hallelujah! Let our light shine before men! Somehow we’ve adopted (consciously or unconsciously) a mentality that our enjoyment of life is God’s primary goal and our “right.” To that, I would ask that we all check out the lives of those living in the New Testament. Check out Paul’s “enjoyment” of his life. He comes to give life more abundantly, amen! But do we really think that hanging out idly and spending time doing things that keep us spiritually neutral is the kind of abundant life that He came for? When’s the last time we got together with our friends just to seek the Lord in prayer or to go serve or evangelize? Are we pressing in to the kingdom of God with our friends? Are we continually and consistently challenging them, correcting them, exhorting them, sharing our lives with them? Are we confessing our sins to them, as God commands us in James 5:16? Are we sharpening them and being sharpened by them? And if we’re not… then what’s the point? Guys… I have gone off the deep end. I am tired of shallow waters and living off of spiritual milk. I’m tired of looking at the New Testament and then looking at “American Christianity” and seeing two different religions. I’m willing to be radical and freakish and extreme for the sake of 4 Transitions
Christ regardless of who else comes with me. I am such a ridiculous work in progress and I fail time after time after time, but I’m no longer willing to accept that failure and “just maintain” just because almost everyone else is doing it. EVERYTHING is spiritual, and that includes our friendships. Friendships are a gift from the Lord – but gifts are not toys. They have a purpose, and that purpose is to glorify His name and to be “used” selflessly – not simply for our own enjoyment. May the Lord help us to see HIS purposes for our friendships with other believers… and may we be willing to surrender our friendships to Him so that He can mold them into that which makes Him smile. He is able! “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:37-39 T T
Amy writes for the glory of God and desires to see the book of Acts come to life in 2008. She believes wholeheartedly in the power of prayer and in her Father’s ability to break chains and set captives free. To read more, visit www.foolishthingsministries.blogspot.com.
Keep smilin’ keep shinin’ Knowing you can always count on me for sure That’s what friends are for For good times and bad times I’ll be on your side forever more That’s what friends are for” - Dionne Warwick
Do you have a difficult time making friends?
MEN : 75 % said NO (16% 1st time Visitor)
WOMEN : 67% sid NO
Do you introduce yourself to people you don’t know?
MEN : 56% said YES (43% No) WOMEN : 54% said YES (42% No)
Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?
MEN : 38% INTROVERTS 56% EXTROVERTS WOMEN : 42.5% INTROVERTS 42.5% EXTROVERTS 84 people ages 18-34 (15% consider themselves both!) responded to our friendship survey Transitions summer /fall 2008
Do you currently have a significant other?
MEN : 25% said YES 75% said NO WOMEN : 27% said YES 73% said NO
Do you have close friendships with the opposite sex? (close friendships de-
fined as spending significant amounts of time together, talking on the phone for long periods of time, going to events one-on-one)
MEN : 62% said YES 38% said NO WOMEN : 69% said YES 27% said NO If NO, are you open to having close friendships with the opposite sex? Many respondents felt that close male/female relationships opens both parties up to developing feelings for one another and therefore must be done with wisdom.
ACTIVITIES you enjoy doing with your friends. (combined males& females selecting multiple options)
93% MOVIES 91% DINNER 81% CHILLING AT THEIR HOUSE
59% WORKING OUT
36% OTHER 6 Transitions
Transitions sponsored activites you would like to see in the future. - UNDERground -RETREATS -basketball tournaments -open mic NiGHT -talent shows -bowling -movie nights -game nights -great adventures -white-water rafting
How often outside of Transitions do you do the following activites with your friends? 70%
60% 50% 40% 30% 20%
10% 0% N R S O A N= Never N R S O A N R S O A R = Rarely Read the Bible Pray Together Share Testimonies Never Never Rarely Often Rarely Often Rarely Often S= Sometimes Never Always Always Always FREQUENCY O= Often Sometime Sometime Sometime A = Always Frequency
Transitions summer/fall 2008
I thank the Lord that he used Luis Restrepo to plant seeds in this heart of mine which was once cold hearted even though I didnâ€™t realize it. There was something different about this friend, he was always humble, optimistic, and was never satisfied until everyone around him was comfortable. He was that salt and light for me when I didnâ€™t know Jesus.
Susan Amnath 8 Transitions
by NOLA UFONDO
Who am I that you are mindful of me? That you hear me when I call. Is it true that you are thinking of me, How you LOVE me...ITS AMAZING!!
ou all know the lyrics. We sing the song “I am a friend of God” just about every other Sunday at BT. But how often as we sing these lyrics does our mind race with the other “things” that vie for our attention on Sunday morning? Quite often I’m sure. I presume this happens because we really don’t understand how powerfully God loves us. We constantly question it. One of the most annoying things that most teachers encounter in the classroom is the passing of love notes. I’m sure we’ve all done it. Passed love notes in class to our crush asking the famous question
Do you like me? Check one
Upon receiving the note back, we opened it with shaky hands wondering whether or not we had engaged in one sided admiration. I used to get annoyed at my students each time I confiscated another “do you like me/ do you love me” note until one day it dawned me how often I secretly ask God this very same question
Do you love me? Check one
Even David questioned God in the Psalms asking “what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” It is hard for us to comprehend the fact that God’s response to our questioning is overwhelmingly YES! His love is not contingent upon how strong our faith is or how long and eloquent our prayers are. His love is not the same as the love we receive from people. The love of people is often dependent upon our performance. Not so with God’s love. It doesn’t matter how annoying, or boring, how beautiful, or how popular you are, God loves you just the way you are. Our hearts cannot fathom the love God has for us, so let us not question it, but receive it. Let His love well up in us until it spills over to others that they may come to realize that God’s answer is and will always be YES! John 15:12-13 I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you. And here is how to measure it-the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends
Choose today to love God and the people that God loves. Nola Ufondu is the future principle of Brooklyn Prospect Charter School opening Fall 2009, and a graduate student at Teachers College Columbia University. She has been a member of the Transitions community for almost two years now and a faithful member of BT. Transitions summer/fall 2008
Holy Trends Kelie on “Keeping it Holy!”
by Kathleen Elie
Winter is finally over. Although we cannot quite figure out what season we are in right now, we all know that sooner or later it is going to get “loose” in the City. Or should I say: “Sexy in the City”. Summer in the Big Apple is a force to be reckoned with; so here are some quick and easy ways for you to adapt the trends and “keep it holy” as we say.
KELIE’S Style Tips:
Look at the content labels. Do your best to avoid “mystery” fibers and fabrics. Cotton is your best friend this season. It breathes, doesn’t make you sweat more then your body normally would and is very comfortable. Money spent on a cute cotton dress in never wasted.
Stack up on white and bright camisole. This is an easy one. Tank tops can take care of any “exposed cleavage” situation. In this weather they are your best friend. Wear them under your favorite blouse, low cut tee or v-neck dress and voila!
Make sure to have plenty of light cotton cardigans in all body and sleeve lengths. Let’s face it, everyone is not comfortable praising the Lord with armpits exposed!
Go to Soho and get light weight Pashminas. These scarves are not only long and soft. They are also multi-purpose. Pashminas are perfect seat holders for Sunday’s 12pm and 3:30pm services. They can extend to about 5 seats! They are also great to add sophistication to a casual outfit and to cover any part of the upper body. Think about it, they can be bought for as low as $5 in a wide variety of colors. So don’t be shy.
Transitions summer/fall 2008
: “Sanctify Your Style” Now that we know how to save ourselves “lack of modesty” embarrassment, let’s have some fun and see what the trends are for this summer.
Bright Colors It’s the season for love at first bright. All the colors of the rainbow are allowed. The brighter the better. This trend is limitless. Apply it to your tops, bottoms, all accessories including shoes and handbags but make sure to ground the bright piece with a pristine white.
Flared PANTS Although I have not seen these in a while bellbottoms remain the most universal and flattering fit out there. Good for every body type, flared pants are making a definite comeback. Wear them with long hems and high heels for endless-looking legs!
Maxidress This one is a goody. You cannot go wrong with long! Celebrity stylesetters everywhere have been rocking the sidewalk sweeping dresses. Keeping it simple however makes this style very modern. I love seeing a maxidress being worn in a casual way. For a bohemian look just add a pair of bejeweled sandals. It is effortless chic! Stripes No matter how they line up, stripes look sharp and clean. They make the biggest statements on top and dresses. For maximum punch, add a dash of red and a studded belt.
Now, you are all set to feel great and look great but most importantly, make sure not to lose your personal style. Adapt all these great ideas and make them work for you. We are sheeps who follow Christ, not trendy fashion!
Transitions summer /fall 2008
L-R: Kessunga Baker, Richard Barnes, Omar Savory, James Powell, Didier Juste,
Transitions summer/fall 2008
Excellence by OMAR SAVORY and DIDIER JUSTE
Brunel Bienvenu and Patrick Jean-Phillippe.
hat is Men of Excellence (M.O.E)? We are brothers under the blood of our Lord Jesus. Though we all started off as acquaintances, then friends, we are now truly a brotherhood of men seeking to live authentic Christ -like lives. This brotherhood grew out of the discussions that Didier Juste (DJ) and Patrick Jean-Phillipe and I, had a couple of years ago at the Transitions Retreat and Royal Family Kids camp. We knew there was a need for us to be there for one another in our walk with Christ. Being there meant a lot more than occasionally seeing one another Transitions summer /fall 2008
We are well aware that as men, we fall victim to the “lone ranger syndrome” and our ability to have victory in various areas of our walk with the Lord is more difficult.
and giving cliché answers when asked “how are you doing?”. It meant challenging, loving and encouraging one another as men. We pray, play and remain involved in one another’s lives. Our main goal is that the Lord would be glorified in all that we do,including our jobs, ministries, finances and our physical health. Our cornerstone scripture comes from the book of Ephesians. We desire to live out the spiritual truths that God expresses in his Word. We realize that in operating under Spirit there is no telling what God can do each of our lives. We strive to be better men in God, through our time spent in what I coin “practical brotherhood”. God will take us on to new challenges, experiences, yet we are not alone, because our brothers are standing with us in prayer each step of the way. During the course of the week, we gather on the phone for either Bible study or prayer. We, like the body of Christ, are very diverse. We are of different nationalities and professions , yet unified by our shared faith. We are well aware that as men, we fall victim to the “lone ranger syndrome” and our ability have victory in various areas of our walk with the Lord is more difficult.
Therefore we have learned to be interdependent. God in his infinite wisdom shows the expression of his power and love is greater in context of community. It is truly a blessing when you can get a call, visit, email, text,or other communication from someone concerned for you. . The concern is a genuine and deep concern regarding the things of God, as well as the happening in day-to- day life in the context of a Christian community. We know that the Lord is pleased with this and we have to be transparent with Him and each other. Though we don’t always know how to pray or encourage one another, still God uses each of us to help one another. These bonds that are forged among one another we have eternal implications. So you may see us just breaking bread or doing pull ups during spontaneous workouts in the parks. Or you may see us helping those that are less fortunate, but the one thing that remains the same is our committment to the work of the Lord. Not only is the impact of our brotherhood eternal, but inward and outward as well. The inward goals relate to taking care of ourselves through godly principles of integrity, discipline and leadership. As a result of this inward focus, we not
only see our strengths but our inadequacies. But as the bible says, we can rejoice even in this, even more so since we are able to face them as brothers. The word of God is what brings about the true assessment of a man. We are very careful to always remember that and never allow ourselves to assume that there are other means. Through the grace of God we learn valuable lessons that we can take into other areas of life. There are no issues amongst one another that is outside of discussion, but we aware that through prayer for one another, God will continue to transform us according to his purpose. The outward goals are to partner with various organizations through community outreaches. One such outreach that took place recently was the AIDS Walk on May 18th. We raised money to help in the fight to against AIDS.. We are looking forward to continued activities such as basketball tournaments and a mentorship program. We realize that we need to step up as men in Christ and that a training ground can take place among one another. We are not sure where we’ll be in 5 years, but we know that we are brothers in every sense of the Word. More importantly, though Christ we will strive for excellence in all that we do. So are we a ministry? Sorta. Are we a fraternity? Not really. Some might some might say we are a little bit of both. Are we men united in practical brotherhood for the cause of Jesus Christ? I would say that sounds more like what MOE is. Some of the things you will expect to see is continued involvement in our local church because we know our responsibility to the body of Christ to which each of us are placed. This way God can use us to help one another and to reach others. The mark of our group’s impact is not measured in what we do collectively under the name of MOE, but rather how we live our lives on a daily basis. We endeavor to display sincere manhood and Christ-likeness; always being careful to point to Him as glorified in the way we live, move and have our being. T Didier David Juste, aka DJ was born in Port-auPrince, Haiti. Raised in Brooklyn, NY and is the youngest of 3 children. In 1997 he gave his heart to the Lord while visiting the Brooklyn Tabernacle. He obtained his first Bachelor’s degree in Biology from St. John’s University and is currently a full time student working on his second degree at NYU. His favorite hobbies include playing basketball, exercising, biking, mixed martial arts, rock wall climbing, playing pool and poetry writing.
Omar Savory was born in Barbados and raised in the Bronx. He is the youngest of 3 boys, accepted Christ as his savior back in 2003. Omar is also one of the founding members of Men of Excellence. He has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Science and Technology currently working as electrical engineer for US Army. Some of his favorite hobbies are video games, movies and various sports such as basketball, cycling and weight lifting and KAROAKE.
Transitions summer/fall 2008
by Shaina Dupuy
very friend that you will ever have comes from God. It is the Lord’s will that there be a pouring and an exchange of his Spirit between you. What do I mean? Well, some of you may have been Christians your entire life and others step onto the Christian path later on in life. Either way, I’m sure we all have had friendships that are as turbulent and challenging as a storm with raging winds. We also have been blessed with friendships that are as docile as a peaceful stream. Both these categories of friends will be made up of saved and unsaved friends. Does the Spirit of God only flow between you and your Christian friends? Absolutely not! Be challenged in God’s will and invoke the Spirit even when you are being challenged by your non-Christian friends. I’m not saying that you have to be superheroes and bring salvation to all your unbelieving friends. Rather, it is the very Spirit that you call upon that should do the work. While you summon the Lord and wait upon Him, slowly you will see the Lord working on your behalf, drawing those friends closer to you and inherently closer to Him. In subtle gestures, and new spiritual conversations you will see what the Lord is doing. Sometimes, the work that is being done when meeting this challenge is not only being done on your friend, but it is also being done on you. When you take upon your shoulders the fight to win a friend for the Lord in your own strength and your flesh, without calling upon the Spirit at every opportunity, the Lord is faithful enough to come and still do a work in you! All the while he’s working on your relationships, he’s also working on you and in certain situations you see an even exchange of his Spirit and a desperate pouring of his love for you and other friends.
Transitions summer/fall 2008
Prepare for the storm, no friendship is perfect in our sight. But… imagine, the Lord is so caring about all the intricate, intimate details of your life that he has even taken the time to prepare friends for you. Some of them will be stumbling blocks. Do not be surprised! Other friends will be the hands extended to lift you up. Yet, in both scenarios, God is working to glorify His name through you. He’s sharpening you – changing and molding you while doing the same for your friends. You should know you can not serve God alone. That is why each friendship is necessary and a gift from God. If you have some saved friends – Praise God! If you have unsaved friends -praise God! Do not think, however, that having both kinds of
friends has escaped God’s intentions. The saved and the unsaved friend are both in God’s will for your life, so that at every turn you are perpetually challenged to defend and love His marvelous names: Jesus, Jehovah, El Shaddai. The extent to which you extend yourself and endure those friendships must be considered with wisdom. Of course, even for wisdom you need to throw yourself into God’s care. The point here is simply that you’re supreme friend is the Lord God- the precious lamb Jesus. He is your source. If you need guidance, counsel, renewal, grace, peace, and / or a fresh drink of His Spirit He is your source. Remain centered in His provision and plan for each friendship you have so that you are not lead astray. If you let the Lord God have his way in every detail of your relationships with friends, then know you are part of a perfect plan. Through His perfection - His will – His love every friendship, because it comes from God, is perfect. Do not be dissatisfied with them, but praise Him for every good and perfect gift. T
Shaina J. Dupuy is a graduate of Fordham University. She loves writing and prays that the Lord will annoint her work which has all been in conversation with Him. She has been walking with the Lord for the past four years.
Diamonds were at one time just chunks of coal. The coal that becomes a diamond undergoes a transformation that turns it into a diamond. Do you know how a chunk of coal becomes a diamond? It occurs through a process involving intense amounts of pressure and time. Essentially, the coal is put under such extreme pressure and heat that, over time, it has no choice but to alter its structure and harden into a diamond. Don’t you think it is amazing that God would engineer something as wonderful as that? He planned for something that we would see as a simple rough black rock, good for nothing but burning for fuel, to become something that we deem as beautiful and treasured. God will do the same for you. It takes a lot of time to make a diamond from coal, so it should make you feel pretty special that God would take that much time for you. Not only does God find you so valuable that He is willing to take the time to transform you to a diamond, He already sees you as you are going to be. At this hour, God knows the beautiful creation into which He is going to transform you. Diamonds are not really beautiful when they are found in nature. Even after all the work to transform them, they still need to be cut and polished. God planned it so that we would need people in our lives to sharpen us, to help us reach perfection in Him together. God will use us to help hone each other into not just raw diamonds but diamonds that have been cut, polished, and are ready for Him to display as tributes to His mighty power. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). Using Nancy Pierre Ministries – and you – God will make something beautiful out of each and every one of us. Are you ready to be a diamond for God? Pray today that God would enter your heart, beginning the process to refine you into the diamond you are meant to be, the diamond that God already sees you as. Hallelujah! Nancy Pierre Ministries will be having their first DIAMOND conference in Maryland Fall 2008 For information call 1 800 506 7996 Transitions summer/fall 2008
“No, you can’t
by Sheresse Alexander
hat’s what the guy holding my rope told me as I dangled at seemingly hundreds of feet above ground. I desperately wanted to come down but the belay refused to give me any slack, so it was climb or swing. If you are wondering how I got myself into this mess, I’ll tell you how it all started. My first Transitions retreat was in 2006 and among the many awesome opportunities there, there was the chance to climb the rock wall! How cool! I love rock walls, I thought to myself. Ha. There are three levels, easy, medium, and hard. Having little to no upper-body strength whatsoever I still managed to conquer the easy wall and zipline down in triumph! At the 2007 retreat I was determined to go one step further by tackling the medium wall (and even the hard wall if I have time, I considered). I was sure it couldn’t be that hard—but I was wrong. I started my climb strong and made good time up the wall, but the higher I climbed, the more exhausted I felt and the trickier the foothold and hand grips became. A little more than half the way up I started slipping and losing my footing. A small crowd was there, waiting for their turn, and they started making comments as my strug- tired I just wanted to quit. I couldn’t do it. I just wasn’t strong gle drew more and more attention. Some cheered enough. I could be humble enough to admit defeat. So I me on, some made jokes about misleading me looked down at the belay and told him, “I’m done. I want to in which step I should take next. Frustrated and come down now. Just let me down.” I wasn’t even trying to
WALL Communit y hold on to the wall anymore, I just swung in the air, weak and beaten. To my surprise he answered, “No, you can’t come down! You’re closer to the top then the bottom anyways. It’s easier to finish.” What?!?! Can he say no? Following his lead, others began to cheer me on even harder, and still others joked that much louder. I managed to regain a firm grip on the wall. I could hear so many voices pushing me to go on, without a hint of doubt in their voices about my ability to make it. I could also hear people laughing and (playfully) teasing me, and even telling me to quit. What do I do? I climbed. A few more rungs, and I slipped again. I climbed again and I slipped again. Now I could hear the cheers far louder than the discouragement, it sounded like 50 people cheering me on (there were probably about 15 people at the most there at the time). I was stuck to the wall and I had to fight back tears. All these people thought I could do it. But I knew myself, and I knew what I could and couldn’t do—and I couldn’t do this. Now I wasn’t just failing myself, but all of them as well. It was almost too much. So what to do? I mustered all the energy I had and climbed! I gave a loud Serenatype grunt with each rung and I just climbed. And I made it!!! I was shaking from head to toe and almost near sobbing but I made it! The rock wall is like our spiritual life, our race we have to run (Heb 12:1). The bible says that those in heaven are cheering us on as we do things for God. But we can’t do it alone. We need the community of believers around us to cheer us on otherwise we may never reach the goal. We may quit from exhaustion or because we don’t believe we can do it, or that God can’t use us for what-
ever reason. We need people to speak truth into our lives and to have faith about a situation even when we lose it. And yes, some believers may be the very ones discouraging you from what God wants you to do but my prayer is that the cheering will far outweigh the jeering. It’s not always easy. Sometimes it’s hard and you want to give up but the bible encourages us to not get tired of doing good (Gal 6:9). It also tells us to support one another specifically for this reason. Along with personal community, close friendships are also incredibly important for our spiritual growth. We are called to be iron sharpening iron (Pro 27:17) so I urge you to pray that God would help you to gain/maintain strong friendships and a strong community as a whole so that you can get sharp and so that they can sharpen you. My final prayer is that everyone who reads this would have someone in their lives to tell them “No!” T
Sheresse Alexander is a PhD student at NYU currently studying viruses and other diseasecausing germs. She has been a member of Transitions for almost two years now and plans to continue to be active in it as long as the Lord allows. She loves God and thoroughly enjoys seeing others fall in love with God!
Transitions summer/fall 2008
May 3, 2008
Transitions summer/fall 2008
May 31, 2008
ecause of your great mpassion, you did not abandon themâ€?
Transitions summer/fall 2008
Most people when asked about going on a missions trip, feel strongly for or against it. It’s either “I am dying to go” or “It’s not my thing”! For others, they are largely indifferent because they have no idea what their role would be on a missions team. They also fear going to a remote place where food and water might be scarce. This column serves to alleviate the stigmas and fears associated with missions by sharing personal accounts of those who have served on foreign missions trips.
RE-Entry: Home From Israel
n May 21,2008, I was blessed with the privilege of leaving for Israel on my first ever missions trip. Everyone at Brooklyn Tabernacle is now fully acquainted with the story of the bomb exploding in the face of Ami Ortiz, son of missionary David Ortiz. So needless to say I was ready for anything. I was ready to be scared, to be shocked, and to be bold for the Lord. What I wasn’t prepared for was to fall in love with the Palestinian people. As we walked up the stairs to the Ortiz household we were greeted by the one and only Ami. I was ecstatic to see that he was here, and alive and walking! But I was also saddened by seeing the wounds up close and personal. The barrage of miracles I’ve read about through email updates almost makes you forget that an actual bomb exploded in his face. And though The Lord has brought him a long way, Ami still has a long road to full recovery and needs our prayers. We spent the next several days in Ariel ministering to the wonderful Jewish believers and enjoying fellowship. I didn’t want to leave. Also, I was a little nervous about going into the Palestinian area. But Sunday finally came when we were scheduled to have our first clinic in Jericho. When the people started to arrive, it was interesting for me to be in a room filled with so many women in full Muslim garb. But as they complained about waiting, skipped each other in line, and compared the doctors amongst themselves, I felt right at home. What I also observed was the fact that, certain people gravitated towards certain members of the team. God had handpicked people on our team, and certain Palestinians, and knew these two people would get along. As we individually
Transitions summer/fall 2008
by richelle bryan
engaged in conversations and prayer with the people, I realized our similarities outnumbered our differences. During the next couple of days of clinic, the team continued to form bonds. We heard about their struggles, their pain, and some with their frustration with Islam. Many of the ailments reported were headaches and migraines. It was heartbreaking and left many of us in tears. Many of the Palestinians feel trapped as they are not allowed to leave. Many women also face economic hardship because war has claimed the lives of husbands, sons, and brothers who leave children behind when they die. Compounded with that is the stress of being separated from loved ones abroad who cannot come back to Palestine. Even travel around the Palestine territory is severely slowed by the presence of many checkpoints. It was nerve-wracking for me to be asked by an Israeli soldier carrying a machine gun, for my passport. I could imagine how it is for the few Palestinians who have permission to move about. The Palestinian people, though occupied and facing economic hardship, are some of the more hospitable and community oriented people I’ve ever encountered. They love to kiss, hug, and take plenty of pictures. It’s also their custom to invite you over and feed you way too much food. I mean that literally, they offer way more food than is humanly possible to consume in one sitting. There are also a few who are actually Christian and have drawn on the promises of God. Like the Palestinian Christian man who was not allowed to accompany his pregnant wife to Jerusalem to welcome their new baby. Palestinians are allowed to leave for such extreme circumstances as a need to visit a hospital. He said that he forgave the Israeli Jews and expressed a desire to see unity among the two
The beautiful land of Israel; Richelle Bryan (inset)
groups. Although I fell in love with the Palestinian people, I want to be careful not to paint them as angels or to vilify the Israeli Jews. There were those we met and spoke with who were happy to hear some Israeli Jews perished in the latest suicide bomb attack. The point I’m trying to relay is that the Jews have won much of the sympathy of the world. Some deserved, some not. What I learned is the same applies to the Palestinians. Some deserve our empathy, and of course some do not. Just as they equate the west and people like Britney Spears with Christians and are wrong, we can’t equate the Muslim extremists with the average Palestinian. As David himself stated, the first victim of Islam are the Muslims. The bottom line is both the Israeli Jews and the Palestinian Mulsims need Jesus and that should be the focus. This needs to be said because many people, myself included don’t bother to pray for or even care for these people because of their alleged bad behavior publicized by the media. And worse yet, the misconception may and likely has led some Christians to ignore the call to the Middle East and the Muslim people. As Pastor Park says, 95% of missionaries serve in Christian nations. Upon the realization that I was going to be home in one day, I broke down and cried. It’s amazing how scared I was a week before to enter Palestine, but a week later heartbroken to have to leave. Pastor Park warned the first timers of what he called re entry. It’s
the process of completing a powerful missions trip feeling tenderhearted and changed, just to return to your normal life where no one realizes or even cares about what you’ve seen and experienced. You want to shout from your cubicle that people need Jesus in the Middle East, Israel needs healing, and we need to do more than just go to work and come home every day. So what do you do? Pastor Park said what we can do is become ambassadors for the Ortiz family and the people of Israel/Palestine. This is why my article doesn’t focus on the amazing holy sites we saw, the actual Samaritans we met, the Palestinian and Jewish people that came to Christ and a whole host of incredible things that took place on our trip. This article is part of my re entry process: To do my part as an ambassador for my new friends in Israel and in Palestine.
Richelle Bryan is a member of Brooklyn
Tabernacle. She serves in the Choir, Missions Ministry and attends Transitions sporadically at best. She is an Actuary who lives in New Jersey and thinks the toll hike is the work of the enemy.
Transitions summer/fall 2008
ears ago, The Brooklyn Tabernacle sent out David and Linda, to share the Good News of Y’shua to the Jewish people.Although there is freedom of religion in Israel, the reality is that it is very difficult to share the Gospel with others. Over the centuries, many horrible things have been committed against the Jewish people in the name of Christ, so they are understandably very wary and suspicious of Christians. Despite the many difficulties and barriers, David and Linda have demonstrated the love of Christ to their neighbors. Surrounding the Jewish area that David and Linda live in, are many Arab villages. Despite tremendous threats and persecutions, David went into these villages to share his faith and hand out Bibles to the villagers. By the grace of God, many turned to Jesus as their Savior. However, others did not and greatly resisted the Gospel and persecuted the believers and their families. Many ex-Muslim believers face tremendous persecution, jail, torture and exclusion from their society because of their faith, but they know that they’ve found the Pearl of great price.
MISSIONS COR N E R 10/40 Window
The 10/40 Window is a term coined by Christian missionary strategist Luis Bush in 1990, to refer those regions of the eastern hemisphere located between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator, a general area that in 1990 was purported to have the highest level of socioeconomic challenges and least access to the Christian message and Christian resources on the planet. The 10/40 Window concept highlights these three elements: an area of the world, with great For years, David and Linda’s congregation consisted of Jews, poverty and low quality of life, combined with Arabs and Gentiles worshipping together in their home. Now, lack of access to Christian resources. because of the violence of the Intifadah, the Palestinians can The Window forms a band encompassing Saharan and Northern Africa, as well as almost no longer come to their home to worship together so David must go out to meet them in private locations, all under all of Asia (West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, threat of violence. The others continue to meet and worship East Asia and much of Southeast Asia). Roughly two-thirds of the world population lives in the in a private house. (www.brooklyntabernacle.org/missions) 10/40 Window. The 10/40 Window is populated by people who are predominantly Muslim, Israel is among the 59 countries in the 10/40 Window. Please Hindu, Buddhist, Animist, Jewish or Atheist. continue to pray for our missionaries in Israel as well as those Many governments in the 10/40 Window are in the 10/40 Window. formally or informally opposed to Christian work of any kind within their borders. www.wikipedia.com
summer /fall 2008
transitions summer guide
Hey guys, Its a beautiful day outside, meet me at the park after work!! see you soon... Love, your friend
Your guide to having the best summer with your friends...
Movies / Music / Concerts /Plays and more.... Transitions summer /fall 2008
transitions summer guide Governorâ€™s Island (http://www.Govisland.org) A short ferry ride from Lower Manhattan, Governorâ€™s Island provides a getaway from the city for picnicking and bike riding with a panorama view of Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines.
With a global reputation for presenting one of the finest free performing arts festivals in the nation, City Parks Foundation is proud to announce the 23rd season of Central Park SummerStage.
Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn (http://www.brooklynbridgepark.org/) The gorgeous views of the Brooklyn Bridge Park make a beautiful backdrop for picnics during the day and movies at night. Also if you want free fitness classes, festivals and plays, make sure you go early to avoid the long lines.
Transitions summer /fall 2008
transitions summer guide Brooklyn Botanical Garden (http://www.bbg.org/) Located in the heart of Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden offers beautiful walks among blooming flowers from around the world. Stop by all day on Tuesday and from 10 to 12 on Saturday and enjoy for free.
Jones Beach (http://www.jonesbeach.com/) Think Jones Beach is just about soaking up the sun? Well think again, the summer events offer a variety of fun for everyone, including fireworks on the 4th of July.
Prospect Park & CENTRAL PARK http://www.prospectpark.org/) and Central Park (http://www.centralpark. com/) Tired of all the concrete and steal? Get away to one of our cities parks. Donâ€™t just relax on the lawn check out the websites for fun things to do.
Kayaking on the Hudson @the NY Downtown boathouse (http://www.downtownboathouse.org/) Walk-up public kayaking, kayak trips on the harbor, and evening classes, and the best part is that itâ€™s free!
Transitions summer/fall 2008
transitions summer guide
MUSIC 9th Annual Blues BBQ (http://www.hudsonriverpark.org/events/eventpanel/ bluesBBQ.html) Sunday, August 24th – 2pm9pm, Pier 54, 15th St. The hottest blues artists from across the country and New York’s best BBQ Restaurants fire up the grill.
South Street Seaport Music Festivals (http://www.seaportmusicfestival.com/) Free outdoor shows all summer long.
Washington Square Music Festival (http://www.washingtonsquaremusicfestival.org/) Concerts take place in the southeast quadrant of the park, near the statue of Garibaldi. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Editor’s Pick Recorded live worship from Hillsong United!! Each song was recorded at different locations around the world, from Brazil, London, Sydney, Cape Town and our very own Ocean Grove, NJ. This album features 30 of the best worship anthems ever recorded by United and is part one in their global worship and justice project. This is the official soundtrack for 2008!!
summer /fall 2008
James Powell Nancy Pierre Esther Velez Amy Nuttal Madeline Santiago Anita Ramroop Jean Woods Shafiq Haddad ABC Vanity Fair All Access Summer Guide
Beauty they say is in the eye of the beholder. It seems “they” would do anything for it for her But If Charm is Deceptive and Beauty is fleeting...
“...as a man speaks with his friend.” Exodus 33:11
That they would be in awe of her serenity in the midst of a storm. Her grace in the face of opposition.
Then what Are they working for? What are they working towards?
Her faithful heart and contrite spirit...
Rather that the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit would
Her beauty being the glory of the
Glorious One who
that which takes Man’s breath away. Rather that they would see
The Pearl that gleams in the heart of every
woman who fears the Lord.
beauty! -- Deborah Kuo
Survival Pounding on the floor in this dark room Tears pouring down my cheeks Encircled by thick clouds of doom Agonizing defeat creeps within.
My screaming Pierce the silence. “Why Lord, why?” I cried “What did I do to deserve this?” These questions plague my existence.
I ask for your help dear Lord
Then a presence I felt Exhuming light but truly evil Haunting voices suddenly ceased When a blade is passed to me.
Father God I know that you care
“Run it across your wrist!” He demands Hands trembling with fear, Nerves Triggering sweat Immediately when the presence vanished The voice returned No more pain I screamed! My blood flows to kiss the blade. I attempted to cut further but halted Unexpectedly there is this presence of another.
Many prayers out loud I poured All this time you were right there
Plenty signs I have ignored Too much stubbornness I have stored I wanted to do it my way Now for this pain I have to pay I was blinded and could not see I’m in a valley please set me free There is no one else to blame I put myself in this insecure frame
My Heart Beat quickened He knelt down beside me Surprisingly a sense of Overwhelming peace As He took the blade from me.
Oh Lord I ask for your forgiveness
Hands gentle, touch light He lifted me He glanced into my eyes Suddenly I knew my life was saved.
Your love for me keeps me strong
I love you my child No harm will be done to you From now until forever Don’t forget, I died for you. At once the gloomy clouds vanished He embraced me, wiped the tears I’m as close as the mention of my name Remember I am always near
I need you to get me out of this mess Had no intentions for being wrong
Indeed your plan is better for me I am impatient, I agree But I love you with all of my heart Won’t allow myself to depart This is another life lesson Please accept my confession --Nicole Forman
Transitions summer/fall 2008
Transitions summer/fall 2008
contributors TRANSITIONS Summer Guide
Bethany Briggs is co-owner of Urban Designs and freelances as a Stage Manager and Production Assistant. In her free time she enjoys volunteering at BT with the Children’s Ministry, Adult and Youth Drama Ministries.
“Holy Trends: Sanctify Your Style” “If you don’t know my name by now all you have to do is look at my necklace! I am so bad with names that I wear my first name on a chain to make sure I don’t forget it. LOL! However, I will never forget my middle name: “the one who Jesus loves”. I was born in Montreal Canada and am the youngest and only girl of 4 children. I moved to New York a year and a half ago leaving behind a very close-knit family. I am a fashion designer but I find my identity in Christ. I had an epiphany the other day: “I will never be as good at anything as what I was created for which his to glorify God. I love being the best so I want to give my all to God. Makes perfect sense! Right?” Signed: Kathleen “the one who Jesus loves” Elie
MIND OF CHRIST: Theological Musings Joseph Terry is an Adjunct Professor of English at Kingsborough Community College/CUNY. He currently attends Nyack Alliance Theological Seminary, working towards his Masters in Divinity. He also is the Director of the Immersion program, a place where young adults and college students are trained in Apologetics and Theology.
Transitions summer /fall 2008
mind of Christ: Theological Musings
by Joseph Terry
t goes without saying, the more we lose ourselves in Him, the more we find ourselves. As Augustine noted, “The heart is restless until it rests in Thee”; a truth we children of God know well, consciously or unconsciously. This is so because all humans, sinner or saint, are exocentric; that is to say we are ‘outward bounded’. We experience this all the time. As I think of myself, I think of myself in relation to that which is outside me (think about it). Love, for example, is an exocentric event: you forget you and get lost in the other. We exocentric beings are duel centered: we are at the same time in us and outside us. “What of this?” one might ask. Why should one care about this philosophical insight, even if it is true? What will that do for me? A pragmatic bent will blind us to this most ultimate of truths: we are made for community. In fact, we are exocentric beings because our Creator is, in fact, an Exocentric Being: Fully selfcontained in Oneness (He is One), yet living within a Triune Community (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Our exocentric nature is part and parcel an aspect of the Imago De, the Image of God. When we are in community, we are most like the God Who sustains the entire Cosmos. We are most like our Dad. Finding me in You, I find myself whole Complete in Love Divine, from glory To glory; faith to faith Time simply sweeps on by! Listen to a portion of our Rabbi’s prayer: “My prayer is not for them [the apostles] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are One: I in them and You in Me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me” (John 17:20-23) It is Jesus’ desire for us to be in community, that we
may experience the ‘oneness’ of the Godhead, and that the world may know that we are His and that He was truly sent from the One above. When we are simply together, we are being evangelistic. Our community, in essence, is a signpost from our heavenly Father to the world, saying, “Here is My love. Here is My unity. Here is My family. Come, fellowship with Me.” But alas, the world does not see Him because we are not together. We seem to have trouble loving each other. The Adversary knows exactly where to hit us, fostering within our community strife, division, murmuring, backbiting, gossip, whispering and the like; yet all the while the Father of lights desires to declare His love to a world that is dark and fading, a world that continues to reject the One they really desire (unbeknownst to them) because they themselves are indeed exocentric beings. We are given the ultimate gift: to partake of the Trinitarian life. Let us join one another in faith, hope and love. Jesus gives us the glory His Father gave Him that we may be one even as They are One. To not take this gift is akin to committing spiritual suicide. We are simply made for each other because – bless God – we are made for Him. T
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The Magazine of the College and Young Adult Ministry of the Brooklyn Tabernacle