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Mathew Augusthy

This summer, some of us from the IAG youth team went to the New York School of Urban Ministry (NYSUM) to be trained for ministry and evangelism. As Hebrews 11:6 states, “And without faith it is impossible to please God”,...and that “He rewards those who earnestly seek Him”. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to serve God by witnessing to the lost and connecting with the unchurched public. Even though we intended to be a blessing to others, I can say in many ways we were the ones who were blessed and changed instead.

I had a solemn moment when we went on a homeless outreach ministry with Br. Paul Slozat. Philip Jacob and I had the privilege of being the two selected to Paul’s team and to be directly mentored by him as he ministered to the homeless.

We gathered at the bustling Union Square Park in the heart of NY city. As the nine of us stood at the edge of the park prior to breaking up into teams, Paul went over some safety concerns when doing homeless ministry. He also said that we had to open our eyes and keep them open as we prayed because we were embarking on a potentially dangerous situation.

As he prayed for blessing and protection over us, I gazed around, partly listening to the prayer and partly taking in the city. I was awestruck by that moment. Here I was in New York City, the financial, social and political capital of the world. Tall and majestic skyscrapers testifying of human accomplishment stood around me even as beautiful and accomplished people walked by me. The people were dressed in the most fashionable clothes and walked with a sense of privilege and power. They were most likely headed for a Broadway show or a concert. And l, for a fleeting second, thought: “That should also be me”.

Instantly, I was reminded of this passage from a book by John Ortberg that I had been reading. Ortberg, in his book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You, says:.“The soul without a center finds its identity in externals. My temptation when my soul is not centered in God is to try to control my life. In the Bible this is spoken of in terms of the lifting up of one’s soul. The prophet Habakkuk said that the opposite of living in faithful dependence on God is to lift your soul up in pride. The psalmist says that the person who can live in God’s presence is the one who has not lifted their soul up to an idol. When my soul is not centered in God, I define myself by my accomplishments, or my physical appearance, or my title, or my important friends. When I lose these I lose my identity.”

The Holy Spirit challenged me that evening with two questions, and I’d like to leave them with you.

1. When was the last time you lived so faithfully in God’s presence that you were in a situation where you were forced to pray with your eyes open?

2. In your last prayer did you close your eyes and ask for the things you wished or dreamed you had, or did your Heavenly Father open your eyes to the things you would have to give up in order to honor Him?


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