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‘Nations are in the city,’ New York missionary says

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–The life Susan Field dreamed up for herself years ago didn’t exactly play out as expected.

A young missionary and pastor’s wife, she imagined easy living on a tropical island. The island God intended for her, though, was Manhattan.

“I didn’t find myself on a tropical island but I am on an island with lots of buried treasure,” Field said at the recent Woman’s Missionary Union Experience the Joy of Missions Conference at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina.

Around 13 million people pass through Manhattan on a given day, Field said, and inside each one of those is a buried treasure.

Field and her husband, Taylor, have been living God’s call to missions in New York’s inner city for 20 years, as Taylor Field serves as pastor of East Seventh Baptist Church/Graffiti Community Ministries on the lower East Side of Manhattan. Susan Field serves in a local collegiate ministry, and the couple reaches more than 10,000 people a year.

“Things are changing as we think about the city,” Taylor Field said. “We need to think about building bridges. … God’s promise has always been for the city, we’re just learning now how to see it.”

Taylor Field’s prayer is that people will have eyes to see what God is doing in the cities and the immense opportunities there for reaching the nations.

“Cities are no longer in the nations; nations are in the city,” his wife said.

The Fields have seen a lot change on their island in the days since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Taylor Field recalled searching for his son, Freeman, who attended school a block from the World Trade Center that day. He found Freeman alive, but he admitted he felt anger as other families weren’t so fortunate.

He called that time a turning point for Freeman in the way of spiritual matters and a turning point for their city as well. The Fields have started nine churches in the wake of the tragedy.

Taylor Field said as people learn to follow Jesus’ lead of finding something to be thankful for in all situations, they will begin to discover the joy of missions.

He pointed out that when the need was great but the resources were small, Jesus thanked God for what He had before feeding 5,000 with two fish and five bread loaves.

“When you have 17 things bringing you down, you always have 18 things to praise God about,” Taylor Field said.

When the situation seemed impossible, Jesus gave thanks to His Father and then raised Lazarus from the dead. When He confronted challenges in His ministry, Jesus thanked God for His helpers. Field encouraged others to follow Christ’s lead.

“One person who is thankful can affect an entire block; a thankful block can affect an entire neighborhood; a thankful neighborhood can affect an entire city; and a thankful city can affect the world,” Taylor Field said.

    About the Author

  • Amy Whitfield

    Amy Whitfield is associate vice president for communications at the SBC Executive Committee.

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