I want to start off by saying that sharing this story is strictly for the purpose of glorifying God for His goodness and encouraging others as they go through trials. Our faith was lacking and our strength was weak but God’s grace was sufficient.
Our journey began on June 16th 2012. We began our marriage living in NH. We had a beautiful place to live, family close by, and a church we loved. Though it was comfortable for us, we did not last in NH long… God was working in my heart and giving me an unrelenting desire to be serving in NYC. After much prayer with Liz, she was convinced as well that just 5 weeks into living in NH we were to move to NYC claiming the promises of Matt 6:19-34. We had no idea how God would bring this passage to life for us…
We arrived at our first location in Manhattan in early August. The Lord allowed us to dive straight into ministry. Our relationships with the people grew fast and we were at home in no time. We had a comfortable studio which was in the church, it was easy living for us other than the occasional rat.
We only resided in this location for about 6 weeks though. Our church ended up moving across town to a much bigger but unfinished property. Here is where we began to be stretched. Our apartment here was no more than two small rooms with an unfinished bathroom; equaling about 300 square feet (with slanted ceilings). It was here that we acquired some pets… more mice than one can count! I kept track of how many we killed throughout the church using traps and it was 170. We even made a game of killing the mice. Liz would scare them out from behind the fridge to me, who was waiting with a shoe in hand… you can guess the rest of that story. This number does not include the mice that were killed through poison. In order to shower, we had to go from the third floor down to the basement (this is where I have to acknowledge Liz’s perseverance as she was pregnant for our entire 8 months of living here). Liz also learned to cook in an unconventional way for we only had one outlet to power our entire apartment. She had to switch between the griddle, micro-wave, and crock-pot using only one at a time to prepare our food. This caused food prep time to triple. We developed quite the taste for Peanut Butter and Jelly and Chinese food. Despite the struggles at this location God truly worked in our hearts and made us completely content and at home in our little 300 foot apartment.
It was Tuesday March 26th 2013. Liz was two days overdue with Russell and there was concern because of low amniotic fluid. I woke up that morning and opened my phone to find a text message. Because of different circumstances with the churches lease, we were not going to be able to stay in our little home. This is where it gets interesting, we had to be moved out by Monday. I had five days to not only find an apartment in NYC but get moved into it.
Thankfully the Lord knew that this would happen in advance and had provided a miraculous gift through a brand new acquaintance that I had met while pulpit filling for a friend’s church in Queens. The Lord had kept us from spending these new funds for He had put them into our hands for a specific purpose: a NYC priced apartment.
Immediately, I got in touch with a friend of mine who owned a small building in Brooklyn. They informed me that they had a tenant moving out next week and we could have the apartment. I offered a bonus to their tenant if they would move out a week early and it looked like they would accept. That night though, I received a call from my friend telling me that their daughter, unbeknownst to them, had already lined up a renter. The next day I was in contact with a man who had an apartment right around the corner from the church. He was down in South America doing missions work through construction and was looking for someone to watch over his apartment. I noticed some peculiarities though and went straight to the apartment building to ask around. As I suspected, the man was trying to scam us. The Lord allowed me to narrow my search down to two different apartments in Brooklyn that we would be able to move into on Saturday. That night Liz, her two parents, and I went out to eat and this is where I broke the news to Liz. Yes, you heard right, I had not told Liz yet due to not wanting to put extra stress on her with her pregnancy. We then brought Liz to the apartment which had the better location and signed on it that night. For the first time that week, I was able to actually eat and not feel as though I was going to be sick. The apartment stress was over, or so I thought…Friday morning, I received a text from my realtor telling me that the apartment Liz had seen and signed on was actually no longer available. Thankfully we were able to simply transfer the paperwork over to another apartment that my father-in-law and I had looked at.
Saturday morning we were at the doctors checking up on Russell and we discovered that Liz’s amniotic fluid had dropped to less than half of the minimum amount needed. We walked straight from her doctor’s office to the hospital (thankfully our favorite Chinese place was on the way). Here we checked Liz in to be induced and I left for Brooklyn to close on our new apartment. I returned to the hospital where Liz was in an induced labor for almost 28 hours. Russell’s heartbeat began to drop critically low. The Lord was watching over us though and allowed Liz to have a successful emergency C-section. The Lord blessed us with a healthy son on Easter Sunday. Wednesday, Liz and Russell got to see the new apartment for the first time. The Lord provided a clean and beautiful place for our little family to live.
A few days in, we began to find bites… after research and some inspecting of our furniture we found that our apartment had bedbugs. Lots of them! We began to look for other housing options but in NYC this is no simple task. We got close a few times but the Lord continued to close doors. We shared our home with the bedbugs for five and a half months. With our funds depleted and our bodies bit up we finally decided that it was time to move out of the city in September 2013. We had to throw away almost all of our belongings and move away from a ministry we wholeheartedly loved. We were far from eager to move away from a place where we had seen God’s hand so visibly work. Though we are thankful for all the things He did in NY while we were there; we saw people saved and grow in Christ in incredible ways, we felt as though we had failed and in a sense that God was displeased with us. We struggled with depression and were greatly discouraged over the next few months. God has since placed me on staff at Trinity Baptist Church where we are blessed with a wonderful church family and incredible ministry opportunities. Though we miss NYC and all of our friends there, we have been able to look back and see how the Lord has guided us and molded us through the different trials and blessings He sent our way.
Conclusion: I know that this saying has somewhat become cliché but I mean it with all my heart. God is good all the time. Though He may bring different struggles into our lives and though He may close doors, He uses those circumstances for His glory and to mold us into Christ-likeness. God taught us so much while we were in NY and we would not trade our time there for anything. We serve an awesome God; so be patient, persevere, and praise God through all things. Your trials and blessings are but single strokes in God’s beautiful master painting.
We pray that this was an encouragement to you and ask that you share it so that it can bless others as well.