By Dr. Mac Pier
CEO – The NYC Leadership Center
Founder – Movement Day
Senior Associate of Cities – The Lausanne Movement
Prayers are being poured out today, July 8, as people are trying to understand the horrific events in Dallas. I am writing this blog from the Queens, New York County Courthouse jury selection room. It is providing me time to think about the journeys of these two very different cities—Dallas and New York City, which have found themselves in great moments of crisis.
The murder of five Dallas policemen in the aftermath of high profile deaths of two African-American men this week have put American cities on edge. Our prayer is that U.S. cities will not be more deeply plunged into violence across racial lines.
On 9/11 I was on the 15th floor of the Empire State Building when the World Trade Center was struck by two airplanes. It was devastating. The loss of 3,000 lives including hundreds of New York Police Department and New York Fire Department personnel will never be forgotten.
As a city and a nation we were unnerved. Just as many are unnerved by the violence in Dallas, TX this week.
In the midst of the chaos there is an opportunity for the church to be the church. Unity is not just a spiritual aspiration, it is an urgent and strategic necessity for the Body of Christ.
After 9/11 we saw the magnificence of the church; caring for the families of those killed in the tragedy, serving meals, providing counseling, and providing a place of refuge for the suffering. We saw agencies like World Vision rally the philanthropic community to give $6 million to assist victims of 9/11 through the church.
Out of the ashes of 9/11 God did remarkable things in New York City (NYC). We saw evangelical Christianity grow in Manhattan. Stimulated by concern for NYC after 9/11, our organization (The New York City Leadership Center) collaborated with Redeemer City to City to catalyze church planting efforts.
The Dallas/Fort Worth area is a region of magnificent churches, agencies, and networks. I have been to Dallas every month for the past five years. I have witnessed Dallas as the “Antioch of America” with its great missionary impulse. Mayor Michael Rawlings is a magnificent leader. His heart for the whole city and every racial strata is remarkable. He is a great champion for the churches to impact the city.
Like every American city, Dallas has its racial fault lines. Fortunately some of the great churches in America are the African-American churches in the Southern Sector of Dallas – including Concord Baptist Church, Oak Cliff Bible Church, Inspiring Body of Christ Church, and The Potter’s House. Those fault lines have begun to be crossed by nearly 100 pastoral leaders including Bryan Carter, Jeff Warren, Vincent Parker, and Mark Davis. In April 2016, twenty churches exchanged pulpits across racial lines. This is giving evidence to the truth that we can only love that which we know.
Networks like Movement Day Greater Dallas and Unite Greater Dallas play a crucial role in connecting leaders and churches to each other. The more physically present Christian leaders are to each other, the more present God becomes to the city.
Let us within our cities, across races and across our cities, come together. The world is watching. Are we ready to lead?
Each year, Movement Day features speakers who come to educate, inspire, challenge, and encourage city leaders. Learn more about the world-renowned speakers, topic experts and practitioners that are scheduled to share about global issues and key urban population groups at Movement Day Global Cities 2016.
This May, we took some time to speak with MDGC 2016 speaker Vandana Kripalani, an advocate of the Set Beautiful Free movement in Mumbai India. Committed to end violence against women, Vandana has participated in several United Nations conferences and has spoken before Senators in the U.S. Congress to bring awareness to this issue. As an engaged member of her community, she serves on the boards and committees of several organizations, which include Seams for Dreams, Terry Fox India, and the Gender Equality committee for First Rand Bank and SILA Corp.
Q: You’ve devoted your life to advocate against human trafficking. What led you on this journey?
I grew up in Bombay, which is Mumbai. But when you are born in Bombay, you call it Bombay. I was born here and I was very privileged to have a wonderful family who supported me through everything, so I was quite protected growing up. I went to a good school, and then college in the US. My parents were very clear to expose me to the harsh realities of what it’s like to grow up as a young woman in India.
However I never actually realized what so many millions of women have to go through until I myself came face-to-face with a man who wanted to kill me and hurt me. But it was just God’s grace and his mercy that allowed me to escape completely unharmed, with just scratches on my arm and nothing else.
Before that, I worked with Ernst & Young and I was very, very passionate about marketing so I’d started my own consultancy. But after this incident in 2012 there were so many things happening around me in India that I became more aware of – such as the Nirbhaya tragedy, which involved a young girl who was raped on a bus in Delhi by six men. This was just around the same time frame.
I realized I couldn’t go back to product marketing anymore. I felt that I may have escaped, but there are about 16 million women who are victims of sex trafficking in India, and so I just decided to try my hand at this. I started off as a volunteer. But here I am three-and-a-half years later, with this on my heart — I don’t think I’m going anywhere from this cause.
Q: You have devoted your life to the battle against human trafficking, specifically as part of the organization Set Beautiful Free. Can tell us a bit about what the organization does and even if there are specific steps that the organization is taking toward the fostering of unity?
Set Beautiful Free is actually an initiative of Bombay Teen Challenge (BTC). And Bombay Teen Challenge began about 25 years ago by an incredible man, Mr. Devaraj, who felt God calling him into this work. When he moved to India, he realized the need as he walked around and he saw that the children of sex workers were living under the beds of the women while they worked. He always describes one of the first few times he walked around the area and one little girl clung to his leg begging him to rescue her so she didn’t die there. And so his first need was to rescue the children. As that grew, BTC was able to go and rescue the mothers, and there’s been generations rescued over the past 25 years.
Set Beautiful Free is involved with rescuing, but we also have a very large rehabilitation center outside of Mumbai. We have a vocational unit for women who’ve been rescued to teach them jewelry making or tailoring skills. We have held clinics in the red light area so that we can reach out to women while they’re still working in there. And it’s twofold: it’s obviously to provide health care, but it’s to create relationships so they can begin to trust us and hopefully come out of that oppressive existence one day.
We just actually built and started our first school, which is grades one to eight for children of sex workers only, so it’s specifically for that. And Mr. Devaraj is very clear that the school should be like a school that we would want our own children to go to, that these children should not get the short end of the stick just because of their birth place. It’s a great school, and since we’ve built the school, we have begun conversations with different churches to encourage them to come on church outings to the school to see if there was any help that the church community itself could offer.
As an organization we work with many different, smaller organizations around India and globally, as well as different churches. The cause allows us to look past the denominations we have created in the church and focus on the call to serve as Jesus did. Movement Day allows us to build relationships with other organizations in the field. We’ve worked with other American ministries towards the same end goal – to end trafficking. But there is definitely more need in this area, and there’s so much hope.
Q: Could also share just what are some signs of hope that you’re seeing in Mumbai from the work that you’re doing and that Set Beautiful Free is doing?
I think so often we can get so bogged down with the statistics and the tragedy and the horror that we forget the hope. And, for me, that’s been actually one of the main factors in me being able to continue to talk about this work. We just celebrated four marriage engagements of young girls who were rescued from the red light area. They’ve all been so incredible– they found matches and good boys and men to marry, so four engagements, which is the beginning of a new chapter for eight lives. It’s forever changed the trajectory of these four women. There are so many more stories like this, with young children who arrived without receiving any love or care so unable to even hug, to now being a part of this family and sharing their testimonies of hope with others. Of women who were once born to workers who succumbed to diseases like HIV, only to spend their life studying microbiology with the intent on finding a cure eventually.
Q: What do you hope to share with leaders at Movement Day Global Cities (MDGC) this fall?
I want to share a story, actually, of one of my personal heroes, a lady who was sold at the age of 11. Eventually she was rescued and now she’s a rescuer, so her life went a whole 180 degrees. I want to talk through her story because the story is what’s powerful. The statistics end up getting a little bit too much sometimes, so I hope that hearing her story will be able to share some hope.
In honor of our Northern neighbor’s birthday on July 1st, we thought we would take a moment to catch up with Tim Day, one of the Canadian members of the #MDGC16 family who will be joining us in New York City this October. Author, former pastor, and now leader of City Movement Canada – an initiative created “to help business leaders, para-church ministries and churches work together to advance the gospel in their city” – Tim will be bringing 100 dynamic Canadian leaders to #MDGC16 to experience a rich time of collaborative gospel movement dialogue and training.
Q: How would you describe the current gospel landscape of Canada?
Statistics show a straight line decline in weekly church attendance for Canadians since the 1960’s. This statistic of church attendance is now reaching 11%. This trend points to weekly attendance dropping below 5% in the next 10 years if a change does not occur. This reflects an increasingly secular and pluralistic society.
Q: What urban issues are Canadians facing on a daily basis?
Canadians are facing urban challenges connected to high housing prices, lack of relationships, long work hours, and pressure to “keep up.”
Q: You are leading the team behind City Movement Canada, an initiative created “to help business leaders, para-church ministries and churches work together to advance the gospel in their city.” Would you share more about what inspired you to launch this initiative?
I and my team worked for 15 years with Toronto’s largest multi-site church. We became increasingly aware of the challenges of leading effective ministry in cities, the declining health of the church, and the exodus of millennials from the church. It became obvious that the solution needed to be bigger than any one church or ministry.
Q: How has your experience as a pastor of 15 years and an author of God Enters Stage Left, ‘a creative retelling of God’s story,’ informed your approach to bringing about gospel movement?
Leaders like ideas, strategies and programs. I discovered that people aren’t so engaged by these, but rather want to feel actively in relationship with God and to join Jesus in the adventure of His story. A movement is not so much about a great program but a great story worth telling and joining.
Q: You are bringing a team of 100 leaders from Canada to Movement Day Global Cities 2016. What are you and this team most looking forward to about MDGC 2016?
We have two core groups coming. The first is a group of strategic millennial leaders from across Canada. We will be doing a think tank with them at MDGC16 to envision a new future for the church of Canada in cities. The second group is composed of city leaders from across Canada who are attending as a way to help us listen well to what God is doing across the world, as well as to what God is doing in and through this group of young leaders. I am excited to have this time to listen to what God will say to us. It reminds me of Acts 15: ‘it seemed good to us and the Holy Spirit.’
Q: How can the broader Movement Day community support those working to bring about gospel movement in Canada?
The broader MDGC16 community can support us by continuing to create a strong, functional global network of city ministry leaders that can walk together as we witness God align His church, in heart and mission, in cities around the world.
Charles Van Engen started his ministry as a missionary in Mexico working mainly in theological education. Since then he has taught missiology at Western Theological Seminary in Michigan and is currently at Fuller University as the Arthur F. Glasser Professor Emeritus of Biblical Theology of Mission and Senior Professor of Biblical Theology of Mission. He has authored and coauthored many books including You are my Witnesses and God So Loved the City.
In his book, God So Loved the City, Van Engen exposes stories of ministers from Nairobi, Mexico City, Los Angeles and Madras. His goal is to shed light on the mission of the church for the city. Each story uniquely shows the different challenges each city faces when it comes to injustice, marginalization and urban structure. These stories help reveal how we can all practice ministry in our own cities. If you have a heart for urban ministry this book is a must read for you.
On June 2, 2016, New York City (NYC) Mayor Bill de Blasio hosted the city’s first ever Emerging Leaders Evening in partnership with his Clergy Advisory Council, The New York City Leadership Center, Thrive Collective, NY CityServe, Mattera Management, Young Life NYC, and God Belongs In My City. Hosted at the Mayor’s personal residence, Gracie Mansion, a diverse group of interfaith and intergenerational leaders gathered to celebrate the raising up of a new era of strong, community-focused, emerging leaders. Guest speakers included Rev. Michael Walrond, Rev. Adam Durso, Dr. A.R. Bernard, Rabbi Potasnik, and Imam Talib.
Mayor de Blasio delivered a meaningful address reflecting on some of the valuable community initiatives and partnerships, which he and his administration have spearheaded. His focus on collaboration and the “irreplaceable role of community of faith leaders” was an invaluable contribution to an evening of connection and conversation.
Dialogue centered around the importance of collaboration in city leadership, various approaches to running vibrant houses of worship within the city, and the role of the millennial generation in challenging institutional approaches to leadership. Dr. A.R. Bernard, senior pastor of Christian Cultural Center, celebrated the emergence of more female leaders in leadership roles than ever before. So too was an emphasis placed upon the importance of undertaking a people-focused approach to leadership. Said Rev. Michael A. Walrond Jr., senior pastor of First Corinthian Baptist Church, “Building legacy is more than just building your name, but investing in people.” There was a call to remain engaged in urban and social justice issues facing communities across the city.
A portion of the evening was devoted to an interfaith panel which explored various approaches being utilized to engage younger leaders in houses of worship across N.Y.C. Panelists shared their experiences of being invited to serve on their house of worship’s board of trustees, building coalitions, participating in leadership training, and receiving mentorship as they seek to become more involved in the development and growth of their house of worship.
Millennial leader and evening attendee Alana Barrett-Adkins noted, “There is an African proverb which says, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ This evening I was reminded of this timeless truth which emphasizes the impact of collective agreement. Despite our differences in spiritual tenets, understandings, and observances, we can unite around common causes for the benefit of our community.”
Reflected Rev. Adam Durso, who spearheaded the vision of the evening, “Tonight, is the beginning of a conversation not the end of an event…We are going to continue this conversation around what does it look like when the most missionally-conscious generation steps up, outside of the four walls of our church buildings, outside of our own practices of faith, and does something that engages the community?”
We are extremely thankful to have had the opportunity to be part of an evening of such valuable dialogue and connection. Would you continue to partner with us in prayer as we uphold the leaders within our community?
Erwin Raphael McManus is an artist, entrepreneur, author and founder of MOSAIC, a church in Los Angeles California. Known for their innovation, creativity and artistry, MOSAIC has been named one of the most influential and innovative churches in America. McManus has a BA in psychology from UNC Chapel Hill, a Masters of Divinity from Southwestern Theological Seminary and a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Southeastern University. He is also wildly passionate about creativity and argues that creativity is both uniquely human and the essence of human uniqueness. He believes it is a natural expression of our spirituality and is known for his integration of creativity and spirituality.
In his book Uprising: A Revolution of the Soul, McManus boldly invites you to join a revolution of the soul that will change an ordinary life into an extraordinary one. Can you imagine the things you could do, the impact you could have on the world, if you tapped into the dreams God has for your life? Journey with Erwin to find your true purpose and destiny in the pursuit of the passion and character of God, and be a part of a revolution that changes a life of imitation and mediocrity into one of passion and character… a radical revolt that will forever change the world.
“…out of our seats and into the streets!”
Rev. Phil Miglioratti of Mission America Coalition and LOVE2020, John Fuder of Pray Chicago, and Ken Oliver of Chicago Bible Society are joining together to bring members from Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods together in prayer. Pray Chicago was developed in response to national leadership initiatives such as Movement Day, the Mission America Coalition, the Lausanne Movement, and teachings by leaders such as Dr. Mac Pier and Dr. Timothy Keller. This event invites leaders and community members to “gather…with one heart and one voice to call upon God to bring healing and hope” to the city of Chicago. Notes Rev. Phil, “This simple action of love is part of a national invitation for citywide “prayer-care-share movements” to make radical expressions of God’s love in the places, and among the people, most needed.”
Chicago is a city often featured on the news for its violence, gang activity, and rough neighborhoods. According to The Washington Post, 141 people have already been killed due to violence in the first quarter of 2016. Despite these disheartening statistics, Pray Chicago organizers want the city to come together in hope. They are inviting the Body of Christ in each of Chicago’s neighborhoods to “get out of their seats and into the streets” with prayer for hope against violence and healing for those hurting.”
At noon on June 18th, a series of Shalom in the Streets services hosted by numerous neighborhood churches, will bring together members of the local Christian community to pray for peace. A special service with a particular focus placed upon youth in Chicago also will take place at 11:00 a.m. prior to Shalom in the Streets. Stories will be shared, scripture read, and songs sung in faith as those gathered pray for the gospel’s movement over the city of Chicago. In particular, prayers will center upon asking “for the restoration of the Christian family unit, for a spirit of peace in the neighborhoods, in the hearts and minds of would be perpetrators, and an end to homicides, especially those involving youth.”
Reflects Rev. Phil, “Prayer is powerful and transformative. When we pray, we allow God to transform us. When we bring prayer to our community, God brings forth the power to transform the community. Prayer changes our focus — from our problems, to our God.” He and the organizational team are looking forward to seeing the transformational impact such an event can have on their community. He notes, “The Lord is using Pray Chicago as a catalyst for prayer and for collaboration. The leadership is comprised of humble but influential persons. They are connecting other prayer-driven initiatives both in the city and across the suburban communities.”
Will you join us as we pray alongside partners and city leaders in Chicago as they ask God for gospel movement within their city?
On May 12th, 2016 Movement Day Haiti (MDH) had its first gathering. With over 250 leaders discussing how to access clean water, ways to address fatherlessness and reaching the youth with the gospel as well as how to obtain justice and feed the hungry, this was truly an historic event. Every attendee was passionate about preaching the gospel and seeing the growth and impact of Christianity within Haiti. Attendee Henry Fuhrman, Executive Pastor of Ministries at Center Point Church, said “Haiti is a country with great need, and for the American church – a place of great opportunity. Movement Day Haiti showed me that I’m not alone in believing there is hope for Haiti and that, in Haiti the best is yet to come.”
The event was held at the Montana Hotel, which was one of the thousands of structures that collapsed in the earthquake of January 12th, 2010. Founder and CEO of The New York City Leadership Center (NYCLC), Dr. Mac Pier says, “Movement Day Haiti represents a kind of rebirth for the Body of Christ, even as the Montana has been re-birthed as a leading Port-Au-Prince conference center.” With Haiti recognized as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, this made Port-Au-Prince an extraordinary context for Movement Day.
The NYCLC partnered with World Vision in an ever deepening relationship in Haiti and potentially in many of the most challenged cities in the world. World Vision has 70,000 sponsored children in Haiti and is the largest Christian organization in the country. Don Golden, U.S. church relations director for World Vision, has a personal conviction that Haiti is the American church’s “Lazarus on our doorstep.” MDH is a response to these enormous challenges. Golden says of the event, “Movement Day Haiti marks a significant moment in the life of the church in Haiti… and for the Church in the U.S.! As the only “fragile state” in the Western hemisphere, Haiti deserves the special attention of the Church, as God cares especially for the poor. For World Vision, MDH opened a new and promising opportunity to see the kind of hope and healing the Church can offer when it unifies around Christ’s love for those most in need.”
Movement Day Haiti was unlike any other event that Haitian leaders themselves had ever seen. Leaders were amazed that they had the opportunity to interact around ideas to shape their country. There is a very robust commitment to follow-up on the discussions, create ten year goals, and one year plans. Many of these Haitian leaders are aiming to bring a team of one hundred leaders to Movement Day Global Cities this October. Will you join us as we continue to pray for the country of Haiti?