It is 7 o’clock on a breezy, crisp, fall evening and everyone is arriving at the Bed-Stuy City Group. Folks begin talking and once everyone arrives, the group prays over the meal that has been prepared and begins to eat together.
While everyone is eating the leaders of the group, Yanique, Elizabeth and John, introduce an icebreaker. The question was, “If you had to give your life a a book title what would it be?” Everyone in the group thought about the question. The room was silent, and then one voice spoke and said, “The title of my life would be ‘Back and Forth’ because that’s how my relationship with God is right now.” This prompted one of the leaders to ask, “What season of life are in within your life right now?” Someone else answers, “Fall because things are falling away like leaves.”
After completing the icebreaker the group began talking about how obedience to God looks in their minds and in their lives. After that discussion everyone was led into a time of reflection and confession. Leaders asked group members to anonymously write on a piece of paper what they struggle with or where they find their identity if not in Christ. After writing down their struggles, city group members put their sheets of paper in a bowl and everyone picked one at random.
Another question was asked, “If you were having lunch with a brother or sister and they confessed to you that they struggle with the issue you hold in your hand, how would you speak into their lives?” There was silence. A brave voice spoke up and said, “It’s funny that I got this because I’m struggling with the same thing.” In that moment the Holy Spirit excavated the depths of our hearts and used that vulnerability to connect every person in the room.
Yanique Okolo said, “It is amazing how God meets each City Group member where they are at. What God is doing is amazing and everyone’s heart is open and ready to see what God wants to do in their lives.” Yanique also shared how being a part of a City Group has changed her. She said , “My love for people has grown. It sounds so simple because we are supposed to love people. Being a part of City Group has caused me to get out of my comfort zone. And now I feel like I have known these people my whole life.”
Christina Utley recently moved to New York and has been attending the Bed-Stuy City Group for a few weeks. “When I first moved here I was moving from the midwest, an area where I didn’t have to deal with racial tension on a daily basis,” says Utley. “When I moved here I was disheartened with how much brokenness I saw and experienced. And I just wanted someone to explain it to me. Then the Lord led me to this City Group and I feel like this church is where a lot of healing starts for racial divides and its been instrumental in naming lies and brokenness and things we are scared to talk about. It is our job to spread the Lord’s truth, that we need to find our value in Christ. It’s been really healing being in this group. And it has been messy but we’re wading through this together.”
Zane Richards also shared how being in a City Group has impacted his life:
“Being apart of this City Group just opened me up to a world that I thought didn’t exist. I never met young people who were focused on God and I really like that. It’s like a breath of fresh air, I don’t feel alone. This gives me a sense of hope. I think a lot more about my actions. Last week we spoke about our insecurities. Mine was how I can make my best first impression. And being here is helping me to combat the desire to impress.”
Richards also lent some advice to anyone looking to join a City Group, “For any young person in their 20’s who feels like they are alone in their struggle, a City Group is the best place to get connected with others.”