From the small town of Graceville to the "Big Apple," Baptist College of Florida (BCF) Mission’s major, Courtney Coggins, spent two and a half months in New York City this summer serving with Graffiti 2 Ministry. Graffiti 2 is a community and children centered ministry branch from Graffiti Church located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The vision of the ministry is to have a church planted in troubled communities of all five boroughs.
While Coggins was in NY, she spent her time planning and preparing for summer camps that have been held every year since the start of Graffiti 2 Ministry three years ago. The director, Andrew Mann, began as a summer intern for Graffiti Church in Manhattan. Falling in love with the ministry there and God’s calling on his life, Mann was asked to start the second Graffiti in Mott Haven which has been rated one of the worst places to raise children. An additional employee, Ashley Emmertt, has just been hired to help Mann with Graffiti 2. Emmertt also started out as a summer intern and immediately felt God’s call on her life to live and serve with the people in the Mott Haven community.
While the people of Mott Haven have a rough lifestyle, they also have a deep desire for a better life. While serving, Coggins quickly learned over the summer that people need to be ministered to no matter what their lifestyle may be. She stated that her views on people not needing to hear the gospel until they changed their lifestyle promptly changed to just the opposite, "They need the gospel before they can change their lifestyles."
According to Coggins, the work she participated in was simple. The Graffiti 2 Ministry held two separate camps during the summer and then a block party at the end. The first camp was held in the mornings from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm. This was a sports camp, which lasted four weeks highlighting football, baseball, tennis, basketball, and cheerleading. Churches from different parts of the country come and lead the sports camps. Every day the children were taught about a particular sport to improve their skills, as well as learned about Jesus Christ. On Friday, Mann would present the gospel to all of the children.
The other camp was a fine arts camp held in the afternoon. The children learned about music, drama, dance, and art. During the block party held at the end of the camp, the children performed a production showcasing the work they did all summer. For example, during the art class, they drew and colored the backdrop, and many children sang solos, duets, and raps. The theme song they performed was "Lean on Me." All of the children heard more of God’s word and on Friday they heard the story of the missionary Jim Elliot.
"I would like to encourage all of our students and others to go into the world and serve God," stated Coggins. "Even if you are not called to overseas missions, you are called to missions. Matt. 28:19 directs all Christians to go out and make disciples of all nations in Christ’s name. Don’t ignore His call for your life or you will miss a wonderful experience and blessing."
If you would like more information about this particular ministry or other mission opportunities, contact The Baptist College of Florida at 800.328.2660.