Faculty, staff, students join for time of support for New York mission trip

New York City Music night

Filled with baked goods, art, and music led by Southwestern Seminary and Texas Baptist College students, the Williams Banquet Hall in the Naylor Student Center was the location for the New York Music and Market Night event Jan. 25 to support the spring break mission trip to New York City.

The Office of Student Life and the World Missions Center (WMC) collaborated with Ashley Allen, assistant professor of women’s ministries and mission team leader. What started as an idea for a fundraiser turned into a way to use a regular event on campus for a fun night of fellowship and support for missions.

While serving on the Boston mission trip during fall break of the fall 2023 semester, Allen said that she was inspired by a staffer at the Boston Ministry Center making jewelry to sell to be used for ministry.

Faculty, staff, students, and members of the Fort Worth community gathered for the New York Music and Market Night on Jan. 25 to support the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary mission team that will serve in New York the week of spring break, March 9-16. The evening allowed attendees to enjoy free music and coffee, while also purchasing baked goods, art, and photography to support the mission team.

“This was a win,” said Alex Miller, director of Student Life at Southwestern Seminary. “Not just from a monetary standpoint, but for highlighting our seminary’s globally engaged core value. I had a message this morning from a student asking for more information about future trips. Getting the word out will help our school serve Christ in different ways.”

Throughout the night, several students provided testimonies about New York City and the mission trips that they have been on through Southwestern Seminary. The students shared their motivation for serving on the mission trips, including the 2023 spring mission trip to New York City.

“I came from a city back home, and I have been interested in urban missions,” said Cristina Aguilera, a Doctor of Education student from Colombia. “We have the same kind of situations in terms of poverty, drug use, and a lot of people experiencing homelessness. I wanted to see how to engage with the lost in an urban setting.”

For Catherine Chan, a Master of Divinity student from Malaysia, the motivation to serve on the mission trip came from wanting to serve the Lord with other women.

“For me, last spring, it was the women-only mission trip, so I was interested to see how women do missions,” Chan explained. “I was also taking a course called urban church planting by Dr. Allen; so do take the course, it is very fun.”

During the Jan. 25 New York Music and Market Night, attendees participated in silent and live auctions of cakes and paintings, including a mountain scene painted by one of the mission team members that auctioned off for $70.

Moain Kumsangmar, a Master of Theology in missions student from India, said that she initially was not very confident that she would be chosen to go on the trip, but that God gave her a desire to go.

“It was a blessing for me and through that mission, I also learned the need of the Gospel. Whether it be here, be in Nagaland, be in India, the need for the Gospel is everywhere,” said Kumsangmar.

One of the motivations for Kumsangmar, who served on the 2023 spring break NYC team, to return to New York is what she noticed during her first trip regarding the need for the Gospel. She said that she had been “praying and sharing” with her friends about an opportunity to share the Gospel with the people of New York again, and that God “opened a way” to go back.

To raise money for the mission trip, homemade goods, and pieces of art, including paintings, prints, and photography, were for sale throughout the evening. All the items were donated for the event, including by mission team members and their families, the Southwestern Women’s Club, the Women’s Center, the World Missions Center, Student Life, and seminary employees.

“Seeing the support of the faculty and staff as well as some of their spouses was overwhelming,” said William Bonar, a Master of Divinity in international church planting student who is also serving on the mission team to New York. “People really came through for us when we needed help – especially the baking. This night could not have been possible without their help.”

A silent auction was held for two special cakes and a painting of a Mediterranean ocean view. There was also a live auction for a cake and a New York-style cheesecake, both made and donated by seminary employees and their families, and a tray of homemade doughnuts donated by Chandler Snyder, vice president for enrollment and student services and dean of students, and his family. Snyder and his family served as missionaries with the International Mission Board before he began serving with Southwestern in June 2022. The family ran a doughnut shop as a ministry tool as they served and used the recipes from the shop for their donation.

Attendees of the Jan. 25 New York Music and Market Night at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary enjoyed music led by two bands from Texas Baptist College, the seminary’s undergraduate school.

Micah Englehart, associate director of Student Life, served as the master of ceremonies for the evening. He said his favorite part of the event was the auction.

“It was fun seeing everyone playfully compete with each other to purchase the homemade goods being sold,” Englehart said. “The bands sounded tremendous, too. It was a fun event with an energetic turnout.”

Gabe Carvalho, a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies student at Texas Baptist College (TBC) and New York native, provided a testimony of what it is like in New York City.

“One thing I really liked about New York City is that it’s a melting pot,” Carvalho said. “A block away, you can get a cross-cultural experience or encounter. When you face other worldviews and perspectives, it really just helps you to humble yourself.”

Carvalho added that sometimes New York is a “battleground for churches” who serve there. He said that the spiritual background of New York is “almost as diverse as its people” with so many ideas and religions being accepted.

Kirsten Burns, WMC project coordinator and Master of Divinity student from Apex, North Carolina, said that she was “really encouraged” by turnout and collaboration of different departments.

“It was just really sweet to see the Southwestern community show up,” Burns said. “Many people from across the campus, across departments showed up. Professors came, students came not only to buy baked goods and beautiful art but to show support for the team, pray with them, and show them they were ‘on their side.’”

During the event, TBC students played music in two bands. The first band consisted of Jack Hickman, a Bachelor of Arts in Christian studies student, Nate Everest, a Bachelor of Music in performance student, and Feni Mukisa, a Bachelor of Music in worship studies student. The second band that played featured Samuel Ibarra, a student in the five-year program at Southwestern Seminary and TBC, Hannah Sanchez, a Bachelor of Arts in Christian studies student, and Jason Castoñeda, a Bachelor of Music in performance student.

Werner Stikan, a student enrolled in the five-year program at Southwestern Seminary and TBC from Brazil, said that the event was “awesome” and that “being together and worshiping” with members of the Southwestern community was “great.” He added that he enjoyed that the school used this as an opportunity to support the New York mission trip and said that he wants to do “anything to support missions.”

The New York mission team will serve alongside Graffiti Church – Brooklyn during spring break, March 9-16.