Redeemer Family, By Ellen Vandevort-Wolf (Long Island City, NY)

When I arrived in New York City in May of 1988, my firm plan was to stay “only for the summer.” Five years later, married, pregnant, and still here, my husband, Karl, and I made a valiant attempt at escape, only to have God quickly pull us back. Despite God’s obvious intervention, I still wasn’t sold on the city as we began attending Redeemer in 1994. It was Karl who first bought into Tim’s vision of Christians living out our faith in the city. He was transformed; I was dubious. After all, we had a baby with another on the way and back then “everyone” knew you didn’t raise kids in the city. New York seemed like a very un-wise place to parent.

So it was in August of 1994 that I dragged myself to RPC’s first moms’ group of the season and found myself sitting next to Shiuan W., a new parent looking for the same thing I was: support, encouragement, friendship, rest. I’d like to say we were a perfect match but it was more likely the dearth of new moms that drew her to me; I was her only option. Regardless, a friendship was formed and it was at that meeting in the Whites’ apartment, that I began to have a glimmer of hope that our family could survive the city and that maybe living my faith out in this secular sanctuary wasn’t so absurd.

While the names have changed, however, my Christian family remains...And through it all, God has been true.

Every week our little group studied the Bible and asked the questions pressing down on us: how do we raise children to love Jesus in a culture that is, at best, ambivalent toward Him, at worst, antagonistic? Where do we find support when we are so far from our families, in a city where kids are anomalies? Is it okay for little Grace to make a necklace out of all those pretty crack vials in the park? Carole K., Catherine S. and Shiuan became my encouragers, my family, my friends. They were joined by Marie, Deb, Maria and many more. In the nursery, Delilah and Maggie loved our children as their own.

As our family grew, so did our needs. Thankfully so did Redeemer. As one family moved on, another moved into our orbit. We formed new friendships with others struggling to raise Godly children in an ungodly city. In addition, the church provided wonderful leaders who came alongside, supporting our desire to raise up kids who love Jesus. I can’t imagine where we’d be without the care of Goldie, Kate, Aristeo, Cregan, Libby, Daniel, David, to name just a few.

Twenty years and five kids later, I sometimes still question the wisdom of parenting in the city. The challenges here are unique and insidious and it is not for the faint of heart. While the names have changed, however, my Christian family remains. Now I pray for our kids, sharing joys and heartaches with Chris, Julie, M.E. and Karen. And through it all, God has been true. His provision has made the staying easier. Through the witness of my church family, He continues to provide His support, encouragement, friendship and rest.

And Shiuan is still here and she’s still my friend!

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