Unity in the Word—Arne and Faith Mathingsdal

Arne and Faith Mathingsdal have their own ministry called City Refuge Brooklyn. They spend time walking the streets of New York City and ministering to the homeless population. The public reading of Scripture strengthens their lives as they continue to work in a physically, emotionally, and spiritually tiring ministry.

SoundCloud Link: Unity in the Word by Arne and Faith Mathingsdal (4:43).


Arne: Building Relationships with the Homeless
My name’s Arne. This is my wife, Faith, and we have a ministry called City Refuge Brooklyn. And basically what we do is just walk the streets of Manhattan, and we sit and talk with the homeless. And it’s really just to build relationship with them, just to become their friends and give them, you know, whatever they need, whatever we have: socks, food, clothes. But it’s basically what we do. And we’ve been doing that for two years.

Arne: Listening to the Father Speak
I’ve always read the Bible ever since I came back to the Lord, for about 20 years. And I usually just get up early and I just read it. You know, always read it by myself, never really do it as we do here, in community and family. And at first, before we came here, I was just kind of wondering what that was going to be like. It’s been really special. I just see a picture of how we’re all God’s children and we’re just sitting before the Father listening to him speak to us.

Faith: Being Washed with the Word
Similarly, for me, I really enjoy actually coming to a place with other people and just building community and then enjoying the Word together. And I feel like sometimes especially with what we do, we’ll come straight after being out on the street and coming in and just, that real sense of being washed with the Word.

You know, you’ve got the day on you, and whatever junk people are carrying, it gets on you. So you come in and there’s no pressure on you to perform, to be anything other than God’s kid, and you just listen and His Word washes you. So that’s been really powerful for me.

Faith: My Heart Gets All Excited
And just the dramatized version. It just comes alive especially with the Old Testament. And I do find that when I hear Jesus speaking, my heart gets all excited. It’s just a whole other dimension to it, which is new and awesome.

Arne: Living in Community
I think anything we do, whether it’s praying or worshiping, there is a time to do that with just you and God, in the secret place. But then, God also created us for community and relationships, so there’s that. It’s good to pray by yourself, but when you pray with others there’s a synergy that happens. Like usually, when we eat, you can eat by yourself, but if you’re living in community, it’d be kind of weird to not all eat as a family.

Faith: Jesus is the Equalizer
And you know, the Word says where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them in their midst. It doesn’t have to be a big group, it can just be the two of us. We’ve brought a few different people to come and listen. And at first they’ve been like, “What are we doing?” But they’ve come and afterwards been like, “Wow! I want to do that again. That was really impactful and very different.” It’s just a different experience. You can’t manufacture that experience. It’s the coming together of people of like mind.

The other thing that’s beautiful is we’re sitting in a room with all these people from all different walks of life, all different experiences, but they all want to know Jesus. And that is the great equalizer. He is the one who reminds us that we are his body and that there’s no difference. So, to me, I think there’s real value in coming together, and we would never have known that. We’d never done that before we came here. It’s really cool.

Arne: Unifying the Body
And just to see the unity. It’s really an answer to Jesus’ prayer, “Father, make them one.” And to see people from all different denominations and that this is a fulfillment of what Jesus prayed and that he would use his Word to unify his body. It’s a pretty beautiful thing.

Faith: Being Still with the Lord
But I will say it’s interesting on occasions where I’ve observed. Just sitting back and just watching and people, whether they claim to know Jesus or not, just coming in and feeling the peace and just listening to the Word. And some of it might have been familiar and stirring up things. Who knows what the Word can do?

But just to have that space where no one is preaching at you, it is just the Word. And you can do with it whatever you want. There’s no pressure on you: you have to pray this prayer right now, you have to believe this, you have to do that. There’s the freedom for anybody to respond in whatever way that looks like, and that’s really a personal thing between the listener and God. So inviting them to be a part of something, having a place where they can come to and actually just be still with the Lord. That’s something really special.