Melissa and I just spent the past week in New York City meeting with church leaders. Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the normal rhythms of the city have been interrupted. In a city that is usually buzzing with energy and excitement, it was strangely empty. Subways weren’t as crowded, there were no Broadway shows, and restaurants were not crowded. It was a little surreal.
In spite of the social distancing we’ve been encouraged to engage in, I was able to have two different spiritual conversations with young men. The first was a waiter at a restaurant in Times Square who shared with our group about his background as a Mormon and how he even spent two years on a Mormon Mission. After coming out as a homosexual, he was kicked out of the church. He moved to New York City to pursue a career on Broadway. When I asked what his spiritual life looked like now, he didn't have much to share. I was able to simply share that Christ still loves him and desires a relationship with him.
The second was a young Muslim man I sat next to on a subway train on Friday. We started talking about spiritual things and he shared that he believed that all religions were basically the same. He believes that we are all worshipping the same god but each religion just had a few minor differences. We talked briefly about absolute truth and how two contradictory statements both can’t be true. I was able to share the truth that the difference of Christianity was that God didn’t wait for us to earn our way to Him, He came to us because of His love for us.
In this strange day where we are dealing with the Corona Virus, we have been encouraged to keep distance socially. Rather than embrace in handshakes, we’re told to bump elbows or give ‘air hugs’. It feels unnatural because we have been created to be social creatures. Both of these young men are microcosms of the city. They represent the larger population who are spiritually distant to God because of their sin. As a result, they believe that God is angry with them, not easily appeased by their best efforts, and disinterested in them. I was able to share the best news with them that God loves them and isn’t far and the Bible teaches that God is pursuing them. Our reason for going to New York City is to bring this message of hope to people who are spiritually distant from God.
Most people move to New York City because one of three things: Fame, Fortune, or Family. In most cases, these reasons are at odds with the purpose for which they were created. In many cases, they’re doing their best to live their life in the best way they know how, they just have never been introduced to Jesus. They’re trying their best but simply just don’t know. Paul speaks of this in Romans 10:
14How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.
We are grateful to have been called to go to those who are spiritually distant and desperately need to hear the Good News that God loves them and is pursuing a love relationship with them. We can’t do this alone and need your help!
Throughout the New Testament we see that individuals financially partnered with Jesus, Paul, and others who proclaimed that the Kingdom of God was near. We are in need of financial partners who are willing to invest monthly in the work God is leading us to do.
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