I think I fall more in love with New York City every day. As I go into my second week of visiting campuses and talking to students, I am continually amazed at all that God is doing in and through His people.
This past week has been filled with a number of challenges and blessings. I didn’t realize how draining it would be to start and carry on conversations with new people each and every day, and by the time I’ve gotten to bible study or dinner after training in the morning and campus visits all day, I am completely worn out. By the time that Wednesday rolled around, I told my bible study that I felt a strong mix of both exhaustion and excitement about everything that God was doing. But the cool thing about this is that it constantly reminds me that I can’t rely on my own strength for any of this — the Lord has to be my constant source of energy and strength for me to continue to do what He has called me to do.
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.
“But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.”
The Bible talks about relying on the Lord time and time again, and in that is the promise from God himself that no matter what worldly problems and temptations play the counter-offensive, He will make us strong. This time spent in New York has made verses such as these so much more real to me, because I have watched as my team members and myself have boldly shared the gospel with people we had just met without fear of rejection or ridicule — and as someone who often fears a negative reaction from other people, I know that something as wonderful as this could only be the work of God.
One of the campuses that our ministry team visits often is Columbia University, and when I ask students what organizations are most prevalent on campus, most of them will list community service or activist organizations. I specifically remember one student telling me that when people on campus are passionate about something, they will stop at nothing to raise awareness and stake their claim on campus. All I could think was, “what if people were this passionate about Jesus?” They would have so much influence!
This city is filled with people who are passionate and ambitious and driven to change the world. God has began a great work in them, but if they never hear the gospel then it will all be in vain. I just can’t help but think that no matter how passionate these people are about social issues and community service, their hearts have to long for something greater than this.
One girl that I met last week is an international student from Holland, and she grew up in a family that didn’t acknowledge any type of religion. She said that now that she’s living in the United States where religion in general is more prevalent, she has started to ask herself what she believes. She told me that many times she feels this “blessed feeling” that she can’t explain. As we continued to talk, we asked her if she had ever heard that she could have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and she said no, no one had ever told her that. I wanted to cry, but I didn’t (special thanks to God’s strength right there), and we shared the gospel with her and explained that because Christ died and resurrected, our sins are forgiven and we can have a personal relationship with a holy God because of Jesus Christ. It was awesome, to say the least.
She didn’t decide that she wanted to accept Christ that day, but I know that a story as beautiful as the gospel doesn’t need my assistance to grow in someone’s heart and take hold of it. And when it does, that girl’s life will be forever changed.
Growing up in the south, it threw me for a loop that someone could grow up not hearing the gospel, but my conversations in New York have made this truth a bitter reality. God has people all over this city who are just waiting to know Him, and I am so thrilled to play even the smallest part in making this a reality.
Here’s to week 2, NYC!
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.”