It’s hard to believe that the New York portion of City Project is over. It flew by even faster than I had anticipated it would! It was my first time in NYC, and it exceeded my expectations in pretty much every way. During the week, we spent a lot of time going to different places (Jackson Heights, La Guardia community college, Jamaica, etc.) and just talking to people. Our goal was to go out and share the gospel, and hopefully find people who were interested in learning more. We also just got to love on people.
I was able to share the gospel with several people, along with a group of 4 other students, and got to pray with a few of them. God was so faithful in placing the right people in our path and giving us the courage to talk with them. Their responses varied from listening and asking questions about the Bible with genuine interest, to asking me why I wanted to go to hell (because I don’t follow Allah). Each of these experiences revealed things about God and about my relationship with him. Some people were humbling, others were incredibly encouraging, and still others reminded me just how important it is for me to depend on God.
I won’t spend too much time going over all of the specific experiences, because that would take a long time, and I don’t think I could do them all justice if I tried. But there are two things that God really used to speak to my heart.
The first happened one night when we were in Jackson Heights. I was with another girl in a predominately Muslim community. Because of the culture we were in, we were encouraged to only initiate gospel conversations with women. This proved difficult, because by around 8:00pm, there were almost no women around unless they were with a man. At one point, Hannah and I just sat down at one end of an open plaza area and started praying for people that we could see…like ‘the man in the hat’ or the ‘girl in the green pants’. As we began praying for them, several of the guys came into our line of sight and started up conversations with the men there. We were then able to pray for these conversations as they happened, as well as for the bystanders. This is one of those moments where prayer seems so real and so relevant. God was allowing us to watch his work happen even while we prayed for it. It also served as a reminder that everyone plays a part. It didn’t matter that we were limited by being women; in fact, God showed us that we weren’t limited at all. He was using our prayer just as he was using the guys’ conversations. It was humbling, but also encouraging. Watching our brothers in Christ be used by God was something that I don’t think many of us often get to see so clearly. As we sat and prayed, a couple of other girls joined us, and that too was encouraging. Seeing college women so willing to sit and pray-as opposed to giving up or being frustrated because we couldn’t talk to many people-was such a beautiful picture of what our family in Christ should be like. As I went through the rest of the week in New York there were many times when conversations ended badly, or people just refused to listen; but I kept going back to this night, and was able to use it as a reminder that even if I am not being seemingly successful, God is still working.
The second thing that really spoke to me isn’t a single event, but rather a series of events that reminded me how awesome God is. Most people know that I am studying Spanish. I’m not quite fluent in the language, but I love speaking it, and I have been searching for a way to use it more. I was hoping to study abroad in Ecuador this fall, but God didn’t give me peace about the situation. This frustrated me because I felt like I needed to be fluent to really use Spanish for anything significant. God chose to bless me in New York though. On Monday, we went into a restaurant to grab lunch before going out and talking to people. The woman working the register had been speaking to the customer before us in Spanish. After eating my lunch, I went back to the register and asked the woman if she would mind speaking Spanish with me. And just like that, the FIRST conversation God placed in front of me in NY was in SPANISH. As if that wasn’t enough, the lady ended up being from Ecuador, and was more than happy to tell me all about it. Later in the week, I met another woman from Ecuador, and was able to ask her questions about that, as well as briefly share the gospel with her. On the last morning, we took cabs to a different part of the city and our driver was a man named Bernardo. He turned out to already be a Christian, but couldn’t speak much English, and allowed me to talk about Jesus with him and pray for his sick mother (all in Spanish!). In each of these situations, I had no idea that the people I was coming into contact with were Spanish speaking people. I didn’t even think that the communities we were going into would have that much Spanish in them. Even though I felt like my Spanish was inadequate, God allowed me to use it for his glory. He affirmed my love of the language, and also showed me once again that he knows what he’s doing; and his plan is always better than my own. I don’t think I can put into words the joy he allowed me to experience during this time. He used so many different and amazing people to demonstrate his love and sovereignty. I think we were all humbled by the fact that such an incredible and mighty God would allow us to be used by him for his glory.
“Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified.” –Psalm 70:4