In October I was fortunate to have a month-long sabbatical. I am grateful for the grace that my church gave to me to allow me this time to step away. Part of that time was spent in New York City as part of the pursuit of my Doctor of Ministry. This sabbatical time allowed me to make significant progress, and I am deeply grateful.
You can read Part 1 of this series HERE.
#2 – The gospel is reaching the nations through first-generation immigrants in astounding and deeply encouraging ways! I met Silvanus in Queens. From Nepal, like his family for generations, he was Hindu. As a teenager, his questions about the afterlife went unanswered by his grandmother who was a local priestess. He came across a gospel tract and responded by mail to the invitation to learn more about Jesus. Through the mail, he walked through a correspondence Bible study and came to faith in Christ. Conversion was costly for him. He was cast out of his family and would eventually immigrate to the United States. The Lord has given him a new family as he has planted a church among Nepalese immigrants in New York City. The difficult work is made more complicated by a caste system that has been transported to the United States with Christians considered “untouchable,” the lowest of the low. Yet Silvanus’ burden to see his people come to faith in Jesus is stronger than the burden of the task. In Nepal, 98.5% of the people do not know Jesus. Why is Silvanus here and not there? The answer is astounding and encouraging. Silvanus has found that reaching 1 Nepalese person in the US will lead to 8 Nepalese overseas coming to faith in Jesus! Christianity is growing at a rate of 286% in Nepal.
The story was the same for Plinio, a church planter from Argentina. In Spanish and broken English, he described his church of Latin American immigrants as a “missionary church.” Despite their low income and low status in the United States, they have planted two churches in Argentina, sponsor a church in Venezuela, are revitalizing a church in Paraguay, and have missionaries working in China and Spain. Latin America is being evangelized through first and second-generation immigrants in the United States!
This is not just happening in New York City. Global Gates is a mission organization founded by former Southern Baptist missionaries devoted to calling attention to unreached people groups in United States cities. Co-founder, Chris Clayman, shared his remarkable story of sacrifice and survival, and his current work in helping local American churches become aware of how the nations of the world are moving near them through global migration. He created UPG North America to help American Christians discover unreached people near them.
In the next ten years, being a foreign missionary will not necessarily require a passport or even a new address. It will require seeing who the Lord has brought across town or across the street. It will require a local church like ours raising up and training missionaries to move to a new apartment not just to a new country. The gospel is going to the nations even as the nations are coming to us!
Columbus Avenue Impact: I envision a time when we have identified unreached people groups in our own city and in the major metropolitan areas that surround us (Houston, DFW, Austin). I see us praying intentionally and passionately for the gospel to be planted in those people groups, and I see us deploying missionaries to engage them. I can see “Columbus on every continent” without ever leaving Texas.
#3 – Yankees aren’t so rude after all! They are actually quite pleasant to talk with, even when you meet them on the streets. Growing up, all I heard was how rude and standoffish “those Yankees” are…and they weren’t talking about baseball fans! Much to my surprise, I found “those Yankees” to be warm and very helpful once I engaged them in conversation. One twenty-something lady asked me my impressions of the people since this was my first time in New York City. I shared my pleasant surprise. To this, she replied, “I’ve only known one other Southerner, but I have found you not to be nearly as pretentious and arrogant as I assumed you would be.” Touché! I guess we all have room to grow, and the best way to do so is to have an actual conversation. Let that be the challenge for today. Engage someone new in conversation and see how your own assumptions about them might need to change.