Coming from the South, New York City was a huge culture shock. New York City has a population of 8 million +, when my hometown doesn't even reach close to 1 million. At first, I told myself there's no way I could live here. You don't even feel the freedom to breathe. But then it grew on me.
I am living in Manhattan and commute to Brooklyn where I have begun to work with Pastor Danny at Swerve Church. Bushwick is a neighborhood two square miles wide and home to 140,000 people. It is filled with art, culture and a great need for God. You learn very quickly that you are in their territory, which makes ministry here very relational. You have to have many lunches, conversations and meetings before they ask why you are even doing all three of those to begin with. You earn their trust and the right to speak. The flip side is: once you're in, you're in. People here don't go to church because their grandma wants them to, but because God is truly pulling them close to Him.
Our church has less than 10 members every Sunday. It requires so much patience, endurance and humility. I say this because it is so easy to get discouraged and even to judge because of how many broken people you see daily. We are called to make disciples of all nations, but God has brought the nations to us. The title of this blog is, "You WILL be hated" from Matthew 10:22. Jesus' name is not welcome in this city and neither are Christians. We are vastly outnumbered. But Ed Stetzer once said, "Megacities are not a headache; it’s a divine opportunity. We may feel overwhelmed by this surge of humanity—but God isn’t."
Stephy Soto is serving as a Go Now missionary in New York.