Lord, use me to share Your love today!”
During my month in New York City for the NY13 Mission to the Cities urban initiative, I joined NYC subway commuters as I traveled into the city. One day I sat next to a well-dressed stockbroker heading to his office in a Manhattan skyscraper.
To make a connection of some sort, I asked for directions.
After telling me where to get off, he asked, “So what brings you to New York City? What are you doing here?” A conversation began.
How did Jesus go about meeting His neighbors, making friends, and mingling?
Matthew 9:35-38 gives us a look into Christ’s motives and an effective strategy to meet and engage with our urban neighbors. “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest’ ” (NKJV).*
Jesus met His neighbors by just being with them. Simple.
Whether you meet a new friend on a subway or at the mall, or a coworker at the office, first think about whether you truly have Christ’s heart for those living and ministering to others in the city. City living can be lonely and isolating, or it can be the complete opposite, where one can be greatly connected to a thriving community and have deep, meaningful mutual relationships within it.
Our first steps should be just to take the time to develop true friendships, where we simply care for a new person in our life. As trust develops, a faith exchange can take place in which sharing the blessed hope found in Christ becomes a natural next step. And with the Lord’s help, it can go from there.
After the young stockbroker helped me with the maze of New York City’s subways, I answered his questions. I told him about our Life Hope Center (Urban Center of Influence) on 40th Avenue in Manhattan, and how we were offering practical lifestyle coaching for busy people.
“I’d like to learn more,” he said. “Do you have a business card?”
Unfortunately, I didn’t (and I really should have), but my new friend offered his instead and asked to stay in touch. His invitation was a direct answer to the prayer I’d prayed earlier. It was an opportunity to establish a deeper connection of friendship, just the way Jesus would have done it.
And you know what? It’s really not that difficult.
*Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Ernesto “Doug” Venn is director of the Global Mission Urban Center.