Some ethnic groups in North America have almost no exposure to the message of Jesus in a way they can understand. Nowhere is this reality more evident than in New York City, where the diversity and volume of peoples are overwhelming. Global Gates has recently updated a list of the people groups who are most in need of gospel witness in Metro New York. The group is prioritized based on the status of Christian witness among these people groups worldwide, the global significance of a people group’s presence in Metro New York, the amount of Jesus followers among a people group, etc. Some people groups on the list, such as Bangladeshis and Palestinian Arabs, will be familiar to most Christians. Other groups, such as Gorsky-Kavkazi Jews and Soninke Muslims, not as much! Which group appears #1 on the list? See https://globalgates.info/get-involved/prayer/people-groups/.
Jesus is the Lord of the dance. That means He’s the dance instructor, DJ, has the first and last dance, and the authority and power to dance whenever, wherever, however, and with whomever He wants. He picks the music, can spontaneously drop some fresh beats, release a new hit remix or bust a breath-taking move at any time. The mission field is His dance floor, and we are the dancers.
Jesus did the perfect dance we all failed to do with His sinless life, sacrificial death, and resurrection. He died and rose again, so that people from every tongue, tribe and nation can join the dance and one day sing His praises before His throne (Revelation 7:9-10). This dance is sovereignly choreographed by heaven’s Composer, who is God over everyone and everything. He divinely wrote everyone’s story, mapped out all of their days (Psalm 139:16), and beautifully orchestrated the only path to salvation through His one and only Son Jesus Christ for all His elect before the beginning of time. He is so high above it all, which makes the fact that we are invited to join His dance so amazing.
The dance isn’t something our Instructor wants us to keep secret to ourselves. No, Jesus wants His dance floor to be filled by people from all over the world. As I previously alluded to, His song of salvation is for all peoples. The gospel is for everyone, which is why Jesus told us to go make disciples of every nation (Matthew 28:18-20).We don’t just do it because Christ commanded us to, but also because He did everything necessary to save us. When Jesus saved us He made us into new creations and gave us a new identity as ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). The Apostle Paul tells us that when Christ reconciled us to Himself He gave us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). The ministry of reconciliation is a message, and that message is the gospel. The gospel is only advanced by people when they obediently follow Christ’s command to go and tell.
I saw God’s redemptive plan to reconcile lost people at work in New York City when six folks from Mercy Church and myself partnered with an organization called Global Gates for one of its sifting weeks.
Some things that were abundantly clear during the course of the trip are: God is sovereign, Jesus saves, God wants and deserves all of the glory, Jesus is Lord of the dance, and God wants people to accept His invitation to join His dance. These things were manifested in the five salvation stories God in His grace and kindness let us be a part of. He did all the saving, while we acted as beggars helping other hungry and thirsty beggars find the bread of life (John 6:35) and living water (John 4:10, 13-14).
Global Gates gave us a list of addresses for homes to visit as we sifted for persons of peace. More importantly, though, we were told to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, go wherever He tells us to go and do whatever He tells us to do. Initially, our evangelistic efforts were largely met with rejection as we canvassed the designated addresses we were assigned. I believe this was God’s way of showing us that salvation is out of our control, because it belongs to the Lord and to Him alone. It forced us to lean into Him in dependence and prayer. John 15 tells us that apart from Him we can do nothing.
We then saw the power of the Holy Spirit to draw lost people to Christ in repentance and faith. It started on a sidewalk in Jamaica Queens when one of our team members approached a couple, Jerry and Marie, and their little girl, Sinara. He began by telling Jerry that his little girl was cute. That built instant rapport, and naturally led to a conversation. He told him, “We love this city, and that we are caring for the community by praying for people. We’d love to pray for you. Is there anything you need prayer for?” Jerry said yes, so we prayed for him right then and there. We then asked him if he felt near to God or far from God. Jerry said he had not been to church in a long time. We told him God still loved him, and proceeded to share the gospel with him and Marie. We told them what we just shared is the gospel, which means good news. It’s good news, because there’s bad news. We explained how sin separates us from God and condemns us to hell, how Jesus did everything necessary to save us and how God desires for us to be reconciled back to Himself. He wants to know us, be in relationship with us, and have us spend eternity with Him in heaven. We asked Jerry and Marie if they wanted that. They said yes. I was floored! So, we led them in a simple prayer as they gave their lives to Jesus.
After that it was time for dinner. We thought we were taking a respite, but the Lord of the harvest wasn’t ready for us to leave the field. We had some laboring left to do. Our team stopped by a restaurant called Mac Shack. It was evident our server, Christy, was struggling, lonely, overwhelmed by her circumstances and lost. One of the guys in our group shared the gospel with her. She prayed to receive Christ as Her Lord and Savior. When we checked on her the next day Christy said she was feeling more peace, and was thrilled when we later connected her with two women from a local church to begin her journey in getting discipled.
The message we were proclaiming was rejected the rest of the week until our final day in the city. Some of us had discussed the possibility of going to watch the New York Yankees play the Tampa Bay Rays, but we realized how little sleep we would get if we made the trip from our hotel in Queens to The Bronx for the baseball and back. Also, much to our surprise greater things were at stake in Brooklyn, where God had a divine appointment scheduled for us that we didn’t know of until we encountered it. We spent the afternoon in Manhattan bored to tears at The Museum of Modern Art. I’m convinced God was pacing us before He blew us away that night.
Our team enjoyed some authentic Italian cuisine for dinner at Juliana’s Pizza in Brooklyn. After we finished our meal it was dark, so we figured let’s check out a nearby pier close to the water, then go back to our hotel in Queens to get some sleep before we leave early the next morning. We thought our trip was over, but God had other plans.
As we approached the pier we discovered there was a “silent-disco party” taking place, so some of our folks started doing “the floss.” For those of you who might not know what the floss is, it’s a dance. Their flossing attracted the attention of two young women named Leanna and Natalie.
After everyone finished dancing, Leanna and Natalie wanted to know who we were and what we were doing in Brooklyn. When we told them we were on a mission trip to care for the community by praying for people we immediately had their attention. We told them we’d love to pray for them, and asked them if they needed prayer for anything. They said yes, so like we did with the others we prayed with them right then and there, and after we prayed we asked them if they felt near to God or far from God. It was clear they were lost and separated from their Creator, who wanted to be their Father too, so we shared the gospel with them.
I could tell they were searching. The Holy Spirit impressed upon me a sense of urgency to go after them. I remembered one of our pastors asking our congregation, “When is the last time you begged someone to give their life to Jesus?” Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:20, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
We applied this verse to a real life situation. As ambassadors for Christ, God was making His appeal to Leanna and Natalie through us, as we implored them on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God.
I told them God made them, wants to know them, has done everything through Jesus to save them, that He’s calling them, and I don’t know when they will ever get another opportunity like this again. So they surrendered to Christ right then and there with the silent disco in the background. We led them in a prayer as they asked Jesus to come into their lives and save them from their sins.
Leanna and Natalie came to dance, and we introduced them to the Lord of the dance. Salvation is beautiful, and it’s a miracle that should make us marvel in awe at the saving power and love of our risen Savior. Jesus is alive, and He saves. God can do anything, and use whoever and whatever He wants to accomplish His perfect sovereign plan – even a few people doing the floss. Jesus is calling, so join the dance and enter the mission field. The harvest is waiting, and the Lord is with you always, to the end of the age.
Hallelujah! All glory to God! For He alone is worthy!
– Ben, a Sifting Week Volunteer
If you’d like to be part of a Global Gates Sifting Week, send us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stephen Davey, a pastor in Wake Forest, a small town outside Raleigh, NC once preached a sermon where he asked, “What do you weep for?”
Christian, I want to ask you that same question … What do you weep for? What do you weep for? What breaks your heart? Or, to be more direct and specific, when is the last time you were moved to tears over someone’s lostness and where they are going to spend eternity if they don’t surrender to Christ and trust Him as Lord and Savior?
Psalm 126:5-6 says, “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”
I along with six other people from Mercy Church in Charlotte, NC recently returned from a short-term mission trip to New York City for a Sifting Week with Global Gates. Our team was in Jamaica Queens, which is among the most diverse places in the country when it comes to the vast array of nationalities, ethnicities, cultures and religions represented. God has brought the nations there, including a slew of unreached people groups.
The highlights of the week were how He so graciously let us be a part of five salvation stories. Yes, we saw five people give their lives to Jesus and go from death to life! Many other gospel seeds were planted. We’re trusting God to provide other laborers to water those seeds and continue the discipleship process with the new believers. As the Apostle Paul makes clear in 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, Only God can give the growth, and only He has the power to save. It’s our job to pray to the Lord of the harvest and to labor (See Luke 10:1-12). So, we had shouts of joy as we came home with our sheaves.
At the same time, it was the stories of rejection, lostness and separation from God that I can’t get out of my mind and weigh heavy on my heart. One in particular has brought me to tears multiple times while we were in NYC and since we have gotten back to Charlotte.
Early in the week we met a Muslim family. It was the month of Ramadan, so they were fasting from food and drink during the day and could only eat at night after the sun had set. They invited us into their home. We shared the Gospel with them, and then they had us break fast with them. This was a huge deal. We were complete strangers, and they had us join them for something that was sacred and intimate for them as a Muslim family. That’s true hospitality and kindness. It was a sacrifice for them to do that, especially with people they had just met.
That was a divine appointment, and by God’s grace He gave us the boldness to wade into it and we went after them with the love of Christ that compels us to pursue the lost. Like Pastor Rashard Barnes said several weeks ago during Mercy Church’s “Getting Started” series in his sermon on missions, sharing the Gospel is done by proclamation and demonstration. We proclaim by verbally telling others the Gospel message, and we demonstrate by living sacrificially and putting the needs of others before our own. They need to work in tandem.
We went back to that family’s home two more times. We listened to them share about Islam, and we read Gospel accounts to them from Mark and Luke. We did what friends do – spent time together. For our last meeting, we took them a gift and a letter to express our appreciation for their kindness and generosity. One of the family members even asked how he could repent and be saved, but wasn’t ready to believe when we told Him that Jesus is the only way to God (John 14:6). It was heartbreaking to not only see the lostness of our new friend and his family, but it was even more painful when he rejected the message that can save his life. The word of the cross, which is God’s power to us, was folly to him. I was moved to tears after we departed, but have hope that God isn’t finished writing my friend’s story. So, I’m going to believe God, who is able to do far more than I could ever ask or imagine, for my friend’s salvation.
Last week reminded me and the rest of our team that laboring is hard, but Christ is worth it. Pastor and theologian John Piper said, “Missions exists because worship does not.” Jesus is only worthy of our worship, because He has done everything necessary to save us through His perfect sinless life, death and resurrection. God offers salvation to all who accept the perfect gift of His Son.
Jesus commanded us to go and tell this good news and to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:16-20). We do that not only because Jesus commands us to do so, but also because He made us into new creations and when He did that we became ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). That means we take Jesus to whoever we meet and wherever we go. It’s our calling, because Jesus made it our identity when He purchased us with His finished work on the cross.
God made people, and He wants to know them. We were made to be in relationship with our Creator. The Gospel is for all peoples, and it should break our hearts when people don’t know Jesus or reject Him.
So, Christian, what do you weep for? The thought of lost people should break your heart. The harvest is great, but the laborers are few (Luke 10:2). We don’t have a harvest problem. We have a labor problem, and if you’re an ambassador of Christ that means you’re called to be a laborer, too. So, pray to the Lord of the harvest, and join His mission. The field is waiting.
Global Gates Sifting Volunteer
What is Global Gates all about? Dr. Timothy George, Founding Dean of Beeson Divinity School, interviewed Global Gates Executive Director, David Garrison, last month about Global Gates and the Great Commission challenge to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation, tribe, and tongue. Listen to this exciting interview on the Beeson Divinity School website here.
Chris Clayman is the Co-Founder of Global Gates (www.globalgates.info), a mission organization focused on reaching the ends of the earth through global gateway cities. He has been involved in pioneer church planting in urban and rural West Africa and New York City among unreached Muslim peoples. Chris is also the author of ethNYcity: The Nations, Tongues, and Faiths of Metropolitan New York (unreachednewyork.com). Chris lives with his wife Nichole and three children in New York City.
Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States with a combined population of 6.3 million residents in the Houston metropolitan area. With more than 90 languages spoken in Greater Houston, it is also one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities in the country. Global Gates is growing a team to serve the nations in Houston.