Making Disciples and obeying the Great Commission is my top priority while I’m living in NYC for missionary training. Before arriving at EQUIP, my idea of cross cultural missions was the more traditional understanding of being prepared to bring the gospel to an unreached people group in a foreign land. However, serving in New York City has brought about a shift in my point of view of what it looks like to reach the nations by making disciples among diaspora.
Entering New York City can be a huge culture shock as one is confronted with hundreds of diaspora people groups from around the world. These diaspora people groups are movements of specific populations from their homelands to a foreign place of residence for various reasons. Many of these diaspora are coming from areas of the world where the gospel has not yet taken root. This gives us a great opportunity to reach them and start making disciples.
Make Disciples Among Diaspora People
The nations have literally arrived at our doorstep! It feels strikingly similar to stepping foot onto foreign soil. I was shocked my first day here in New York when I counted seven different languages within the first 30 minutes of walking down the street, not to mention multiple other languages that I couldn’t identify. In my neighborhood alone, one corner of the street houses a Latino bodega that sells fresh fruit and vegetables, an Albanian meat market is located on the opposite corner and a Chinese family runs a fish stand less than half a block away. For the most part, you can get by speaking English, as many of these diaspora people groups have lived here for years, but every once in a while, English simply doesn’t suffice.
According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 51% of New Yorkers speak only English at home. The rest of the population speaks any of the other 800 spoken languages that exist within the five boroughs. Along with the different languages and cultural expressions, diaspora people groups also bring their different religious expressions. This opens up the opportunity for spiritual conversations where deep relationships can be built, the gospel can be shared giving us the opportunity to be making disciples!
Broaden the Vision of Making Disciples
Through EQUIP, the Lord has broadened my vision of what making disciples among diaspora people looks like. He is showing me the advantages of serving in an international urban context among diaspora people groups. The Lord desires to reach every nation and has commissioned us to do so. He has welcomed us into His plan of reconciling the world to Himself through His Son. Nothing could be more exciting!
Not only should we be focused on bringing the Good News to areas of the world where it doesn’t exist, but we should also be making disciples with diaspora people who voluntarily come to us.