In the heart of Jackson Heights, Queens lies a small street block filled with vendors, restaurants and commuters running to and from work at all hours of the day. Buskers stand and watch as families try to persuade you to come inside their shop, if only for a second. The scene seems to be ever-changing, filled with new people every couple of seconds. But one thing stays the same: this is the most diverse block in the country.
Within this small neighborhood, over 160 languages are spoken, and people from every corner from the world now call Jackson Heights their home. Members of each religion, ethnic group, race and gender have found their place here. And they need to know the love of Jesus.
When I travelled to Jackson Heights last winter, I didn’t know what to expect. I prayed for boldness, and God delivered tenfold. Throughout the week, I shared Bangladeshi food with people who barely spoke English, prayer-walked through Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh temples, and sang in the middle of a crowded subway stop. I ate dinner with a Long Islander-Egyptian couple in the middle of Little Italy, and discussed current events with a former New York Times reporter in a small Mexican restaurant. It was eye-opening and challenging and so, so rewarding. It taught me so much about the world, myself, and God’s love for all of us.
If you’re considering going to New York City this winter, I challenge you to pray. Pray that this is where God wants you to serve. Pray that, if you do go, you have the boldness to get out of your comfort zone and do what you need to do. Pray that God uses you as a light to show his love to the people of Queens. You have the opportunity to reach the nations in one city block-- use it.
Sara Beth Bolin // @sbbolin