I “heart” NY. For those who know me, this is no big surprise. I really do love New York. I have been leading mission trips there for seven years now. So when Sally and I found ourselves with vouchers for two round trip plane tickets and two free nights at any Sheraton Hotel, it was a no-brainer for me. We headed to New York City.
I love the city, I love the parks, I love the food, I even love the taxis and subway. But most of all I really love the people. New Yorkers get a bad rep for being rude, but it simply is not true. Everyone we meet is friendly and eager to help. I don’t even experince that in my own neighborhood.
We had some unique experiences on this particular trip last week. We ran into Brooke Shields on 44th Street. I think she suspected we were paparazzi because as she walked by texting on her cell phone, I gently and quietly ask her if we could take a picture which sent her running down the street saying she was very late. Later we got to meet John Stamos (Uncle Jesse) and some other slightly famous people after watching them perform “Bye, Bye Birdie.” Then finally, on our last full day, we got to be in the audience for the David Letterman show, who’s one guest was President Barak Obama! That was crazy, to say the least.
But all of these unique, wild and crazy experiences pale in comparison to what happened Sunday. We slept in late (woohoo!!) and then headed to Brooklyn Tab for their noon service. After church, we headed to our favorite urban BBQ spot on 23rd Street and then back to the hotel. When we got off at 42nd Street we found ourselves in the middle of a MASSIVE crowd. I mean, it was monumental! It was like Rockin’ New Years Eve in Times Square in the middle of the day, in the middle of September. We couldn’t move. It was shoulder to shoulder for a far as the eye could see. Surely, something huge was going on. But here’s the cool part…it was a prayer service. That’s right! The 3rd annual Prayer in the Square was happening. Thousands upon thousands of people singing “Blessed Be the Name” and praying in the middle of Times Square. If you had told me back in ’78 when I attended Rockin’ New Years Eve on Times Square, with it’s seedy bars and strip clubs, that I would one day be worshiping Jesus along with thousands of other believers in the middle of Times Square in 2009, I would have laughed in your face. But it was true and it was truly amazing. As I stood there surrounded by the throng of worshipers, I thought, “This is just a tiny glimpse of what Heaven will be like.”
So, teaching moment #1: Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. So many Christians act like Jonah, writing off NY as being America’s Nineveh. They secretly pray that global warming will cause New York to become our own Atlantis. But God is at work there. He loves NYers more than I do. And I’m here to tell you I met thousands of New Yorkers that love Jesus as much as you do.