Many people say that New York City is a diverse international city. Everyone comes to NY from everywhere. Some employ the overused phrase of “melting pot.”
Have you ever heard someone say this? Before coming to the city, I envisioned this overused statement to be true. Everyone said it…from the preacher to the know-it-all neighbor boy. Everyone knew that NYC was one great, big pot full of circulating culture and religion, all mixing together. I thought that there would be little separation between cultures; everyone coming here to work hard and make a better life. I assumed that if a house church were to be planted in a neighborhood, anyone who was interested would show up. But hearing people talk about NYC when they haven’t experienced it and getting to know the real NYC by living here are two completely different things.
NYC is not a melted together in the sense that everyone is all jumbled happily together. No, it is a city of multiple cultures and flavors; a place where many cultures come and without necessarily merging with other cultures. The definition of diaspora, at least according to Webster’s Dictionary, is: a group of people who live outside the area in which they had lived for a long time or in which their ancestors lived. Although these different people-groups now live near to each other, they have stayed true to their roots, and in some cases, little to no merging has actually occurred.
Last week we celebrated Easter. My husband and I were given the unique opportunity to host church in our home. Now, you must know that racism is prevalent in NYC. So many cultures crammed together in one place has to lead to some tension. NYC is full of immigrants, and other countries don’t pound equality into the heads of their citizens like the United States attempts to do. So, many people come to the city with preconceived ideas about other races and cultures. Besides the joy of being able to share the resurrection of Christ with believers and unbelievers, there was also much excitement that came from seeing so many cultures in one NYC apartment. In our experience here, a lot of white races (Serbian, Albanian, Russian) don’t associate very often with non-White cultures, but on Easter, racism was not an issue. In our home we catered to Chinese, Albanian, Spanish, Black Europeans, Caucasian, and various “mixed raced.” individuals. Although not all were believers, it was a beautiful thing to see that all people can be brought together to hear the story of the Resurrection.
NYC is a collection of cultures and of people attempting to maintain their own way of life. Each neighborhood has a unique feel to it, because they are all different, whether it is a strictly Albanian community or an Arabic community. Our first prayer is that Christ will reach the hearts of the unreached, but another prayer would be to see unity between His people, all joined together in worship of His name.