Following God to New York City

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Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve watched all the Spider-Man movies, The Devil Wears Prada and all those other cool movies that take place in New York City.

I remember telling my parents someday I was going to move to the Big Apple and just be cool. Of course, they laughed, and I would laugh at myself, too. I always dreamed of moving to the city and living a successful life. But now, I find myself living in New York City, a place where it’s so easy to see lavish displays of wealth and such hideous depths of poverty.  

leilani nyc 200Leilani Estrada-ColimaBut I did not come here to live a “successful” life. I came but to live as a servant of Jesus Christ.  

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to do missionary work in New York through Go Now Missions. I spent two months living in Queens and served at a Hispanic church in the neighborhood in Corona.

Now, I’m back, working at the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association as office administrator. God has shown me his grace and mercy and also given me wisdom as I work in this ministry.  

New York City is a special place to be. When people think of New York City, they think of glamour, blinding lights, wealth, fashion and money. And yes, that can be true. But did you know that each year, about 17,500 individuals are brought into the United States and held against their will as victims of sex trafficking, and a lot of those victims are here in New York?

Did you know that there are more than 800 languages spoken in New York City?  Did you know more the vast majority of the people in New York do not have a personal relationship with Christ?

Metropolitan New York Baptist Association is a family of churches of diverse sizes, ethnicities, languages and contexts that cooperate together to make disciples of all people. These churches meet in apartments, public schools, warehouses, renovated office space, rented facilities and various church buildings in a 75-mile radius from Times Square, in a region of 22 million people.  

Our churches range in size from a handful of people to thousands of members. We worship in more than 20 languages. We are committed to offering all people the most culturally appropriate expression of a New Testament church.

Our passion is to present the gospel of Jesus to every person in the New York City Metropolitan Area and to transform communities through Christ’s life-changing power.  

As long as I can remember, one of the most popular Bible verse that I’ve heard sermons about is “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).  

I used to think it meant that if I was a “good girl,” God would make my dreams come true—such as moving to New York, having a successful life, raising a family, driving a nice car, provided I kept going to church every Sunday. But now, I have come to interpret this verse in a total different way. I have learned that as I walk with God daily, the Lord changes my plans into his plans.

By no means am I living out the life I always dreamed of living. Instead, God is changing the desires of my heart and making them his own—and that is the most beautiful place to be. 

Leilani Estrada-Colima, a recent graduate of the University of Texas Pan-Am, served in New York this summer with Go Now Missions and has returned to New York City to serve as a Go Now semester missionary with Metropolitan New York Baptist Association.

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