New York is recognized all over the world by many names; some call it “The Big Apple”, others “the city that never sleeps” or the “world’s capital”. The truth is that when you hear these things your mind may be overloaded by many thoughts; good and bad ones. New York is a place where it is hard to find tranquility. When thinking of NY I often tend to meditate on the word “hard”, because I believe that that is where God often meets us.
I have been living in New York for nine months. Although this is my third time in the city, I had many prejudices before coming here, which I suppose is completely normal. When I got here the first thing I did was look for a church that was based on my beliefs. I never thought that I was going to find a house, yes a house, where they opened the gates to me and where I would feel the living presence of God’s son, Jesus.
That house that I am talking about is located in Manhattan. It is a place, a space, a house called Hillsong. Its slogan is “Welcome home.” Here they follow Jesus, they love people and there is room for everyone.
The first time that I visited I saw a big sign that read, “Welcome home”. That moment I received the message as if it had been spoken directly to me. Today, after nine months I can tell you that I was not wrong and that I have had some of the most wonderful experiences of my life at this church.
I want you to know that I gave this story a lot of thought before sharing it because, in reality, I do not want to sound like a fanatic. It is not just about Hillsong or any church; I just want to tell you about my experience there and the relationship that I have had with my God who is also your God.
I want to talk about the fact that we can gain tranquility no matter the place, the circumstances, or whatever you are going through. If you seek God, he will give you things that no one can ever match.
The things that God is capable of doing are so big and wonderful that he does not have any limits, or languages, or colors that can stop His message.
In Hillsong NYC, thousands of people attend looking for services. People from all regions and cultures: Americans, Europeans, Latinos, Asians, etc. I love to see this mingling of cultures, but above anything else, I am surprised by how they attend massively to listen to God’s message.
Carl Lentz is the lead Pastor of Hillsong NYC. He was born in Virginia, United States and his wife Laura Lentz was born in Australia, the place where the church’s main campus was established.
Preachers Carl and Laura are a young couple and parents of three beautiful children. Carl’s sermons are passionate and powerful. He is a man that exudes faith and expresses himself with passion. The truth is that I am continually amazed at how God uses him to deliver His message.
One of the things that Pastor Carl always emphasizes in his preaching is that “God is not religion, God wants you to have a daily relationship with Him”.
Something that also attracted my attention about Hillsong is the way in which they praise God. They have a worldly recognized band in which the lyrics of the songs are composed by their own musicians. In the New York house they also have various musical groups and let me tell you that Venezuela is represented since Will Mora, a Venezuelan and member of the local group, sings on the worship team. Well done Will!
Among the multiple ministries that Hillsong Nyc has, there is one that stole my heart. A ministry named City Hope that has a “Street Team”, that regularly goes onto the streets of Nyc and offers help and hope to the homeless. A team where I personally was blessed to serve as a volunteer.
The Street Team is composed of 10 to 20 people, whose purpose is to go out into the streets with the purpose of reaching indigents and the poor to give them food, clothing, and the most importantly, to give them a smile and to remind them that God loves them.
It is surprising how you can see a homeless person on almost every corner of Manhattan; on the train, on the streets, virtually anywhere. However, being able to talk to these people and learn their stories has been an amazing experience.
Hillsong also has a team that specializes in translating their messages into Spanish (Hillsong translation), a team that is available for the morning services. If you are Venezuelan or Latino and you need it, then “Welcome Home.”
“What Jesus is, a place where Christ’s body and the people gather, and definitely a place where grace is available forever.”
– Pastor Nathan Finochio
“My house, a place for the family, and definitely a place that brings hope.”
– City Hope’s Leader
“A place where I feel the presence of Jesus close to me, a place where God is praised in a special way, and lastly I think that it is a place full of love.”