A couple months back I attended a pretty swanky affair at the United Nations. Most of the attendees were either very wealthy, accomplished, popular, or all three! Seriously, George Soros' son was walking around, so to Meryl Davis, and many others. It's not clear why they let me in...
Nonetheless, in a room with smart, rich, young people, I had a notion that I'd be hard pressed to find anyone wanting to talk about faith in God. After all, if you read the reports, those are precisely the factors with a high propensity for disinterest in religion. Boy was I wrong.
I wasn't there a full day when I started to hear conversations about God. In fact, that first night on my walk back from dinner, I ended up having an hour long conversation with a mildly practicing Jewish woman about Jesus. It was remarkable and had me literally choked up to tears.
Night two, I spoke with the leader of a major movement in Mexico--this guy literally has a million people following him on social media and in other places. I asked him what drives him and was floored when he replied that it's when he's ministering to people, that's where he meet's Jesus. Again. Ryan. Choked. Up.
A Saturday evening soiree I stopped by was called "Shabbat Unplugged." I had no idea what it meant, but as soon as I entered I was greeted with a blessing by a woman who seemed to be the host. In the hour or so event, the hosts of the event, a husband and wife duo, stood on a couch and the husband prayed over the wife. We all raised our hands to pray with them. They broke bread and then passed it around the room to the 100 in attendance. A guy jumped up and recited an amazing poem. If I didn't know any better, I'd have thought I was in a lively church fellowship and worship session right there in Trump Plaza!
There was a special breakout session specifically to explore religion and how the world religions could get along. I thought I'd be one of a few to show up, again, wrong, it was standing room only. At lunch I sat with a table with a Hindu, Atheist, Universalist, and some other kind of -ist. To start the discussion, we prayed in four different traditions.
What really blew me away though, was a series of questions they asked the crowd. First, raise your hand if you identify with only one religion. Only about 25% of the hands went up. Then, they asked, raise your hand if you have had some experience with "the other" that you cannot explain, but which is central to your faith. Almost every hand went up!
People are being touched by God, that much is clear. They just don't know what to make of it, that sense that there is something bigger doesn't easily line up with what they see as the available options of religion around them.
Now I was soaring high, really sensing God move in and through this crowd. Why wouldn't He, for Scripture says in Proverbs 21 that God controls the kings of this world.
It kept growing, the reality that God and faith and Jesus were all around New York City and among this group. One night, on a yacht sailing around the Harbor, I got to talking with a wealth adviser from California. I don't remember how faith came up, but when it did she revealed to me that she was beginning to get inquiries from her clients about how faith should be factored into their finances. She was uncertain about how to respond, especially since some of them feared an "end of the world" scenario, and so I offered to be of counsel to her anytime.
Another guy I met raved about his start-up, and how it enables people to find each other to do service projects much easier. Curious, I asked him what drove his vision for the whole thing. He leaned in and he told me that, secretly, it was a vision from God, and that he'd love to tell me more if we could set up a call for a week later.
This was all a great encouragement to me, and also, with it there was a real weightiness. The realization that in this world there is not a battle against flesh and blood but against principalities of evil. Realizing that where there is good, there is an enemy that seeks to destroy and to devour around every corner. How will people come to know these truths?
In the days after the event, I got a flurry of emails from folks I had met who intended to keep in touch. One such email included a hint about the faith that sustained the sender, a young man. I checked his LinkedIn profile for clues, and then when I replied that I was a believer, and was praying for God to use me for the good of this group, I was quickly introduced to a handful of others who had found each other and were already praying and planning seeking to serve the community with grace and truth.
In closing, I'll tell you about a documentary film maker I met at the event. A super personable guy, we hit it off and he beamed about how he had shot 19 videos, that we set to air on a major network about this movement. His job was to capture it and tell the story. I replied to him that there was an unseen current beneath this movement that he has to capture, and that is the faith of these people, and the very hand of God. Just then someone got up in front of the room to pray.