A spirit of community

by Captains Danielle and Yuco Hall

One of the many things that make New York City unique is that it is a cultural melting pot. From Washington Heights to Forest Hills and every neighborhood in between, one can see the many cultural influences that thread NYC’s beautiful tapestry.

In the Fall of 2022, this tapestry grew even more significant when thousands of families from various countries in South and Central America became new neighbors in the Times Square community. Many came here seeking a better life for themselves and their children. They made sacrifices and journeyed difficult paths to make it here safely. Yet, upon arriving at their new home, many needed clothing, food, and community.

People from our church, the Times Square Corps, met with many of these neighbors who sought social services. Many of them live in hotels just blocks from our building. Through conversations, we built a rapport with them and extended an invitation to visit on Sundays and participate in our weekly programs.

Sometimes when serving others, it is easy for the process to become impersonal.

So, we have tried our best to come along- side every person who walks into our building, and invite them to become part of our church family. Many church members who have been here a while have come alongside our new members. They have built personal relationships with them.

Arriving in a new country, learning a new language, and way of doing things can be challenging for our new neighbors. Nonetheless, many who crave normalcy have made genuine friendships, and now lead lives with comfortable routines.

We would like to believe that we are a part of the routine enjoyed by many people who come to our church weekly. So many have become part of our family through our Kids Program, Bible Study & Adult Ministries Groups, and Sunday afternoon meetings. We serve homecooked meals twice a week when all of us sit around a table and enjoy each other’s company.

As the scripture reads, “Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there,” — Matthew 18:20 (MSG).

A beautiful part about the community we have nurtured is that we are a family that cares for each other. When a member is in crisis, people will check up, call, and bring food to him or her. When members need someone to a walk them home to feel safe, a brother and sister in Christ will accompany them.

Jesus’ most significant ministry was that of being present. When walking with the Holy Spirit, His presence is evident daily. We meet people where they are, when they get coffee, celebrate a birthday, or just converse about their day. We also meet their most practical needs, such as clothing, food, and community. No one likes to be alone. Everyone needs community.

Many of our new members come from a religious background that was restrictive and legalistic. Some have escaped cult worship and street gangs. Today, they are enjoying a completely new experience with the Church and their relationship with the Lord.

They are learning new things about the Bible. For instance, as a Christian, it is okay to dance. They are experiencing a new level of personal religious freedom, which has built a closer bond as a church family and unit. We are all learning, discovering, and growing together. We can support each other in our personal journeys with the Lord.

“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” — Romans 12:4-5

Captains Danielle and Yuco Hall are leaders of The Salvation Army Times Square Corps in New York City.

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