Acts 1:8: How one Southeastern student is reaching the nations in New York City
Lauren Pratt | August 26, 2019
When Brittany Hall imagined what fulfilling the Great Commission would look like, she never envisioned that reaching the nations would simply mean moving a few states north from her Alabama home.
After college, Hall went on a mission trip to Honduras, bringing her face-to-face with people who had never heard the gospel. With eyes wide open to the need for gospel proclamation among the unreached, Hall wondered how God was calling her to fulfill the Great Commission. Rather than move overseas, Hall moved to Queens, New York, a place she said had “more diversity than I had ever seen in one place before.”
When asked what a typical day is for her in her Jackson Heights neighborhood, she laughed. No such day exists in her world.
One part of her week involves working with a North American Mission Board church plant called Jackson Heights Community Church. Another part of her week involves working with a non-profit organization called Urban Nations Outreach (UNO), which partners with Jackson Heights Community Church to serve the South Asian community in Queens. UNO’s primary aim is to serve the Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx immigrant communities through various programs such as ESL and after school activities. Likewise, UNO also has two centers that serve the South Asian and West African communities.
“Brittany has been an instrumental part of Jackson Heights Community Church since the very beginning. She is a true servant who is willing to do whatever is needed,” said Adam Bishop, pastor of Jackson Heights Community Church.
The church meets on the second floor of Kabab King, a Pakistani restaurant owned by Muslims in a neighborhood where 167 languages are spoken. The congregation isn’t just serving the community externally; they are transforming lives spiritually. From a church meeting on the second floor of a South Asian restaurant, lives are being radically reunited to Christ through the power of the gospel and numerous answered prayers. It’s there that Hall is involved in leading worship, youth ministry and children’s ministry while also building relationships with Muslim women throughout the week.
Hall believes that relationships fuel gospel conversation and that part of following Jesus faithfully means being “someone who genuinely cares for other people.”
“There’s just so many situations where we have prayed and asked for God to intervene and he has, and because of that people are seeing there’s something to this and they’ve decided to follow Jesus out of a difficult situation where God has just really worked powerfully,” said Hall.
One such situation came through the near death of one of their church members last year. *Mateo, a 25-year-old who attended Jackson Heights Community Church, suddenly collapsed one day while boxing. His heart stopped beating for nearly eight minutes. Medics quickly rushed to the scene and revived him, but they were convinced that either way he would pass away or incur severe brain damage. His girlfriend, *Amita, was a Buddhist who had been interested in learning more about Christianity, but she had made no decision to follow Jesus.
All of that changed when she saw the Lord answer the prayers of the members of Jackson Heights Community Church.
Even though he was given only a one percent chance of survival, he gradually improved until the doctors started taking him off of life support. Miraculously, he was able to leave the hospital having suffered no brain damage.
This is a story that Hall recounts often because it was this act of God that led this Buddhist woman to faith in Christ.
Hall’s day-to-day is unpredictable but it’s a life that allows her to use her heart for the nations born out of the ministerial training she’s receiving at Southeastern.
“I would say every semester there’s been at least one class that I’ve drawn upon heavily in my ministry,” said Hall.
One of her classes involved a project that required her to analyze a specific people group. This gave her a simple way to meet with friends and ask cultural questions about religious belief, economics and politics. Hall said she sees how theological education has equipped her to better make disciples of women in her context and share the gospel well with those who are unfamiliar with Christianity.
“Working with South Asian cultures can be both exhilarating and, at times, challenging,” said Bishop. “Brittany has chosen to be a learner of these cultures and has shown them grace, love, and compassion as she serves the South Asian community of Jackson Heights.”
For Hall, part of being a faithful disciple means loving her immigrant neighbors with genuine compassion and care. She sees this care starts with meeting practical needs, such as homework help and helping fill out paperwork, which serve as a gateway to gospel conversation.
“It’s so easy to get in the Christian bubble and to live in Christian community,” said Hall. “It’s super comfortable, but I’m not convinced that that’s what God calls us to do – to live comfortably.”
In all of this, Hall has learned a crucial truth about the Christian life: “We’re called to live missionally every day of our Christ-following life.”
From our local community to the outermost parts of the world, Southeastern students and alumni are reaching people with the gospel by fulfilling the Great Commission. Using the model of Acts 1:8, we want to highlight these stories of how our Southeastern family is serving in North Carolina, North America and around the world. Acts 1:8 Stories create a collective and consistent way to tell the story of Southeastern, one person at a time. From local pastors to missionaries among the unreached, God is doing a great work among students and alumni. Where are they now and where are they going? We can’t wait for you to find out!