Bryant Park is a famous green space, 1 avenue wide by 2 blocks high, in the center of Midtown Manhattan, that is filled with lunch time diners grabbing a bite outside in the sun before returning to offices for the rest of their work day. I (Sam) meet disciples often their for lunchtime appointments, but one day I was reading a book for seminary when I was approached by who I perceived to be a professional photographer. I would soon find out that Brandon had created a world renowned photo-project called Humans of New York, which has now been turned into beautiful coffee table books and social media accounts followed by tens of millions of followers. Brandon considers himself a story-teller who just wants to tell the story of different humans across the city. He publishes their photo along with their story on his social media account each day and millions of people view it, and tens of thousands of people like or comment on the post. He has tapped into humanity’s need to know people even if only in an artificial way through social media.
Brandon began to interview me for his project, asking me questions about the book I was reading as he was kneeling to get different angles of the portrait he was taking of me. He knew enough about Christianity, and the book I was reading, to know I was in seminary, and he asked be about how I decided to do that. I was able to share about my upbringing in a Jewish home and how I met Jesus in college which totally changed my trajectory of medical school to now being halfway through a degree in Biblical studies. I was able to share about how it was the Biology professor, my freshman year, who underlined how science both explains the many natural phenomenon that we see in nature, and yet still leaves the scientist with unknowns on the origin of the universe, that allowed me to explore what Christianity said about meaning and purpose. How Jesus accepted me, with all of my failings, because of his sacrifice on the cross. How God and Jesus had always designed for salvation to come from the Jews in Jesus, and at Pentecost be spread to the whole world as Gentiles were welcomes in.
Brandon and I had a great conversation that day that lasted over 30 min. I learned a lot about him too: he had a Christian conversion experience in high school that he now calls emotional manipulation, he is married and his wife attends church, but he will not let their new-born daughter go to church for fear of her being manipulated, and how he found my story compelling. Brandon was a storyteller who found many peoples stories compelling, and yet could not be compelled by the truest story of all time, that of Jesus on the cross.
In the end, he has not yet published my story on his different social media outlets, but I do think a friendship was started. Pray that we might be able to deepen this friendship, and that He may be compelled by Jesus to know God and walk with Him daily.