When Yining Nie arrived in New York City to study linguistics in her doctoral program, she was ready to learn and grow in her field. She jumped in headfirst, working and studying hard to accomplish her academic goals.

Isolation and loneliness soon set in. Not abnormal for New York City, busyness and isolation is common in the hustle and bustle of city life. Connecting with others takes great effort and intentionality. Most everyone is busy, and it’s difficult to enter into others’ lives. Nie realized this truth and began to search for connection, even in the hectic days of teaching and studying.

A Christian since her teenage years, Nie had rarely felt close to God. Then she discovered ResLife NYC (Resurrection Life Church), located in the city’s Upper East Side. She began attending and got involved in leading both a life group and a discipleship group, recognizing that community with other Christians is important to spiritual growth.

The last year has brought challenges to many people, churches and communities. ResLife NYC is no exception. Reverends Branden and Jenn Petersen, ResLife NYC co-pastors, have remained committed to fostering discipleship and hospitality in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Hospitality matters because people matter,” said Jenn. “In her book, ‘Making Room,’ Christine Pohl describes a place of hospitality being a place where life is celebrated, where the discipline of celebration has become a habit of the heart. Yet it’s also a place where the pain, disappointment and sadness of life is welcomed. This is the goal of hospitality at ResLifeNYC: to make room for celebration and sadness. We can bring it all.”

Jenn shared further how ResLife NYC has welcomed folks into their church family and how they’ve continued to encourage others in their difficult circumstances.

“We have definitely been mindful about welcoming and how to best love our neighbor. Throughout the pandemic, we have intentionally listened to our healthcare workers, following their advice, caring for and praying for them. They were hit hard in the early days of the pandemic here in the city; it was quite traumatic. We moved our services online for eight months in order to love our neighbors well by staying home.

“For those who were able and healthy to serve, we continued buying and delivering groceries, providing pastries and coffee to healthcare workers, praying regularly and meeting in small groups online. Once it was safe to re-gather, we invited those who were healthy and comfortable to gather in person again, while still keep online services open for those who are unable to attend.”

Editor’s note: Since the production of the video, Nie defended her dissertation (all over Zoom!) She recently moved to Berlin, Germany, to work in a post-doctoral position and has continued to serve and lead with Resurrection Life NYC from afar as director of discipleship.

This video was filmed before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States.