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Jon Lee

Jon Lee
Gotham Fellow G19

I’ll be honest, New York City was the last place in which I thought I’d end up. I grew up in the suburbs where it is quiet and slow. My first impressions of the city were that it was noisy, crowded, and smelly. For someone working in the biotechnology field, there aren’t that many jobs available in the city. I thought I would find a job in Boston or somewhere in California. Those opportunities never opened up. Only one job as an intern for a biotech startup located in Brooklyn was available. My initial strategy was to live in Brooklyn for a couple months and apply to full-time positions elsewhere. I’ve now been working as an engineer and scientist in Biotech for over 4 years in New York City. It’s funny how my opinion of the city has changed over the years, just as my opinions of Gotham changed before I applied.

At first, I had a very narrow-minded view of Gotham. I believed it was only for those who wished to further their knowledge of theology. It seemed like it was for a specific group of people, a characteristic that I didn’t have. In our church, it was very clear that there was a special community amongst Gotham fellows and alumni, however it felt incredibly exclusive. So, while I felt Gotham wasn’t right for me, I still wanted to be involved in our church community and serve those who are still trying to find the community within the church. One of my close friends at Redeemer mentioned that he was applying. I felt like for a driven person like him Gotham made a lot of sense, but not for me.

Then I spoke with two Gotham alumni who highly recommended me to apply. Rather than promoting Gotham’s in-depth theology teachings, they both mentioned that Gotham really shifts your perspective on everyday life. I realized that the two of them had a thankful perspective in their life and viewed the world in a different lens. Furthermore, they also mentioned how Gotham’s real intention is to apply the Gospel and teachings into our vocations, something that attracted me to the program. I still had some hesitations about the program --  I anticipated most of the teachings would again cater to those in the most common vocations such as finance and law. Yet, their perception on everyday life attracted me to the program despite these doubts.

When I was accepted into Gotham, I really struggled deciding whether to commit to the 9 month program. At the time, I was ushering, leading CG, attending a men’s group, and organizing an annual ski trip for Redeemer congregants. I knew I would have to drop several of my commitments in order to fully experience Gotham, but in my heart, I feared I was letting people down. I prayed and discussed with my friends about whether Gotham was right for me. In the end, I decided to go forward with Gotham and trust that God would provide in areas where I would be stepping down. God surprised me in many ways. I moved into an apartment with one of my close friends. He and another friend were willing to lead my old CG. When planning for the ski trip, many of my friends helped organize and take partial ownership of the logistics which lightened my load. Looking back, I knew I made the right choice and God was guiding me all along.

Gotham has truly surprised me over the last 7 months. I have grown with an incredible community and continue to learn new parts of our faith that I have never considered. The encouragement and sharing of burdens within our cohort gives me courage and motivation to seek God for handling my career and life. I’ve reflected on my life and discovered just how involved God was in shaping my career. I’ve became more thankful for simple blessings God had bestowed upon me. I feel more blessed to be surrounded by Christian and non-Christian colleagues who continue to mentor me and grow me professionally. My cohort taught my aspects of our faith that increased my sense of beauty and wonder of God. Finally, Gotham revealed the Gospel in a new light where I feel proud to identify with Christ.

Some people see Gotham and are intimidated by the commitment and intensity of the program. My advice for anyone who is still on the fence about the program is to do the application questions. They are a great way to reflect on your spiritual journey and to analyze the brokenness within your vocation. From there, pray to God about the questions you answered to see if you need to dig deeper. If you choose to do Gotham and God blesses you with this opportunity, I believe it will be one of the most life-giving, encouraging, and growth you can experience as a Christian living in New York City.

We are now accepting applications for Gotham Class of 2020. To learn more, visit

What is a "CG" (that you were leading)? What has changed in your opinion of NYC (from noisy/crowded/smelly)? Did the Gotham program/experience change your perceptions, or your gratitude level for NYC? I enjoyed your article. Thank you for sharing. One of my siblings is applying. Looks like a fun and profitable opportunity. Blessings to you in Immanuel's name!
Cole | 04.18.19 | 01:11 am
Interested in know more about the Gotham fellowship 2020
Martin Mbugua Kung'u | 04.13.20 | 01:14 pm
Interested in know more about the Gotham fellowship 2020
Martin Mbugua Kung'u | 04.13.20 | 01:14 pm