“Profile of a Protagonist” is a recurring blog post with the goal of allowing readers to hear how fellow saints engage in the Gospel and see God’s love lived out.
Meet Steven Cruz!
Tell me a little about yourself:
My name is Steven Cruz. I am an Inwood native, and a newlywed. I recently graduated with a Masters in Accounting and am currently working for Deloitte Tax, while also serving the youth in my community by volunteering as a basketball coach. I have a tremendous passion for Uptown and desire to open up my own restaurant alongside one of my best friends.
How do you see God in this city?
There’s not a day that goes by that I do not stop and say hi to someone in the streets of Uptown. My wife frequently asks, “How many people are you going to say hi to?” I don’t have to know their names for them to be considered my friends. In Uptown we are all naturally friends. Whether I know you from playing basketball, old classmate, neighbor, or just a regular Uptown native, you are considered “mi pana” or "my brother". For me, the unity that exists in Uptown and the relationships that are built over the years reflect the love that God has for us and the love He calls us to have for others. Even with all of our flaws and differences, my city has a way of looking past that and “spreading love. It’s the Uptown way”.
How you use your crafts in the city for God?
Because I am well known in my neighborhood, I decided to give back to the youth and the organizations that helped shape me into the man I have become. Recently I volunteered by coaching at an organization called Manhattan Bible Church Youth Basketball (MBCY). Over the last year as a coach for MBCY, I have been able to build great friendships with a lot of the youth in my neighborhood. Coaching those kids has given me so much life! I look forward to coaching them every week. Now that the MBCY season has ended, I have started coaching for another home team, which I myself used to play for as a kid. I love God and I love the game of basketball, so doing this with the youth in this city is a win no matter what.
How has NYC specifically impacted your walk with Christ?
Once upon a time, my dream was to move out of the “hood.” I measured success by how far away from NYC or the “hood” I could move. After being saved and becoming invested in both my walk with Jesus and in my church, I began to realize the sin in my heart. I desired to live a comfortable life alongside my wife and kids with a beautiful green lawn, free of any danger that my family could experience. That to me was the meaning of success, but is it? My desire to live a comfortable life drifted me further away from the Gospel of Jesus. I was failing to use the relationships I had here to share the good news of Jesus. Today, I no longer desire nor measure success in those ways. My hope is to see Uptown transformed by the hope that transformed me.