(As relayed by Lauren R.D. Fox based on a culmination of experiences)
Last year, I completed a domestic study abroad at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. The experience was superb and I learned a lot about the music industry. As everyone knows, New York City can be a tough place to make friends and I had a hard time meeting people. However, one day after walking around aimlessly in the campus bookstore, I met Leia.
Leia was a nice person but to be honest, something about her energy was off. She carried her Bible around wherever she went and during conversations she referred to it often; even when discussing something as small as the weather.
One day Leia asked me if I would like to attend her church and, although something told me to decline her invitation, I felt it would be rude to do so. Once I said yes, Leia began to spew information about her church’s history and told me once I stepped foot into her church’s sanctuary I would feel the presence of God.
Although I was weirded out by her church “pitch,” I couldn’t lie, I needed God more than ever during my time in New York. In the midst of keeping up with my school work, interning at a record label and going on unpredictable Tinder dates, I felt exhausted. I thought visiting Leia’s church would help lift my spirits and give me the encouraging boost I needed.
However, I thought wrong. When the day came to visit her church, Leia told me to meet her at Grand Central station. Once I arrived, she led me outside and a white van approached us. She told me the van’s driver would transport us to the church. Although I never asked, I assumed her church was located in Manhattan; it was in New Jersey.
When we reached our destination, I was shocked. Her place of worship was actually a warehouse. Once we exited the van, we were greeted by Leia’s church family who called me Sister Nina, despite me not being a member of their congregation. I ignored their eerie niceness and entered the church to find the praise and worship team warming up. As I tried to sing along to their musical selections, I noticed a few members carrying a plastic bathtub into the sanctuary.
Once the congregation stopped worshiping, the entire church surrounded me. A woman then came forward and told me to strip naked and sit in the bathtub. When I asked why, she said the Lord was ready to receive me. I looked for the nearest exit and, of course, security was in place just in case I thought of running out. Unwillingly, I undressed and as soon as I did, the members (Leia included) started to chant (in an unknown language) and throw buckets of water on me. Afterward, they gave me towels and told me how happy they were to have me as a member of their church. I continued to play along with their “baptismal” service that extended well into the evening time. I asked Leia if we could leave several times and she ignored me. Eventually, the driver took me and Leia back to New York City and once we arrived at Grand Central, I ran to the nearest train.
Interestingly enough, I never saw or heard from Leia after I became a member of her church. She has since deleted all of her social media accounts.