Friday, December 14, 2018

Tragic Fall on 40th Road

Her street name was SiSi but she was known to her parents as Song Yang.  The day after Thanksgiving last year, she plummeted to her death from a third story massage parlor to avoid being arrested.  One Saturday, God arranged a divine appointment when Song Yang’s mother came up to the Flushing Prayer Station.  She and her son traveled from China desperate to find answers about their loved one’s senseless death.  Sobbing uncontrollably at times, she was absolutely devastated.  Song Yang’s death may have gone unnoticed by society but she is precious in God’s sight and certainly to her family.

That’s why Beautiful One exists because the Lord goes after “the one”.  Since 2013, the Beautiful One team has been visiting immigrant women working in massage parlors around Flushing.  The team consists of only a handful of individuals, some from SLM and other volunteers from different churches and organizations that can offer help. 

One theme is common in each of the conversations with the ladies we visit – they came to the United States to earn a living and have a better life.  Many leave their families – their children, their husbands – and travel thousands of miles to end up in a massage parlor, selling their bodies.  Some women accumulate a large debt to come here and have a limited chance to make enough money to pay it back.  Others have been deceived by someone they know or someone from their hometown that there is a “great opportunity” to make lots of money.  They end up working 6-7 days a week, 10-12 hour days, sometimes through the night.  There is limited time to make friends, see the sites of New York City, and even attend church.

That encounter with Song Yang’s mother and brother brought the realty and necessity of the Beautiful One outreach. The ladies in the massage parlors are in a serious position.  How can we be there for them?  How can we build trust so they can seek assistance if they need it?  How can other tragedies like this be avoided?  No woman should ever have to feel that selling her body for sex is the only way she can survive.

We encourage you to read this gripping story of Song Yang’s life.  The Case of Jane Doe Ponytail:   

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Encounter with a Searching Muslim

At our usual spot with the Prayer Station, a young man approached the table. 

“Do you have something that I can read about Christianity?”  I offered him a Gospel of John and he was happy to receive it. 

Then he began to tell his story.  He is Muslim but he has many questions about whether it is the truth or not.  It turns out some in his family are Muslim and others are Christian.  Many a family meal times revolve around which is the right way.  This young man confessed he is trying to figure it out for himself.  He’s visited churches, read Christian materials and the Koran, and asked questions. 

“I just want to believe the truth,” he admitted.  We talked some about the deity of Jesus; Muslims only believe Jesus is one of their prophets.  We also discussed how the Koran and the Bible are not the same. 

When our conversation came to a close, he walked away with a growing desire to know more about Jesus and Christianity. 

In New York City, we have many opportunities to reach people with different belief systems and religions.  God’s heart is for all peoples to know Him; this is a perfect place to spread this message.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

School Returns for 10th Year in a Row

Each year students from Troy Christian School in Ohio have the opportunity to take a class trip to serve at Street LIFE Ministries.  Here is some of what they learned this year in their own words:

"God showed up on this trip while we prayed.  Before this trip, I would pray just because I had to.  Now I understand more of the meaning of prayer and that prayer is not just talking but believing."

"This trip this year, taught me about humility and relying on God's strength through all of it.  SLM has always been a place that I see God show up time and time again.  I know I must rely on His strength; it is challenging and grows me up.  I leave with the fire of the Holy Spirit, showing me again the power of prayer and I'm forever grateful for my times here."

"I watched a team of students show up in New York City with fear and nervousness but leave with Spirit-empowered boldness and courage.  God really gifted this group with love, compassion, and His power.  They responded by blessing all they encountered." -from a team leader

Sharing Warmth at Tompkins Square Park

Several weeks ago, two of our friends at Tompkins Square Park made a special request.  “Do you have a sleeping bag?  It’s getting cold and we sleep outside.”  They also asked for some particular items of clothing.  When someone asks for certain things, we try our best but can’t make a guarantee or promise that we have what they need.  However, this time we were able to easily find the items of clothing they wanted in their sizes.  Usually we don’t have sleeping bags, but we managed to find a few to give to them.  The next week we gave them everything and the week after they were wearing some of the items.  They expressed how grateful they were and even gave us a small gift in return. 

I had a chance to learn a little more about their lives.  They immigrated to the U.S., fleeing the dangers of their home country.  Unfortunately, life’s challenges caught up with them and they started drinking.  They confessed they want to stop; one guy has been in and out of detoxes multiple times.  Yet alcohol still has a grip on them.  We talked about how it is possible to be free from the bondage of alcoholism.  Our prayer is to see them redeemed and restored to the life that God has for them. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Homeless Pastor of the Park

     A number of years ago a conversation began with Joe.  He came out of a life of drugs, alcohol, and women and was beginning to recognize His need for Jesus.  For several months, I encouraged him in his new found walk with God.  I felt like the Lord was calling him to be a “pastor” of Tompkins Square Park.  He knew a lot of the guys that hung around there and was familiar with their lifestyle.  They needed to hear that Jesus can set them free.  In those conversations, I shared with him that we are not meant to be “lone ranger” Christians.  We need to be part of a local church.  At the time, it was hard for him to swallow but he took it to heart. 

     Fast forward to present day, many of the truths of those talks he is now walking out.  A local pastor continually reached out to him and encouraged him to stay for their Bible study group.  Finally, to get him off his back, he stayed.  Now he keeps going back.  Joe often shares with me how being part of the group has helped him.  He sees for himself that being part of the Body of Christ has made a difference in his life.  Not only that, the pastor speaks purpose over his life because he recognizes his calling. 

     Joe is beginning to accept it and surrendering to what God is placing in his life.  Guys from the park keep coming to him for counsel.  He often tells them how Jesus has changed his life.  Joe is also being given responsibilities in different places that he volunteers and works.  Others are recognizing his gifts and putting him in positions of influence.  God is lifting him up because he is humbling himself. 

     It is our joy to encourage him along the way.  Joe’s circumstances have not changed – he’s still homeless – but his heart has changed.  Keep Joe in prayer as he continues along the path that God has for him. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Learning to Give out Living Water: Renee's Experience with Street LIFE Ministries

My week at Street Life Ministries was so incredible. I saw love poured out to people on the streets, served with others who shared the same heart of the Father, and I had personal encounters that I will never forget. 

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is that God has a strategic plan, and that we get to watch that plan unfold. The first day there was a change in the weather that switched our location from Tompkins Square Park to Jamaica, Queens. The few people I was able to pray with at this location walked away in tears. There may have been a language barrier, but there was no doubt the presence of God was in our midst. The first woman I prayed with had broken English, but what I could pick up on was "job, homeless, and happiness". I began praying for these things, and as I was praying there came a time of prophecy over this woman. I believe in that moment God translated those words to her as she looked at me with tears streaming down her face and said "Yes, Yes" to everything that was said. then she gave me a big hug. Through this encounter, God showed me that I had a fear of language barriers and a fear of reaching the nations because I only knew how to speak English. This was an underlying burden I didn't know I had until I faced it, but it lifted after this encounter.

It doesn't matter if there is a language barrier, God hears it all and His presence was SO evident in each of the following encounters, just as this one! We also made connection with new believers who wanted to get involved with Street LIFE Ministries! If the weather had not changed, these people would have not had this new connection. How amazing! 

Later that week, as we were on our way to another location, I heard in my spirit loud and clear, over and over again, "The woman at the well." I knew the story but I wasn't too sure how it would relate to what we were doing that day. While I was serving at the prayer station and handing out water, it suddenly hit me. I am the woman sitting here giving water... I am a picture of the woman at the well! The Holy Spirit starting speaking to me about how these people are asking for water that helps for but a moment, but I'm the one who is sitting there who has the REAL living water within that must be poured out so they may be truly fulfilled. It was such a simple yet heart hitting moment that will forever be apart of me. Wouldn't you know the rest of the week I somehow ended up at that station more than I had expected to be! From that point on, each time someone came up for water all I could see was the opportunity to give them more than what they came for.

This week has truly given me a paradigm shift of how easy and fun it is to give away the gospel. Yes, there is work but It's all motivated by the love of Christ, the finishing work of the cross, given freely to us! Street LIFE Ministries is truly a place where the love of the Father is what drives everything they do, and it was certainly felt every moment of every day. I so cherish each day working alongside the staff at Street LIFE Ministries and I can't wait to return!  

Friday, July 27, 2018

She Trusted Us?

On a recent outreach, we returned to one of our usual places. It's a massage parlor that we've been going to since the beginning of our ministry. We've known one of the ladies there for years and we've had numerous interactions with her, but she never really seemed interested in talking too much. She's usually busy with a customer. Yet something special happened this time. For whatever reason, she opened up and began to share her entire story with us. It was the longest conversation we've ever had with her. I was amazed at the number of hardships she faced in coming to the United States, including paying off a massive debt. Now she is an American citizen and her family is living here too! It's incredible what some of these women go through just to try and make a life for themselves. We recently trained two new volunteers and we are looking to add more. If you are interested in supporting our efforts to reach the ladies in the massage parlors, you can visit the Beautiful One page on our website.