Thursday, December 1, 2016

Breaking the Enemy's Grip

We were pleasantly surprised to see Julio at the park recently. He hasn’t come around in a while, but he was back again and looking better than usual. Apparently his wife had allowed him into the house to shower and get all cleaned up. He was excited to tell us how well his family is doing. His oldest daughter is a flight attendant and his younger daughter is studying to be a doctor. When we asked how he has been, he hung his head in shame and said, “I’m drinking a little less… but I’m still drinking.” Julio turned to alcohol at the early age of thirteen and is still addicted to it at the age of 57. He confided in us, “Drinking is evil. It’s from the devil! But I can’t stop, and it’s ruining my liver. This stuff is going to kill me.” We told him that we all have sins that we need to be forgiven of, but that Jesus also offers us something more – deliverance from those sins. Julio is tired of drinking and living on the streets, but he is not yet at the point where he is willing to surrender his life or his addiction to Christ. We prayed for him and gave him a gospel of John, and said, “Julio, you read this until you know who Jesus is. When you feel the urge to drink, you ask God to deliver you from this addiction.” He said, “I will, I will read it every day and tell you what I learned.” The Enemy has a very tight grip on some people, but we believe that Jesus has the power to break these chains that hold people in darkness and set them free! Please keep praying for us and all the people we minister to on the streets!

Twelve Years of Prayer

Down in the subway station, amidst all the hustle and bustle of people trying to catch their train, Carol spotted a homeless man and approached him to ask if he needed prayer. She had been feeling a little discouraged up until this point. Traveling all the way from Ohio with her school team for this mission trip, she came with high hopes of seeing lots of people come to Jesus, but they were not as receptive as she expected. Yet God seemed to put this man in her path specifically to encourage her and change her perspective. He happily accepted the offer for prayer and began to tell Carol his story. He has been on the streets for twelve years, and during that time he would regularly go to a Christian soup kitchen for food. Just a few months ago, God got a hold of this man and he gave his life to the Lord. He told Carol that the people at that soup kitchen had been praying for him for twelve years!

This story totally changed the way Carol viewed evangelism. She realized that sometimes we don't see fruit right away and we just have to keep planting those seeds and praying for people. She reported to our team, "Through this trip I learned that it is not my job to save everybody. My job is to do whatever I can to help them get one step closer to the Kingdom of God."

Jesus is More Than a Guru

One recent example of how frequently we get to interact with the diverse people groups of New York City is our new friend Shamanunda. He is a Hare Krishna from India who is here in the city to study under a very famous guru. He stopped by the park one week because he was struck by the words of Jesus displayed on the side of our van - "Go out into the streets and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled." When Ryan went over to greet him for the first time, Shamanunda said, "These words of Jesus and the work you guys are doing... this is compassion." This sparked a very deep discussion about our religious beliefs and the identity of Jesus. Shamanunda believes that Jesus is one of many ways to God, and that each person should practice the religion that works best for them. Of course, this is not what Jesus taught, and in each of our encounters with Shamanunda, we have been able to challenge him on the exclusive claims that Jesus made about himself, such as, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the father except through me" (John 14:6).

Ryan talking to Shamanunda about Christ

Monday, October 24, 2016

More than Religion

We had just finished our worship set at the Greater Love Cafe. As we mingled with the crowd, a woman came and sat next to me. Holding back tears, she said, "Please pray for me... I'm grieving the death of my husband." This was our first interaction with Josephine, who has now become a regular attendee at The King's Fellowship. These weekly gatherings have helped strengthen her faith in a time of great personal suffering.

Josephine said, "I sensed such love in these young people when I first met them.  They invited me to The King's Fellowship and I've been attending ever since. It's a very intimate gathering because we meet in a home which has allowed me to get close to the staff. Being here at The King's Fellowship every Sunday has taught me so much more about God. I've been delivered from so many things in the past year - it's just awesome! This place has brought me to a different level."

During her time with us, we have seen Josephine grow leaps and bounds in her walk with God. She has become a bold worshipper and enjoys volunteering with us on the streets and helping with meal prep for The King’s Fellowship. In the past year she has joined us for the New Year's Eve Outreach, the Step Van Ministry at Tompkins's Square Park, and she even came with us on our Brazil mission trip this summer!

"When it comes to serving, I've always wanted to be on the streets with the people. I love people and I've always wanted to do this my whole life. I came to The King's Fellowship and within a month or two, I'm out on the street loving people and sharing the gospel!" God is doing tremendous things in her life and growing her in ways she never thought possible.

"A lot of my religion is going…" Josephine said. "… because since I've been here my relationship with Jesus has become more personal. There's a power in The King's Fellowship, and it's the anointing and presence of God that shows up every time we gather. The love among the staff and the people who come here is touching broken hearts."

Monday, September 26, 2016

Superabundant Grace

Margret receiving prayer from our ladies

Margaret* was pacing the streets of Elmhurst, Queens the same day that we were worshipping in the park as part of our annual Worship Warfare Week outreach. After hearing the worship music for several hours, she finally worked up the courage to approach the prayer station. Margaret had been beating herself up all day for relapsing with alcohol after more than a month sober. Through sorrowful tears, she explained her story to us. We listened, cried and prayed with her, and shared our own stories of falling—and getting back up again. We reminded Margaret of the grace that is always available to her and God’s mercy that is new every morning. We told her that it was no mistake she met us at the park that day, that it was God’s way of pursuing her even in the midst of her sin. As Margaret repented, we saw her countenance change right before our eyes. She stayed at the park the rest of the day, even sharing the Gospel with others and bringing them to the prayer station! We continued to pour into her life throughout the day and connected her with resources that can help her continue to overcome in her fight against addiction. There are many just like Margaret in New York City, and it is our honor at Street LIFE Ministries to bring God’s unfailing love to them just when they need it. Please pray that He will continue to connect us with them!

*Name changed for confidentiality

Completely Restored

Joses' testimony in his own words:

"It was a summer day in August when my life changed forever. I thought I had it all, but it was just a lie. I put my trust in the person I loved the most and I gave her everything, but she was unfaithful abandoning me and taking my two precious daughters with her. My only response was to drown my pain in alcohol and seek help from my so called friends. But instead of solving my problems, things got worse with each passing day. The day came when I decided I no longer wanted to live and when I sought help from my “friends” they turned their backs on me. My own family wanted nothing to do with me even when I needed them the most. I felt so alone and abandoned. But on that Thursday in 2010 walking through the streets with no direction or purpose in life, I felt something telling me to go to the park. I thought to myself maybe my family will be there, but to my surprise, I found something immeasurably better. 

Left picture is of Jose receiving prayer the day we first met him in 2010
Picture on the right: Jose praying over people at this year's Worship Warfare Week
There was a group playing worship music and a team of people sharing God’s word and praying with those who needed it (this was Street LIFE Ministries with their annual Worship Warfare Week in the NYC parks). I approached the team and received prayer. God had appointed that moment to bring me into the plans He had for my life. He accepted me with arms wide open telling me I was not alone. That day I encountered God and He said, “I love you with an everlasting love because I am your Heavenly Father. I am the best friend who never fails you.” In that moment I understood what a real encounter between God and man meant. I understood that true love comes from God through His son Jesus Christ. 

That very day a Christian family took me into their home where they cared for me and discipled me. As I learned and grew I had the opportunity to go to seminary. Praise be to God that I graduated this year and am now sharing the gospel and my personal testimony on a radio show once a week. I am reunited with my daughters and am enjoying the peace that Christ has brought into my life. I just want to share with everyone that there is a God of power and miracles. What is impossible for man is possible with God!"

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Battle is Real at Tompkins Square Park

“Do you have any idea what it’s like to get robbed while you’re asleep?” This was Dominic’s question as he came up to the truck seeking assistance.  He was orphaned at a young age but has since aged out of the system. Now, at 19 years old, he came to New York City with the hopes of a better life, but things were just getting tougher for him. He was conflicted; He knew he needed a job, but his hopeless spirit left him with no motivation. As Dominic and I assessed our options, I invited a fellow team member, Travis, to sit down with him as I made some phone calls. Dominic sat patiently as we secured a bed at the rescue mission.  Throughout the day, Travis and I got to know Dominic as he shared his dreams of going to college, which had all fallen through. He was weary and ready to give up, but as God would have it, we were right there in his crisis moment, which gave us the opportunity to speak words of life over him and show how much God cares.

Things were going well, but towards the end of the day, one of Dominic’s homeless friends offered him a job with a promise to get him his own place. Dominic believed him and changed his mind about going to the rescue mission.  All at once, we saw how the enemy came in and stole all the seeds we had planted. When we are on the streets we see the spiritual battle raging over people’s lives. The Enemy comes to people promising them a better life, and then because of their independence, people resist submitting to the Lord and choose to go their own way. Unfortunately, this is what happened to Dominic. We found out the next week that the job fell through and he was back out on the streets. Although our encounter with Dominic did not end the way we wanted, it is our prayer that God would continue to pursue him. We will also pray and make ourselves available and continue to meet people in their moment of crisis.