Friday, July 14, 2017

"I was the Answer to His Prayer"

"I was the Answer to His Prayer"

He was drunk, but the music seemed to draw him in. He couldn't help but hear our worship since we were set up right across from his home, the street corner where he slept at night. The lyrics took him back to his childhood and the days he spent in Church. Our songs reawakened him to all that he learned about God, but he was simultaneously beginning to feel a lot of guilt and shame. Regardless of his experience in the Church, the present reality was this: He was living on the streets drinking away his sorrows. How could he come back to God after having strayed so far? How could He attend Church again after all this time in sin?

These were the questions that troubled his mind as the worship began to prick his conscious. I comforted him and reassured him he was welcome to be there with us. "This is church on the streets right now, my friend. Your brokenness is what makes you welcome here with us." I had him stay and watch the dramas. Afterwards, I reminded him about the cross and the prodigal son, and urged him to trust that God's love was strong enough to forgive even the backslider.

 As we spoke, he interrupted me and started shouting, "God doesn't hear my prayers! God doesn't hear my prayers!" I grabbed him by the shoulders, looked him straight in the eye and said, "Listen to me. The fact that God has called me here to Brazil and led us to come to this specific street corner tonight so that I could remind you of the gospel is proof that God has heard your prayers, and not only that - He is answering your prayers right now. This conversation is the answer to your prayers!" After that, he was silenced. He bowed his head and just began to weep uncontrollably. As he wept, I too was amazed at what just took place, and it began to sink in... I was the answer to his prayer. It's amazing how God positions us so that He can reach others through us!

He did not give his life to the Lord that night, but once thing was clear, God wanted me there that night to interrupt his unbelief and remind him of the gospel of grace.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Free Haircuts!

"What? You're giving free haircuts??" Our friends at Tompkins Square Park where overjoyed when they found out that Tyler, a professional hairdresser from Freedom Gate Church in Marietta, Ohio,  was offering his services free of charge to the people of the park. From the moment we arrived to the moment we left, Tyler had a line of "customers" eagerly waiting for a new "do".

As you can imagine, it's not always  easy to keep up your appearances when you're living on the street. Some go long periods of time without getting haircuts and they aren't always able to keep it well groomed. All the people who came  walked away looking and feeling good! Having Tyler give free haircuts was a huge blessing. There's so many different ways to bless people in Jesus' name!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Honoring Unsung Heroes: Walter Hoving Home

Founded in 1967, the Walter Hoving Home has been helping to restore women who's lives have been shattered by drug-addiction, alcoholism, and prostitution. This faith based program has successfully helped many women find new life and hope in Christ.

A few times a year, the Home sends small teams of women from their base in Garrison, New York to come serve with us at Tompkins Square Park, and they do so well! Their compassion and kindness towards others is so evident. They always enjoy our ministry at the park because they often meet people with a similar story to their own, which opens the door for them to share their testimony.

 We rejoice in what the Lord is doing through this wonderful program, and we are so appreciative of their willingness to serve alongside us!

Check out their website for more information!

The ladies from the most recent Walter Hoving team!

Angela Gets Introduced to Jesus!

Last week we had a team from Freedom Gate Church in Marietta, Ohio join us for a week of outreach here in NYC. The ministry times went very well, and after hearing them share at the final night debrief, it was obvious that God did a real work in their hearts. I've never seen so many tears! They each had their own testimonies of how the Lord had opened their eyes and softened their hearts through the experiences they had with us on the streets. However, there was one testimony that was particularly special, and we wanted to share it with you all. 

Playing Parachute with the kids at Moore Playground
On Saturday the team joined us for our Children's Outreach at Moore Playground in Queens. We go there to minister to the children through free face painting stations, bubbles, fun activities, and doing a Bible story time. It's in the very diverse neighborhood of Elmhurst. Due to the diversity, we frequently meet children who are being raised in non-Christian homes, many of whom have never even heard of Jesus. Naturally, this opens up tremendous opportunities for us to introduce the gospel to these unreached children at a very young age. Very exciting! 

While we were there, a little girl named Angela asked a guy on the team named Derek if he would come swing with her. As they walked over to the swing set, Angela started telling him that she frequently gets very scary nightmares. It was obvious that she was troubled by these dreams, and Derek listened carefully as she explained. He was patiently waiting to tell her about Jesus and to encourage her to call out to him when she gets bad dreams and feels scared. Derek was just about to mention these things when, all of the sudden, a group of her friends came running over and asked her to come play tag with them. Her attention was diverted. She ran off with her friends. Derek never got to tell her about Jesus. It seemed like the opportunity had come and gone. He was crushed.

Nathan reading the Children's Bible with all the kids!
Derek's heart became burdened for this little girl. She was experiencing horrible nightmares, but she couldn't call upon Jesus because she didn't know He existed! Derek began to pace back and forth quietly interceding for Angela under his breath. "God, please bring someone into Angela's life to tell her about Jesus. She has to know about you. Please, Lord, she must know who you are!" Derek prayed for a solid 15 minutes, not knowing he would eventually see the answers to his prayers. Some time later, Derek returned to playing with the other children. At one point he looked up from the games and, much to his surprise, he saw Angela again, but this time she was not playing tag. She was with one of the other team members, named Nathan, reading stories about Jesus from the Children's Bible! Derek's prayers were answered in an incredible way! Nathan later reported that Angela comes from a non-Christian home, and when he first mentioned Jesus, all of her curiosity was seized. They laid down on the ground and went through the Children's Bible for over 30 minutes, telling her all about Jesus and answering all of her questions. At the end, she asked, "Why can't I see Jesus? I want to see Jesus!" At that point, Nathan and a few other team members laid hands on her and prayed for her, and encouraged her to ask Jesus to show himself to her in her dreams. She did ask Jesus to show himself to her - and she asked enthusiastically! 

At the end of the day, both Derek and Nathan were amazed at what God had done. Derek was amazed at the immediate answer to prayer and the attentiveness of God towards this little girl. Nathan was also amazed. He said it was the deepest, gospel-centered conversation he had ever had with a child. We are all believing that a seed was planted in Angela that day - a seed that will go on to produce bountiful fruit! 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Honoring Unsung Heroes

Marie Mellencamp with her son and her daughter
Heaven will be filled with unsung heroes. Though they serve behind the scenes, and rarely get any recognition, they make a significant contribution to the Kingdom that is felt by many. One such hero was Marie Mellencamp. Ten years ago, she decided to start knitting scarves for us to give out on the streets. She continued this ministry until she passed away earlier this month. She was 81 when she died, and remained faithful to the end. Only the Lord knows how many scarves she knit and how those scarves blessed the people we gave them too, but one thing we do know – she is an inspiration to us all.  
Our dear friend, Mr. Chan, wearing one of Marie's scarves
Some others who have used their gifts and talents to give to those in need are the ladies at the Stoneridge Village residence.  They made beautiful quilts to bless the unfortunate at Tompkins Square Park.  They served faithfully through the years until just recently when they let us know it has become too physically challenging to continue their service.
WE JUST WANT TO SAY THANK YOU!  It is evident in these women that we are able to serve God at any age if we just give away what He has given us!

A few of the quilts sent by the ladies of Stoneridge Village

God Has Not Forgotten Them

"No one from the Church has ever come to visit us before." Coming from one of the ladies who worked in the massage parlor, we knew the Lord was leading us to the right place as we prayed prior to entering.  Implicit in her statement was the notion that she had been isolated from the religious community due to her line of work.  Yet our presence and the simple gift bag filled with candies and lotion was enough to show her how much God loves her.
By breaking through stigmas and kindly initiating friendships with these women, we have the tremendous opportunity to share Jesus with women who have almost completely been forgotten - even forgotten by the Church. But God has not forgotten these women. In fact, He sees them every moment of every day. He has the hair on their heads numbered, He even knows when they sit and when they rise. Beautiful One, Street LIFE Ministries’ outreach to women in the sex industry, continues to be a picture of His tremendous love and care for each woman. In 2016 we went approximately 30 times to various massage parlors and strip clubs, giving out more than 1,000 gifts to the men and women who work there. We thank you for all your support and prayers that help make this ministry possible.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Bringing Light into the Darkness

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden."
~ Matthew 5:14 ~

If we are the "light of the world", then we must be committed to going to the dark places. We bring the gospel to men and women in the LGBT community that feel alone, discarded, and rejected. We go to the women in the massage parlors and strip clubs who feel ashamed of what they do. We go to the homeless who are often passed by and forgotten by society. And for the ones from other religions such as Islam, Buddhism, or Hinduism, we break down their walls of defense through friendly interaction. It can be challenging to enter into somebody else’s world, but we must seize every opportunity that comes our way if we are to love people the way Jesus did.

One such opportunity came recently when I noticed a man standing at a distance, curiously looking at our prayer station. I approached the man and asked if he needed prayer. He said, “I am a Muslim. What’s a prayer station? What are you guys doing out here?” After explaining our ministry to him, I said, “To be honest, I don’t really know too much about Islam. Would you be willing to tell me more about what you believe?” It turned out that he had actually studied Islamic theology in Turkey for two years after graduating high school. Naturally, my question triggered an enthusiastic response from him, and we ended up talking for over an hour about our beliefs. It was an enjoyable discussion and, after becoming friends on Facebook, I asked him to send me videos about Islam from some of his favorite Islamic scholars so I could continue to learn more. And that’s exactly what he did!

After watching the videos he sent me, I asked if we could meet up again, not just to discuss theology, but also to hang out and get to know each other. Since our first interaction at the prayer station, I’ve gotten to meet him and some of his other Muslim friends. We’ve enjoyed each other’s company and discussed many matters of religion. I was most moved when he told me how much he appreciated all my intrigue and authenticity. He said most of his interaction with Christians had been disappointing because they had no interest in understanding Islam. He told me, “The fact that you actually wanted to know what I believe meant so much to me.”

I have learned that the best way to enter into someone else’s worldview is to actually get to know the people who adhere to that worldview. As we come to understand what other people believe, we will demonstrate compassion and care, and we will also understand how to share the gospel with relevancy.