Friday, December 12, 2014

Staying Indefinitely

This year got off to a good start when one of our interns, Ryan Haines, decided to stay indefinitely. In June 2013 Ryan came to serve with us after graduating from college with a bachelor's degree in commercial music. He came because he genuinely wanted to learn more about missions and evangelism so that he would be more prepared to share his faith in the music industry, but God had other intentions for Ryan:

"I knew that if God called me to join Street LIFE Ministries, then I couldn't leave until God permitted me to do so. This is exactly how the Israelites traveled after they were delivered from Egypt. 'At the Lord's command they encamped and at the Lord's command they set out.' God has more for me to learn and more for me to contribute here at Street LIFE Ministries. I'm excited for what lies ahead!"

We are blessed to know that Ryan will be here long-term. He is passionate about the Word of God and this led him to start a Bible study for the men in our community. Ryan has also become our resident music teacher, using the musical training that he received in college to help develop the skills of the musicians on our worship team. Ryan's work ethic and zeal for the things of God have enriched our community and we are glad to have him here with us. 

Meet Our New Interns!

As we look back over all that happened in 2014, we can't help but thank the Lord for the new interns we have had.  Nicole Pannasch was the first of these interns and she has been with us for just over a year. During that time we  have been blessed by her joyful spirit, her willingness to serve, and her obvious love for God even at a young age. Commenting on her time here, Nicole said, "Serving at Street LIFE has been life-changing.  The Lord has drawn me closer to Himself during this time and has shown me much more of His heart for the nations, the lost, and His beloved Bride.  I have been continually amazed by His faithfulness evidenced during our times on the streets, in ministry here at Street LIFE, and in my own relationship with Him.  I am very thankful for all that He has taught me during my time here thus far, and I am excited to continue the journey." It is such a pleasure to have Nicole as part of our community and we look forward to seeing how the Lord will continue to flourish her.

We also had a young woman named Jennifer-Beth join us for a three-month internship this past summer. She loved  working with us and her compassionate heart enabled her to connect easily with the people on the streets. Originally from Virginia, Jennifer-Beth has spent much time in recent years serving overseas with medical missions in Asia. Though she still feels a special connection with the people there, she believes that the Lord is calling her back to Street LIFE Ministries in 2015 to receive more training and discipleship. We are excited to have her back and appreciate her vivacious southern flair.  In 2015 a young man named Drew Gosnell from South Carolina will be joining us as an intern and he intends to serve with us long term. Drew joined us for a week-long outreach this summer so he could get more familiar with the work we do, and he really enjoyed it. Drew's maturity is evident and he carries the peaceful presence of God within him. He will also be a valuable addition to our team.

We thank God for each of these new interns. The Lord has heard our prayers to send us more laborers in New York City; the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few! We encourage you to consider joining us for an internship and pass this information to anyone you may know who wants to get involved in missions. 

Increase for Beautiful One

Watching the ministry of Beautiful One has been a major highlight of 2014! We have adopted eight new massage parlors and two strip clubs, and our outreach team has increased from four to twelve people! As of January, we'll be expanding into even more strip clubs and we'll begin offering English classes to the many immigrants we meet at the massage parlors. We often marvel at the tremendous opportunities God gives us to share His unconditional love with women coming from nations in which the Gospel cannot be openly shared. We also count it a high privilege to be able to lavish His unconditional love on those who feel so unloved and unworthy. In Flushing, the need for this ministry is continually increasing as we constantly see new massage parlors open up.

At a recent outreach, we encountered a woman who has been in America for only a few months. It was our first time meeting her, and we learned that she has no family here with her. As we talked and prayed, the Lord opened a door for us to share of His beautiful love for her and give some timely words straight from His heart to hers. Her previously weary eyes lit up as she connected with God's heart in that moment, deep calling to deep. It's moments like this that thrill our hearts and excite us for all that the Lord has in store for His Beautiful Ones! We cannot wait to see what 2015 holds for this ministry!

For the Least of These

We had another wonderful year of outreach with our Mobile Resource Center. This year we served over 16,000 meals to the needy people of New York City – Praise God! One of the best parts of this outreach is being able to meet the specific needs of our friends on the streets. Just last week a man named James, who recently became homeless, stopped by the Mobile Resource Center to get some food. He was cold and frustrated with his current situation. Ryan noticed that he did not have a hat, and when he offered him one, James’ eyes lit up and a big smile came across his face. He said, “Yes, absolutely!” We have encounters like this almost every week. There was one homeless man that we met whose eyes welled up with tears when we told him that we come to serve every Tuesday. He said, “The government always promises to help me, but they never do anything and you come out every single week.” It is our great privilege to reach those who feel they've been forgotten.

Our consistent presence at Tompkins Square Park enables us to develop close relationships with the people there. Every week our friends Speedy and Jose show up early to help us unpack the truck, and they stick around for a warm cup of soup. We have known them for years and they are always upbeat, even in spite of their circumstances. Jose has been growing in his walk with the Lord and we are hoping to one day see Speedy come into the things of God as well. It is through meeting our friends’ needs and forming relationships that the Lord is constantly opening new opportunities for us to share the gospel. Thank you so much for all of your donations of hats, gloves, toiletries, and care pack items. Your generosity is helping us better serve the people of this great city. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

"Let the Little Children Come to Me"

Akon (the boy in blue) interacting with one of our volunteers
After sharing a Bible story at Moore Park with a group of kids, one boy wanted to stick around and look through the Beginner's Bible. As the rest of the kids went with the staff to play tag, Nicole stayed with Akon who is around 9 years old to answer his inquiries. He flipped through the Bible asking many questions, which gave her the opportunity to share the gospel with him. Akon is not from a Christian home so his interest in the Bible is very exciting! He asked Nicole if we brought any other books. As she looked through our bin, the gospel cube caught Akon’s attention and he wanted her to explain it to him. They spent a good 15-20 minutes together as he soaked in all of this Good News!

We love ministering to the children through games and facepainting and often pray for opportunities to share the gospel in a way they can understand and receive. This seemed to be one of those special opportunities and we are thankful for what God is doing in his heart. Please pray that the seeds we've sown go deep, and that Akon and many other kids would give their lives to Jesus. Thank you! 

The Power of the Gospel

Recently David received a phone call from a practicing Muslim named Mohammed. He told David that he was walking by the Mobile Resource Center during our newest outreach to Corona, Queens, and he stopped to pick up a Gospel of John and one of our contact cards. That night he read through the entire gospel and was totally blown away by it. He kept telling David, "I've never heard anything like this! I've never heard anything like this!" He is now interested in learning more about Jesus and the Bible and he expressed a sincere desire to come to join us at King's Fellowship. Wow, Hallelujah! God is drawing him to Himself. Please join us in praying for Mohammed.

Our Mobile Resource Center Set Up In Corona

Jaime's Story

Some of the Men at Tompkins Square Park
Several weeks ago Jaime stopped by the Mobile Resource Center to speak to a few of our staff members. During their conversation Jaime confided in them, acknowledging that he had a drinking problem and had been struggling with alcoholism for most of his adult life. He told them that he was sick of drinking and he wanted to stop but was never able to give it up. They prayed over him for God to break this cycle of addiction and to give him the grace to walk away from his drinking habits.

The next week, when we came back to the park, Jaime was back and he seemed very eager to tell us what happened to him during the week. The day after we prayed over him, he was hanging out with his buddies, and they started drinking again as usual. When they invited Jaime to join them, he didn’t want to. They kept pestering him to drink but as they tried to entice him he remembered our time of prayer. He told us, “I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t drink anymore.” He quickly removed himself from that situation, and by leaning on the Lord he successfully overcame the temptation that had enslaved him for years! It’s been about three weeks since all this happened, and he has been completely sober the entire time.

Beyond the sobriety, we’ve noticed additional changes in Jaime. Every time we see him now he praises God for the transformation that has taken place in him. He routinely reads the Word and has a great desire to understand what scripture teaches. He has come to King’s Fellowship and is even looking to find other churches in his area (Manhattan) with Bible studies that he can attend regularly. Though he is still trying to find housing, he recently got a job as a cook and is no longer unemployed! During our most recent conversation with Jaime, he placed his hand over his heart and told one of our staff members, “It feels different in here.” God has clearly done a work in Jaime’s life and we look forward to helping him grow in his new-found relationship with Jesus. Please join us in praying for him!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Hug From God

This year's Worship Warfare Week was a glorious time of exalting Jesus publicly and ministering to those gathered in the parks around NYC. At Thursday's outreach in Brooklyn, we met Isabella, who is currently homeless and was facing some rough circumstances just that morning. She had texted her sister to vent her frustrations, and her sister recommended that she take a walk through park saying, "Enjoy the fresh air, God is going to give you a hug in the park." Her sister had no idea that we were there worshipping that day. In the park she met a few team members who escorted her over to the prayer station. Robin listened as she poured out her heart, then she felt an urge to give her a hug. Isabella, looking incredulous, pulled out her phone and showed Robin the text from her sister saying that God was going to give her a hug! We are so moved by how God met Isabella in her moment of great need and answered our prayers to draw people into the parks during Worship Warfare Week who need a touch from Him. It is an honor to allow Jesus to hug the lost and hurting through us on the streets of NYC!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

John's Story

We had a meaningful encounter with a man named John* at the Gay Pride Parade.  John was a kind, unassuming man who was willing to stop and discuss the questions on our survey.  As we went through the first several topics, John gave relatively basic answers, until we asked him about the importance of gender roles in society.  “Well, I didn’t use to believe they were important, but now I see that they are.”  He slowly began to open up about his difficult past.  John had been born a woman and had identified as a lesbian woman for fifty years of his life.  When he was diagnosed with breast cancer, he underwent chemotherapy and a double-mastectomy to try to rid his body of the cancer.  After losing his hair to the chemotherapy and losing his breasts, he continued to dress as a woman, but he was severely ridiculed and harassed for his appearance, even just walking the streets.  He was shocked and horrified at the persecution he received from strangers “in a place as accepting as New York.”  After a year of being mocked and maltreated, John decided to take testosterone drugs to make his appearance more masculine, and he began dressing in more masculine clothing.  He now identifies as a transgender, bisexual man, and he noted how much “simpler” it is this way.  As we continued through the survey, hearing more pieces of John’s story, we eventually got to ask him about faith.  He said somberly, “I love all faiths, but they don’t all love me.”  Our hearts broke for John; my partner and I each got to give him a hug and share about the incredible love of God for him.  We invited him to Street Life’s Sunday night service, and we told him we would love to have him there.  He thanked us both sincerely and took our service information.  As John walked away, we were again astounded by the love of the Father: the way God reaches out to the deepest places of hurt and rejection, and offers His love and healing!  We are praying for healing for John’s body, as his cancer has been diagnosed as stage four, and we are praying for his salvation, that the love of God and the freedom in Christ would be made known to him!

*Name has been changed to protect his privacy.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Healing at the Prayer Station

In the subway station, Justin and Erica offered prayer to a woman passing by. She said no and Justin replied they would pray for her anyway as she went on. They bowed their heads and prayed a simple prayer for the woman and continued talking and praying with people. It was time to rotate so they switched with the next pair unaware that as they prayed for the woman, her foot - which had been in a lot of pain - stopped hurting. When she realized the pain was gone she came back and told the pair who took Justin and Erica's spot what had happened thanking them for praying. This was a tremendous sign to the woman that God cares for her personally. Justin and Erica, the two teenagers who prayed for her, were greatly encouraged to see how God hears and answers their prayers. They were both rocked by that experience. We too were overjoyed to hear that God is moving on the streets of New York City and pouring out tangible signs of His mercy and grace. 

Team Testimonies

God moved in a unique and undeniable way among the individuals of our most recent team. Two of the youth felt God specifically calling them into ministry, one of which said that she is going to use her remaining high school years to let God pour into her as she prepares for ministry. The other said, “I just want to be obedient to God and go wherever he wants me. That’s all I want out of life.” Other members of the team said that God gave them a burden for reaching the lost and they now have an inflamed desire to start sharing their faith in their hometown. Some expressed how important it is not to live as “fake” Christians, but to be strongly connected to Christ and live a life that reflects his character to the rest of the world.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Breaking More New Ground at SLM: Gay Pride Parade Outreach

This past weekend marked New York City's 44th annual Gay Pride Parade, as well as Street LIFE Ministries' first outreach to the Gay Pride Parade. Saturday we prayer walked the entire parade route beginning on Fifth Ave. and 36th St. and ending at Greenwich St. and Christopher St. in Greenwich Village. Akilah voiced what many of the team felt in writing, "The prayer walk was crucial to the parade ministry". The team was broken up in groups of two and set out to push back the powers of darkness as well as release the word of the Lord - words of life and healing over the area. We each felt the importance of what we were doing spiritually to prepare the way for the outreach on Sunday, as well as to make sure that God would receive glory through our prayers and lifting high His name. We concluded Saturday evening with more worship and prayer back at the SLM base. Sunday morning we left with eagerness and anticipation at what the Lord would do. There was tremendous favor for parking, setting up the table to pass out free water and lemonade, as well as participation and receptivity as our team used a survey to engage in conversation with those present. We recognized much of the fear some initially felt was intimidation from the enemy and an illusion to keep us from reaching out to those who identify as LGBT. They are people who need to hear the love and truth of God just like everyone else. Speaking of an encounter with a gay young man Angela shared, "Brian didn't ask for prayer for himself but for world hunger. I told him that was good but that God was interested in him. That Jesus loves him personally, which is why we were out there. Before leaving he said he liked our approach." We set out to represent the Lord, build relationship, and plant seeds, which we believed happened. We look forward to more opportunities to reach this community.