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