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. 

Gaining Compotence

Our heart here at Street LIFE Ministries is teaching others to "win souls for God", and this is something that one man from Danville Virginia learned after just one week with us.

"This week I've seen the entire spectrum of socioeconomic here in New York City, and now I can confidently state that I now feel comfortable ministering to all of them, thanks to Street LIFE Ministries. I've seen God touch the poor and those who are well off, and this applies to their spiritual and economic situation. I feel changed. I've stepped out of my comfort zone and learned that I can adapt."

Friday, August 5, 2016

Breaking Ethnic Barriers

As a white woman from a smaller town in Southern Virginia, doing street evangelism in a predominately black neighborhood of New York City was a little out of Kelly’s comfort zone. “I’ll be honest, when we arrived in Harlem for the Prayer Station ministry, I was a little intimidated and scared.” She was certainly out of her element, but she began to pray asking the Lord to bring people that He wanted her to connect with. It wasn’t very long before Rashawn came walking down the street.

When Kelly offered to pray with him, he explained that this was not his usual route to work and that he usually walks with his headphones in but they just stopped working right before he turned the corner. It was as if God was setting him up as he was coming towards them. “We spoke for over an hour,” Kelly said. “He was excited about the things of the Lord and very curious about a relationship with Jesus. He was not yet ready to commit himself to the Lord, but he took a New Testament and I am praying that he will be starting his walk with the Lord very soon.” Kelly got to experience firsthand what can happen when we are willing to break down barriers and go where the Lord sends us. She ended by saying, “I had an encouraging week with Street LIFE Ministries, and God is doing great things here.”

Friday, July 29, 2016

In The Right Spot

“You’re in the right spot,” Jonathon* said to James and I, looking straight into my eyes.  He was a fairly shy, bisexual man who seemed uncomfortable talking to strangers. As we went through the survey with him, he kept his answers short and didn’t make much eye contact. However, his countenance changed after we prayed with him for guidance and for his family. He looked up at both of us with a smile, and thanked us before leaving.

The few people we talked with before Jonathon were quite guarded, causing us to wonder how the day would go. But Jonathon’s words encouraged us that this was in fact where we were supposed to be; right in the middle of the festival at the NYC Pride Parade.  It was as if God Himself was reminding us, “You are in the right spot.”

It was the right spot, indeed. During our 4 ½ hours at the festival we filled out 45 surveys and talked with over 80 people, most of whom we also prayed with. It was a significant time of ministry in this often-neglected community, and we are already looking forward to next year. Please consider joining us! 

Songs of Salvation

It was our second night at the Red Light District. A small portion of our team had already gone inside the brothels to minister to the ladies, but the rest of us stayed outside to worship and reach the people walking up and down the street. At one point during our worship set, an inebriated man stumbled over and stood right in front of the musicians. David (the director of Street LIFE Ministries) took notice of him right away. Microphone in hand, he approached the man and gently put his arm around him. David held him close and just began to sing the gospel over this man. It didn’t take long before the man started to cry, and soon he was on his face, weeping and confessing his sins before the Lord.

Even though he was fairly drunk when he came over, he was not too far-gone for the Lord to break through. God’s love humbled him that night, and he was changed. We got him plugged into a local church that will follow up with him and disciple him. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Be One to Reach One: Lord of the Harvest

Wednesday afternoons are times of prayer and fasting at Street LIFE Ministries.  We engage our Father in conversation and petitions to send His church to reach those on the streets of New York City.  Often, our requests are that people will hear the call and with deep conviction, come to be the ones to go after the one (#B12Reach1).

Stephanie heard that call all the way from the cornfields of Ohio.  The Lord was speaking NYC to her.  In her own words, she wrote “Late winter the Lord clearly spoke to me that I was to go to Street LIFE this summer.  Wisely I chose to say yes and prepared to write David to ask when I could come.  I received an email that very day from David asking if we were bringing a team!  That was confirmation.”  At the end of the trip, she wrote about it this way, “This week my prayer was answered several ways.  My heart was filled up as I was able to minister with my team and observe THEM being in different places loving people and counting on God to guide them.  What a joy!”

To donate:

What Are The Odds?

With all the millions of people in this city, what are the odds that I would run into one of the few people I actually got to speak with at the Gay Pride Parade last year? Was it a coincidence? No, it could only be described as a “God thing”, and that’s exactly what it turned out to be!

Since we had such a good conversation with them last year, our team decided to go over and talk with them. Thankfully they remembered us too! We spent some time catching up and they filled us in on that had happened over the past year. Then, as they were about to leave, I asked if I could pray with them. They gladly accepted. When I inquired what specifically they needed prayer for, they both got quiet and very serious. Then one of them broke the silence saying, “Please pray for my boyfriend’s family situation. It’s not good and he’s going through a rough time.” The other agreed and added, “Yes, please pray for my mental health.” It was clear that he was not doing well. He had shared a little about his home life, his negligent parents, and his struggle with depression. We could see that this was a young man who had come to view himself as worthless after many years of being rejected by his family.  

I bowed my head and began to pray over them right there on the street corner. I prayed for God to bless them with the knowledge of Him and lead them into a deeper understanding of the love of God displayed in the cross of Jesus Christ. I asked the Lord to show them how valuable they are; that they were valuable enough to die for! After I finished praying I lifted my head. The young man who had looked so despondent now had a huge smile on his face. His countenance had completely changed in that short moment of prayer. We believe that God’s GREATER LOVE made an impression on him that night. We exchanged contact information and expect to see them again sometime soon.

An Unlikely Meeting Place

A quick bathroom break actually turned into a divine appointment with Vanessa*. Gintare (one of our volunteers) happened to have gift bag with her, which she presented to one of the dancers in the bathroom.  “Can you pray for me?” Vanessa asked Gintare. This somewhat secluded meeting place away from the rest of the dancers allowed more freedom for Vanessa to share openly.  It was evident that she didn’t have many people to talk to and she said that it was just what she needed.

Vanessa shared much of her personal pain and struggles as a young mother, along with how she really felt about dancing. “I don’t want to do this forever. Nobody wants to do this forever.  I’d rather do this now so my daughter won’t have to someday.”

Afterward, our team marveled at how God had led us to Vanessa. We literally prayed before going out that He would direct us to the “one” He would have us each talk to. Vanessa was also one of the first ladies, if not the first, that asked us for prayer. And the opportunity to talk one-on-one with her in the bathroom made it much easier for her to open up about personal things, which rarely happens in the dressing room. This was indeed a divine appointment, and we are praying that Vanessa will remember what she heard and the love she received.

*name changed for privacy 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

"I'm An Atheist"

There was an older gentleman sitting at the bar, and he looked lonely. I watched him order another drink as he looked around the crowded room for someone to talk to. Remembering that one of our goals in Greater Love is to form relationships with people in the LGBT community, I decided to venture over and give him the company he seemed to be looking for. That night, a friendship was born.*

"Hey, how are you doing this evening? My name is Ryan... and you are?"

"Well, Hello. My name is Daniel**, and I'm doing fine."

"Pleasure to meet you Daniel. Do you mind if I take a seat?"

"No, not at all!"

I sat down next to Daniel and just started asking him questions to get to know him. I soon realized that a little interest would go a long way. I only had to ask a few questions and pretty soon Daniel was unfolding his entire life story to me, including the details of his upbringing, when he discovered his same-sex attraction, and the difficulties he faced growing up as a homosexual in the 60's and 70's. I so appreciated his willingness to share his story. After some time, he began to ask me about myself and what I do here in NYC. I told him that I am a Christian missionary and about the work I do with Street LIFE Ministries. He had a Catholic background and enjoyed hearing about our work with the homeless. "Going to the poor and homeless... that's a pretty big part of what Jesus told us to do, right?" He said with a sarcastic smile on his face. "It sure is!" I replied.

Knowing that I was a Christian, Daniel made the point to tell me, "I'm an atheist, I don't want to talk about God or religion. I just want to talk about art, music, and history." I assured him that was alright.

Since that night, Daniel and I have gone out to dinner twice and even attended a small jazz concert in Manhattan. One of the more significant moments I had with him was after our first dinner when Daniel insisted that we take a walk to the Hudson River. "Let's go see the river!" he said emphatically. "C'mon, it's really close!" As we stood at the bank of the river he told me how often he comes here to look at the beautiful scenery. We both stood there silently for a while, soaking in the view. In that moment God reminded me of Psalm 19:1, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands." Daniel's desire to see the river reminded me that we can't escape the beauty of God's creation, or the message that it sends to us; that there is a God and that He is awesome. Daniel might be an atheist, but I know everything in him is crying out for God (even if he doesn't know it), and we are patiently waiting for the opportunity to introduce him to the God who made the Hudson River.

*To clarify, this outreach is done by a team of screened applicants. This testimony is simply written from the perspective of one of those team members.  

**Name changed for confidentiality. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

When God Intervenes

As I was handing out food donations to the long line of needy people, I noticed that Jess had sat down to have a discussion with a man that I had never seen before. He looked weary, but seemed to be enjoying his cup of soup and his conversation with Jess. I was thinking, "Great, it looks like we're making new friends!" Some time  later Jess asked me to talk to this man as he was interested in the men’s Bible study that we host. I said, “Absolutely!”

I hustled over to him and introduced myself, but, for the sake of privacy, let’s call him Eric.

Ryan: “So I heard you’re interested in attending our Bible study.”
Eric: “Yes. I consider myself to be a spiritual person, and I definitely believe in a creator, but I don’t know what to make of all the different world religions. Every time I read the Bible it just confuses me. I feel like I need someone to teach it to me so that I can understand.”
Ryan: “Well Eric, the whole purpose of our Bible study is to gather together and understand what God has clearly spoken, so it sounds like the perfect place for you.”

Ryan talking with Eric
He agreed and assured me that he would be there on Sunday. Eric began to share more of his story with me. I did not get all the details, but through his struggle with alcohol and recent marital issues, he ended up on the streets, hurt, bitter, lost, and lonely. I had the opportunity to share some of my own testimony with Him and the ways God has delivered me from sin and healed pain in my heart. He was very receptive and definitely acknowledged his need for guidance. Before Eric left, I told him I would give him a call in a few days to see how he was doing. I began praying regularly for Eric, pleading with God to intervene in his life.

Two days after meeting him, I decided to give him a call...
Ryan:  "Hello, is this Eric?"...
Eric: "Yes, who's this?"
Ryan: "This is Ryan, the guy you met at the park a few days ago."
He cut me off and started shouting…
Eric:  "Ryan! I'm so glad to hear from you! I was going to give you a call. I have to tell you what happened!"
Ryan: "Eric, tell me what happened!"

He went on to say that he went to his AA meeting that night after we met. He was asked by the group leader to share his story. Apparently this really touched one of the other men who was there. He came up to Eric after the meeting and said, "I own several apartments here in the city. Here, these are the keys to one of my apartments. You can stay there until you find a job." Go had provided a way for Eric to get off the streets immediately! Our conversation was short because he was actually in the process of walking around town and filling out job applications. He was filled with gratitude and joy, and assured me that he would definitely be at the Bible study and service on Sunday.

Eric showed up on Sunday, and has been regularly attending ever since! Praise God for His intervention in Eric’s life! We know that Eric is not in the Kingdom yet, but it's a step in the right direction. Please continue to pray for Eric; for his full surrender to the Lord, for the right job, and for total reconciliation in his family situation.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Restored Fellowship

We met Yvonne a few years ago at a prayer station in Jamaica, Queens. She had an amazing testimony of how God delivered her from drugs. She knew the power of God in her life, but after being hurt from some negative experiences with her church, she began to distance herself from other believers. We had a good talk with her about the importance of and having fellowship with other believers despite their flaws. We exchanged contact information and invited her to join us at King's Fellowship.

Amy kept in touch with her, calling her from time to time to check up on her and pray with her, encouraging her as much as she could, but we eventually lost touch with Yvonne. Several months went by without hearing from her. But then, last fall, Amy received a voicemail from Yvonne stating that God had been speaking to her about needing to be a part of a church again. She knew she needed the fellowship and the encouragement. Since then, Yvonne has been a regular attendee of our Sunday night services and has even joined us for outreach.

Yvonne is not the same woman we met a few months ago! God is healing her heart and drawing her into deeper relationship and she has even expressed an interest in volunteering more of her time with us. It has been incredible to see God's commitment to Yvonne and it has also been a big answer to prayer, as we are constantly praying for those we meet to be drawn closer to God and come into a church where they can be discipled.

One Can of Chili

As I was working the clothing table, a young lady walked up to me and said, “You guys just brought some light into my day… I didn’t know where I was going to get anything to eat today.” I stepped out from behind the table to introduce myself and learn more about her situation. Her name was Sherri and she told me that she is new to New York City, two months pregnant, and living in a shelter. All she had to eat in her room was two cans of vegetables and one can of chili. The cravings from the pregnancy were making her anxious… She had no idea where she was going to get the food that she needed to keep her and her baby alive. She was so grateful to have met us out on the street and get some food.

Sherri was actually on her way to one of the nearby churches that gives out free lunches throughout the week. She did grab some food from our truck, but because she didn’t want to miss the lunch, she couldn’t stop and talk for very long. She thanked us for being there and then went on her way. I was so grieved and angered over her situation. I started to wonder, “Where is her family? Where is the father of her child? Where are her friends? Is there anybody in her life that is looking out for her?” I could not allow Sherri to go off on her own without doing more to help her. God was aware of everything Sherri was going through, and He was not insensitive to her plight. I knew God wanted to meet Sherri in this difficult time. By this time she had already walked about half a block away, but she was still within eyesight. I ran to the truck, grabbed a gospel of John booklet, and started to run after her. As I caught up, I shouted, “Sherri! Sherri!” She turned around and looked surprised to see me running after her. When I finally caught up with her, I gave her the booklet and began to talk to her about the compassion of Jesus and that he knows everything that she is going through. She started to cry and said, “I feel like I’m going through this all alone.” I prayed for her, asking the Lord to act on her behalf and to protect and provide for her and her child. She looked up at me with tear filled eyes and said, “Thank you.” We exchanged contact info and I told her we’d be in touch.

It just so happened that Jessica and I were going to be attending a prayer meeting not too far from Sherri’s shelter the following night. We contacted Sherri and asked if she would be available the following night for us to come drop off some food for her, and of course she said, “Yes!”That night I packed two large bins filled with non-perishable foods and canned goods. I also got her some Hershey’s Chocolate and a package of Oreos… because every pregnant woman is going to want chocolate and Oreos at some point, right?

The next night we traveled into Manhattan and successfully delivered the food to Sherri. She was blown away with gratitude and she couldn’t stop smiling. Since we were on our way to a meeting we were not able to stay very long with her, but Jess asked her a lot of important questions about her pregnancy. She is taking prenatal vitamins and is working on setting up appointments with doctors. Even though we heard a lot of good news from her, we also learned some unfortunate details about her situation. She is originally from Virginia, and the reason she moved here is because she is a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic and her family was tired of taking care of her. She is still on medication and it seems that she is still receiving some sort of medical support from her family, but from what it sounds like, they either kicked her out of the house or she ran away. We didn’t dwell on this for too long, as we didn’t want to ruin the joy she had in that moment from receiving all the food and extra goodies, but this does add another, more serious element to her situation, and it is just another reason we need to be praying for her.

As of this week she has officially applied for food stamps and has an appointment set up in the next few days, which is great news! Sherri was so blessed by our encounter and said she is going to start coming to the park every week to hang out with us. Hopefully, as we develop more relationship with her, we will learn more about her life and how we can serve her. We will do everything we can to help her, and by God’s grace she and her baby will make it through this. I believe God is greater than this situation, and even greater than her schizophrenia. Please join us in praying for Sherri and her baby. My prayer is that she would be overwhelmed with compassion and love, and come to saving knowledge of the Lord.

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Favor of God

“You can take a look inside if you want. Just don’t talk to the ladies.” The head bouncer said to my teammate and I. This particular strip club is classier than some others and has strict codes for letting people in. The first few times we tried bringing gifts to the ladies they told us the manager won’t let anyone inside to simply talk or bring gifts to the women. However, in prayer we felt that we should continue going to pray and build relationship with the bouncers.

Before heading in last week, I reminded our team to not ask about going inside since we knew their stance. If we were to get inside, God would make it happen. We stopped in the main entrance to drop off some treats and say hello. The head bouncer recognized us, said a quick “Hi”, and then invited us inside! My teammate, Debbie, and I were stunned as we passed through security and into the club. We stood near the bar for a couple minutes praying over the club, careful not to overstay our first welcome. In leaving, we thanked the bouncer and made casual conversation with him another few minutes, amazed at what took place.

Back in the car, where the rest of our team was praying, Debbie remembered that she asked the Lord for open doors in our prayer time before going out. In the car, another team member told us that she felt led to pray that they would invite us in! I am amazed at how God works and thankful for His favor. The saying is true - If we do everything possible, God will do the impossible.  As we have been faithful and consistent to simply show hospitality to the bouncers, God has been working in softening this one man’s heart to let us inside. Please pray that we find more favor with this club and are able to eventually bring gifts inside to the ladies. Thank you!

Friday, February 26, 2016

A Volunteer's Perspective of Don't Walk By

Jillian has been faithfully serving with our Beautiful One outreach for over a year now and when she heard about Don't Walk By, she was very eager to sign up. Now, she's just completed her first ever Don't Walk By, and we'll let her tell you all about it:

"My first year of Don't Walk By was awesome! They needed volunteers in the transportation department, so my job was to sit and talk with the guests as they waited for the van to take them to the shelter. I asked one of the men I was waiting with if I could pray with him. He allowed me to and after I finished , he looked up and I could tell he was touched. He said, 'I really felt that!' That's what the Holy Spirit can do in the blink of an eye!" I would definitely recommend Don't Walk By to others. Getting to sit and talk with the people is so personal. There are no barriers!"

Jillian was not the only person who noticed the atmosphere of unity and compassion during the outreach. Another volunteer named Dahee told us that she was blessed to see so many believers united for the cause of Christ. She said, "This level of unity was literally a taste of heaven. I pray that churches in NYC  would continue to mature into oneness as we elevate Christ together."  This year we had over 1,000 volunteers unite to flood the streets with the mercy of God. Hallelujah! 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Salvation on the Streets: A Testimony from Brazil

The "Red Light District" of Belo Horizonte is a neighborhood populated with brothels, porn theaters, and lost souls. It's the perfect place to do ministry! We went there several times on this trip, each time bringing worship, the Word, and the presence of God. This past year we saw God move upon one man's heart in an undeniable way. Here's the story from Ryan's perspective:

"Our first night in the Red Light District, during our second or third worship set, a man who was either just leaving a brothel or on his way into a brothel  was drawn by the music and stopped by to see what was going on. A few members of our team approached him with a translator to talk and share with him (I was watching all this happen from about a hundred feet away). After a few minutes of conversation, I saw the man put his hands over his face and start to weep uncontrollably. His sobs where audible even over the music! Then he dropped to his knees and just started crying out to God, confessing and repenting of his sins. This went on for several minutes. Once he calmed down a little bit, he stood back up shouting, "Jesus! Obrigada Jesus!" (which means "Thank you Jesus"). Without any hesitation at all, he joined in with us praising and dancing, just worshipping Jesus. I even went over and joined him! We both danced and celebrated his new life in Christ together."

Thursday, January 21, 2016

2015 New Year's Ever Outreach

Since 1997, we have yet to miss an opportunity to minister to the estimated one million people that gather in Times Square ever year to celebrate the New Year, and this year's outreach was just as good as years past. One young man named Enrique was drawn to the Prayer Station when he heard we were offering free hot chocolate. After making some small talk he confided in one of our staff members and shared his life story. "My mom left me at the age of five and I never knew my father." he said solemnly. "I've just started going to church and I know I need God, but let me ask you something... how do I let go of all my bitterness? How do I get rid of all the pain in my heart from the way I've been mistreated?" His humble question turned into a long conversation about the gospel, finding our identity in Christ, and the healing that comes from knowing God as our Father. Enrique was blessed that evening. He was just one of many who entered into the new year with a fresh perspective on God.