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!