Friday, April 3, 2009

New York team update

After six hours on the plane, three hours on the subway, (Oops... takes a while to learn to take the EXPRESS... oh my,) and twenty four hours without sleep...we stepped out into the chilling cold of Brooklyn New York. As we walked the streets to the church where we would be staying, I attempted to take in my surroundings. Wow, I was in for an awakening.

I remember praying that night in the dark. (Lights out at 11pm which would be 8pm here in California... I wasn't exactly ready to sleep) I felt the presence of God so heavily that night, and my heart ached in anticipation to what God was going to do in the short week that God had brought us to serve.

That week, I observed myself take emotional highs and lows that I never deemed possible. We served in pantries, soup kitchens, the "relief bus", and after school programs. Even in this short amount of time I felt huge God encounters... I felt the Spirit heavily upon us and the people that we encountered. God was using us as vessels, and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever witnessed.

Tuesday was incredible. We took a prayer tour around the entire city. We went into three of the five burroughs... Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx... We went into huge ethnic centers, Little Italy, China Town, and Harlem... Every face that I saw, every person... God loves them all, and I saw God in all of them... and I prayed for God's Kingdom to come upon each of God's people in this city.

Throughout the prayer tour we had several divine appointments that just blew me away.

There was Deborah, who overheard us praying for Little Italy, and China Town and came over and said "Amen!" We encouraged her through prayer...She had an amazing heart for God, and I will never forget her eyes.

There was Tyrone, who overheard us praying in the Bronx, and came up to us asking for prayer, for healing. Amazing.

But the one encounter that God put upon us is something that I can never forget. It took place in Times Square of all places. We were trying to hear what people thought of homelessness in NYC. Our team was split into two groups and sent out into Times square to have conversations with the people. The first person that Travis, Schnae, Megan, and I came across was a some sort of a guard for the red stairs. We tried to ask him about homelessness and he simply stated that he had no opinion on the matter. That is when we turned and I saw him, smack dab in the middle of Times Square.

"Reality"(this was is show name, we won't use his actual name for privacy reasons) was holding a "liquidation sale" sign right in the center. When I saw him I said to the others in my group, "Lets talk to him," as I pointed in his direction. The others nodded in agreement and we started walking towards him.

God had led us to a Jamaican man who used to be homeless himself in NYC. "Reality" shared his testimony with us, and shared how tremendous homelessness is there. He was absolutely blown away by us coming to talk to him and I could see tears in his eyes after he shared his story, I reminded him of something that he already knew. I said, "You are a blessing to all of the people around you." He was so taken aback, and said "Me? A blessing?" and I said back to him, "Of course, you." A man that was once homeless himself, who had been taken in and had been radically touched by God. A man once homeless himself is now trying to help the homeless. In awe we all hugged him, and reminded him that he was being prayed for, and he told us he would be praying for us as well. Beautiful.

Each year over 100,000 people in New York experience homelessness. This is a growing epidemic. This city has invaded my heart, and God wants this city. The people there are in need of love.

Family, my family. Thank you for your support through prayer and other means. No matter how small, God has used this past week to glorify His name and I truly believe that. Tears were shed, prayers were prayed, and love was shared. Please continue to pray for this city. Thank you.

Tessa Renae Ratner