This past fall Oct. 2008, 5 members of the Raven team participated in a missions trip to Athens, Greece. We worked alongside a the local pastor at the Mercy Center, a place of refuge for the lost and drug addicted that come off of the streets of Athens. Presently, those who are residing there now have been set free from heroin addiction and their lives are being transformed and restored by the power of Almighty God.
In the heart of Athens, the team ministered primarily to people that are enslaved to drug addiction, alcoholism, prostitution, homosexuality and homelessness. Our main target location was at a neighboring park called Omonia Square Park. This park is saturated with dark spiritual strongholds and is also a large demonic temptation for the youth of this area. Heroin is the choice drug and is used openly and without shame. Many confessed that they are tired, weary, and drained from their addictions. We prayed, embraced, and shared the love of Jesus with these young men and women whose hearts are crying and aching to be set free. We also performed a powerful drama that was supernaturally animated by the Holy Spirit. The drama demonstrated that they too can be freed from their bondage to sin and addiction. What a day of ministry!
To our amazement Athens is exploding with an ocean of immigrants from the surrounding countries that border Greece. One day we ministered in a heavily oppressed area called Crossroad of Addiction. We witnessed hundreds of refugees from across the world within a 3 block perimeter. The vast majority of these immigrants are Muslim and many are frantically seeking work. Because there are no job opportunities in Greece they resort to drugs, alcoholism, prostitution, drug sales and homelessness. Rejected and confused their dreams and hopes for a future in work are shattered. Sadly these immigrants turn to stealing and violence runs rampant out of desperation. We have never witnessed a mass of hopelessness concentrated in one location of this magnitude before. Many wander aimlessly looking for a way out but it is evident that they are bound and desperately seeking to fill that empty void in their hearts. As we ministered, we discovered that many were spiritually hungry and were open to knowing “Who is this Jesus?” Streams of poor and needy people anxiously stood in line to receive a sandwich and curious souls crowded together to hear the Gospel and testimonies.
A testimony birthed in Greece! One night we hosted a children’s outreach at the Mercy Center with face paintings and a children’s drama. To our surprise for the very first time, Afghani women and children began to pour into the Mercy Center. Initially the women were unapproachable and were hesitant to receive our warm welcomes. By the end of the night they were smiling and felt accepted and loved and in return they loved us back. We recently received a report that these women have returned with their husbands and an entire Afghani community is making the Mercy Center their place of worship! Multitudes have received Christ as their personal Savior and they are being nurtured and fed the Word of God! In addition, just recently, Athens erupted into massive violence and political protests fueled by anarchists. In the midst of what was one of the worst riots, 30 Afghani men and women raised their hands at the Mercy Center and accepted Jesus Christ into their hearts!
One night in Omonia Square Park, a team member shared about Jesus to three young Afghani men. They were very skeptical and claimed that they were Muslim. The team member invited them to come to the Mercy Center to the service and to hear us talk more about Jesus. The young men attended the service that following Tuesday! A seed was planted in their hearts that night as they listened to the message with open hearts. They received Bibles in the Farsi language and were ministered to after the service. The next time we saw them at the park they volunteered to pass out tracts with us and introduced us to the rest of their Afghani friends. They were beaming and open to receive prayers and it was a night of rejoicing for all of us.
This year (2008) Trader Joes provided us with food to distribute among the homeless and the people in need in our church. We receive food from them twice a week and God has been good in that department.
We have also received clothing from Brooks Brothers and they provided us with shirts, khaki pants and some undergarments.The Raven Ministry leader shared this with me; he said for the eight years he has been a leader, God has always provided for the ministry. He kept saying Jehovah Jireh my provider. I remember he once told me that God’s heart is for the poor and defenseless. As I saw the clothes and food that was given to us, it proved that God really is true to his word.
God called him to lead the Raven Ministry and he has provided the necessary tools for him to carry out his task. When I say tools I mean wisdom, discernment of spirit, patience, favor from the right people, etc.
What has God called you to do? Has he called you to sing in the choir? To witness at your workplace? Start a ministry? Help feed the homeless? If you don’t know, go before him, seek him, ask and wait. He said in his word, “Seek and ye shall find, knock and a door shall be opened.”
We would like to thank Brooks Brothers for the clothes donation and Trader Joes for the food donation. God bless you.
The Thanksgiving Banquet was a day of rejoicing for me from beginning to end. The residents began to pour into the beautifully decorated banquet room. Many of the homeless and shelter residents began to fill up the empty seats that were so lovingly placed for them. They were our honored and special guests. Their faces were glowing and I knew that they sensed the many warm welcomes and an outpouring of love by many of us. More than anything, my prayer was that they would get a revelation that they have the opportunity to feast and partake with the Lord at the banquet table He has prepared for them (Revelations 3:20). As our guests began to depart, it was evident that the Lord had touched their precious hearts through the love that was poured into them, shared testimonies, and a very powerful drama. For me, it deeply moved me in my own personal heart to witness how much Jesus loves them and it provoked me more than ever to love those who have been considered “unlovely” and “unappealing” to our world.
There was a young man from the Bellevue Shelter who shared that he felt accepted and loved as a result from the banquet. He added that when he attended other churches they rejected him because of his appearance, causing him to dislike churches. On the day of the banquet, he said he felt accepted and loved for the first time. He expressed that he would like to return back and make Times Square Church his home church.
From Raven Member
A woman from the Thursday Night team shared that she volunteered for the Thanksgiving banquet. She has a sister who is an actress in the entertainment business whom she has attempted to minister the love of Christ to over the course of 10yrs. Her sister has preconceived ideas about who God is and how to serve Him. Her sister was amazed when she offered to volunteer and serve at the the banquet. She knew that God began to minister to her sister’s heart and she was very humbled serving. One thing she said to me was that she was touched to see all the effort that was put into the banquet. She also added how lavish and beautiful the banquet was set for our guests. We pray that God will continue to stir her heart and also that a seed was planted on this day.
From Raven Member
I was walking across the banquet room and I heard, “Miss! Miss!” I turned around and to my surprise I saw a familiar smiling face. It was one of the men from the Bellevue Mens Shelter who I had not seen for a few months now. He looked so happy. He said God helped him get his own place and that he was doing well. He told me he loved the singing, drama, and the delicious food at the the banquet. He added that I will be seeing him at church very soon.
From Raven Member
4 Men that attended the event called the church looking for Christian programs to join as they would like to live and grow in the knowledge of the Lord. Praise God