As winter sets in, our place for the homeless gets to be packed with 50 people each week; all keen for a hot shower, solid shoes, a blanket, a warm meal ...

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Looking good

When I stepped outside for a short breath of fresh air – among the smoking crowd in front of the door – I was surprised to find a stranger giving haircuts to our guests. A hairdresser on her way home from the fresh market had put her groceries down, taken the scissors out of unskilled hands and quickly improved the look of quite a few guys. No, she didn't want to stay. With just a quick glance inside and a satisfied smile on her face she picked up her bag and left.
This was already the third time I had found an unexpected haircutting service outside – each time a different person. Apparently, God likes to have his homeless guys look good.

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Spontaneous worship

John is blind. He spends his days singing in worship – any time, any place with much freedom of expression. So some of his worship has been put into proper songs for all to learn. When we introduced one of the songs to the homeless gathering, we encouraged them to also find their voice in song and prayer. As the meeting went on, a young guy who spent most of his life in the streets stood up to say that he had just written the words for his very own song. Of course, we all wanted to hear it. »Please read it to us!« Paper in his shaking hands, he took a deep breath and started to freely sing the words in front of 50 people. He told Jesus of his love for him, his trust in God's goodness and his hope for heaven. It was a moment of awe and a glimpse of what we will see when we are all freed from our limitations in God's presence.

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A blind man's vision

John also spends a lot of time listening to his audio bible and prays fervently for more people to be saved. »I have an idea, that God gave me!« he told us one day. »I will buy a loudspeaker and have the bible read out loud in the square, where I used to hang out.« (He now lives in a tiny place, sponsored by a kind Christian). His friends were sceptical: the authorities don't approve of such thing. »They will confiscate it within minutes«, they told him. He did it anyway. Nobody has given him any trouble so far, but people have walked up to him to thank him for his courage. A blind man with a vision. And a heart that trusts the Father.

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At our weekly event for the homeless, they are provided with clean clothes, a shower and a meal. Often, God will meet these needy people in special ways revealing more of His heart to all of us. Other situations confront us with needs we cannot meet on a human level. At such times, it is good to remember: God is the same even then – faithful, loving and powerful!

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God speaks to me

The other day, one of the guests came up to me to tell me something important. He made sure to find a quiet spot, so his story could be received with due attention:
»When I first decided to follow Jesus, you told me, that I would now be able to hear His voice. I really wanted to, but it didn't happen for a long time. Yesterday, when I was at home, cleaning the dishes« …Oh, I thought, he has a place to stay, where he can even cook! Good! … »I suddenly saw a bright light coming to me. Then came two statements from a voice: ›Until now, you have listened to people. From now on, you shall listen to me!‹ I know, that was Jesus speaking!« The old man was radiant with joy and awe, still overwhelmed with the fact that the living God had spoken to him. If I had been doubtful of the story, his expression would have persuaded me otherwise. Together we looked at scripture that confirmed his vision to be in line with God's heart. But it was not the vision but rather the encounter itself that had made the greatest impact. »God sees me! He speaks to me!« he repeated over and over. What a loving God we serve!

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Run over

I was still pondering on this encounter an hour later, when everyone had gone and we cleaned up the place. One of the guests came rushing back: »There has been an accident! Please come and help!« I went to the nearby scene, bracing myself for something terrible. But the man - one of our guests - was already standing to his feet, leaning onto some concrete block. Coming closer, I noticed his pale face. »What happened?« He had been run over by a bicycle, got back up and let the offender leave, as he had thought to be okay. After a minute the shock had worn off and pain hit his hip: He could not put his foot down. His friend and I took him to a hospital.

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The only Hope

»Complicated fracture of the hip joint. It will have to be replaced.« Looking from the X-ray to the patient's yellow skin complexion, the doctor said: »But we would have to check you for other diseases first. You may have hepatitis.« A few questions revealed, that the injured man had no insurance or any means of payment. »The surgery alone would be at least 80,000 RMB (approx. 12,000 US$).« A policeman we called, looked at the facts and gave us no hope for finding the cyclist. Left alone in the busy ER, we prayed. There was nothing else I could do. The help needed was beyond my range of action. The man was kindly given permission to spend the night on the strecher. So I left him there with his friend. I went home with a heavy heart, when God reminded me, that he was the same for this man as for the other, who had heard his voice. »I leave him with you then, Lord«, I prayed - putting my hope in the loving God.
We've got news from our Hope team bible study group at McDonald's. This group is like a ray of God's light in a public place ... and what they are doing makes a dramatic impact. It's just too good ...

No one dares to steal ...

The McDonald's group is growing and growing. The manager realized the growing tendency, too, and he suggested that the group should split and instead of all of them gathering on one evening, two groups could meetin on two different evenings. He has good reason for our Hope team & Co. to meet in his restaurant: In the past so many items got stolen and the police had to be alarmed all the time. Cell phones, purses and kitchen items were gone. However, since the bible study group is meeting in his restaurant, thefts are not happening anymore. There is still one well-known and notorious thief coming to the restauarant, but he doesn't dare to steal a thing.

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... to be continued

This specific McDonald's has a huge screen which shows loud music videos all day long. Recently the screen broke and someone from our Hope team heard the manager saying to his staff: »Do not repair the screen. It's too much noise for the bible study group.« ...
And something else happened ... The man who was suffering from insomnia has slept after prayer for quite some time a lot better - since he wants someone to pray for him at every meeting ...
Our daily lives are full of encounters with people of very diverse backgrounds. Because of this we have so many opportunities to introduce God to them in very normal situations. We live close to a park, where many Chinese go to enjoy some leisure time. Elderly people meet their friends for a chat, singing or recreation. The other day I had opportunity to talk about Jesus, while taking a walk there ...

What really matters

»How do you want to be buried? Have the corpse cremated here or put into a grave back in the home village?« Although the group of ladies was chatting in the Shanghai dialect, I understood what they were talking about. I don’t usually understand Shanghainese. I just could not walk away and circled around the group twice. How much more important than the body is the soul! Finally I approached them and started to talk to them. The ladies were delighted in the change of topics and most willingly allowed me to join their talk.

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One of the women was a cancer patient and had lost hope. In addition, she had to take care of her bedridden mother. She felt very weary. A second lady was bothered by her bad conscience because she had not gone to church for a long time. It deeply touched me to see them open their hearts to me. The Christian lady prayed and devoted her life to Jesus again. We could pray for two more of that group. The fourth woman made a clear statement: »I believe in Buddha.« She went on to go through a ritual, making meditative awkward sounds standing close to the group. So everyone’s heart was displayed as we talked about the kingdom of God.

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Touched by God's love

A man on a park bench tried to regain his peace of mind by doing some yoga execises. He said, he believed in Buddha. I told him that Jesus is the only God who loves us so much so he gave his own life for us. The man became very quiet as he had run out of arguments against this truth. The love of God touched his heart, not his mind.

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Serving the living God

Our inner city drop-in center for the homeless is packed to the full most of the time. I just can’t get myself to send very needy people away and tell them to come back another day. We can reasonably only cope with 40 people per session, but lately there were 50. It is getting colder and our helpers – some still homeless themselves – happily distribute blankets, warm clothes, toothbrushes and steaming hot meals.
Henry is one of the helpers. The other day he brought his friend who became a believer recently. Now Henry reads to him from the bible every day, because his friend is illiterate. He has told him to pray to Jesus himself so he can get to know Jesus better. After the event, we sat together in a smaller group and told the new believer about praying in tongues. Suddenly he said: »Oh, now I know why I say these strange words I don’t understand whenever I talk to God!«

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John, also a helper, is nearly blind. But every day he goes to a bakery very early in the morning to pick up the bread that was not sold the day before. He distributes it among hungry people and talks to them about Jesus. Our helpers are thrilled that they can serve their living God in spite of their own limitations.
We are having a Hope team! When you actually look that our Hope team, one could think that they are the least acquainted to bring hope: All of them are homeless ... however, they are special homeless people. They love Jesus, live with him on the street and share his love with other homeless people. Two of our Hope team are having a very special mission: They started a bible study group that is gathering other homeless people and are meeting once a week at McDonald's ...

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Loud and louder

Today I joined the bible study group of our McDonald's Hope team. Every week the group is listening to a passage of the bible. The loudspeakers are running full power so that everyone of the group is able to hear what is being said ... as well as all the other guest of the McDonald's restaurant. Including myself and two newcomers were were ning sitting around a table and listening to this week's passage. I wasn't quite sure if the group was open to receive God's presence in such a public place. When we came to listen to the stroy of the Feeding of the four thousand, everybody was alert and listened carefully. Immediately after we listened to the story, I shortly preached and explained the message of the Gospel and the power of the cross - especialla for our newcomers.

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With their own eyes

The words went right into their hearts. The one man who was suffering from insomnia wanted to receive prayer. Suddenly one of the women present said that she wanted to invite Jesus into her life. The Holy Spirit moved in power. I sensed I should cast out a demon - upon doing so, the lady burped and was coughing. All the others around who just heard the miracle story of the food multiplication were now able to watch a miracle with their own eyes ... And all of this was happening in a croweded McDonald's restaurant somewhere in China.
No matter how and in what way God's word comes to us - if read out, preached on or spoken to us - it has power, for it is power itself! It deals with issues in our life that no human being, no sermon or any method could do. And the power of God's word is applicable in everyday life ...

John

Meet John, a homeless man with a brain tumor, whom we helped to get basic financial support from the government. He can now afford his daily meals. Our helper Z. has taken him into his room recently and both are discovering happiness and challenges of room-mate fellowship. Also, they both help at our center for homeless people, were we give out clothes and food to those in need.

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When God speaks

Lately, the four of us met for worship and bible study. John, who is nearly blind and uses an audio bible, immediately started to share an urgent message from his heart: »Last night, I listened to the letter of James. I couldn’t put it down and listened for five hours. It deeply convicted me.« While he spoke, tears were streaming down his face and God’s presence filled the room. »I suddenly realized that I cannot take the good clothes for myself and then give out the shabbier ones to the others. This is so selfish! I have done that many times and even tucked away some nice things, so the others wouldn’t claim them.« As John poured out his heart, confessing other acts of selfishness, all of us felt the holiness of this momentum. Our worship that day flowed freely with John and Z. singing their praise and devotion in new songs like never before. The newly baptized H. (still homeless) was completely drawn in.

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Do, what God says

The next day, H. came to the center, but would not step inside. He waited for an old homeless man who had no admission ticket and gave him his own. When I smiled at H., he said: »Yesterday, God taught me not to be selfish.« He had a sincere desire to obey God’s word. I let him come in anyway – to help. He is now part of the team with Z. and John.

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New Perspective

With much motivation, the three of them have just started a breakfast hand out for the homeless during the cold winter months. And H. is thinking of finding a regular job. He read this scripture that convicted him ...
There are many sick people who come to us – sometimes they are severely sick. They are living on the street, hear about us and come in order to ask for help. First thing we always do is praying for them and telling them about Jesus. We have seen powerful miracles happening ... At the moment, one of our friends is suffering from a tumor and gets medical treatment. Due to his physical condition, he is not able to work and wanted to apply for social funds to support him. It's possible to get money from the government, however, the requirement is this: You have to submit the necessary documents and hand in the application to the right department ... otherwise you don't get anything at all. Well, I went with him to his place of birth in order to support him to take the right legal steps ...

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In order to submit all documents, our friends had to ask his ex-wife to give him the family register. When they were still married, her husband was a gambler and because of his gambling he brought much misery to the family. Meeting at the local office, she didn't talk to him at all. However, I approached her and was able to break the ice. I was even able to pray for her. In the evening, she, her sister and sister-in-law came to the hotel. They came to see the new man with whom she once was married and who was not a gambler anymore but a Christian. There were hardly any words but lots of tears. The three women opened their hearts and I thanked God for what happened. No one else would be able to do anything like that!
The Silk Road – a trade route between China, the Orient and Europe, that was established more than a thousand yeras ago. The traders brought the different cultural and religious influences from the nations into China. In this way Islam gained a foothold especially in the Northern region.
Together with a team from the REVIVAL SCHOOL on the Move* we travelled along a Northern branch of the Silk Road. Happily cramped into Asian style compartments with the locals, we took our guitar and lifted up the name of Jesus in worship and prayer and blessed the land with his presence. Along the road we stopped at a few important cities, where we did the same in public places and Muslim districts.

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Do you speak English?

The journey started in Urumqi - a city of more than 2 million people. The Uighurs live here, a Muslim minority. I arrived early to make preparations for the trip. While I stood in line for hours to buy tickets, God knew how to make use of the wait: A young Uighur approached me to practice his English. For a long time we had complete freedom to talk in English about my faith in Jesus, the Saviour, forgivness, the Father love of God. All of this was new to the young Muslim. He asked to keep connected via internet.

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Found!

Before the journey, I had prayed for one homeless man, Mehmet. This Muslim Uighur used to live in the streets of our Southern mega city. At our care centre he had become a believer in Jesus Christ. A few years ago he went back to Urumqi. So arriving in that city I prayed: »God, if Mehmet is here and you have something for him, help us to meet him!« And sure enough, the second day we saw him looking through some litter bins in a busy place. We were so happy, that God would have us find him like that in such a big city! As we talked, I saw a huge cross dangling from his neck. In a Muslim environment, this was a very real statement.

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Just when our RSotM team was at the train station to leave, we found him again. He was deeply touched by the presence of God, as we prayed for and blessed him.
God cares for the one! Mehmet may seem a very unimportant person to the people around him, but he matters in God's kingdom and the King made sure, Mehmet knows it!

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God is longing for the lost!

The Uighurs continued to move our hearts. Their faces displayed the resignation and hopelessness of their souls. The city was under even tighter security rules these days because the memorial day of a bloody attack was coming up. Still we were able to worship in several public places and lift up the saving power of the cross. At the site of the sad incidence we spent a time of intercession and proclamation. Very strongly we sensed God's longing for the Uighur people group. Only He can overcome the deep seperation between them and the Han Chinese!

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»Why is my heart so moved by your music?«

Traveling from Urumqi to the next city in a 20-hour-train-trip, we were fascinated by the impressive desert-like landscape. In worship and prayer we expressed God's Father love and His deep compassion over the land and its people. After such a worship time, one of the Uighur women around us asked: »Why is my heart so moved by your music? There is something different about it!« Her sister felt the same. But when I started to talk about Jesus, they quickly changed the subject. In the city I had already noticed the fearful rejection, that such talk would cause. Yet a song of blessing, a prophetic word, a little gift, all of this could be brought to them by our team's women. God has put the seed of love into their hearts ... and his love for the Uighurs into ours!

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*If you want to know more about the REVIVAL SCHOOL on the Move, please click here! Next year we have the opportunity to do the 3rd term of the RSotM in China, incl. another worship train trip. You are welcome to join us!
What a huge nation - 1.5 billion people and rising - so many needs ... and then there is always the individual. This nation is always good for surprises ...

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No ticket

»I only want to wash my hands!« The man was in his early 30s and stood in front of me with a stern and provocing gesture. A few steps behind him came one of our helpers who was watching the entrance and said: »He doesn't have any ticket!« The room was croweded with 60 men waiting for warm clothes, a shower and something to eat, and he took one of the precious seats. I decided to pay attention to more important things and let him for the moment. Once most of the guests left and peace came into the room, I went to sit beside him and talked with him. It was only moments later that I came to realize that he was the stern guy without the ticket. While talking to him I found out that he had a small business, a place to live and wasn't interested at all in the offers of our center. Was this man in the wrong place?

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Fatherless

»I am also a Christian. I am going to church ...« While he continued to talk I saw in my mind's eya a word written over him: fatherless. I said to him, »God knows that you lost your father when you were very young. He is here to comfort you and to pour his Father love on you.« I continued to speak the Father love of God over him prophetically. He started to weep, put his head on the table, covered his face in his hands. After I prayed for him, I invited him to give his life to Jesus. He spoke a prayer of repentance and submission to his Savior after me. Deeply moved he opened up and told me about his life as an orphan. When he left, I remembered that I almost threw him out ... However, God had opened the door wide for him!
True mission takes place in our everyday life, not only in events. Therefore, we are talking to the people in our area - when we go shopping, in restaurants or when waiting at the ticket booth of the subway. There are people everywhere and they are happy to be touched by God. We don't always hear about the impact that one encounter is making on these people.

Do you remember me?

Today, I was on my way back home from a very dry McDonald's bible study group. I was pondering on the question of how these people might break through in a greater dimension to the Holy Spirit, when suddenly a woman turned around: »Do you remember me? You used to visit the people of the old people's home in this street. My father became a Chrstian through you. He died, but all of our family is believing in Jesus now. Earlier we heard about Jesus from far-away family, but only through our father we were open to believe in Jesus ourselves.«

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Unexpected Fruit

How kind of God to encounter and encourage me by showing me this unexpected fruit! When I visited the father of this lady, I didn't have the impression that the meeting went very deep. In those days I also asked myself, of how more life and more of the Holy Spirit might impact these visits at the old people's home. God is the one who makes the seed grow and blossom. All glory and honor be unto him alone!
     
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