Aldersgate Men

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mark 2:17

And hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Few places on earth deserve the title of "sin city" as much as Amsterdam. With a myriad of innovative ways to sell sex, and a liberal attitude towards drugs - Holland's capital draws a host of people lured by the relaxed attitudes and "easy money" it provides. The sea-port city in the heart of Europe is perhaps the most multicultural place in the entire world - no city in the world is inhabited by as many different people from other countries and cultures as Amsterdam. When i visit - i often feel like i'm at the Mos Eisley spaceport from Star Wars.

The infamous Red Light District is a place unlike any other in the world - "coffee houses" are really dope houses with the smell of reefer wafting outside, strung-out drug addicts wander around aimlessly. It's very clean and the old buildings, the cobblestone streets and the canal are absolutely beautiful sites to behold - just like most of the city. Aesthetically - the RLD is top shelf! That said, the most notable aspect of the RLD is the prostitution - here, women stand in windows, presenting themselves like merchandise. Live porno shops abound, as do drug and sex paraphernalia shops. It's all wrapped-up in a very festive type atmosphere. I wont even get into the "Gay Pride" thing...The city tour guides even promote the RLD as a place to "enjoy yourself in the festive atmosphere".

An old friend of mine from High School - Steve Ashworth actually lives in Amsterdam. Steve was our class valedictorian, he graduated from Baylor University with an Accounting degree, went to work for Arthur Andersen and was off to highly successful career as CPA - I'm sure he had "Partner" written all over him! While getting ready to start his MBA program he "got a call from upstairs"...

Today Steve is a Director with Youth With a Mission (YWAM) in Amsterdam. He is in charge of the training center and handles the YWAM finances and administrative duties in Amsterdam. During my last visit there I had the pleasure of meeting with Steve for the first time in 24 years as I sat-in on an orientation session he conducted for his new incoming staff.

{Steve - Addressing his troups and preparing them for what lies ahead. He is sharing how they need to view the people of their mission field NOT as what they are, but how God sees them - as His children whom he loves, and in whom He will do great works and miracles}

YWAM owns several buildings in Amsterdam - one is the De Poort training center where Steve lives and works with his wife Rhonda and their 3 children. The training center reminds me of a small technical college - it has classrooms, dorm rooms, a large commercial kitchen, a dining hall, a recreation center etc. Another building owned by YWAM is a large building in the very center of Amsterdam - across from the train station. This building is easily recognizable as the building with the "Jesus Loves You" sign at the top. YWAM receives rent income from the apartments. Among the buisiness tenants is an awesome Christian coffee house/art cafe' and a Christian book store.

The third building is a work in progress called De Cleft. De Cleft is in the heart of the RLD, a couple of doors down from what was the Church of satan (I'm not kidding), live pornography shops...the works. The Cleft serves as a ministry/outreach center to the RLD with teams of women sharing the love of Christ to the women behind the windows and other teams reaching out to the homeless and broken who congregate in this neighborhood.

Right next to The Cleft is another building that YWAM is now renovating called The Tabernacle of the Nations. It is a work in progress, but the vision is that, when complete, it will serve as a 24/7 house of prayer and worship that will be open to all.

The funding for renovationations on De Cleft is running very low and Steve was forced to tell the staff they need to slow-down a bit until more funding comes-in. It will be completed.

I was blessed during my visit by the enthusiasm and positive attitude of all of Steve's staff and volunteers. They work in one of the more overwhelming mission fields in the world - but they see it as a plentifultifull harvest! It seems like all of them (who, by the way have made many sacrifices to be there) are full of The Spirit and they are happy to be working in His vineyard - there is no place they would rather be than among the least, the last and the lost....sorta like Jesus huh? It was a blessing to me just to be around them - what a testimony! There are some incredible stories of His awesome healing power and grace that abounds in this community. These people have "gotten out of their boats" and they trust in Him to be faithful - and accordingly He continues to bless them and their work, which is why they are so bold and enthusiastic.

Lets keep them and those whom they minister to in our prayers.....


Blogger The Spaniard said...

As an even more uplifting follow-up to this story - I received the following in an email from Steve Ashworth today:

JUST IN: I checked our bank statements on Wednesday and an anonymous gift for EUR 30,000 came in for The Tabernacle of the Nations!!!!! I was just hoping that I wasn't going to see a negative bank balance ... so I was stunned, to say the least! Although the gift was dated March 30, 2005, it actually only arrived on our bank account on Monday (the day you arrived -- would you like to come back again, Brad?!!!). What was cool was that Tuesday morning (I didn't yet know that the gift had been made), after I shared that our finances are in a crunch right now ... and Marietha (who shared about the Tabernacle of the Nations in the orientation) shared from her perspective, saying that God had challenged her "Marietha, where is your faith?" - we prayed as a community in our meeting. It was only the day after we prayed that we found out about the gift! I think God is just like smiling saying ... Trust Me - keep your eyes on Me - I am all you need!

Bro ... it was so good to see you and hear what God is doing in your life and through you! Very uplifting for me/us.

3:20 AM  

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