Wow. I can’t believe #JirehForFour is over. It has been one spectacular summer and although it’s nice to recoup back home, I’m so sad to see it end, however the finale was indeed incredible. I did not expect to learn so much from my week at The Dream Center.
Food Truck Ministry (3:55)
I met and prayed for a number of people at the end of the food line, but one specifically stood out. His name was Donald. After he received his food, I asked him if he needed prayer for anything. He answered, “If your God is really a good God, have Him reveal Himself to me.” I replied, “He is revealing Himself right now through this service and the provision of food. He may not show up physically, but He’s using us and the Dream Center to show His love to His people.” He constantly declined and I prayed for him as he walked away.
He went around a second time and when he reached the end, he had a bag of cheese puffs opened. “Are those any good?” I asked, trying to spark up conversation. “They’re pretty good, did you want to try?” So he handed over the bag and I tried one. “I wonder if I went around a third time if they will give me more food,” he said. I answered hopefully, “You never know! They just might!” Sure enough he went around a third time but all the food was gone except for a few bags of cheese puffs. I ran down the alley and said, “Hey Donald! Did you want more chips?” “Sure,” he said, “I wouldn’t mind at all.” We gave him a couple bags and he said cheerfully, “my neighbor and my friend Thomas would love these, thank you.”
I told him to have a great day and as he walked away I was astonished. No, I didn’t get the opportunity to pray for him directly, but all I could think was for someone who doesn’t believe, he sure is compassionate towards people such as letting me try a cheese puff or giving food away to his friends. I pray one day he knows Who compassion originates from- The One who gives the most compassion and grace to the everyone.
2. Bus Ministry (4:16)
We went around a low-income apartment complex and picked up trash around people’s properties. Afterwards we knocked on their door, asked them if they needed any dishes to be washed or any work to be done in the house. All of them declined so we told them about The Dream Center’s Back to School Bash as well as times for church services then ended with prayer. For our last half hour we rounded up all the kids from that community and played with them. I loved seeing their happy and thankful faces as they don’t receive much attention in the home. Girls’ eyes would lit up just from painting their nails as if it was the greatest present they’ve ever received. So precious; my heart goes out to them!
3. Worship service at Angelus Temple (5:26)
Ohhhhhh, what a night. Pastor Glenn Reynolds spoke on God stretching us in life so that we may be used to fully serve His Kingdom and to not waste the life we’ve been given, and it could not have been more of a perfect message for our team. Amazing.
4. Skid Row
Skid Row is one of the nation’s most impoverished areas where not hundreds but thousands of homeless, drug and alcohol addicted, neglected, and abused call these streets their home. This site in particular really hit my core as I was challenged and convicted. We walked around the sidewalks and passed out food and water. We also prayed over people who just needed Jesus or had health issues like Ernest who had stomach problems and Lucille who had cancer.
I was really struggling when we returned to the Dream Center after the bus ministry because I have seen poverty in third-world countries and as they say, the homeless in the U.S. are richer than the homeless in the east. My parents were born and raised in the Philippines where there are areas that are extremely poverty stricken and ever since I was three years old, I have seen the poor in circumstances and environments that have shaken and completely broken my heart. So when we were at these apartments my heart was not in the right place; I felt like I didn’t have the right compassion towards them. But Skid Row changed all of that. God revealed to me that it doesn’t matter where people are physically, but it does matter where they are spiritually and whether they have a relationship with Jesus or not. As a teammate described it, we shouldn’t have a “we” and “them” mentality but instead an “us.” We are all God’s creations.
When we went to Skid Row at night we walked around and continued to reach out to people sleeping on cardboard, hiding behind their pitched tent, injecting drugs near their cart, and those just sitting there without a hint of hope in their eyes. One man by the name of Teddy inspired me. He came up to us and said “Thank you for what you guys are doing. These people really need it.” We told him it’s our pleasure. Then he kept repeating it with such joy in his voice and the more he said it, the more it sank into my heart. I cried. For someone who had little to nothing, he was still grateful for the work of the church in the community. I wonder if we, including myself, are grateful for even just the simplest things?
When I say I didn’t expect to learn so much in LA, I really mean it. I’ve been praying to encounter God in fresh, new ways and to have a bigger and more loving heart for people this summer- and He answered. I will never take these lessons and experiences for granted. So, so thankful.
“Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.”
– Proverbs 14:31