Sunday, September 28, 2008

This week was a nice change of pace, because we actually spent the majority of our time with familiar faces. Guys who have been returning for several weeks in a row. That doesn't happen often, so it's exciting when we see people coming specifically on Thursdays to hang out, eager to hear the word and be prayed for.

A few of us got there early, so we headed into Del Taco to hang out and talk about how we might do a better job at reaching the transgender population, and why it’s so difficult. While we were there, our friend “Manny” we had met a few weeks ago came inside and joined us. We’ve seen him every week since meeting, and he’s also been hanging out with the Friday night crew. He told us he’d had a crazy week. He just got out of jail because when some police were harassing him, he ended up punching them and sent to jail. And he’s stopped talking to his girlfriend, whose house he was staying at, so now he’s back on the street.

After the rest of the group got there and we’d had some more time to chat with him, we headed out to start the night with prayer. Manny took off, but our friend Romeo joined up while we were praying. A passionate Christian, he shared with me and Francisco for quite a while, encouraging us to keep sharing Christ with everyone. He spoke on and on about how even though he’s homeless and has nothing, he’s got Jesus and as long as he’s got that, he’s fine. And everyone there knows he’s a Christian and he proclaims it all the time. It was good to hear that we have been able to be an encouragement to him also, seeing us on the streets sharing Jesus with others. He reminded us how it’s a place full of temptation and trouble, and he wasn’t even willing to come to our bible study that night because he knew heading down that direction would bring him trouble. He was trying to get out of the area that night.

On the way to bible study, we stopped to chat with the guys barbecuing at the hot wings place that has replaced what used to be a favorite Mexican food joint. It’s typically known to be a place that prostitutes hang out to get dates, and usually where people are doing drugs. It’s become a little bit more of a community place now, with the barbecues on the street and the workers hanging out at the seats outside to keep people from lingering there. I found out later that the following night, our Friday night group used the barbecue and brought their own food to cook and serve to the people on the street and drew a pretty large crowd. So awesome to hear how God inspired creativity in them to build some community and reach out in unique ways.

As we wandered on, I heard someone say hi from the opposite side of the stand, and recognized “Alex”, someone I know well even though I’ve only seen him there a handful of times. The first time we met, I and a few other girls had a very long conversation with him about how he’s a Christian, doesn’t want to be working on the streets, and wants to get into fashion. We hugged and chatted for a while as Alex updated me on what’s been happening. He was sitting with a friend, smoking a joint, until a couple of other guys I’ve met there before wanted to join in. Alex told one of them off as he touched him in a way that indicated he wanted more. Alex wasn’t having it that night, wasn’t wanting to be there on the streets, doing what he does to make money. So we took off to our bible study, which didn’t end up happening. People were engaging in conversations with Mike, a Christian guy who spent the evening giving Antquan some ideas and perspective on how to minister better here; and “Seth”, the guy who rededicated his life a few weeks ago and has been coming to our bible study regularly because he doesn’t have a church home of his own; and “Ravi” who came to hang out with us once again, but spent much of the night sleeping in Antquan’s back seat; and Alex and I headed into the donut shop to eat and chat. We talked again about how he wants to find a real job and is trying, wants to get into fashion and off the streets. Kayla and Jen joined us later and we continued the discussion about what God wants, why things might be going the way they are, how to go about finding a job, and how much God loves him, but might just want Alex to trust him to provide instead of giving into the temptation to make it on his own with his sexuality. Once again, it was a very good conversation and he said he would be trying to stay away from Hollywood this week and let God provide; but that he’d be back on Thursday to hang out with us. So we’ll see how that goes.

Overall it was a good night, good turn out and many long conversations for each person on our team. It’s encouraging to feel like we’re actually able to provide some discipleship for these brothers who are on the street and struggling, but still pursuing God.

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