Saturday, May 23, 2009


It was a good week in Hollywood. I'd missed the previous week due to being sick, so it was nice to be back out and seeing people I hadn't seen in a while. The cops were out and about, and several of them were hanging out by donut time (not sure what they were giving tickets for). Which means that people were happy to hang out with us and chat. Because they know that the police won't bother them if they're with us.

A couple of us chatted with Keeva, who has been coming to the bible study weekly. We talked about her nursing job and recent work drama, and I found out more about her tattoos, some of which I'd never noticed before. One on each eyelid that she had done in 8th grade. And a few matching tattoos from a "clique" she was in. At least that's what she called it. Otherwise known as a gang...

During that conversation, our friend 'Alex' walked out of the donut shop, so we began catching up right away. It's always good to see him, and it had been a few weeks. He was with Star, who several people on our team know well. I hadn't met him before, but we got along quickly. I'd actually heard various rumors about him being killed, beat up, etc before. (I believe he'd been beat up pretty bad a few months back.) Again, they wanted to hang out with me since the cops were there, and then we hung out until bible study. Despite some hesitation to come and stay, they hung out for a bit although Star was clearly uncomfortable being there and didn't feel like he belonged. He made a bit of a scene and couldn't keep too quiet. But he kept trying to leave, and Alex was wanting to stay, but feeling pressured to go and hang out with his friend. Interestingly, about the time Alex was ready to go, Star kind of hung around and kept listening.

Antquan noted at the end of the night that he had seen them on the fence, being pulled both ways - lightness or darkness? - as they hovered around, unaware of the spiritual battle they were in the midst of. Eventually, darkness won out and they left early in the bible study. But it was one of those situations where, had they stayed, they wouldn't have listened well and probably would have caused major distractions...or been frustrated by us trying to 'make' them stay. So we let them head off with a wave and smile. The Refuge, however, was still full of people listening attentively.

One of them, Jose, talked with Antquan after about how he'd just left a program and was starting to drink again. But he knew he needed to get back on track, and made plans to have Antquan take him back to a program or a place he could get help. He's a Christian, but struggling a bit at the moment.

A friend of mine, Marcus, was also there with his boyfriend. I hadn't seen him in a while, and the last few times I'd seen him he'd been hesitant to talk much. So when we split up into discussion groups afterwards, I was in his group and got to spend most of the evening talking to them. We talked about things we need to surrender to God. They assured us that they'd both already surrended everything to Jesus because he died on the cross for them. But their lifestyles don't exactly reflect it. That disconnect is a tricky one for me to know how to address. Call them out, when I've done some of that before? Or just keep chatting and build on the relationship in order to build trust to eventually address it again? It didn't seem the time to call it out...I'm not sure if that was my call or God's, but I will continue to pray for the Holy Spirit to mold them and hope to see them again soon.

The conversations of the evening left me with a bitter taste in my mouth - glad to see people I hadn't seen in a while and chat with them. But frustrated that they say with their mouths they love God, while their lives deny it. Yet it left me with more passion for an actual building in the area to be able to build these relationships day-in and day-out, because one day a week just isn't enough to combat all that their souls war against during the week.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

the Full Expression of the Gospel

I read these words from Newsong pastor Dave Gibbons this week and it made me think even more about the concept of community that God has been teaching me so much about lately:

"Yes, we're focused on comfort in the American church and it's led to a consumer church. In the process, we've missed the full expression of the gospel. We've missed out on the second most important commandment, which is to love your neighbor. And who is your neighbor? As defined in the scriptures-the story of the Good Samaritan-it's not someone like you, it's actually someone not like you, someone you are not naturally drawn to, someone of a different culture, someone you may even hate. Jesus said, Love God and love your neighbor. If you can love someone who is unlike you, that's when the world will take notice..."

I've been trying to interact more with my neighbors just within my apartment complex to get to know them and pray for them. I'm still working on how to tangibly love them while I barely know them, and praying that God will give me opportunities. Because God has placed me here and around these people for some reason, and I know I need to be a light to them.

But it made me think even more about community in Hollywood and how we do ministry there...

This past week I went to a conference with work and was able to interact with/hear from some big thinkers, consultants and pastors (such as Dave Gibbons) who are living in these kind of communities or working to build them. Since then, my mind has been flooded with possibilities of what ministry in Hollywood could look like, what community means, how important it is, and what that will require of me.

..."When we got in to a new city to initiate ministry, what do we generally do? We think demographically: who is like me? Shouldn't we instead ask, Who are the most marginalized people in this community, and then go love on them? Love on them with no strings attached! I really believe that as we reach the marginalized we will reach the masses. Isn't this what God demonstrated? People who saw Jesus chose to be his disciples. They saw who he hung out with-the fringe-and they said, "Jesus is for us." That was the story that became viral."

I'm used to what Broken Hearts does in Hollywood, who we interact with and the lifestyle and environment down there. So I forget this, but truly, we stand out. People notice us and know what we do. We meet people who say they've known who we are and what we do for months, because they've watched us (
unbeknownst to us). Why? We're mostly a bunch of white, college-aged, clean-cut kids who show up every week, completely out of place. We don't go for drugs or prostitution or crime...we're there to love people and tell them about Christ. That's not normal.

When a white girl who exudes naivete and innocence excitedly greets and hugs a black, transsexual prostitute and starts talking at a table in a donut shop about how their weeks have been, people take notice. Or a Lebanese college student from Orange County hangs out for an hour in a liquor store talking to the owner about his family, without ever buying alcohol, it stands out as abnormal.

And the more we can do of that, the more time we can spend in that area, interacting with these people on a daily basis and sharing their trials and being there for them day-in and day-out, the more that type of healthy community can grow and allow for the love of Christ to be more than words. Maybe that will water the seeds that have been planted and allow us to experience a great harvest.

It's easy to go to church on Sundays, have our small groups or bible studies throughout the week, go to a Christian school or work at a Christian job and say that we love our neighbors and hope others will see and experience that love. Which they absolutely can. But that's easy. Even the 'pagans' do that, it's not all that unique.

But what if I spend more time getting to know my next door
neighbors of 4 different backgrounds and ethnicities and worldviews, and treat them like I would my Life Group? What if we all hung out with the homeless, poor, widows, gang members and drug dealers around us? How weird would that look? As a RockHarbor pastor recently taught, wouldn't that make people ask: "What happened here? What happened in this person's life to make them that way?"

Please join Broken Hearts in praying that God would give us a building, a way to pay for it, and wisdom to know how to use it to further an Acts-like community in Hollywood!