Monday, September 28, 2009
It's been a good past few weeks in LA.
Though 'Jake' was accepted to rehab, he wasn't able to go in as soon as he'd hoped. So for almost a week we waited to hear from him, as he waited to hear from the program to see if he could get in. I kept my phone nearby every day waiting to hear what was happening, but never knew when I'd get a phone call or from what number, because his phone was disconnected. It was difficult to hear day after day that he couldn't get in when he was holding on with all that he had to try and stay sober.
Yet it was also a chance to experience what it's like to be the church for someone in need. Thursday night he stayed with us the whole time we were out on the streets, just trying to stay clean and keep his mind off of drugs. When we saw him he said, "oh thank God you're here. I was so upset that I couldn't get into rehab, but I knew if I could just wait until you all got out here then everything would be okay."
Antquan and Lorena graciously gave him a bed that night and a place to avoid temptation. He stayed there for a few days, they attended some meetings with him and did bible studies. Every chance I got, he and I would talk and I'd try to offer any encouragement possible, just wishing I could be in Hollywood to help him out. It's amazing to see people giving of their time and comfort and personal space in order to serve someone...otherwise known as living the way God tells us to in the bible. Concern for Jake was greater than any concern for myself for just a few days (amazing, because I'm a pretty selfish person)...and because I couldn't be in LA, I had no hesitation in sending him to Antquan and Lorena and knowing they would help him out. The support they were able to give him was no small thing. They cared more for him than for themselves while he was struggling, and that may have made all the difference.
Antquan took him to rehab on Tuesday and has been talking to him sporadically since. Today, Michelle and I were able to join him at rehab for a bbq the place was putting on. We were all so excited to see each other, and seeing him running down the street towards us to give us hugs brought me so much joy.
We spent the next few hours hanging out with him in what felt like a scene from the musical Rent. His rehab is specifically for gay and transgender individuals...and they know how to put on a party! Clean and sober, the food was amazing, the performers were over-the-top, and the DJ kept the fun, LOUD, pop music going the whole time, inspiring spontaneous dancing in all directions.
Though incredibly entertaining and fun, there was also a bitter-sweetness to the spectacle as it's obvious that - while they may be sober - there is still much hurt and pain and difficult that they've gone through and are still going to have to work through. That's when I'm so grateful for God, because how can you ever get over that stuff and find hope and redemption for your life without him? Sobriety may be great, but unless we've surrendered our lives to Christ, we will never be healed or complete.
So it was great to hear Jake talk about how great things were going, how he'd been reading Psalms, and how he really wanted to go to church. We thought we were going to have to wait a while to take him to church with us, but he should be able to go this week! And that was what he sounded most anxious for.
In addition to God's work there, we also had several nights in Hollywood of busy streets and full bible studies. We had an Exposure Night, so back-to-back nights for me. But we've had at least 5 people at our last few bible studies, including some guys who rarely come. This past Thursday we had 'J' and another guy I met around the time I met Jake...who we'll call 'Art'. He's generally pretty high and uninterested in bible study, but he was particularly mellow this week and stayed for all of bible study. And J brought some friends with him who'd been before and remembered me when I barely even remembered them. We spent a lot of time in discussion after the message getting to know them and talking about being healed by Christ.
We also had our team meeting and got to brainstorm more about coffee shop ideas, t-shirts to come soon, and our additional night of prayer ministry on Friday nights. And praise God for answering Nick's prayers to have more, committed individuals coming out on Friday night. That team is growing with men and women who want to give more.