Tuesday, April 27, 2010


A few weeks ago, a girl in the donut shop stopped me mid-conversation and asked if we help people find housing. We spoke a bit about her needs, her challenges (just getting out of jail) and how we might be able to help. She left early that night to get some sleep, but I saw her the following night in the same spot, where our conversation continued. A friend and I chatted with her for a while about her desire to find out more about God, her needs for housing and getting off of the street, etc. She wanted to come to church, but didn't show up that Sunday when I went to get her.

Later that morning I received an email that she'd tried to come but the clock on the computer she was using was behind and so she missed meeting up for church. The following week, I saw her on Thursday again and, after having her fill out an intake form so we could help, she ranted and raved about why programs restrict  drugs, why they're not bad, why the president and cops and so on are not doing any good and don't help people like her; how she doesn't want to be told what to do, how God has let her down and she's anti-Christ...but still interested in finding out more about him. It was one of those times I felt I just needed to listen, as irrational as some arguments were and despite multiple questions she was firing off  without much room for me to answer. At the end of the night she said she still wanted to come to church. But once again didn't show up.

This past week, I didn't see her on the street, but she called me Friday morning to let me know she'd found temporary housing. She'd had a dream about me and it made her decide to call. We spent some time just talking and catching up, before she once again asked if she could come to church. She promised she'd be there this time (again). Sunday morning, right on time, she was there waiting.

Unfortunately she'd stayed up all night and was so tired that she slept through most of our church gathering. But she also said she had an amazing sleep and it felt like she was in Heaven. Afterward, she and I and two others went out to lunch. At this point she was much more awake and we were all able to hold a great conversation. Once again turning to drug use, our friend 'Jake' was able to speak to her in a unique way because he had been exactly where she was. My friend Branden was able to speak some truth and call out some issues, but in a gentle way that she seemed to truly hear. We talked about many topics, from God to drugs to relationships and desire for friends. And had many humorous moments as well as we talked and talked over Mexican food.

She realized some issues with drugs and problems they can cause....realized there might be something to another way of living based on the way our lives seemed to be going (which was huge!) ..and asked to hang out with us and come back to church again. On the drive to drop her off, we kicked back in the car, jamming to the music on the radio and having fun.

I couldn't help but smile the whole ride. Our day had been amazing - great conversation that flowed naturally, awesome dynamics between four completely different individuals, and a lot of fun. She may have fallen asleep during our church service, but surely she did not miss out on Church that day. God was present, and I couldn't be happier to be a part of His ministry.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Livin' the Dream

Taken from my personal blog, regarding ministry this week:

Somewhere along the line, God changed my dreams quite  a bit. Sitting in a grey cubicle at work, I often day-dreamed of an afternoon at the beach instead of sitting at a desk. But  as time progressed, especially on a Friday after a night of street ministry, those dreams became more about being in Hollywood and having time and availability to spend with the people we met.

Well, this weekend I got both.

The joy of working at home is that, on Thursday when I had some work to do, I headed to the beach to get it done out in the wonderfully warm weather. That night, I went out to Broken Hearts for street ministry, where I had several memorable encounters. First, I saw a guy I haven’t seen in weeks but pray for often, and got to catch up with him  a bit. Just seeing him again was great, as was knowing that now I have much more opportunity to spend time with him if he ever wants to hang out because I live in the neighborhood.

During that conversation, a girl interrupted us as we talked about church, asking if we do housing for people. That led into a conversation about the help she needed and how we might be able to help. That’s rare – people don’t just ask for help unless they’re really ready. In fact, that’s my regular prayer, that God would send us just those type of people…the ones so hungry for change and help that we don’t have to offer or convince them of anything because they’re desperate enough to ask. Which also means the chance of sustained and lasting change is much more likely, because we’re not coercing, we’re simply available to help in their need.

Tonight, a friend was visiting, and after coffee and dessert, we couldn’t decide what to do with the last hour or so of our night. We decided to take a stroll and go by way of the boulevard, just to stop and say 'hi' to a few people and see the Friday night Broken Hearts team.

We ended up seeing that same guy friend mentioned previously, which then led to us seeing a few other people we know and getting to catch up with them as well. But it also took us inside the donut shop, where once again we ran into the girl who’d asked for help.

For the next 30 minutes, my friend and I got to hear more of her need and situation and talk a bit about God. Which, again, she brought up and we didn’t even have to. She asked about going to church and agreed to meet up this week to come with me to church where we can start the journey of meeting both spiritual and physical needs.

Our plans didn’t quite pan out tonight like we’d planned…but clearly God had something much better in store. And it brought me so much joy to simply take a stroll late at night, and end up seeing the Broken Hearts crew and many friends on the street who, normally, I’d have to wait a week to see.

We encountered someone in need and got to talk and pray with her, journey the streets and wander in areas that Broken Hearts always avoids. Because now it’s not just an intimidating, unfamiliar neighborhood, but it’s my home and much more comfortable to spend time in.

The idea of “incarnational ministry” has appealed to me since I heard the concept in those terms. It swirled in my mind as a longing and dream for over a year…and now I get to see it lived out. Not quite what I had planned, or could have ever imagined for myself.  This move, this crazy neighborhood, this cut from full-time to part-time work…it’s a far cry from the beach house and comfortable life I always planned on. But now, this is what I call “livin’ the dream”.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Not what we planned on...

This past Thursday was just slightly unusual...

Antquan and the men's bible study was going late, and I had lost my garage door opener and couldn't get out to the streets without a ride. So Jeremiah was the only one there around 11pm. He texted that there was a bomb at Del Taco and they were making everyone leave the area. So in a flurry of phone calls, texts and confusion in the midst of noisy helicopters, we all eventually ended up at Antquan's because no one could get to Del Taco or nearby.

Apparently, one of our friends who is a security guard had told Jeremiah about the bomb and that he'd have to leave. We arrived at Antquan's at the end of their bible study and all made ourselves at home. Our friends 'Ravi' and 'Romeo' ( who we'd just re-met a few weeks ago in need of help) were there, along with Antquan, Jorge and Antquan's friend Branden.

For the  next several hours, our group comprised of Biolans, cross-country visitors and Skid Row-and-Hollywood-dwellers ate pizza, played Monopoly, and talked about what was going on in our lives and got to know each other better.

Not exactly what we had planned, but often those chill times of hanging out and experiencing warm, loving community and fun are more powerful, bonding and trust-building than anything we could have planned.