The Hoods in Los Angeles are tough places to grow up and worse places to raise a family and live. This week I took four of our URM graduates back to a church in the hood to testify to the grace and power of God to transform lives.
There’s a small church on the corner of Florence and 82nd called the Solid Rock Baptist Church. They were celebrating 21 years of street ministry this week. Every Wednesday at 11am for the past 21 years they have been feeding, clothing, developing friendships, and sharing the gospel to their poor neighbors and those experiencing homelessness in the hood. They asked me to come and share what God is doing at the mission on skid row and to encourage their people with a message from the Word.
One of my goals is to disciple the URM graduates, train them for ministry, and give them opportunities to share their story with the churches in the community. I took four graduates with me to the celebration service. After I preached a short message I asked each of the four alumni to share their story.
Half of the audience was made up of church members and the other half were people experiencing homelessness. The entire room was locked on to every word the guys shared. Phillip talked about growing up on the street from the age of ten and finally finding a family in God and the URM community. Mike praised God how he orchestrated providing top notch doctors, heads in their fields, for a guy with no money and a battle with cancer.
Terrace’s eyes welled up as he told us how sensitive he is although he puts on a tough front. Tears came to eyes accompanied by smiles on faces as he spoke of how, after two years of transformation, he now cuts hair for all the men and has been given keys to the building. The keys were a symbol of trust to Terrance. He was trusted and that gave him back the respect that he had lost for himself due to a lifestyle that bound him in shame. David landed the plane by highlighting that his years of wasted living were being redeemed by opportunities such as this and that the generosity of the people at Solid Rock Baptist Church were making a difference in so many lives with stories similar to these four men.
When these four men had finished the pastor was beaming from ear to ear. He was so excited about our partnership in the gospel to the poor that he called for people to come forward to receive Christ or give a love offering to the URM. People from all over the room came forward bringing what little money they had to offer. Even those off the street experiencing homelessness came to put dollars and coins in the basket. It was moving. One women surrendered her life to Christ to be saved.
As we gathered at the car to leave and pray I let the men know how proud I was of them for being vulnerable enough to share their difficult stories. I also thanked them for giving up four hours of their day to serve the Lord. Then we prayed and thanked God for how He had used these redemption stories to bring a women to salvation. I believe they put their heads on their pillows that night and sensed God’s pleasure as they went back to the ‘hood, not as predators with bad intentions, but as preachers of the Good News of Jesus.
Please pray me and our Alumni Ministry as I seek to keep them in Christian community and minister to them and with them, to help us create church partnerships with the Union Rescue Mission to express the compassion of Christ in Deed & Truth.
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