This past Saturday I decided to take myself up last week’s DARE, to “live outside your box” and I joined the Adopt-A-Block ministry of my church, The Los Angeles Dream Center. Every Saturday for the last 12 years The Los Angeles Dream Center has served its community. It has grown to be 35 sites covering over 85 blocks in the communities of Echo Park, Silverlake, Skid Row and South Central Los Angeles. Every Saturday morning, an average of 500 volunteers reach out to people that live in these neighborhoods in the spirit of service. Teams clean homes, paint over graffiti, make minor home repairs, organize games for the children and visit with the elderly. Requests for appliances, clothing, food and furniture are filled. To date, Adopt-A-Block teams have assisted over 30,000 people by knocking on doors and simply asking: “How can we serve you?” (Information from The Los Angeles Dream Center)
When you hear about “South Central Los Angeles or Watts” you don’t usually envision a place filled with love, joy or peace but instead you imagine gangs, poverty and hopelessness. And although South Central is a place of high gang activity, drugs and poverty, you could have fooled me to believe that we had missed our stop and were in a different part of the city. We were greeted with smiles and hugs as we got off our buses. In the midst of hopelessness, the LA Dream Center provides hope. In the midst of brokenness, the LA Dream Center provides peace. In the midst of tragedy, the LA Dream Center provides peace. It has not always been this way. In fact, we started serving uncharted territory that morning and began to develop a relationship with another part of the site. Some people were hesitant to smile at us and most people just observed to see what we were all about. The LA Dream Center has proven themselves in this community and people of all walks of life gathered in the Recreation Center to play basketball, talk and to spend their Saturday morning together.
My favorite moment was when we were standing in front of the Rec Center and this little 3 year old girl saw Mindy for the first time and screamed, “MINDY!!!!” She jumped out of the arms of the girl holding her and ran into Mindy’s arms. I have only seen little eyes light up like that when a child sees his/her mother. My eyes welled up with tears and I did everything I could to hold back the tears from falling on to my face. It was a priceless moment. When this little angel baby saw Mindy she saw love. I was so thankful to have witnessed that moment. It is a moment I so desperately desire to have over and over again. I want people to see the love of Jesus in me. I want to live my life loving people without limits.
This ministry started over 12 years ago by my pastor, Matthew Barnett. He and his wife Caroline Barnett are my heroes. I am so thankful and honored to call them my pastors not because of WHAT they stand for but for WHO they stand for. Pastors Matthew and Caroline Barnett have not only changed the lives of countless people through their ministry but they have truly changed mine. I will forever be different because of my day out in South Central Los Angeles.
Every week I highlight a TRUTH about you, your life, or about a situation you may be facing and then I DARE you to believe it.
Here are this week’s TRUTH or DARE.
TRUTH: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” -James 1:27NIV
DARE: Love People.