Today we were able to participate in a couple of really cool and impacting outreaches. This morning we were helping with one of the local food trucks that unloads just a couple of blocks away from the dream center and this afternoon we took snacks and water out to skid row.
I think some of the stuff that I have been writing about may get kind of repetitive but there has been so much good stuff to pull away from what I have experienced here this week. The food truck that Michael and I helped with this morning was unique in that it wasn’t just a food bank that was provided at the Dream Center but it was a truck that went out to a particular block of the city and unloaded food there.
I have volunteered at food banks before and it was actually quite similar. I felt like I had a clue what was happening. I even found myself giving some instruction once or twice. 🙂 But what was cool was that it was on the corner of two streets instead of in a structured building. It was basically a mobile food bank. I have never seen that before.
What I forget is that a lot of the people who live in this area, especially the less fortunate one’s don’t actually have cars. So if the Dream Center didn’t have these pop up food trucks, the people in the area wouldn’t have a way to get all of this food back home.
The system was pretty flawless as we loaded up the food, took it out to the street corner and bagged it all right there for the people who came to get it. There were a couple of issues at the end because you always have people who are going to try and cheat the system. So we had a couple of altercations when extra food was being given out and people felt like they should have had a chance to get seconds. Other than that it was a pretty smooth system. I was reminded how ungrateful some people can be for sure. But I was also reminded that there are so many people out there who legitimately need the extra help and are grateful to receive it.
This afternoon we packed up some carts and bags of snacks and waters and headed out to Skid Row to pass them out. The ultimate goal of this ministry is to build relationships with the people that we encounter and pray for their needs if they allow us to. It was evident as some of these Dream Center students began interacting with these individuals who struggle with homelessness that they have been on these streets interacting with these people.
We actually stopped and talked to some people and families that were very familiar with some of our people and they knew them by name. Some of the individuals that we were able to help didn’t really want to talk at all and rejected our offers to pray for them. But the ones who did we really believe that the Lord is going to bless them and help them get off the streets like are desperately wanting to do.
The thing that amazed me the most about the interactions we had with these people was their ability to live somewhat regular lives. For some of them the only thing I really felt was different between us was that I live in a house and they live in a tent. Some families had dogs while others actually had vehicles. This isn’t to minimize their situations at all. But you could tell a lot of these people were trying to make their lives as normal as possible.
Skid Row legitimately looks like a third world county. Trash everywhere. Urine and feces all over the streets. It’s hard to imagine what it would be like for this to be your everyday life.
We came across one man who was talking to us about his dreams of pursuing acting in Hollywood and he believed that he would get the opportunity to do that one day. He kept talking to us about the recent movies he had seen and what he was doing to make money and survive where he was.
I think I thought that the personalities of most of these people would be a little more defeated. I certainly saw many individuals who seemed hopeless but the ones we interacted with seemed like they had some ambition for making something better for their lives.
I took some incognito photos of just some of the tents and some of the things people had laying around their spaces or homes. We were out there for almost two hours and only touched about a block and a half. Skid Row is 54 blocks of this amount of homelessness. And we didn’t even touch some of the rougher parts.
Of course I’m still wrapping my head around a lot of what I saw today and what to do with it. But I am reminded that these people are children of God as well. You could tell that some of them had real relationships with Jesus; the way they spoke, the way they engaged with us as we talked about a Jesus who longs for us to prosper. They are all people and there is a way out for all of them.
We prayed for healing. Finances. Future dreams. We agreed with a lot of things for these individuals. There is still so much real estate to be touched when it comes to Skid Row. I’m very interested to see what it looks like when we go back tomorrow night.
Seeing how well the Dream Center has approached such a large homeless population actually gives me hope for doing the same thing back home. The Homeless population isn’t that large in comparison to what we are experiencing here in LA. And I know if people here are courageous to step out and impact 54 blocks, we can do the same thing back home.
I’m praying for what it all looks like just because the cities are so different. But I believe that the revival that comes to Augusta will bring long term solutions to the homeless situation in our city.
I’m still processing a lot of this so I don’t have much left to say. I will keep you updated on tomorrows outreaches. Including Skid Row tomorrow evening.
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