I’ve been hanging out in Watts and Compton all week, feeding people.
And I know I’m supposed to say about something deep about that – like the poor are beautiful and the light of Jesus shines in their eyes. And it does, because Jesus loves all of us the same, from the woman stepping out of her Bentley in West Hollywood to the Filipina grandma rolling a dirty stroller through the food line to pick up her frozen chicken and yams.
But there’s nothing deep to say. Poor and hungry people aren’t always grateful and sweet, sometimes they are demanding and they hustle you, which makes them very similar to rich and well-fed people. And there’s a lesson in that. We all have a story and we are all broken in different ways. Maybe it’s PTSD in the homeless veteran, molestation in the prostitute, illiteracy in the gang-banger or critical selfishness in me. As Nancy Alcorn founder of Mercy Ministries says, “there’s always a why behind the what” and Jesus cares about all of it.
So the LA Dream Center’s idea is a simple one. Go to them, feed them, find out what they need, try to get it, make friends and introduce them to Jesus. People here are clear-eyed about the enormity of the problem – 100,000 homeless people live in LA – but they don’t let it paralyze them, instead they get up, pray hard, load the truck, sort the food, pass it out, hug the people and repeat day in and day out.
And it works. One by one, story by story, it works.
This morning I picked through a pallet of persimmons, looking for the best ones to take to Skid Row this afternoon.
Skid Row is home to about 10,000 homeless people and has the highest concentration of violent crime on the West Coast. Yet the Dream Center is there five days a week, feeding hot meals to the drug addicts, prostitutes, homeless veterans, the mentally ill and people who have just come up short.
And here’s what they say about it.
What could be a better place to shine the light, love and hope of Jesus then in the midst of such dark and dismal places?
For sure not everybody is called to do this kind of work. Some people go to Skid Row and some people send them. But if you are interested in helping the Dream Center rescue one life at a time you can donate here.