Shelly has been volunteering faithfully at the Dream Center in Los Angeles for about two years. She has served in their Adopt A Block Program, Food Truck Ministry and Prayer Ministry. More recently, she has been discipling a group of teen girls once a week and preaching in the food chapel before dinner.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to follow her around while she did her thing for a few hours. The Dream Center is really an amazing place, I’ve never seen anything like it. Joel, one of the full-time staffers there gave me a mini tour along with the history of its development. Basically, God gave Pastor Matthew, a 20-year-old white dude from Arizona a vision to put a church in the Rampart District of Los Angeles, to serve and love the neighborhood around it. That dream turned into a much larger ministry where now they reach over 40,000 people each month from low-income families, homeless individuals, at risk youth and those struggling with various addictions. The Dream Center provides basic necessities, discipleship and skill training in an effort to bring people to a place of self sufficiency. More recently, the DC has begun a ministry called Project Rescue which aims to bring back hope to those who have had theirs stolen through human trafficking.
I met some people with amazing testimonies yesterday. One woman, who is not much different from you and I was there with her three boys and husband. They lived a “normal” life until her husband got carried away with drugs and ended up losing everything. They came to the Dream Center where her husband was rehabilitated. They were housed and cared for there, he found a job through a volunteer and now they are saving up to get back out on their own.
A 60-year-old man who came to the DC 5 years ago, homeless and addicted to heroin and meth for 18 years was running the chapel after having completed a degree from their Bible institute.
One woman I met said something that has stayed with me. She said, at any point you could walk up to someone at the DC and ask them to tell you their story and they will tell you what God has done for them without holding back. I asked if they are taught how to give their testimony or something as part of the discipleship program and her response was:
It’s just a part of the culture.
She went on to quote Revelation 12:11.
“The overcame him with the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.”
Yesterday, I was visibly reminded of how God sent Jesus so our broken lives would be restored. But our restored lives continue with a different purpose when we feel rehabilitated or recovered. Our broken lives have cracks that are not fully sealed, so the light of Jesus can shine through so others can see. It’s important to speak of this, share with others and give glory to God.
Today, Jon Acuff summed up the Gospel in four words.
Be sick, be loved.
The DC is a place where those with all kinds of sickness are brought back to wholeness as they are loved by Jesus through human hands.
Have you been to the Dream Center? How have you seen God through your own transformation or through the lives of those around you? Remember, people overcome the darkness of this world by the blood of the Lamb AND the word of YOUR testimony!