Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Cause Within You

We are so excited as Pastor Matthew's latest book, "The Cause Within You," comes out next week! On February 1, you can get your own copy to hear Pastor's story, and learn how you too can discover the one great thing you were created to do in this world.

If you are hungry for a life full of passion instead of apathy; if you are ready to use your specific gifts and abilities to make a mark on the world; if you need to be reminded that God loves you and has a plan for your life— "The Cause Within You" is the book that can change everything. Through his own story and the stories of others whose lives have been transformed, Pastor Matthew will lead you to the cause of your lifetime.

For a sneak peak at the book and access to additional resources, please visit: http://www.thecausewithinyou.com/

A portion of the proceeds goes directly back to the outreaches of The Dream Center.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Need Fillers, Need Fillers

The Food Truck ministry has always intrigued me. I've been an intern here, at The Dream Center, for a while but never got to work with Food Truck. That is until recently. I was blessed to have the opportunity to go out with the Food Truck ministry and see what they do. I regret that I didn't assist or at least observe
their "preparation process" of loading the trucks. If I had, I would've experienced the full magnitude of the ministry. All I know is that I've seen them on various days – loading the trucks with tons of food – and I appreciate their hard work.

After we met up and prayed out, we jumped in cars and the trucks and headed to different distribution neighborhoods. The Food Truck group I went with delivered to Imperial Court in Watts. When I arrived, I jumped into the truck where the food was and quickly switched out my winter mittens for latex gloves. I worked alongside a short-term missionary from a small town in Washington whom I had met earlier that day. Our job was to put frozen chickens into grocery bags, tie them off and hand them to the neighborhood volunteer outside.

The neighborhood volunteers were some interesting characters. They were helpful but some were pushy and agitated – the Devil's always busy but I wouldn't let him take my joy! I just accepted the fact that they weren't used to me or the short-term volunteers, and we weren't used to the pace of this outreach since this was all our first time. Like a pastor who preached here once said, Satan's biggest attack against Christians is: offense. Knowing that, I stayed focused because this missionary experience is not about me.

If you struggle with offense, I encourage you to get past it, so if you ever come to the Dream Center – or wherever you do outreach – you can stay focused. The Scripture that has helped me the most in this area is Colossians 3:23-24, "And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ." (NKJV)

When I got outside of the truck, I had a new job: hand out bags of potatoes. We had good-sized piles of chickens, potatoes, and half-gallon juices which seemed huge at the beginning. But quickly, I began to notice that those piles of food were diminishing rather quickly. At the end of the food distribution we had to tell several other needy families that we didn't have any more food to hand out. That is a hard thing to bear witness to. Imperial Court is a huge public assistance project in Watts, here in L.A. The need is great in this neighborhood, but we can only feed as many people that we have food for.

I encourage every reader to support The Dream Center and its mission to fill the needs of those around it. And no matter how "offended" you may be toward a brother or sister in Christ, remember that you give and work unto the Lord. Don't let the devil stop you from being a blessing.

- LaQuesha

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Growing Experience

A while back, before I was involved in The Movement, I got the opportunity to come to The Dream Center on Short Term Missions with my church. During the week that I was able to spend at The Dream Center, we went to the beach at Santa Monica and invited homeless people to a free dinner near the boardwalk. I got the opportunity to talk with several people, but there were a few that really touched me.

The first man that I talked with (I don't recall his name) was from Guatemala. He spoke in a fluent mix of Spanglish, and told me some bits and pieces of his story. He had come from Guatemala seven years ago, where he had once had a steady job. Why he came, he never revealed, but he did tell me that he had been homeless since then. From the time he had come, he had just been doing a barrage of work that came his way. While my conversation with him didn't get too overly spiritual, he began to cry as I was talking to him. Just reaching out and showing him love was enough. I prayed with him, and shortly after that, I saw him leave.

This one young man named Patrick (he couldn't have been more than 26 or so) shared his story with me. Patrick had grown up in Alabama, in a Christian home. I don't know when, or how, but somehow, he ended up being a male prostitute in Nevada. I don't quite know the circumstances that led up to it, but at some point, he felt the need to escape. To run away. He hopped in his car and just began driving. Driving to escape the pain that he felt. How did he get to California? It just so happens that is where his car ran out of gas on the freeway. That was a year ago. He has been living on the streets ever since.

The last man that I had the opportunity to talk with was named Brian. At one point, Brian had been quite successful. He was once quite a well-known hairstylist. He had come to California from New York with his friend, who has since died. He didn't really allude to what it may have been, but at some point, business went bad, and he ended up on the streets. However, his outlook was amazing. He was grateful for the trial in his life, because it had grown him into a stronger person. All in all, I didn't really get the feeling that Brian and I saw completely eye to eye on spiritual standings, but he did let me pray for him. He asked for a prayer of protection.

Talking to these people showed me a glimpse of the heart of The Dream Center, as well as Pastor Matthew and all of the volunteers here. It's a blessing to be able to go out and serve God and reach out to this city every day for ten months. The Dream Center is doing great work, and I can only imagine the things that God will do through me while serving Him here.

- David

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Before and (Thankfully) After

Working and living at The Dream Center is a great experience. Being a part of helping so many individuals and families is an honor and blessing. Whether it be a Dream Center Discipleship testimony at church, a child rescued from sex trafficking, or a homeless family getting free room and board on campus, miracles are happening all around me everyday. It is amazing.

As great as these stories are, after a while I found myself growing numb to the testimonies of restoration and grace. It was something that became commonplace due to the hard work of those around me. In church, I thought of the testimonies as another part of the service and the families as a few more people that live on campus. There is so much more to each story.

I did not realize my attitude until a few weeks ago. One Friday afternoon, I went out with The Dream Center Food Truck, which passes out free groceries to people who need it to survive. A few minutes into our afternoon at MacArthur Park, near Downtown Los Angeles, I met Jorge and Laura. These loving parents of two stopped to see why a group of people had gathered in the park. After explaining what we were here to do, they were speechless.

Jorge began telling me he recently lost his job, and his family was struggling to survive. When he and his wife heard that they could receive free groceries that afternoon, it was as if I told him he had won the lottery. I could not imagine the pain these two felt not knowing where they will get their next meal. After I told them about The Dream Center and the additional support we could provide, they received their bags of food and thanked us multiple times.

During my conversation with the family, I couldn’t help but sense their desperation and need. After a family comes to The Dream Center, we are able to provide a home and hope – that is the part of the story I have grown accustomed to seeing. The “before” stage, such as Jorge and Laura, was heart breaking.

Upon my return to The Dream Center, I saw everyone in our various programs in a new light. Whether it was a few months, weeks, or even days earlier, these individuals were at the same brink of desperation. Now, thanks to God’s provision, these individuals and families once again had hope.

That average Friday afternoon became a wake-up call to change my attitude. It also served as a boost to my desire to reach more like Jorge and Laura. Although the couple I met lived in LA, there are many in your area who need help. Pray that God will open your eyes to serve someone in need near you.

- Jesse

Thursday, December 9, 2010

New Chapter

I came to The Los Angeles Dream Center several weeks ago to be a part of The Movement - a discipleship program for young adults. The Movement is an alternative to Bible college or university where young people can come to The Dream Center for ten months to serve the local church and pastor, and most importantly, be discipled. In the short amount of time that I have spent in the program God has not delayed in shaping me and my peers to be world changers. Within this group of young adults there is a deep and passionate fire burning within our hearts to become the men and women of God that this world so desperately needs to see, and to take a stand to be in the world, but not of it. I know that if my peers and I do not stay complacent in our faith and in our relationship with Christ, we will be very powerful and do a lot of work for the Kingdom.

Personally, I have gone through a lot of ups-and-downs since I moved here. Just within the last week there have been a lot of things going on back home with my friends and family. I have felt very discouraged and, more than anything, guilty for not being there for the people that needed me. However, God has a way of working things out for His glory and, slowly but surely, God is healing the pain, sickness and heartache that I felt was weighing me down so heavily. During Pastor Matthew’s recent sermon, God gave me this word from James that really lifted my spirit and has encouraged me to continue seeking after Him. James 1:2 says, "Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of faith develops perseverance."

I know that in hard times, when I feel like the world is collapsing in on me, all I need to do is seek Him and have faith that God is holding my life and my world in His hands. I am so grateful that God has brought me to this place because it is a great environment for young people, like myself, to be able to focus on my relationship with God, be discipled and mentored by amazing leadership, seek direction for my future, and be Christ’s hands and feet!

- Becka

Thursday, December 2, 2010

"For the Least"

It’s always a privilege to pray with the least of these – the homeless and needy. I always find it so interesting how the needy surprise me through conversation because when I talk to them, they don't seem like a "least" or even a stranger. Actually, I feel like we're equal and one is not greater than the other. The needy feel like family to me.

Let me introduce myself, I'm a one-year intern here at The Dream Center and I've been here more than half my assigned time. Right before I got here from Ohio, I had a nice little Honda Civic. I miss cruising in that car – or a car at all. I sold my car when I moved to The Dream Center in hopes of buying another car in L.A. – I'm still working on it.

When I had my car, I used to pull up next to a "least of these" at a stop light quite often. Occasionally I'd give them some money or food but a lot of times I'd just pray for them under my breath. Still, I'd feel like I missed a great opportunity to be an extended hand of Christ Jesus, even when I gave them something, because even non-Christians give to the needy. I don't like leaving not knowing if they understand that I did what I did in Jesus' name.

Feeling empty back in Ohio made me aware of a void I had in my heart for outreach ministry. Thank God for the Under the Bridge (UTB) outreach and others like it, here at The Dream Center. Just recently I went out with UTB to McArthur Park where we brought a warm meal to the parks "residents". .

It's very rewarding to minister face-to-face, hand-in-hand with the needy – or least of these. Speaking of "hand-in-hand", I like healthy personal hygiene; more specifically, hand-washing. There's nothing like clean hands that make up a good handshake. Funny thing is, God encourages me that in being a hand extended for Christ, I have to touch those no one else wants to – no matter how unclean their hands may be.

I often recall a story of a leper in Mark 1:40-43 whom Jesus reached out and touched to heal. At this time, he leper is considered ceremonially unclean in the Old Testament and people wouldn't want the leper in their town let alone would they want to touch them. However, Christ touched the ones that no one else wanted to and they were healed because of it. Since my desire is to be a hand extended of Christ, I should be willing to touch those with unwashed hands.

When I was in my car, I never got up-close-and-personal with the "least" like I get to do here. Now I get to dispel the untruth that Christians believe they are better than the ones we are helping. Pure affection expressed in a handshake or hug is a big part of how we as Christians can show that we really care. Touch their hands and let the "least" title fall away. Hold their hands and pray for them and let them know that they are not too dirty to be loved by God – or a Christian.

- LaQuesha