“This is the best day ever” said little Angel as he looked at the crafts and the pizza that awaited him.
“Can I bring my friend Hector?” he asked, “Sure, he has a cool name!” I said.
There came Hector with his dad who was in his Chef uniform and whose name was also Hector. This was the perfect segway into introducing myself and asking him how he was doing.
“Can I have a water?” asked Wolf, the parched skater with a marijuana plant tattooed to his face. “Of Course, how about some pizza?” I asked. He smiled and nodded. I met Wolf, whose “Government Name” is Tyrell, about a year ago at Orizaba Park. He has a big heart and I know the potential he has if he would just allow Jesus into His Life.
About 30 minutes in, 4 pizzas were gone, and we were half way done with the juice boxes and the water, but the fun was just about to start. About 30 students from UCLA who had attended the Radiate Conference in Anaheim decided that they wanted to come alongside us and serve. We handed out a dozen rolls of quarters and sent them into the heart of Long Beach to serve the community.
“Hi, I am here with Vision Long Beach, and I want to know if I could pay for your wash in exchange for a conversation” said the Sophomore from UCLA who attends Reality LA, a church my wife and I helped plant. “How nice of you, but all you want to do is talk?” the woman asked, “Yep, thats it, is that ok?”.
When you go to the Laundromat, you are not wearing your Sunday Best, you are not looking to impress anyone, you are there wondering how you are going to spend the 27 minutes waiting on your clothes to wash and the 40 minutes you’ll spend wondering if your clothes are dry yet. It was during this time that our church and these students brought church to the community.
“I’m sorry”, “That must have been hard”, “How did you get back up”, “I’ve been there”, and “I know how it feels”were words that seemed to be on repeat throughout all the conversations. Towards the end you heard words like “Restore”, “Redeem”, “Love”, “Forgiveness”, and “He is able”. The storms were clearing and for a moment in time, the people took heart at what they were hearing.
As the cars arrived, all you saw was smiles. People who had never shared their faith had now experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in an area that seemed untouched. “Im so glad I came”, “When can we do this again”, “Let’s do this back home” is what filled the conversations.
At the end of the day, I asked Devon, a little girl who was dropped off by her parents, “Did you have fun Devon?”, without stuttering she exclaimed “This was the best day ever!”. Little did she know I was saying the same thing.
Now what? Pray for us as we seek how to meet the needs of this community that is in the heart of Long Beach. Pray for courage as we keep our eyes on Jesus and seek His Will for His Church.
- Pray for the Neighborhood. The needs are great
- Pray for the People. The Harvest is ready.
- Pray for the Children. This is our biggest concern. We have about 15-20 kids between 0-8 yrs old every week. Pray that we would have a place for them to grow in the Lord. Also, this area has the potential to grow the fastest.