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Posts Tagged ‘street ministry’

Shut Up and Listen [*]

June 4, 2010 Leave a comment

7-11 SidewalkFor those that don’t already know, I had to experience another one of those really rough patches of life these past two weeks. It was one of those “If it doesn’t kill you, it only makes you stronger” kinds of experiences. So, during that time, I took a two-week break from serving with the Broken Hearts Ministry team to focus on my “rough patch”, focus on God, and rest.

My “rough patch” came to a formal close, at least for now, last Wednesday. Since then, I have been processing my feelings and considering my options for life moving forward. My feelings have mostly been a mix of sadness, frustration, anger, and joy. My options have focused around my kids and ministry. Even as I write this, I have many things pending a resolution. It was a little bit of a surprise then that I received an email yesterday morning from Antquan Washington, the leader of Broken Hearts, encouraging me to deliver the sermon that night on the streets of Hollywood. He specifically suggested that I share something about what I have been experiencing these past few weeks. It wasn’t long before God and I had worked out a rough outline including scriptural references for the sermon I would give.

The title for the sermon we came up with was “The Voice of God: Shut Up and Listen”. One key verse came from the book of Psalms:

“Be still, and know that I am God;” (Psalm 46:10a NIV)

I was the first member of our team to arrive at the intersection of Santa Monica and Highland last night and was joined a few minutes later by Antquan. Apparently, the remaining members of the team were either not coming or were running late so Antquan and I prayed briefly and then headed across the street to the Donut Shop to mingle. I didn’t recognize many people and most people we met were stoned and/or drunk. I wasn’t sure how to initiate a conversation or with whom (yup! even after all these years, I still lose my tongue sometimes), so I prayed, repeatedly, “God help me. What should I say? Who should I talk to?”

While praying, I observed the comings and goings around me. Among other things, I watched one man sell $5 worth of “medicinal” marijuana to another fellow who immediately stepped outside to smoke it. At one point, I took a break from praying to ask no one in particular how the Lakers game had went. I got several replies but that also instigated a minor scuffle between two Celtics fans and everyone else. Right in the middle of it all, one man pulled out his pocket knife, waived it around, and said something like “We’ll see who’s really boss around here.” At that, I went back to praying. Read more…

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Passion

April 9, 2010 Leave a comment
Jorge Angulo

Jorge Angulo

The first time I ventured out on the streets of Hollywood with Broken Hearts Ministry, I was nervous, terrified, and excited all at the same time. In many ways I can liken my emotions on that night to many of my experiences on those big roller coasters at Six Flags. They call them “thrill rides” for a reason. The second night out with Broken Hearts, I sat with several others on a sidewalk outside a laundromat as we listened to Antquan Washington preach a 15 minute sermon. In many ways I thought it all to be totally absurd. “Preaching to addicts, prostitutes, dealers… waste of time but bold nonetheless.” It didn’t take long though for me to see positive results from Antquan’s preaching and the rest of what the Broken Hearts team was doing.

The more I witnessed positive results from the street preaching, the more I admired Antquan. Since he stood and we sat as he preached, I looked up to him more and more in both senses. Antquan had and continues to have a passion to bring the healing truth of the Gospel of Jesus to the broken and hurting. You could say he was and is on fire. Likewise, you could say that his fire spread onto me too. It wasn’t long before I began considering preaching too. My gut reaction though was “Shu! …Right! …As if! …Like THAT will ever happen!” I can’t remember the specifics of how it came to be but after some time I gave my first street sermon, then another, and another… I’d like to think that I am pretty good at it now.

I got a gentle reminder a few months ago about how I basically sucked when I first started preaching. Antquan saw that I had a passion to preach even if I lacked the skills and natural talent. So he continued to allow me to preach despite my flaws. Unbeknownst to me at that time several people loathed my preaching. More than one person approached Antquan privately and pleaded that he would stop permitting me to preach. One person said once, with a tone that was less than enthusiastic, “What?! Jeremiah is speaking again?!”. I think if I had known what was being said about me in private back then I would have been crushed and would never have spoken in public again, anywhere, ever. Knowing what I know now, I am forever grateful to Antquan for seeing what many others couldn’t see. Read more…

Midnight on Skid Row

February 22, 2010 Leave a comment
Last night I took a midnight trip to Skid Row with my friend Jorge and a few people I had never met before. I had been to Skid Row once before with some other friends, a couple years ago, but that was during the day.

For those that aren’t familiar with Skid Row, allow me to explain, from my perspective. First, here is a (slightly modified) quote from Wikipedia: “The area contains one of the largest stable populations of homeless persons in the United States. Informal population estimates range from 7,000 to 8,000. People passing through this area immediately see cardboard boxes and camping tents lining the sidewalks.” People find themselves living on Skid Row for a number of reasons, but the reasons are almost always drug-related. I was told during my first visit not to touch the walls or ground lest I catch an excrement-related disease. Needless to say, I carried hand-sanitizer with me and used it several times. While on that first trip, I witnessed one man going from woman to woman propositioning them for free and unprotected sex. He had two takers in a one-hour time span. At least they had the decency to do it in the privacy of the bathroom ONE of the two times. The other time was in plain view of everyone. Everyone and everything seemed to reek of poop and pot. The point I am trying to make is that most of these people have no respect for themselves. They have forgotten how to love themselves and how to be loved by others. Mostly, they just exist and live from one fix to the next. Read more…

Enthusiasm for a Parking Lot Church

October 2, 2009 Leave a comment

Parking Lot ChurchLast week, while hanging out on the streets of Hollywood with Broken Hearts, I met a real woman who calls herself Essence. (Many of the “women” we meet on the street are actually transgenders and transvestites.) I had just invited Jamal, a very familiar face, to our church service when Essence overheard and, with an attitude, exclaimed “You aren’t going to church!” Jamal and a few others from the street walked to the church service with us. Essence stayed behind. Apart from the power of the Holy Spirit, I can’t explain why Essence actually came to the parking lot where we meet for church service a few minutes later, on her own. She looked very out of place and bewildered as we passed out pizza and welcomed people into conversation. She reluctantly accepted a slice of pizza and then stayed for the message about “Playing the Victim” (the story of the man healed at the Pool of Bethesda and the story of Paul, Silas and the Jailor in Macedonia).

Last night, I spotted Essence in the Del Taco right after I arrived. When we made eye contact, she didn’t recognize me immediately and had a look of disinterest. Then her face exploded into a smile as she figured out who I was and exclaimed, “Is there church tonight?!” When I told her that there was and that I was telling another story, she turned to the four or five friends who were with her and announced with enthusiasm, “I’m going to church tonight!”
Read more…

The Lion Outside [***]

July 28, 2009 Leave a comment
The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!” or, “I will be murdered in the streets!” (Proverbs 22:13 NIV) 

At this point, you might be wondering the same thing I did. “Eh, what’s a ‘sluggard’?” Fortunately, dictionary.com provides a quick answer:

sluggard (n.): a person who is habitually inactive or lazy

So, the proverb is saying that: a) Lazy people use extraordinary excuses to justify their laziness. b) Justifiable fear can cause otherwise active people to become inactive.

I have seen this played out in a great number of ways. I have seen perfectly healthy men justify not looking for work. I have seen women justify not leaving their abusive husband or boyfriend. I have seen addicts justify their habits. In this article, I’d like to focus on this passage as it pertains to doing the work of God. The following is an Aesop’s fable entitled “The Son and the Painted Lion”.

There was a timid old man who was afraid of his only son’s passion for hunting, for the son was full of courage. In a dream he saw that his son would be killed by a lion. Dreading that the dream would come true, the father built a dwelling for his son of great magnificence, set in a high place where he could keep his eye on him. In order to distract and please him, he had commissioned for his chamber paintings of every kind of animal, and among these was a lion. But looking at all these did not distract the young man from his boredom.

One day, he approached the painting and cursed the lion in it:
‘You damned beast, it’s because of you and my father’s lying dream that I am cooped up here in this prison for women. What can I do to you?’

And, as he said this, he struck his fist against the wall to blind the lion. But a splinter got lodged under his fingernail and he could not get it out. This became greatly inflamed, brought on a fever and swelled up to an enormous size. The fever raged so fiercely that the young man died of it.

The lion, even though it was only a painted one, had indeed killed the young man, just as his father had foreseen.

Can’t Let Go [**]

July 20, 2009 Leave a comment
Cant Let GoFor those that don’t already know, I spend most Thursdays on the streets of Hollywood from 11pm until roughly 2am. I am a member of a group of young people from all over L.A. and Orange counties who have a passion for helping mend the hurting and broken lives all around us. The particular area that we focus on probably has several nicknames but the one I heard when I was first introduced to the ministry was “Boy Town”. It’s called this because this is one of many areas in L.A. where runaway boys (as young as 12, perhaps younger) seem to make their way to. Here they find other young (and old) men who have nowhere else to call home. They sleep on the sidewalks, in 24-hour donut shops, behind and in trash cans, in other people’s homes, and in hotels. 

These last two places (homes and hotels) are interesting because these boys, most of them anyway, have never learned a trade. Very few have finished high school. Some haven’t even finished elementary school. They are victims of physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. They have been through foster homes, group homes, prisons, and more. They have not only seen the dark side of America, they have lived and are still living in it. …So what do most of them do in order to afford food and lodging? They prostitute themselves. Furthermore, over time, these “boys” become more and more like “girls”. They cover all areas of the spectrum, from wearing a little mascara or walking a certain way all the way to having body parts added and removed. The bulk of our team’s ministry is simply being (hanging out) with these people and letting them know that they are loved, by the creator of the Universe and our small group of, relatively speaking, wealthy young people. We do pray with them, feed and clothe them, discuss the Bible, and even have church services in a parking lot near a 7-11. But if all we do on a given night is listen to and sympathize with someone as they share a heartbreaking story about how their parents kicked them out of the family because they were gay, then we have had a fruitful night. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is just be with them. Read more…