St. Simonís Youth to LA 

One of the worlds most notorious cities

( An Article for the October  Deep Cove Crier)
 

Youíre taking my kids where?
The idea of taking 22 Highschool and college students and six working adults to Los Angeles to do missions work for 12 days may seem odd to some but not to those who understand Christís call to reach out to the world.  On August 19, 28 servants left St. Simonís church and headed for LA California, not Disneyland or Knotts Berry Farm but places like Watts, East LA, South Central, Echo Park, and Downtown LA places we hear about on the 6:00 news but never plan to visit.   Three days later we pulled up to our dorms at Angelus Temple in Echo Park.

You want my kids to do what?
The following is a short list of the things we did, the places we worked and what we saw; A prayer tour of the city at night, we saw rows of people sleeping in cardboard boxes only a couple blocks from all the high class hotels and businesses; Sharing breakfast with men and women who call Macarthur park home, a park that is rampant with drugs, gangs, and guns; A church overflowing with about 2000 people praising Jesus Christ; Food Kitchens where thousands of unemployed, underpaid, and homeless men, women and children come every day for food and ministry; Victory Outreach a church that reaches out to the cityís tens of thousands of gang members; Project Angel Food a programme that prepares and delivers food for people with AIDS; Food sorting and distribution centres that give food out all around the city and the world; Wyvernwood Garden Apartments, a housing project for poor mostly Hispanic families, a place where almost every teenager is in the gang (the 8th Street gang), a place where nightly gun fights and shootings are a way of life, it was here that we ran a Vacation Bible School for two year olds to 16 year olds sharing with them the Good News and Hope found in Jesus Christ; Asking homeless people to join a couple of us for breakfast or lunch, listening to their stories and praying for them.

Why would you want to do all this?
 First, Jesus Christ set the example, His heart was broken by the poor, the sick, the friendless, the outcast, the prostitutes, those that society had abandoned.  As followers of Christ we need to pray that our hearts are broken by the same things and respond with Love, Faith and Hope all found in Jesus Christ.  Second, it is when we serve Jesus that we are drawn closer to Him, that He reveals Himself and we experience the one true Living God and Saviour.  Third, we are changed, and our lives are changed.  People come back with new courage, a new willingness to step out of their comfort zones, a new passion for serving God and reaching out to those in need in their own community.  Young people are given the opportunity to step out, try new skills, leave behind the distractions and perhaps negative influence they are normally surrounded by and discover who they are in Christ.  Finally, the people we have the honour to minister to, listen to and work with, have their lives changed too.  They are given hope, they realize that there are people who care, people who are willing to reach out to them, care for them and have compassion on them.  We recognize that we may not have an immediate impact on everyone we meet but that we are a part of Godís plan, we are His instruments.

This is a true story told to a youth pastor from a man in a recovery program at the LA Mission.  This is his story in his words.  "The street, my world, was riddled with drugs, and my work was how to acquire more drugs.  I lived for years getting along just enough so I could get another high.  One morning I woke up to several high school students.  They came up to me, and asked if I would like to go to breakfast with them.  So, I did.  We walked to McDonalds and sat down to warm egg McMuffins.  We talked, and I asked them what they were doing down here taking people like me out to breakfast.  They explained that because Jesus Christ had provided so much for them, they had a desire to share with others.  Each of them shared how their relationship with Jesus Christ had made a huge difference in their lives, and how each of them felt very lost before Christ came into their lives.  They had their Bibles with them, and we talked for a very long time.  When they departed, they told me they would be praying for me."

"I forgot all about them until two months later when another high school kid woke me up from my slumber on the street and said, ĎLetís go get something to eat.í  So, we did.  Over this egg McMuffin, I heard the Good News of Jesus Christ and His wonderful work to save me from my sins.  After that morning, I came here to the LA Mission and checked myself into the rehabilitation program.  I have been clean for 30 days, and my new relationship with Jesus Christ continues to grow.  I thank God every day for those kids, and I continue to pray for kids to come down and share the Gospel of Jesus with people on the street."
"Youth Pastor, donít ever stop bringing kids down to the street to share the love of Jesus Christ.  Be encouraged; it is worth your time!"
We do not care where in Godís plan we fit in.  We just count ourselves blessed that He has chosen to use us as His instruments.

Ken  Bell* and Rev. Ed Hird+
*Youth Minister at St. Simonís Anglican Church
http://www3.telus.net/st_simons/
 

The Reverend Ed Hird
Rector, St. Simonís Anglican Church, North Vancouver
http://www3.bc.sympatico.ca/st_simons


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