Aug 10

Dream Center Reflections: Skid Row

***Congrats to our winner of A Confident Heart by Renee Swope, Heather Bleier.  Yay, Heather, you won our next Online Bible Study book. Contact me girl and I’ll get it to you :)

Thank you to Heather and all the others who left comments last Friday and over the weekend. Your prayers blessed me, Stephanie, and Wendy.

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This post is part of a 3 part series on The LA Dream Center, where I had the privilege of spending 4 days and nights last week.

Skid Row

Our plane landed in Los Angeles Thursday morning and by Thursday afternoon we were in the middle of one of the most notorious drug infested places in the United States. Skid Row.

Notorious for drugs, prostitution, rape, murder, homelessness, brokeness, hopelessness, addiction, abandonment, hungry and lost people.

Some would also say the people on Skid Row are worthless, a menace to society, losers, invaluable, throw away people, unlovable, worth abandoning, pathetic, outcasts, unaccepted, and dirty.

I came to LA on a mission trip with Proverbs 31 Ministries. We came to be a part of the LA Dream Center, serve with them, catch their vision, and reach out to the people who have been abandoned by the world….the hopeless, the unloved, the lost. (More on the Dream Center later…now back to Skid Row.)

We rode in a van from the Dream Center to Skid Row. I got out of the van with my team: Lysa, Holly, Hope, Teri, Samantha, Barb, Sheila, Vickie, Amanda, Kay, Darla, Amy, Kim, and Lynn.  We had just this very day come from our comfortable homes and now here we were in what was world’s apart from our normal.  Skid Row.

Immediately after arriving, I was pulled apart from my team to find a woman named Marie. She had been raped the night before and Lysa TerKeurst had informed our team leader that I had experience and a heart for those who had been sexually abused and were drug addicted. I didn’t want to go alone, so I asked my great friend and security blanket in that moment, Samantha, to come with me. She did.  To get to Marie we had to walk through the streets, appropriately nicknamed, Heroin Alley. It was here I witnessed the most devastation of human life I have ever seen.  People, who I knew were created by God…People, who I knew one day long ago were born babies with their whole life ahead of them…People who I’m sure at one time had hopes and dreams.  Parents. Children. Friends. Sisters…walking around like zombies, making no sense, moaning, wailing, needles-shooting themselves up-shooting each other up-one woman shooting heroin in her toenails, glazed eyes, checked out of life, drug deals happening right before my eyes…my heart was breaking right there on Skid Row.

Men, women, teens, white, black, hispanic, young and old…no discrimination on Skid Row. Some people appeared clean and polished and others looked like they hadn’t showered in a year.

I looked into every set of eyes that I could and what I saw surprised me.

Although the person looking back at me probably had no idea what they were looking at and didn’t care, I looked into their eyes and got a glimpse of their heart. Broken heart, lost heart, hopeless heart, abandoned heart…and it broke my heart.  I knew too that it broke the heart of God. He allowed me to see through His eyes on Skid Row. I saw beautiful people, created by God for a purpose. I saw people in need of acceptance, love, and hope. And in that moment my mission changed from hoping I could help someone to just being there to love. And that’s what I did.

I was surprised at how open to love most of the people were. I had many opportunities to hold someone’s hand, hug them, and look into their eyes and say, “I love you and I believe in you, so does God. I promise He has not forgotten you. And if you need help I can show you where to get it. But no matter what, you are loved and there is hope for you.”

In most cases, in return I got a smile, a story, an openess, and for a few, some tears. But no one desiring help. They all had excuses. And that was ok, because I was there to love.

Eventually, we found who we were looking for-Marie. A 41 year old woman who looked like she was at least 10 years older than that. She reaked of stale alcohol and clung tightly to her last cigarette.  She walked with a cane and a limp. Her smile revealed teeth that were discolored and some missing. She was dirty. And might I add…she was beautiful.

Marie came with our team and over the course of the next hour went from hysterical to having a seizure to collapsing due to exhaustion. She came back to the Dream Center and was given the care and evaluation necessary to get her help if she agreed. She had an open door for unconditional love, acceptance, help without judgment, a place to belong, food, shelter,and  all her needs met, but she had to agree to 1 year. You see that’s what the Dream Center requires…and it’s for a good reason.

Sadly, Marie is back on Skid Row today. That’s what she knows. That’s what she keeps going back to. Only 23% of the people brought back to the Dream Center stay. But those who do stay have amazing success.

I have so many stories to tell and I will in the coming days.

Before I close today, I have a favor to ask.  Will you join me in praying for the the beautiful people on Skid Row?  Today I want to have as many people as possible praying for these people created by God.  You know there is probably a Skid Row in your town too. It might look a little different or go by a different name, but I bet there’s one not too far from your home. You might even know someone who’s been there.  I do.

Pray. They need our prayers. They need love. They someone to believe in them. And maybe just maybe one day they will believe in themselves.

I’ve learned that most often people need to feel they belong before they can believe. Don’t get the two backwards. So many churches today get this backwards!  We don’t need to have the perfect words or the perfect plan. God just wants us to be who we are and love others. That alone makes more of a difference that you might think.

I couldn’t fix Marie, but I loved her. And that’s all I could give on Skid Row. And it was enough.

 

Next Post:  Matthew Barnett and The Dream Center.

 

 

 

 

Melissa

Comments

  1. Melissa
    I’m sitting here with a huge lump in my throat after reading this! Your words truly, and completely, convey the Love of Christ, for these people. My heart aches for Marie! And yes, I will join you in praying for those on Skid Row, including Marie.
    ((HUGS))

  2. Danielle of NC says:

    continually amazed by you…. u have an amazing heart for people like noone else ive ever met. Ive experienced this first hand….just amazed….thats all i can say. Ilywb tdmaba. <3

  3. Skid Row sounds like the area we are in. If we look with the natural eye there will never be hope. But if we look through the eyes of the Father, just like you did, we’ll recognize there is hope… Hope through love.

    I cannot wait to hear more of your story. How it touches my heart and soul to hear of missions like this. My family is invovled in reaching many ‘Skid Row’ people in our area. It is rewarding to see light in eyes that were so bleak and withdrawn.

    I shall be praying!

  4. Michele Caséca says:

    “They need someone to believe in them. And maybe just maybe one day they will believe in themselves (…) God just wants us to be who we are and love others. That alone makes more of a difference that you might think.”

    Melissa, you blessed me today. I believe in your godly heart. I believe and love your ministry!

    I grew up in a country where there are almost 40 million people in extreme poverty. Every day I would go to school, and see children going to the garbage to find something to eat, so they would not die hungry… families drinking “water” from the sewer, so they would not die thirsty. Everything you described in your post, I’ve seen every single day of my life. If it doesn’t invite us to be more thankful and giving, nothing else will do. You did a wonderful job in LA. Congrats to you all! We are touched and proud of you!

    Thank you for this beautiful post. You blessed us all! And YES, we are praying for them!

    Michele

  5. What a powerful post Melissa. I will be praying for all of the beautiful souls on Skid Row too. It sounds like you had a truly God given, amazing experience on this mission trip. I look forward to reading more.

  6. Praying dear one. Praying for all those you gals ministered to specifically and praying for all on Skid Row in LA or in our own towns. May our Redeemer give them new life today. May we serve Him by serving them.

    Praying this truth for them: “O Lord, You have pleaded the case for my soul; You have redeemed my life.” Lamentations 3:58

    OTC Hugs and lots of love and prayers,
    Sharon

  7. I will be praying for those on skid row today, whether in LA or in my hometown. You are right, all we need to show them is love, His love, and you did that in a beautiful way. Blessings to you and your family.

  8. Angie Woodward says:

    I saw a special on TV a while back on the people of Skid Row and it truly broke my heart. I am so glad to know that there is help out there for them and that you got to be a part of it. God bless you and your team for the work you are doing and God bless the Dream Center for their work. I will be praying for all of them and all of you and the Dream Center that you can reach them and help those in need. God bless you Melissa!! Angie Woodward

  9. Anonymous says:

    Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus, I lift up Marie and the precious people on skid row. I pray that you would open their eyes and hearts to feel Your love for them. I pray Lord that the seed planted by the team, You would grow and nourish. I pray your protective covering over them Lord and I thank you in advance for the mighty work You will do in their lives. We thank you and praise you that you hear these prayers, Lord. We give you all the glory and honor only You deserve. Amen.

  10. Father,
    Thank You for sending these incredible women to share Your unconditional, unfathomable LOVE for these precious children of Yours. They may have been forgotten by the world, but You have seen every hurt and Your heart has broken for each one lost. I know You will continue to place godly men and women in their path, to touch their lives, to love them, to offer them the freedom found only in You. I pray Father that with each encounter You would pour out Your Holy Spirit like a flood. Thank You for giving the men and women of the Dream Center a heart for the broken and I know that without even asking You will continue to bless their efforts as they obey Your command to “GO and make disciples,” and “seek and save the lost,” but above all…to “love each other just as {You} have loved us.” We ask that wherever we are, whomever You place in our path, that we would love them just as You have loved us and redeemed us. Thank You for bringing the P31 team home safely and allowing them to be Jesus in those streets of Skid Row, You already know how much this has opened their eyes and how this will impact their life. Thank You. Amen!

    P.S. Melissa, I’ll give the P31 office a call after my morning meetings :). Soooo glad y’all are back safely, I never stopped praying for y’all and I know there were a TON of us who were praying for your whole team while y’all were serving at the LADC!

  11. Its so true…. We can think we have all the answers, but try as we may, no one cares what we know until they know that we care. Uncondirional love comes first. Once a person has given up on themselves, they have to feel like we’re worth the effort before they can even hope to hope again.

  12. Melissa;
    I sit here with tears running down my face. My son is a heroin addict, the pain you speak of I know well and have written a blog over the last year of the journey we have been on. http://susanjsilva.blogspot.com/ My heart rejoices that P31 took the time to reach out to Skid Row. How I wish I could have joined you. I have been reaching out here in my own community.
    I look forward to reading the rest of your posts on this extraordinary venture you took.
    Much love and much appreciation.
    Susan Silva

    • Susan, my prayers go to you and your Son. I know as a mother you want to do something when all you can do is watch and be there when they reach out. You are in my thoughts

  13. Melissa,

    This post really touched my heart. It made me feel as if I were there seeing this. It breaks my heart to know that people are lost like this. I am praying for them and your ministry. It is a dream of mine to one day be able to travel the world to reach out to others in the way you guys @ Proverbs 31 get the opportunity to do. I thank you for your hard work and dedication. Keep up the good work, it is appreciated :). Love you guys! Can’t wait for the next study!

  14. I DID PRAY AND WILL CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR SKID ROW AND THE DREAM CENTER. I ALSO ASK GOD TO SHOW ME THE SKID ROW IN MY NEIGHBOR HOOD AND COMMUNITY SO I CAN REACH OUT TO THEM . THANK YOU FOR SHARING. BE BLESSED IN JESUS NAME. KAY

  15. dana peele says:

    Melissa,
    When I met you on the women’s retreat at camp Harrison, I knew you had the compassionate heart of Jesus, but reading this proves it. Thank God for your strength because it inspires others everyday that you barely know like me. Keep doing the will of God and I’m sure those you touched will never forget your team. God Bless and stay safe in L.A.

  16. Dear Father God,
    We pray to you for our brothers and sisters in this world who are lost. Our hearts hurt for then. Please Lord, shine your light down on them; let them feel your presence; let them see your face in the face of those who offer help; let their hearts be opened. Protect and guard them, as well as those who have come to help them rise up from the ashes. Lord, place a burden on our hearts, to see those in need in our daily lives, and to act in helping love. In the wonderful name of Jesus, Your Son we pray. Amen.

  17. Melissa, my heart goes to you….will be praying for Marie and the people at Skid Row. It is amazing how God work in our hearts and move us to make a difference in the world. You are bless and you are blessing many…May God keep on blessing you and your family.

  18. Dear Father I sit here with a lump in my throat and tears blurring my vision as I read what your daughter and the other ladies at p31 did. Father in Jesus name comfort and show the great love you have for those on skid row including Marie, lead her and others to seek help and hope that is awaiting them from so many. Father give them the strength and courage to seek help from those who are loving them through your eyes and heart. Father let them see the great love others have for them and let them know they aren’t forgotten.

    In Jesus Mighty name- Amen.

    Ps Melissa again you bring tears to my eyes as I read your blog. Thank you.

  19. Very powerful writing Melissa, I could imagine it and see it through your writing as if I was there!!!! I will be praying for all!!!

  20. As you and the Proverbs 31 ladies continue your mission at Skid Row, I pray that you all will continue to be instruments of love, peace and comfort to those you encounter as you have been in my life. I will pray for you all! God Bless!

  21. Melissa, you and the P31 team are a wonderful group of women! I am honored to have done a bible study with you. You have opened my eyes to a whole nother world and I thank you for that. I have been praying for you and I will pray for the people on Skid Row. Thank you for doing what you do!

  22. I will pray I truly need to ask for you all to pray for my son he is 22 yrs old has a 10 month baby because of his past drug use he was sentences today 1-3 yrs in state prison he feels that god left him he stop doing the drugs but he still had to deal with the trouble that he got in and the judge was not willing to see that he has change that he was doing good and being a good father I am so scared I dont think my son can survie prison I am so confused he this god way we really need god help in this and to keep my son safe. thank God bless all of you Sharon

  23. Lord, Please give strength and encouragement to those working at the Dream Center. Guide their actions and keep their eyes on You. Be with the residents that they feel they belong and see Your light through the workers there. Touch their hearts to be open to Your grace. Increase the percentage who stay a year. Be with those still on the streets.

    Be with the young homeless fellow who stopped to do yard work for me. Let him continue to read the Bible and apply what he reads. Send him a friend so he can understand love. Provide for the homless folks downtown. Continue to supply the food bank with donations and volunteers.

  24. continuing to pray for these most precious lives! thank you for sharing your experience ~

  25. Karen Brownlee says:

    Melissa,
    Read your Devo on Proverbs 31 Woman today on “Is God Enough?” Something to always keep in our heart, for sure. Then clicked over to your blog, read about your son, then about the trip to the Dream Center. My husband and I visited there some years ago, and had the same experience of seeing so much godly potential in people who were so lost. Don’t know if you met Clayton Golliher who runs Hope for Homeless Youth as part of the LA Dream Center… reaching out especially to young people caught in a trap of drugs and prostitution when they go to “Hollywood” for glamour and lights. They do outreaches almost every day of the week and encourage people to come and join their teams. Such a blessing, for sure!