Feb 27

Dream Center Reflections: Skid Row

***Over the next few days, I will be writing about the LA Dream Center and it’s founder, Pastor Matthew Barnett. Pastor Matthew will be a guest on our Wednesday conference call. Even if you are not participating in the conference call series, please read these posts. They are important. We’ve been really focusing on ourselves over the past few weeks, and in our final weeks I want us to begin to also look outward.

Leave a comment on my blog in the comment section, a prayer for the people on Skid Row, the Dream Center, Pastor Matthew, or someone you know who is lost or hurting, and you will be entered to win Pastor Matthew’s AMAZING/LIFE-CHANGING book, The Cause Within You: Finding The One Great Thing You Were Created To Do In This World.

The winners of An Utroubled Heart are: Lori, who posted on Stephanie Clayton’s blog Feb 23 at 6:44 pm. Darla who posted on Feb 23 at 7:31 pm. Glenda who posted on Feb 24 at 3:42 am. Congrats. If this is you, email me at Melissa@MelissaTaylor.org.

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 one day I hope I can get them all on paper.

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 know a few.

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. I pray that somebody a person or an entity who could loan to us a 1,000 watts FM Transmitter so that we could reach the whole province of Davao Oriental, Philippines for the Lord and disciples them through the radio broadcasting.

    We are only operating a 25 watts FM transmitter radio. a Christian radio station(candorFM 103.9).

  2. I want to start with saying that I am reaching out with prayers to all of you that are hurting and struggling right now. Lean on God let Him comfort you and heal your brokeness.
    Next I want to say that The Dream Center is such a wonderful place. I have not been there or visited however a family member was enrolled there for 2 years. After a life long battle with drugs and alcohol he went through their recovery program. He is now liviving free in the fullness of God like never before.
    As for the Homeless, my Husband, my Mom and I have worked with them in our city. My Mom had a heart for the homeless – clear up until the week she passed away She would make hot meals and feed the homeless every week in the park. They were strung out on drugs and straggly and smelly but she was not affraid of them and would love on them. She would stand up and make them pray before they ate and they all respected her.
    We also have other family members that are recovered/recovering alcoholics, as well as friends and co-workers that struggle with sobriety.
    My husband and I work with and mentor recovering addicts from a local mission/rehab program helping them to adjust back into life. Some make it some fail but we love on them and encourage them. I’ve been exposed to a lot of addiction problems and homeless in my life. Though I have not personally struggled with drug or alcoholism, I’ve seen and experience the heartache of the addicted and the friends and family it affects. The hurt, the worry – the tough love that ripps your heart out to do… I have also seen the beauty that God gives in His healing and restoration in the lives of the addicts, the homeless and the families. He is the great physician, the healer. God does give Beauty for ashes.
    When there doesn’t feel like there will ever be an end or a break through … there will be – don’t give up.
    Thanks for letting me ramble… Praying strength and peace to you all. Praying peace, strength, and breakthrough for the homeless, the addicted and heart broken that have lost their way. Praying for my friend that just found out her brother may loose his job, because he failed his random drug test. I pray he seeks the help he needs to kick this addiction. I pray they all come home to Jesus.

  3. Jennifer Davidson says:

    Wow. I cried as I read the story of Skid Row. I too was unloved, hurting and addicted. And yet God reached out to me in a powerful way and surrounded me with people who showed me his grace and forgiveness. I’ll never forget the moment when I first felt that forgiveness. God filled my hard heart with his light and with a passion for others. I would love to be a part of any ministry that reaches out to the lost and forgotten. How do I do that? Where do I begin?

  4. Connie Hekrdle says:

    I love to work with women, the gal I am working with now has been and done everything not good, from drugs to alcohol to prison and I could go on. She asked the Lord into her life a couple of years ago, and really struggles to live for the Lord and yet she dabbles in sin believing it is alright and God will forgive her. I keep showing her what Gods’ Word says. She has many health issues because of how she has taken care of her body-depression, bi polar, asthma, obesity, diabetes, breathing problems, and then their is leukemia and she also has a whiskey alcoholic husband. 2 daughters from TX that grew up with their dad, another daughter in CO with her dad, and a son living with her and her husband. She goes to counseling every week and many other small issues. I love this girl and want to help her but she must want to help herself firt, how can I further help her, I am loving her as a sister in Christ, spend much time with her, encourage her, show her Gods’ Word, pray with her. Thanks for listening. Please pray for Heidi.

  5. CAROL BRUNTLETT says:

    Wow as I read this story about the dream center after I read I went to bed thanking God for a warm bed to sleep in, a warm shower, food to eat a roof over my head and warm blankets and I went on and on , I will be praying for these people and the L.A. DREAM CENTER
    Lord I ask that you would be with Marie and help her in her daily life Lord you loved herwhen she was concieved in her mothers womb and you still love her Lord I pray that she would get the help she needs Lord speak to her heart and that she would hear Your voice Lord. I pray for all the other people that are out there and Lord that You would keep them safe and may they get the help that they need. Be with the people who run the L.A. DREAM CENTER and keep them safe and help them to be able to keep there center open to help all these people that need to hear Your word and help them to be able to continue to reach out to these hurting people. Lord we thank You for Melissa and the heart that she has for these people and others as well Lord bless Melissa and we thank You Lord for Your servant Melissa thankful that she is faithful to the calling You have placed on her life.
    Carol

  6. I think the Dream Center sounds awesome. I just turned forty and am looking for my cause. I have a heart for children but I have not found my niche yet. Meanwhile I am caring for our own four kids. I am so excited to hear what God is up to with Pastor Matthew. Blessings to you both.

  7. Thanks for sharing this. My prayers are for these people of God, as He doesn’t create junk. We are all sinners and need love.

  8. I just want to show people Gods love for them wherever God plants me. Right now its working 2 jobs as a nurse and teaching 6th – 8th grade girls Sunday School.

  9. Wow … thanks for sharing this experience with us. My prayers go out to skid row and the all the people that the Dream Center ministers to and takes care of. Again thanks for sharing.

  10. WOW ~ this is so sad and heart breaking ~~ my 10 yr old daughter has such a heart for the homeless ~ she began to ask what can I do when she was 7 and came up with the idea of giving blankets to the homeless when she heard our local radio station talking about being the cold and people who are with a place to go ~~ it just worried her and worried her ~~ so we began to pick up blankets when we find them on sale and or clearance, she was finally able to give some away this year and we are planning to go bigger next year ~~ so this touches my heart deeply ~~ we will pray for all of the homeless and the victims of abuse ~~ I know Em will pray, she already prays for food and shelter for them ~~ thank you for sharing ~~ and I thought I would share that she named her blanket ministry “Covered by Christ” she has such a servants heart ~~ <3

  11. Though my “cause” is not yet pinpointed to the tiniest detail, I definitely have found my purpose through years of affliction, which the Lord brought me out of. I had been through serious depression/mental illness from the ages of 17 to 31. I was hospitalized many times, had shock treatments, was on all the psychotropic meds. My diagnoses ranged from clinical depression to schizophrenia. I grew up in church, attended confirmation classes and Sunday School, and never missed, but only had God in my head, not my heart. Guilt was my middle name, it seemed. When my sister invited us to her Bible focused church, we began to attend. Several months later I asked the Lord to forgive me and save me. He did all that, and also HEALED ME TOTALLY, INSTANTLY. That night I was able to throw all my meds away, and never saw a psychiatrist again. I returned to school to become the social worker I always wanted to be. When I became sick in college at 17, I could barely pass a test. Now, I graduated summa cum laude, all GLORY to GOD. And I continue to work as the director of a transitional housing program for men. They can know that I truly do understand some of what they have gone through. I am able to share the HOPE that Jesus gives.
    I am privileged to occasionally share my testimony in churches, and write it.
    So, thank God for our afflictions. One of the great evangelists of the past said, “The Lord gets his best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction…..”
    And I praise HIM that my experiences pointed me to my cause!

    Thank you for the wonderful stories of the Dream Center!

    Barb

  12. Wow. I cried when I read this. They are real human beings. I believe we have our own little skid row in my hometown. This hits very close to home for me. I so wish we had a dream center!!!! I pray every night for these people, because I know first hand the struggle. I have a son on the streets. Breaks my heart. It is a sickness. One that is very hard to overcome. Thank you for sharing.