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The epidemic has hit the city of Los Angeles in an unprecedented way, with war raging on two fronts: loss of life and loss of livelihood through the virus.
Two fights at the same time is a huge challenge. While hospital staff continue to fight heroic deeds in the medical battle of Covid-1 of, the Dream Center “holds the fortress” in the face of losing jobs and the deteriorating quality of people’s lives due to the overall economic impact.
According to the Brookings Institution, “more than three out of five children in low-income families have reported that their income has been hit by Covid-1 to. Food insecurity and difficulty paying bills.”
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This city that I love is devastated by this epidemic. Many have asked us, “Why do you live? Isn’t this a hopeless endeavor?” It can be felt that way.
However, being in a difficult time has allowed us to experience the greatest display of God’s love in the history of the LA Dream Center’s rich heritage.
Many community landmarks have closed in the last 18 months. The best way to explain this is when Nehemiah evaluated the damage to city structures every day in the Bible. I can say this with Ezekiel, who went to the cemetery and was faced with the question, “Can these dry bones live again?”
During the epidemic I noticed a particularly depressing trend of how many single mothers are becoming homeless. Our drive-through food line at the Dream Center was flooded by young mothers who were first cut off when the business closed.
One day, a lady whom I had seen many times to take her lunch and groceries and I asked her, “Where have you been?”
He apologized for not coming back but then explained that his gas had run out and it could not reach the food line.
He then said something that moved me very much: “Gas money is my rent money.”
I can say with confidence and pride that we are literally saving lives.
We collected a few gas cards and told him we could make sure he always had a gas card to keep the air conditioner in his car. Day after day, she started making it on our food line. At the end of the day she will tell me about her dead-end search for work, but hopefully she can always be fed at the Dream Center.
One day from the blue he made a tragic confession. He told me he had a gun in his car and he was going to take his own life. He told us, “Thank you Dream Center for taking the gun out of my hand.”
My team at the Echo Park neighborhood in Los Angeles gave him hope that he would never be alone. He may have problems, but he does not have to be afraid of losing all the basic needs of life because the Dream Center is seen to never give up the daily needs of meeting human needs.
I can say with confidence and pride that we are literally saving lives. We are now doing this by keeping our kitchen open for 10 hours every day so that anyone can get free food. We have never been able to do that in the past.
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We also have strong relationships with local law enforcement officers, who help bring people to the streets and to the Dream Center in the hope of rehabilitating them instead of detaining them.
We are currently living in the era of the most unpleasant ministry which looks like a set of motion pictures. At the end of a day, we get tired and often feel like we have served for years.
We are tired and overwhelmed; But we are happy.
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If you too see yourself running in the smoke from time to time, constantly waiting for the dust, I pray God grant you His mercy and His supernatural power. I pray you find reminders like me, so that your labor is not in vain.
This moment may break us, but I am determined to put pressure. I cling to the hope that there is a silver lining in this storm and that God’s promise is never out of reach.
Click here to read more by Matthew Barnett