by: James Rowse
In September, I embarked on a journey that, little did I know, would change my life forever. I stepped into the unknown and took, what I thought, was a huge leap of faith. I moved to the Los Angeles Dream Center in California and joined the Dream Center Leadership School.
I knew this nine-month program was designed to put me in a place where I would reach the point of no return in my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Of course, that is what I wanted, but what my heart truly craved was to be Jesus' hands and feet. I thought maybe if I served with same love and grace that I have received, I could see not only myself reach the point of no return but others as well.
My second day here in Los Angeles, I was privileged to be a part of a landmark day for the Los Angeles Dream Center. Senior Pastor Matthew Barnett launched the first "Serve 24." 24 hours straight serving the city of Los Angeles. I'd be lying if I said that I stayed awake the whole time, but I did my best. 3:00 am rolled around and we headed to skid row, downtown LA (the main homeless district in the city). We came loaded with blankets to handout to the people. As we walked down the almost silent streets, there was something so beautiful about placing a blanket over someone and whispering a prayer over them as they slept. So beautiful, but so heartbreaking.
It's funny when something you fear becomes something you love. Skid row has become one of my favorite places to be, and honestly I'd choose those streets over most to spend my Friday nights. It doesn't make me a better person, I just love the interesting, real and unique people of skid row. Every time I go there, expecting to impact someone's life and in turn, my life is impacted the most. There's something so intriguing about people who have nothing to lose and nothing to hide. They have the power to touch your life a lot more than someone hiding behind a mask they've create to puff themselves up. But then again, we all just want to be someone.
I've learned that whether in the darkest streets of skid row or the immaculate streets of Beverly Hills, we all want to be someone and be accepted. If I didn't find my acceptance in Jesus Christ, I'd be the one hiding behind a mask. But I've been challenged to get real and take off the mask. I want to let go of my fears and insecurities and just trust God. If I can't take off my mask, then how do I expect to help others take off theirs?
The last few months of my life have truly been beyond words. I've learned what true love looks like and that our little battles lead to our greatest victories. God has opened my eyes and showed me so much of who I am and who I will become. "Greater love has no one than this: that someone lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). Truly, my greatest offering is to lay down my life for the least of these.
James (@jameswrowse) lives in Los Angeles, California, and was born and raised in St. Albert, Alberta, Canada. He lives at the Los Angeles Dream Center and is a part of a movement called the Dream Center Leadership School!