Antonio* was “raised by the streets”, the youngest of 11 siblings, 3 who died before he was born, to an immigrant single mother in a poverty-stricken LA neighborhood. By the time he was 10 he was involved with gangs and drug dealing. Through his adult life he was in and out of prison and drug addiction. He has a number of stories where he should have died, most notably when someone jumped out of car to shoot at him, point blank, but none of the bullets hit him. Through incidents like this Antonio knew God was real but, it has been a battle for him to follow Jesus. He’s been sober from drug addiction for about 5 years now and got connected to our church last year. This year Jesus has led Antonio into deeper discipleship through our Discipleship School.
Elizabeth* also grew up in a tumultuous home in this working class neighborhood. Her parents were divorced when she was still a youth and she became a single mom soon out of high school. She’s familiar with struggle as she has had to balance housing, work, school, and raising her 4 year old son who was diagnosed with autism just about a year ago. She’s been connected to our church for several years now and has been so excited to join our D-School this year to give herself more fully to Jesus.
Just last week our D-School went out on a street outreach. Antonio and Elizabeth were in my group. Before we went out we asked God if there was anything he wanted to show us. Elizabeth got a specific image of a hill in our local park. Antonio got an image of a homeless encampment near that same park. We walked up the hill that Elizabeth saw and we prayed for a man who was deciding between two jobs as well as a couple that were about to embark on a road trip for the funeral of this woman’s father. All of them were taken aback as it dawned on them that God saw them, the woman of the couple even asking if her boyfriend had sent us! Then we went to the homeless encampment Antonio had visited before and for the first time he prayed for a young man there. The young man alluded to his depression and began to smile as we prayed for him, saying it felt good.
It was a privilege and honor to see Elizabeth and Antonio lovingly interact with complete strangers and being bold in Jesus name, with the life that He offers…new life that they have experienced themselves. I wonder to what extent their deep compassion for those in need comes from the pain of their upbringing that God brought them through? Through D-School Elizabeth has been learning to overcome her insecurities to not only receive God’s love but to give it away to others. Antonio has been learning that while he is busying himself trying to care for others God wants to care from him. But God is challenging them to put into practice what they have learned. Elizabeth, Antonio and 3 of his teen children are going with us on our mission trip to the Dominican Republic from June 11th-June 21st! We look forward to what the Lord has for us there to grow us and His Kingdom!
As of today we’ve raised $26.512.60 and have $7,587.63 remaining for all 21 of us to go! I’ve fundraised my portion and put in my own funds as well. Most of our D-School students do not have much financial means to support themselves nor do their networks. That is why I’m reaching out to YOU…because we need your support to reach that finish line! Would you consider investing in “the least of these” to see them transform communities with the upside down Kingdom of God?
Click here to send the D-School team of LA’s Eastside to the DR (see “D-School Mission”)!
*names changed to protect privacy