It Could Have Been Me… or It Could Have Been You
Last week I had the privilege of joining Pete and a few of our staff and volunteers on a trip to the LA Dream Center. We were simply blown away by the ministry and life-change that is happening at this place.
The Dream Center, a volunteer driven organization that finds and fills the needs of individuals and families alike, was founded in 1994 and currently serves over 40,000 people each month.
Services and programs offered include residential rehabilitation programs for teens and adults, a shelter for victims of human trafficking, a transitional shelter for homeless families, mobile hunger relief and medical programs, and a foster care intervention outreach that works closely with Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to keep families intact by delivering the required furnishings, clothing and food to assure that their homes meet DCFS standards. Programs such as adult basic education, job skills training, and life skills counseling are also to homeless families and individuals continue to establish The Dream Center as a vital community development resource.
The Dream Center’s record of success has led to the launch of over 100 independent Dream Centers nationally, as well as internationally.
The purpose of our trip was to see the breadth and depth of the possibilities for replicating a Dream Center here in Nashville. We’re currently renovating a building that will be our first Nashville Dream Center.
We met dozens of people – men, women, families, single moms with their sweet children – who are in recovery at the Dream Center. But my heart was ripped to shreds when we met the teenagers who are in the program. As we listened to several of them share their testimony, it all became so real to me. One precious 17-year-old shared the details of her early life and the choices that she made that ultimately landed her in a situation where she was in desperate need for help. As I looked at her, I saw myself. The circumstances that occurred in her early life were very similar to some of my early experiences. I became overwhelmed by the thought that “it could have been me.”
I don’t know why my situation turned out different than hers. All I know is that up until a certain point, our stories were similar and then something happened that changed our trajectories. Perhaps it was that I had more people in my life that spoke wisdom to me in the midst of pain and helped guide me from making bad choices. Perhaps it was that God gave me an extra dose of the ability to discern right and wrong and understand the consequences. Maybe there were a few more people whispering hope in my ear rather than despair.
I don’t know.
I really don’t and I don’t know why I was saved from that path and she wasn’t.
But I do know that being rocked by that reality gives me a responsibility. I can see how close I was to being in her shoes.
Every person that finds themselves in need of hope, healing and recovery is not all that different from me and you. We’re all one decision or one key relationship away from finding ourselves on a completely different path.
You or I could have been any one of the people that I met in the Dream Center last week.
Now you or I can be the one person that intervenes and helps change the course for others.
I’m so excited about Cross Point’s Dream Center that will be opening later this year and the opportunities we have to change lives in a powerful way!
Do you have a Dream Center in your city or another organization that you’re a part of that restores and redeems lives? Tell us about it!
thank you for sharing, Jenni. We have begun a Dream Center in our community as well. I pray CrossPoint will see God do bigger and bigger things to help heal the hurting as your dreams come into being
I’m from L.A. My husband and I began partnering with Dream Center a few years back while doing youth ministry. It was a great way to help our students (who come from very high affluence) understand our city and serve in a way that was focused on relationships, empowerment, and healing, not on handouts. Since shifting to work with social justice opportunities at a university, we’ve continued to learn from the Dream Center and I’m always impressed and humbled by their work.