But what are you doing to help in needy areas?
I had been complaining on social media about the lawlessness of the rioters, and God was intersecting my self-righteousness with a contrary thought.
Ok, God, I thought, where can I get involved in at-risk neighborhoods in my city, Los Angeles? The door opened quickly to share a Bible study once a week at a half-way house just west of Downtown. I could leave my smug, self-affirming San Fernando Valley and get into the grit.
What started as a weekly study turned into friendships.
Then it went deeper. It became family.
Some church members and my business associates at World Financial Group, all pitching in with cooked items, threw the 16 guys at New Beginnings a full-on Thanksgiving Dinner.
Here are guys, many of whom have burned their bridges with their own family. So they aren’t invited to family gatherings. And the feel the absence acutely at family holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I should know. I cried too when I was a missionary all alone with my wife in Guatemala the first year and we didn’t have anybody to celebrate with. God sent us a well-to-do Guatemalan family that went out of their way to invite us to Christmas dinner with their family. Gratitude welled up in my heart.
So when I saw my guys at New Beginnings, with Thanksgiving approaching, I knew what I had to do. God has blessed me, and so it was my turn to bless.
Fortunately, I wasn’t alone. When I suggested the project to my financial advisor business partners in the Woodland Hills office, everyone was eager to contribute. As my wife cooked the turkey, Serria Rego mashed the potatoes, Herb Quick bought pies, Dr. Lucy Rojo hooked up the ice cream, Jamie got cider and Marie Carole — who’s from France — whipped up some ratatouille.
I didn’t even know that ratatouille was a traditional Thanksgiving dish. LOL.
Of course, Kianna Shin, who’s our leader, outdid us all. She made potstickers, another Thanksgiving classic.
The guys at New Beginnings, who are literally a hair’s breadth away from being homeless, didn’t know anything about financial planning or the chefs preparing the meal. But on Friday, they got a dose of some pretty uppity cuisine.
On the street, it’s every man for himself and you pack in what you can when you can, which is good because we literally brought way too much. Some of the guys went back for seconds and thirds. I myself confess I committed the sin of gluttony, but there were at least five different kinds of pies. I can’t let a pie pass me by, can I?
The most cynical say we’re just trying to make ourselves feel good about ourselves. But I say, instead of criticizing what others do, what are you doing to help out the less fortunate? God commands us not to think and wish but to go and do. Break out of your comfort zone and bring some comfort to those who are the end of their rope.
Jesus stopped what he did to be with the down-and-out. Come Monday, I’ll be sharing the word of God again with hungry hearts, men who are trying to get their lives together. Eventually, they will be the ones to help others, but God must raise them up first.
Christmas is coming. What re you going to do?
If you need a Christian sober living home in Los Angeles, contact Pastor Rick Grogan 323-572-1086. The home is located at 1165 W. 39th Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90037.
In addition to ministering in New Beginnings and writing Christian journalism, Michael Ashcraft sells a 10′ bamboo steamer on Amazon.