The church I pastor in California is called the Dream Center. Think of a big hospital that sits like a ship next to the Hollywood freeway where, free of charge, anyone with a need can find shelter –– homeless families, addicts, veterans, kids too old for the foster care system, victims of human trafficking. We call it the Dream Center because we believe that the greatest life-changers involve vision, courage and a sense of purpose.
Our church meets an endless assault of human needs with faith and resilience. We do not claim to have all the solutions to the many problems of our neighbors, but we have learned important lessons about how to love them. We have learned how to listen to God’s Holy Spirit as He nudges us to do good in ways that seem very often more small than ambitious. Daily we break free from our self-centeredness to step out and help someone else.
We have not cornered the market on compassion, but we passionately believe that stepping out is a better option than playing it safe. We do not point to the government or to the pastor down the street as the solution. We are ordinary people who make a difference in everyday life, one act of compassion at a time. It is not always easy to love like that. People’s problems can feel overwhelming. But we have discovered a secret: Take one step at a time.
We know what it feels like to feel restrained in our efforts to offer help. Excuses, insecurity, and fear hold us back. Often we contend with a layer of contentment that keeps us from reaching out. Although serving others makes us happy, we prefer to satisfy our own wants and desires. Too easily we resist the call to love.
When people reflect on their life history, they often mention someone who offered one small act of love. Every major life accomplishment can be traced back to a coach, a careful mother, a wise teacher or a person who reached out in a seemingly insignificant way. It all adds up; it all matters. The big events of the world get the headlines, but little acts of kindness rule the world.
To pray about: Starting wherever you are, you can learn to follow the “nudges” of the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to help you follow Him.