Below is an update from Shawn Farrell, who oversees our high school ministry.
The Jefferson team is home. A group of 15 Fusion people (led by Jonas Tracy and Tony Miller) and 14 HS students (led by Jimmy Apodaca and Shawn Farrell) spent the weekend in downtown Los Angeles ministering to the community at the Jefferson Church. This is an urban church located right outside of USC in a very low income neighborhood. The church is predominately Hispanic with 2/3 being bilingual and 1/3 speaking Spanish only. Brodie McClain’s family (he is the pastor) is one of the only white families in the neighborhood.
We left from Saturated on Saturday evening and arrived in LA at about 10pm. Our service projects started immediately as one of our tasks for the weekend was to paint a mural/sign on the side of their 85-foot-long church building. It was quite a task. (Video and pictures were posted earlier, or you can watch them at church on January 1.)
On Sunday morning, we led their church service. Jimmy and Danny preached — Jimmy in English and Danny in Spanish. Both of their messages were out of Titus 3 about the grace of God in salvation. Jimmy, I could understand. He did a fantastic job articulating the gospel and the greatness of our salvation. On the other hand, I have no idea what Danny said as he preached in Spanish. But he preached with such conviction and passion that even the English-only people were captivated. Danny also brought a band with him and led worship in both English and Spanish. What a great opportunity it was for him to serve the church in both preaching and music.
Church started 45 minutes late and ended over an hour late (Chris would not have been happy), but was such a blessing to the local body as well as to our Jefferson team. I kept thinking about Revelation 5 where people from every tribe and tongue and nation are singing “Worthy is the lamb that was slain.” Heaven will be a mix of ethnicities and languages as believers from even the most distant reaches of the globe come together to bring glory to the King of kings.
The ladies of Jefferson church served us by making 300 authentic enchiladas that we gobbled up after the service ended. After lunch, we resumed our painting and prepared for the community toy store. A group of HS students and Fusioners went out into the community and invited everyone they came in contact with to the evening toy store. They also used the opportunity to share the gospel with anyone who would listen. As evening drew near, people began to line up outside the church in anticipation of the toy sale. One by one as their names were called, they went into the toy store and bought presents for 20 cents on the dollar. I was working the cashier and the big smiles on many of their faces is still etched in my mind. Over 300 people came in and out of the church on Sunday night. This is remarkable considering that there are only about 40-50 regular attendees on Sunday mornings. In addition to providing toys, the Baird’s and the Cuffel’s, cooked dinner for the entire community. We also gave away 65 pies that were donated from a member of FBC.
Brodie told me that this was the single largest community gathering he had ever seen in the neighborhood, it was the largest event that their church has ever undertaken and it was really, really cool. Every single toy was purchased and every burger was cooked. In other words, when we finally shut it down, there was nothing left. What a great night for the gospel as people discovered that Jefferson church exists and that it cares for the needs of the community. In fact, there was one man who came in seeking prayer and council and was able to sit with someone and pray—amidst many tears. We are hopeful that this event will bear much fruit for the future.
After the commotion died down, we cleaned up the room and most of our crew returned to Murrieta. A small group of HS students stayed behind to do some additional service projects on Monday morning, and we returned in the afternoon. All in all, it was a great trip. Our heartbeat for the trip was found in Philippians 2. In this passage, Paul encourages us to have the attitude of Christ and consider others as more important than ourselves. I saw this lived out all weekend long in downtown LA.
Thank you to FBC for donating all of those incredible toys (and pies). This trip would not have happened without you. Impoverished families were blessed and were introduced to a solid, biblical church right in their community because of your incredible generosity. Praise God. Thank you, thank you, and thank you. Hopefully, you will have an opportunity to join us on our next trip to see for yourself what God is doing at the Jefferson Church.
A fellow servant of Christ,