South Central L.A.
Over Spring Break I had the chance to road trip down to South Los Angeles with 22 students. L.A. is such a fascinating culture where the poorest of the poor and the richest of rich live merely blocks away. The streets are lined with vendors and stores selling the next must-have jewelry, perfumes, and designer jeans. The amount of stuff for sale is unimaginable, with such a focus on material goods.
With this abundance of “stuff,” is an even greater abundance of need. People are walking the streets jobless, hungry, homeless, and even just in need of a good friend to trust. Loneliness is often what influences many to join some of the most violent gangs in L.A. At the end of the day, many of these people just want to belong… to be part of something bigger. The funny thing about this is ultimately this is something we all crave: authentic community.
Whether we are wandering the streets or road tripping in a van, we all want to belong and to find a place where we feel comfortable and loved for who we are. We were created to be together…not alone.
By the end of the trip our group from L.A. had formed this type of community. Various service projects such as the food bank and the after-school kid’s program really bonded our team together. We walked away not just a group of people but a family. Throughout the trip we also shared life stories where we were able to see how diverse our families and backgrounds were. Many of us had grown up in different places with different families and yet similar themes of struggle and acceptance seemed to emerge in all of out stories. Even as we talked and heard stories of homeless people on the street, we were able to see that though our experiences may be different, our needs are the same.
Overall, I walked away being reminded that the kingdom of God is not designed for one type of person. The kingdom of God is inclusive where diversity is seen as a beautiful asset. God took the same delight in creating me as he did the homeless person on the street. We were all chosen and designed to be part of God’s kingdom.
Written by Becca Suess