From dreary Texas to sunny California, this past week we spent 5 days in south Los Angeles exploring the ministry options out there. Out of the Watts riots of 1965, World Impact was birthed and they have had a presence in LA ever since. Their presence will continue on through Allison and I.
We are moving Watts, LA.
Watts is a 2.12 square mile community about 10 miles south of downtown that is historically known because of the 1965 riots. LA, but more specifically this area, became home to many blacks in the early 1900’s when they grew tired of the south and the Jim Crow laws. They came to LA to find a place to start over, live a much better life and achieve the American dream. While success was found for some, the challenges remained thick, housing laws forced strict restrictions on where black people could buy houses, and in turn forced lots of people from the south to live all in one area.
Work opportunities were plentiful at the start of WWII with the manufacturing of war supplies and opportunities continued to grow when the car industry boomed and multiple companies opened shop in LA. Like elsewhere, these industries changed or died and people began to lose jobs. During this whole era blacks were continually struggling to find their place in a society that only fed them hate, distrust and segregation. LA was a new place, but still racism was palpable. People and police did many horrible things, the color of people’s skin deemed them less than human. Oppression, hatred, distrust and segregation fueled the riots of 1965.
Fast forward to today, the community remains a part of the city that is often forgotten. Around 32,000 residents live here and it has gotten more diverse over the years with about 60% being Hispanic and 38% Black. There are four large housing projects that each have their own identity. Gangs still have a strong presence and each project has one main set (gang) with maybe some smaller ones and they are all rivals.
What are we going to do?
The biggest thing is move into the neighborhood. We will be moving to 114th street in a cute (as Allison would say) two bedroom house.
Around the corner and about two blocks down is a school that World Impact built years ago. It is a fairly large space with three floors and a playground in the center. A church called Powerhouse church was started by World Impact about 7 years ago and uses the first floor of the school as a meeting place. Most of our time will be invested in the life of the church through discipleship and any other activities we are needed for. Allison will also spend 1/3 of her time with the school filling a needed administration role. For me, I’d say 2/3 of my time will be with Powerhouse church in a learning role but also using the gifts God has given me.
This is our first year with World Impact, which means we fall under the title of Missionary In Training. We will spend some of our time getting trained, mentored and adjusted to city life.
Honestly we are very excited & it is something new, but for the first time we feel like we have vision for what our first year will look like.
We are ready to move (like tomorrow), but God does have us here and we do need to raise $818 more a month to be at 100%. Our goal to is to be moving by June 1st and that means we need some help. We would love to come and talk to small groups or a church or talk over the phone about what God is doing and wants to do. Feel free to leave a comment or email either Allison and I if you want more information.