Friday, February 25, 2005

Prayer Request for My Friend Karina

On Tuesday, I found out that a dear friend of mine, Karina, was in the Hospital. She went into the Emergency Room on Monday because she couldn't breathe that well. After looking at her, the doctors admitted her into the hospital and they don't know when she will be leaving. She had apparently had an Asthma Attack. The doctors say she is stable, but they cannot say when she will be well enough to come home. She is, currently, 6 months pregnant, so extra care should be taken to help my friend and her baby. If you could pray for her and her unborn baby's health and for her husband and kids during this time, it would mean a lot.

A Story from John Shorack in Venezuela

I read this story the other day and thought it was something that needed to be shared. The man who wrote it is from the InnerCHANGE Venezuela team. It is something we all should think about:

Luis ­ More than a Running Partner

A couple weeks ago I finally went jogging with a man from our hillside
Luis Rodriquez. Luis is two years younger than me (that means he¹s 43
old). In his late teens and early 20s he was a professional boxer,
the world (to Indonesia, Thailand, Norway, Germany, Greece, USA, most
American countries and more). He sparred with Sugar Ray Leonard (USA
medalist in 1976 Olympic Games) and shook hands with the golden boy
East LA, Oscar de la Hoya.

Luis is also a baker. From his very humble, hillside ³rancho² (the word
squatter homes), he bakes and sells bread for his neighbors from two
home-made ovens that he converted from refrigerators. His bread is very
and affordable. Luis takes pride in providing this service to his
(his barrio is the only one I know of that actually has a bakery within
community, virtually everywhere else requires taking a jeep to the
district at the foot of the hillside to buy fresh baked breads.)

For those of you who know running, Luis has run a 2:40 marathon. Not
bad for
a 40 year old. He goes for an 8 mile run every morning at 5:30am
(parenthetically, not unlike his home-made ovens, Luis¹ running shoes
like they were converted from sandals). If you saw his body, you¹d know
I mean when I say to myself, ³So this is what a professional athlete¹s
looks like.² I listen with genuine respect when he tells me, ³I played
baseball, too, but only Class A because the opportunities didn¹t exist
them. Otherwise, who knows, I might have played in the majors.² He¹s
kind of guy who can say that with credibility. His body speaks for

It was 5:30am, the jeeps were making their early morning runs up and
the hill. I got to the factory entrance to wait for Luis. Suddenly he
emerged from the dark and we were off. As it turned out, I didn¹t have
anything to worry about. Luis wasn¹t interested in our pace. He wanted
talk. And talk we did. For an hour and a half. He didn¹t waste anytime.
soon as we hit the flats at the bottom of the hill he jumped right in:
do you think of our government? The question caught me off guard a bit.
made a few safe, moderately positive remarks about the president,
what he is trying to do, while not wanting to get caught up in the
personality cult that follows the president. As we ran through the
together, oblivious to the physical exertion, Luis began sharing his
with me. Here are two remarks he made that I will never forget (I
them as accurately as possible.):

³I want to see a president of your country be the first one to step
and eliminate his own weapons of mass destruction.²

He went on to tell me:

³As long as injustices like Saddam Hussein¹s get treated by further
injustices, like those that George W. Bush is doing in Iraq, then we
have a world of injustices. Because those in power who could do justice
no incentive to do what¹s right, since they see that solving problems
injustice gets rewarded.²

This was no ordinary jog in the park, was it? And Luis is no ordinary
guy. I
affirmed his instincts. That is no small thing that you¹re saying, I
replied, praying for the Lord to give me wisdom. In fact, I continued,
understand something about the gospel that I am trying to teach the
Pentecostal pastors. That got his attention.

³I have no respect for religion. I believe in humans. Religion,² he
went on,
³is full of bad people who do bad things and just hide behind

You know, Luis, your vision for a US president that chooses to lay down
weapons of mass destruction as the first step toward peace, is only
because we have a God who already did that very thing. The God I
worship is
a God who humbled himself. He didn¹t insist on Lording over people.
he laid down his power and showed us the way of love and forgiveness.

Needless to say, I got a lot more from my morning jog than I bargained
Somehow, I have to believe, that Luis got more than he bargained for,

John Shorack, January 2005

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


Some people come and go in your life, others you may not see, but they will always hold a special place in your heart, and then there are those, that when you meet them, you know at that very moment...they are a person you will want to actively keep apart of your life forever. I can't say that the latter has happened often, but I can say that my friend Roxy is one of those people.
I met Roxy a year and a half ago, when I moved out to Los Angeles. She was one of the first people I met out here. And soon as I met her--I knew we would be instant friends. And she has proven to be one of the greatest friends I could ever have.
On Saturday (February 5, 2005), I had the opportunity to celebrate the coming of her and her husband's first born son, who is due in March. Mel, a friend of mine, and I planned the Baby shower and a close friend of Roxy's, Barbie, and her husband hosted the shower at their place. It was a beautiful day with lots of warm weather and no clouds. It was wonderful.
What struck me most that day, was not the large amount of gifts people brought or even the cultural diversity that was present. But it was the moment, we all came together and introduced ourselves and explained how we knew Roxy and Chris. As we all went around the room to share our stories, we also began to talk about the many ways Roxy and Chris have both touched each of our lives. Each person began to bless the two of them in this new journey into parenthood. There were many moments of tears and many moments of laughter, but best of all....there were many moments in which LOVE was shared between each other.

This last Week

This last week, one of the 11 year old girls from the building....came over to my house. She loves to write things in my computer. Often she writes about what she likes to do, who is in her family, where she lives...what's it like. I save them all...because they tell me a story...her view of the neighborhood. This week she wrote about her favorite things to of the things she likes to do is read. I asked her about that...what books she has enjoyed.....when she likes to read. It was neat to see her come alive as she talked about her favorite books. Seeing this joy and wanting to help her do better at reading, I asked her if she would like reading a book with me. And when I did, her eyes began to glow.

Just a Few Facts!

According to the Los Angeles Times:

In the Last year, Los Angeles recordeda 25% increase in requests from families for emergency shelter.

Los Angeles County has approximately 34,000 homeless family members at any given time---a population roughly the same size as the total population in Beverly Hills.

In Los Angeles County, more than half of families seeking emergency shelter are turned away, a study by the US Conference of Mayors concluded, and families oftne must be split up to be housed.

For families that suddenly find themselves without a home, the county has 975 emergency shelter beds and has been hardpressed by limited funs and high real estate costs to add more. A proposed $4.5 million , 30-bed emergency family shelter slated for South Los Angeles has been stalled for nearly a year. Official haveing $2.5 million for the project and have asked the county to pony up the balnace, but so far have received no comitment.

Los Angeles spends about $58 million annually on homeless service and the county spends about $285 Million, including healthcare, welfare and othe social services.

2/3 of the county's 88 cities don't provide homeless expenditures at all.

In Comparision, New York City (not even the entire county) plans to spend $708 million for homelss services an recently announce a $30 million project to rebuild a 20 year old agency that processes families applying for emergency shelter.

--In September, LA Family Housing closed an East Los Angeles shelter.....there was not enough funding to absorb the shelter's $600,000 operating cost.

In general, Other large urban centers, especially those in colder cliemates where homeless people risk weather-related injuries or deaths- typically spend more per capita that Los Angeles County does and consolidate their services.

This is merely food for thought....

It's had me thinking about a lot of things including this:

What continues to amaze me is how a city larger (NYC) than LA and has a higher rate of homelessness, has mangaged to do a better job meeting the needs of the homeless.

And sadly, it is hard for me to hear that Los Angeles has the same amount of extremely rich people as they do extremely poor people. And yet we continue to have insufficient funding to help the poor.