Perceptions and Reality.
We do wonder sometimes what people’s perceptions are of Los Angeles, especially with all the gossip shows, glitzy films, raunchy TV series, network of highways and mies of beaches. LA County has about 26 billionaires living within its boundaries and many, many more movie stars, musicians, producers, directors and well known personalities. It has been the hub for many church revivals, and church growth initiatives. Creative inventions and many innovative ideas have come out of this area. It also has one of the top ten universities in the world in Cal Tech and a premier rocket research lab at JPL.
However, LA has also been called the first 3rd world city in America.
The state of California is the 5th largest economy on the globe yet has similar financial troubles as Greece and is billions in debt. Teachers are being sacked and government offices are closing down for several days a week to save money.
One of the largest contingents of folks living on the streets, anywhere in the US (about 11,000 people), reside in Los Angeles at Skid Row. Altogether, LA County is home to a total of 80,000 street people. However, these numbers are disputed as being 2007 statistics and that currently there are only about 50,000 folks on the street.
In 2009 a film was released called The Soloist. It starred Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. Last month one of the directors of this film released an in-depth, real life documentary on what it is like living on Skid Row. Check out the film clip at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvG_UlvqggA&feature=player_embedded . I would recommend seeing how the “other half lives”.
We would ask you to pray for the people of California and LA. It is a state of wonderful vitality and hope. Yet there are also many challenges. Perhaps one of the most significant for people who follow the teachings of Jesus is how radically are we willing to live out Jesus’ love in such a diverse place of wealth and want.
We are currently exploring, with some other folks, what this would look like in the context of this urban culture and would appreciate your prayers for wisdom.