When we arrived at the Los Angeles Mission in the heart of the LA region known as skid row, thousands of people were lined up to receive food, clothing, school supplies for children and more. Most importantly, they were being offered spiritual sustenance. The queue of people wrapped around the contemporary facility; eastward on Winston Street from Wall Street to San Pedro St.; southward down San Pedro to 5th Street, then westward on 5th back to Wall Street. By my unscientific estimation, there were several thousand people, some stand 3 & 4 abreast, waiting in line to receive something. LA Mission did a great job of organizing the give-away. The line moved quickly and everyone I saw was orderly.
I was there with over a dozen members of Abundant Harvest Christian Center. We had been invited by the chaplain, who allowed us to move among the people and pray with them when needed and/or requested prayer.
Too Shy to Paint in Public?
I took my paint kit and, as usual, set it up to paint and see who God would bring my way. Several people stopped to see what I was doing. One man was a Christian who liked to draw, but his special gift was music. He played guitar and sang in the church he attended. We had a good time of fellowship. I had extra art supplies with me and tried to get him and others to join me, but they all were too shy.
The one person I believe I was destined to meet was a young man I’ll call John. John had tattoos covering his body and walked with a swagger like many of the urban street kids I meet while painting en plein air. We talked about art for a few minutes, but when I asked him what he was passionate about, he couldn’t give me an answer. He had no goals, no ambitions and seemingly, no hope, even though he said he was a Christian. John chuckled at the notion that he had no direction in his life.
I perceived that it was a laugh of embarrassment, so I said, “Listen, I’m a successful man. I can tell you how to find God’s purpose for your life, but only if you really want to know?”
John stopped smiling and said, “Ok, I wanna know.”
About that time, I heard a lady say, “Excuse me, I’m interested in what you’re saying. Would you speak louder so I can hear you better.”
I looked up and saw the lady waiting in line as it gradually moved up the street. “Come on over,” I said as I waved her my direction.
Get Out of Line
“I can’t get out of line,” she answered.
I thought to myself; ‘If I didn’t know God’s purpose for my life, but overheard someone telling how I could find it, I’d get out of line,’ Apparently the physical food she was standing in line to receive meant more than the spiritual food I was serving up. She didn’t get out of line, so I continued with John.
“Well John,” I said, “You say you’re a Christian. The Bible says that *your life is hid with Christ. So everything you need to know; your present, your future and your destiny…God hid them with Christ. God didn’t hide them from you, but for you. Since Christ is in you, everything you need to know is already inside. So the more you learn about Jesus, the more you will learn about yourself.”
I paused while John considered what I said. I went on, “The Bible says to **ask and you shall receive. If you really want God to show you your purpose, I would be glad to lead you in a prayer where you will ask Him. Would you like to do that?”
John looked intently into my eyes and said, “Yes.”
It Takes Two – God & You
I prayed with John (incorporating a prayer of ‘assurance of salvation’ along with his request for direction), then gave him some stern advise. “God is going to show you why He put you on this earth. It may not come overnight, but there’s a sure way it will come. You must read your Bible every day. Do you have a Bible?” I asked. John said he did. I continued, “Not only must you read your Bible every day, but you must pray daily; talk to God. And as you talk to Him, He will show you, often from the scriptures what your purpose is in life is. Finally,” I asked, “Do you attend church?”
John said he did, so I told him to attend regularly.
Note about the painting: This was my first painting. The inset shows me working on my second painting after most of the crowd had gone.