STORIES OF 2016 PT 1
This last year has been one of growth and expansion. Garden Church launched another campus, we continue to support Bread LA, a church plant in Culver City and in 2017 we will help launch another Garden church plant called Jardin in Chihuahua, Mexico. We have launched Garden Groups, a new youth ministry, and continued our second year of Alpha Ministries. We continue to raise up servants and leaders who bring life where ever they go and see our vision “In Long Beach as it is in Heaven” becoming a reality.
We wanted to share with you some of the amazing stories what we have witnessed this year. Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing stories of people in our community who have experienced transformation and healing.
Laundry Love is a simple thing. You show up to a laundromat with quarters and laundry detergent and offer free laundry to those in the community. It seems insignificant. But for some its monumental.
We’ve been doing Laundry Love at the Garden for sometime now. Community Groups have participated in it in the past, and this summer, at our first City Serve Day, we did it at multiple locations in Long Beach. During our City Serve Day we met many people in our community, some featured in the video above. However, one lady stood out specifically. This particular lady lived across the street from Franklin Middle School and had just started attending our church with her kids. When she came to the laundromat she had 8 large loads of laundry that she rolled over in a stroller because she had no other way of transporting the clothes. She said she hadn’t been able to do laundry for weeks because both her and her husband had been out of work. They didn’t have a car so her husband was having difficulty finding a job.
Clara was a volunteer serving at Laundry Love. She was an expat who had been living in Long Beach for 2 years and was getting ready to move back to Hong Kong. She was in the process of selling all of her things, including her car. She ended up connecting with this lady, hearing more of her story, and feeling compelled to help her in the ways she was able. She had an idea that instead of selling her car, she would give it away to this family in need. She arranged this within the last week of her being in the country and was able to bless this family with a much needed car.
Since our City Serve Day, we have launched a weekly serve group who does Laundry Love at the laundromat behind Franklin. It has been an amazing way to connect with the community. The laundromat is often completely full at 7PM when Laundry Love begins with neighbors who are in need, looking for community, and hungry to experience the love of God. The lady mentioned above has been able to come every week and get all her laundry done, and we were even able to throw a birthday party for one of the kids who is there with her mom every week. People from the community have come to the Garden, attended our Halloween Carnival, and been able to connect with Jesus in new ways all because a small group of people show up to a laundromat every week offering to do free laundry.
Watch a video that shows more about laundry love HERE.
This is Michael. Michael was a homeless man who showed up at Franklin Middle School on a Sunday morning before service. He was greeted by our set up team, and he asked if he could help with whatever it was that we were doing. He gave us a hand that morning, and has been coming to help us every single week since then. After we set up in the morning, he stays for the service and says that it’s the best part of his week. Michael recently found a job doing yard work and walking dogs, and was able to buy a van to stay in and keep his things safe. He recently accepted Christ and is signed up to be baptized during our next round of baptisms. Michael doesn’t have much, but he is one of the most joy filled people I’ve ever met. He has a heart to serve others and if you ask him if he needs anything, he’ll tell you prayer is the only thing he needs. The week before Thanksgiving one of our volunteers found out that he didn’t have a place to go, so he invited Michael over to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner at his house, with his family. It’s been my privilege to see the transformation in Michael’s life and to see our volunteers invite him in to community and family.