For two Wednesday evenings in the month of July, the Missions Ministry sent a team of brothers and sisters to Normandale Recreation Center.
It was there that we helped in a community outreach program called Summer Night Lights (SNL).
SNL is a summer program led by the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Gang and Reduction and Youth Development.
In hopes of reducing gang-related violence in specific areas which are typically affected by this type of activity, 32 locations (recreation centers and parks), across the City of Los Angeles are kept open between the hours of 7pm-11pm throughout the summer months.
The recreation centers and parks provide the community with a safe place for families, kids, and teenagers to come during the summer nights.
There, they can take part in a variety of activities and games.
What Summer Night Lights Are Like
On both nights, we were blessed to be given an area to set up all our ministry supplies.
At one table, we provided face painting for the children, and at another table we made balloon animals for the kids.
During this time, the Lord provided us with several opportunities to share the gospel message and the love of Jesus with some of the children as well as their parents.
On one of the Wednesdays when we were out there, we were able to present two dramas for people to watch.
At the end of each drama, a team member shared the gospel message and gave a brief testimony of how the Lord had changed their life.
For both Wednesdays, we did one-on-one evangelism by passing out gospel tracts and talking with the people at the park.
A Gospel Seed Planted in an Ex-Gang Member
One divine appointment occurred when a team member approached a young man in his late teens to give him a gospel tract.
The young man was open to talking, and after a brief conversation, our team member was able to share the gospel with him.
After they discussed a series of ‘why’ questions based on life, the young man began to open up about his personal life.
As it turns out, this young man had a gang background and had recently been released from jail.
He shared that he grew up with no parents, but was raised by an abusive uncle who didn’t care about where he was, and never worried about him returning home.
It was his uncle that offered him his first taste of alcohol. The young man commented about his youth, “That’s not how someone ought to grow up.”
From this statement, the Lord put it on our team member’s heart to share with him about our Father in heaven.
The team member explained that he had an earthly father who was “there but not there,” and that our heavenly Father was also his father when he felt alone and uncared for.
The team member went on to share about what makes God a loving father, and how He watches, provides, counsels, guides, helps, and corrects His children.
He also told the young man that sin separates us from our loving Heavenly Father.
The young man also shared that he had two sons and was trying to stay out of trouble, but that it was difficult to change and leave his former lifestyle.
The team member was able to share the hope of God with this young man, and how our Lord could set him free if he made a commitment, repented of his sins, and trusted in Jesus for his salvation and a new life.
By the end of the conversation, the young man was moved to tears as God was softening his heart.
When asked if he wanted to receive Jesus Christ into his heart, he replied “No. I understand what you’re saying, but I’m not ready to make that commitment.”
However, he did accept prayer.
In the words of the team member who shared with this young man, “We always hope for a miracle and a testimony to share of how someone came to know the Lord after being witnessed to.
“This man did not repent and accept Jesus as his Savior, but I do believe he came to know about the Lord.
“I believe he now knows all he needs to know to turn to Jesus on his own.
“I pray for him, and trust that God would draw him to Himself according to His perfect will.”
This encounter reminded me of 1 Corinthians 3:6, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.”
Although this man did not receive Jesus Christ as his Savior, a seed was planted and now we can all pray that someone would come along side and water it.
God Shows His Faithfulness
Whenever we go out and share the Word of God with people, it’s always comforting to know that His word is true, and it never returns void.
That night, as well as the following Wednesday, many seeds were planted.
The gospel message went forth, and people heard the Word of God.
All of us who participated felt truly blessed to be able to serve the people who came out to Normandale Recreation Center and to be used by God in a variety of ways.
We give all the glory to God because without Him, none of this would be possible!