One of the challenges of street ministry is in being able to descend on those streets with the love and compassion of Jesus Christ. The streets, especially in downtown Los Angeles, as in any large city, are brutal.
We approach the reality of the streets with the example Christ set in meeting the needs of the people first and allowing the awesome power of the Holy Spirit to work on the hearts and minds of those we reach. When we go out into the trenches of Los Angeles, we do so having fasted and prayed that God leads us, protects us and allows His light and love to shine through us according to His will. And then we go. We don’t worry or concern ourselves with what we will encounter. We have no concern for the dangers that exist because God is for us no matter what else happens.
As we are encountering more and more LGBT homeless youth on the streets, we are finding the vast majority involved in prostitution. Their very survival depends upon engaging in sexual activity for whatever amount of money they may need at the time; for food, for their next fix, or for another bottle of booze. Whatever the case, they are caught in the enemy’s trap of deceit and they surrender to the lie that “this is all that life has” for them.
In the development of The Rock & The Rainbow outreach program at Evangel Pacific, one of the things we have instituted is condom distribution to both male and female prostitutes, in addition to our clothing and food distribution. It is my steadfast and unwavering belief that we must meet the needs of the people first and pray for the Holy Spirit to work on their lives and change their hearts. We are assembling a network of resources for when one of these young men or women are ready to bolt from that life into a new one. For all of the criticism that comes our way, it is still the Christlike thing to do. We have heard the arguments against it. “You are condoning immorality”. “You are making their sin easy for them and their souls will be on your hands”. Let me simply reply to these and a variety of other criticisms by saying: We can not minister and bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the dead. We are to do everything within the ability God has given us to save lives, both on the physical and on the spiritual level.
We have heard the arguments. “You are condoning immorality.” “You are making their sin easy for them and their souls will be on your hands.”
Let me simply say: We can not minister and bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the dead. We are to do everything within the ability God has given us to save lives, both on the physical and on the spiritual level.
I spent my twenties on the streets and did whatever I had to do to survive. I have lived the horrors our LGBT young people are living. Tonight could be the last night they live. They may not wake-up in the morning to a new day with another opportunity to live life and live it more abundantly. A simple act of love. A simple gesture of kindness to let them know they are not alone and that someone cares, allows the love of Jesus Christ to shine through us. And yes, they inevitably ask: “Why are you doing this for me”. The Holy Spirit opens the door and fills the heart. We are followers of Christ and as such we need to shed the self-righteous legalisms that so pollutes the Gospel.
Unless we are willing to humble ourselves and admit that doing God’s job for Him is something we are wholly unqualified to do, then the Holy Spirit can not work. We need to surrender completely and fully to His will. And we need to follow the commands of Christ to the letter…to the “red letter”, if you will.
As the critics of our condom outreach program are coming from the institutional church leadership and pulpits that preach hatred against LGBT on every level, we simply remind them of the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 21:31:
…Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you.”
We continue to reach out to these young people, these prostitutes, these children of God who are just waiting to embrace His love for them. It is arrogant for us to even consider that we can change people. But one thing I’ve learned is that God often calls those of us who have been broken and who have the most cracks in us to do work like this. And the reason, I believe He does, is so that the living water of His love that fills us spills from those cracks onto others with which we come into contact. “Been there, done that” is one way to emphasize the point I’m trying to make. But having witnessed, in my own life, what an act of love can do, I will continue to approach this ministry with the realization that Jesus Christ brought radical love to the least of these. And as followers of Christ, we are compelled to bring that radical love to the radical horrors we face. In this, we witness the miracle of God’s unfailing and unconditional love.
-Pastor William Griffith
WILLIAM GRIFFITH (known as Will) was ordained and licensed in 2006 as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is a graduate of the United States Institute of Peace with a certification in conflict analysis and served on the War Crimes Committee and Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association in London.
He has been a radio host for more than a decade, and is a writer, lecturer, and is a member of the National Association of Christian Ministers, The Association of Clergy International, The Red Letter Christians Movement and the Gandhi-King Community.
The Rock and the Rainbow is where the love and compassion of Jesus Christ (the ROCK of our salvation) meets the needs of the LGBT community (the Rainbow).
For far too long LGBT people have been alienated and polarized by the institutional Church simply for being who they are. This does not represent the commission of Jesus – to love our brothers and sisters as we love ourselves. This outreach focuses on bridging that gap with emphasis on LGBT youth left to fend for themselves through prostitution and a life on the streets.
There is a disproportionate number of LGBT youth in the commercially sexually-exploited population. This is attributed to the high levels of homelesness among LGBT youth.
46% of homeless LGBT youth report running away from home due to family rejection of their sexual orientation, and 17% ended up on the streets after they “aged out” of the foster care system.
48 hours after running away, 1 in every 3 homeless youth will be recruited by a trafficker into commercial sexual exploitation.
The Rock and the Rainbow is an outreach of Evangel Pacific Ministries, offering compassion, vital resources, and a network to get these young people off the streets and into a safe, productive environment.