From horror to hope

One of the serendipities of being a part of ministry in the last few years has been to participate in Dr. Bill Bright’s Billion Soul Initiative to start five million churches and win one billion new believers to Christ. He gave me the opportunity to serve on his overall steering committee. This has allowed me to meet some wonderful leaders around the world.

At one of our planning meetings in Los Angeles, my son, Si, and I met Matthew Barnett. It’s amazing what this young man has done.

Matthew and his wife became senior pastors of the Angeles Temple in 2001. Matthew had a vision for a church that would be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to meet not only the spiritual but the physical and emotional needs of people.

The church bought a large hospital in Los Angeles that had been abandoned. It was being used by Hollywood to produce horror films. Matthew and his team saw a vision for changing a place depicting horror to a place that would give hope and help to people in need. Matthew’s motto is, “When times get tough – serve!” He lives that out to make a huge difference in the Los Angeles area.

The hospital has been converted into a Dream Center. This is a huge ministry that serves more than 80,000 people monthly! They provide transitional housing for people who are homeless, suffer from addictions, human trafficking, poverty, hunger, etc. They have huge trucks where they deliver meals to people throughout the county. The Dream Center is engaged in foster care, job skills training, life skills training, basic education, and a multitude of other ways to meet needs.

There are now 84 Dream Centers around the world in 29 states and 11 countries. To raise awareness and support for the Dream Center, last year Matthew ran seven marathons in seven days on seven different continents. He had a tough knee injury before the last marathon, but he finished it. That’s his spirit!

The Dream Center offers transitional housing to help people rebuild their lives. They have about 500 beds available. Si and I enjoyed just walking through the facility with Matthew. He knew the names of so many people who were there in different ministry programs. Recovery was becoming reality for people who had been abused by themselves or others. The Dream Center is focused on leading a person to a vital relationship with Jesus – a new birth. They believe and practice that a new birth in Christ creates a new person who then can grow spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically. (2 Cor. 5:17)

Mathew’s dad is Tommy Barnette. He is co-pastor, along with Matthew’s brother Luke, of a huge megachurch in Phoenix, Arizona.  They have a weekly church attendance of over 23,000 people! That church recently changed its name to Dream City Church.

I believe every church ought to be a Dream Church!! If a church never dreams, it will never have a dream come true. Joel said, “Your young men shall dream dreams, and your old men shall see visions.” (Joel 2:28) Matthew Barnett is a witness that a God-sized dream can change horror to hope!

Are you and your church dreaming God’s dream?

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