Monday, April 14, 2008
Moving on Up
The general idea of relocating in Los Angeles is that you want to move to where the street numbers are smaller, north of Sunset is even better. Last December, CSM-LA moved from our old location on West 20th street down to 55th and Long Beach Ave. We are accepting Christ’s call to downward mobility. Moving to South Los Angeles has opened my eyes to whole parts of Los Angeles that are completely overlooked. Daily, we see how the same forces that make it hard for the middle-class to survive in Southern Califonia, hit even harder on working poor families.
My interns have been living here since January. As outsiders, they have worked to adopt this community as their own: getting to know their neighbors; attending classes at the local community center; befriending the 18-year-old girl who works at the liquor store on the corner.
I have been most humbled by the gracious support we have received from ministry partners and friends. Moving a house for one family is hard enough. Moving the housing site for 100 visitors, an office for three and permanent housing for 7 interns just isn’t possible on your own. Only from the expertise of our ministry partners would we learn that many of the families in Florence-Firestone, near where we live, are the same people who work in sweat shops. They have been priced out of East LA and Boyle Heights, a usual entry point for Latino immigrants.
A great joy for me to see everyday is the mural that now graces one whole wall of our new common room, pictured on the front page. Clairfoster Josiah Browne is an intern for us this spring. He is also a talented artist. We first lured him into CSM, by asking him to design and paint a graffiti mural for our new place, pictured above. I love how he combines the diverse highlights of LA’s tourist attractions with the faces of those that come to serve. Now CJ leads group to live the beauty of this mural.
Through all the difficulties of moving housing sites, I have seen how God plants seeds of hope in unlikely places. We continue to put our groups and ourselves in places where we look to see God come through. Only his peace can overcome the needs of our cities. Thanks to each of you for supporting me through this tough transition. He is growing CSM-LA and those we influence into a true planting of his righteousness.
-Rachel Hamilton, CSM Los Angeles City Director