Church on Skid Row
Recently I attended church on Skid Row in Los Angeles. I have been to this area many times over the years, but never for a Sunday service. Block after block was covered in tents. There were many sleeping on sidewalks, and these were only a portion of the 85,000 homeless in the LA area. Towering over these tents are skyscrapers with the beauty of the mountains in the distance. What a contrast!
We were greeted by Jennifer Chou, a World Impact Associate, as we arrived at her Sunday corner lot. Gathered on a very dirty slab of concrete were 30 people. They were waiting for the service to begin. There was a table with food for the breakfast that would soon follow.
Jennifer walked among the people, loving each one, speaking to them by name. There were those with clear mental illness. Others seemed lost in their thoughts. Already she was a legend in my mind. After the message, Jennifer said with her huge smile, “Let’s sing some songs,” and proceeded to lead us in "This Is the Day That the Lord Has Made." A few sang along and those walking along the sidewalk stopped to listen.
Jennifer's story is remarkable. She came from Taiwan years ago wanting her daughter to have a good education. She was an accountant and happened to work for some shady business folk. They skipped the country but she was charged with a crime and spent three years in jail. This is where she met Christ.
Jennifer had a tremendous desire to know the Word of God and found out about The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI). She began taking classes in jail. At the same time she was ministering to the women locked up with her. When released she completed the TUMI training with a heart that had been forever changed.
Three years ago she began her ministry at Skid Row. She is now an accountant by day, but in spirit a full-time minister on Skid Row. People want to touch her to have encouragement for the week. She says, “No, no, it is not me. It is Jesus.”
As our service concluded and I prepared to leave for the airport and Jennifer said, “There is always hope. Jesus will meet these people. He loves each one.” I’m not sure I will ever forget church on the corner.