Meet Laci Frye: after an opportunity to serve fell into her lap, she set aside her hesitations, hopped on a plan, and found her eyes opened to the needs of the homeless living in America.
How did you decide to go to the Los Angeles Dream Center?
Deciding to go to Los Angeles and partner alongside of the Dream Center was not all on me. This past summer my boyfriend worked a camp in Anderson, South Carolina, called Crossroads. There he heard about the mission trip opportunities that were coming up within the camp’s ministry known as Clayton King Ministries. He had heard about L.A. since week one and eventually brought it to my attention. He told me this is something he felt the Lord leading both of us to do as a couple. I began to look into it myself ,filled out an application, and soon received a phone interview. I found out that day of the interview I had been accepted and then immediately began to prepare. The feelings of being accepted to go were so real and raw. I remember being so excited and on fire to go. While it made me nervous to be going with only one person I knew, what I had yet to find out was how these 13 other people I spent the week with would soon become life-long friends.
What’s one thing you learned about serving others through this experience?
Serving others was the main goal in L.A. because this city is in such dire need to be fed, have brokenness mended, and have love shed on it. We worked with the Dream Center of L.A., a huge non-profit organization that brings others hope in this dying, broken community. They serve as a center for those living with addiction to become clean and ultimately free in Jesus, a place that provides three meals a day for those in poverty and homelessness, and a place of shelter for those that need it with families or themselves.
For me, the biggest take away that I got by serving the people of this city was humility. This humility was brought on by a single mother of two children fighting for her family, running from the hardship of domestic violence. In L.A. the city provides a “foster care” program for parents who might not have all the sustainable articles for children to thrive. Simple things like, beds, dressers, and kitchen tables. While we are more fortunate and think everyone has these things, there are kids in this part of our country who are sleeping on the floor and eating on the floor due to domestic violence or other issues like poverty. The city of L.A. gives these parents a second chance. DSS will come in and see that there is not adequate equipment in the home for the children or will help a parent suffering from domestic violence relocate that needs adequate equipment, and they will allow the parent time to get these things before taking the kids into their own custody. Sometimes, children will be taken from the parents and they are still allowed time to get the proper living equipment. I admire this policy and the city of Los Angeles for allowing this to be in place.
On the first day of tasks, this is what I was given. I was placed with a group that went out into the town of Compton to build two dressers, two beds, and a kitchen table for this mom who had just relocated. When I walked into her very small apartment I saw that it consisted of a small living room, with no couch or chairs, attached the kitchen area, that had no table, and one bedroom, that had no beds. We came in with our Ikea furniture and began to build. As I was building the dressers for the kids, all I could think of was how this mom only wants beds for her children, a place to keep their clothes, and a place where they can share a meal together not on the floor. When we had finished I asked the workers from the dream center if the mom could choose what she received for them and they told me yes. This mother was the true picture of humility for me. She didn’t ask for a bed for herself, but only for her children. She didn’t ask for a couch to sit on, but a kitchen table, where her family could sit together as one. This was huge for me, and thanks to this mom, I was able to have my perspective shifted at the beginning of my week. Knowing that serving others takes the most humility, that I am not in any way doing this for myself, but for the kingdom. I wish I could tell you all that I got the chance to thank this humble mom of two, for her sacrifice and humility and for teaching me what it looks like to be servant and care for others in the best way, but I did not. Yet, I am forever grateful.
While in L.A., you served those living on the street. How did this experience impact your view on homelessness?
A fact that I knew before flying out to L.A. was that it has the second highest homeless population in the United States, just under New York City. A statistic I was given when I got there was about Skid Row, Skid Row being most likely, the roughest part of the whole city, 54 blocks of homeless people line this street. A law was passed several years ago, Jones vs. the city of Los Angeles, allowing 50 blocks of Skid Row to be inhabited by the homeless population. This means that for these 50 blocks that all EMT, fire, and police have to be there for them if they are in need. I mentioned there were 54 blocks of broken people in need and the law only allows for 50 blocks, with this being noted, the law was passed in 2006, the homelessness and brokenness has certainty grown over the years, making for a greater need for these people. In my experience with Skid Row and the brokenness that was around, I could have so much to say, but I will limit it to how my viewpoint changed on the generalization of the word “homeless.”
Before this trip, with me being a young woman, it always scared me to roll down my window and hand out money to the beggar on the street at the red light with a sign that read ‘I’m hungry and God bless.’ Regardless, my heart goes out for them every time, but ashamedly been scared. Coming into Skid Row, I won’t lie, I was nervous then as well, but I am telling you that I have never seen people so happy to be handed a small box of cereal and some water. The craziest part to me is, I’ve never seen a group of people so happy due to their circumstances. We arrived at a park called Gladys Park on Skid Row, this is where a lot of them hung out during the day. There were people playing cards, listening to music, walking around. They loved talking with us, loved that we were there, and I believe what they loved the most was that there were people around obviously more fortunate than them, that would treat them as a person and not a statistic. For me, I saw the perspective I can have and the perspective that is so genuine for them. Needless to say, these men and women out there on Skid Row were not harmful and only wanted someone to talk to and maybe give them some cereal. So my viewpoint on homelessness changed due to perspective on life and perspective on need. I can’t speak for every homeless person, but I can speak for these, and they wouldn’t hurt me or try. There was no reason to be scared then and coming back home, I am ready to trust that the Lord has me when I am called to serve him by helping that person with the sign on the side of the road at the red light,
After serving with the homeless and impoverished, how do you now feel about the need for the church to care for the homeless?
After serving the homeless and impoverished families in this part of the country as I come back home to North Carolina/ South Carolina, I am reminded that we are called to do something. We are called to serve the least of these for the kingdom. Jesus said, “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’” (Matthew 25: 40 HCSB) So, this brings up the topic of the church and its stand point on homelessness. While the church is a place, I also believe the church is made up of a body of believers and I strongly believe that we are called in so many different and special ways to be the hands and feet of Jesus for those less fortunate than us. And how can they preach unless they are sent? “As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things” (Romans 10:15 HCSB)
These are the least of these who are broken and who need to see Jesus. These are the people that we as the church have been sent to wrap in love the most and preach the gospel to. I think that the church as believers should come out of their comfort zone and help those in need. If we don’t, who will?
What’s one thing you wish everyone knew about serving others?
Serve with your whole heart, is the best advice I can give when it comes to those who want to serve others but don’t know how or are on the fence. It is so easy to think that what you are doing doesn’t matter, but friends, it matters whether you can see the outcome or not. It is also very easy to think negative thoughts while serving others. Let me be the first to say that those thoughts aren’t from Jesus, those thoughts are from our sinful nature. It was easy for me to catch myself thinking selfish thoughts or thoughts that break down instead of build-up due to certain circumstances. It is easy to feel those negative things while serving, but if you serve with your whole heart and put Jesus at the front of your serving, doing it all for him, it will be easier. Don’t be discouraged, talk to Him, and serve because you are called by the one who loves you most to love His children in the same way, with your whole heart.
CONNECT WITH LACI: