Nudity, shootings, and love.

Halloween. For most it is an evening of dress up. A time to be heroic, scary, or royal. A time to take children out and gather the sugary loot. A time to be silly, different, anyone but ourselves. There is a lighter side to Halloween; it’s fun.

But where there is light, darkness creeps around the edges. For others, Halloween is taken to another level. It’s about idolizing the body, having a fill of pleasure, and being seduced by the mystery of the mask. It’s about drugs, sex, and pixie dust. It’s a night to be anyone but yourself.

In the past, I have viewed Halloween as a nuisance, something to be tolerated but preferably ignored. There have been years when I dressed up; experiences I can count on one hand. I have also taken kids trick or treating, which was enjoyable. But overall, I have been too aware of the underbelly of this holiday to truly enjoy the lighter side of things…

That was until tonight. Tonight, everything changed.

Did you know that on October 31st, 1571, Martin Luther nailed the letter of reformation to his church’s door? That simple act would cause a major uprising and eventual split of the church. This split would birth the Protestant religion which would inevitably lead to centuries of revivals and exponential growth in Christianity.

Tonight we met with an amazing group of passionate Christians who are believing for a new revival and wave of God’s love for Southern California. The meeting place was Hollywood. We worshipped in a small building called The Oasis and then broke into small groups to go out onto the streets and share one simple message to people on the blvd: God loves you.

We weren’t there to judge, we weren’t there to criticize, we weren’t passing out pamphlets or telling people to repent; we were simply asking the Father to show us where He was and who He wanted to love on and allowing Him to do the rest.

The streets were packed with thousands of dressed up, hyped up, and probably drugged up people. But not just people, His children. I had a few opportunities to share God’s love. One woman I met was named Nicole and she had an issue with alcohol and other addictions. The word God gave me for Nicole was that her new name was Forgiven; when she thought of herself, she was to think, “Nicole is forgiven.” We had a chance to pray with her and share with her how valuable she was. Other’s on the team saw people receive healing in their body; pain they felt completely healed and disappeared.

It’s easy on a night like this to see the darkness. We were surrounded by drugs, prostitutes, pimps, nudity, and an overwhelming sense of animosity, hatred, and fear. It’s more difficult to see the light. To see what God wants to do and where He is moving required us to be listening and following. We had to set ourselves aside and ask Jesus what His plan was.

Tonight, I watched as God honored and loved others through us. I was amazed that I wasn’t afraid or intimidated by what surrounded us; instead I was fired up to share God’s love in a simple, yet deep way.

While we were on the streets, a shooting occurred just a block away. People began running and eventually the riot police showed up. This would have been a perfect time to feel fear, but instead I felt overwhelmed with God’s protection and love over me.

There is so much more to say about tonight. I feel as if I learned eternal lessons about God that will, and are, transforming my heart and mind. I have done street ministry before, and honestly I had been so focused on thoughts like, “what will God give me? How can I be used tonight? What will I give to others?” that I I wasn’t really free to love…

how incredibly selfish and focused on me..

Ministry is about loving the Father, knowing the Father, and sharing the deep simplicity of His love with others. It’s not about me, my gifts, or what I bring to the table. It’s all about him..

And to tonight I got to see the Father love and honor half naked, under the influence, dressed up people who love to celebrate Halloween. I love that about His heart; it’s the true picture of love founded on grace, rooted in forgiveness. God is love.

Imagine that.