One of the greatest joys of working in ministry is partnering with the Body of Christ. Cloud and Fire Ministries is a grassroots organization that is gaining recognition because of our efforts at solving the gang problem in Los Angeles. But the truth is that without our partners, especially the churches that provide so many volunteers and resources, we could scarcely accomplish anything. Partnerships mean everything to us.
One of our favorite partners is Bel Air Presbyterian Church. Pastor Mark Brewer wants to make Los Angeles the greatest city for Christ. That’s a tall order, but he is making tremendous strides in that effort. Rev. Brewer has challenged everyone in his congregation to get out of the pews and out into the city by volunteering at agencies that serve Christ in tangible ways. He says, “If you aren’t going to serve somewhere, go somewhere else. I need your parking space!”
Many of Cloud and Fire’s volunteers come from Bel Air Pres. The church has set the pace for its congregants, and they are taking their pastor’s challenge seriously. They give us so much—their talent, their time, and their prayer support. Many of them also become donors, and help us carry on our mission by providing much needed funding. But I believe we can give them something, too. It seems to be a principle that churches lose power when they stay inward focused. They need the strength that comes from serving the poor and coming face to face with those who are suffering.
This Sunday, I will have the pleasure of speaking to a group of Bel Air attendees after the 11 a.m. service. We will explore the gang problem in Los Angeles, and talk about the ways God is leading us to make a difference.
Cloud and Fire Ministries provides both gang prevention and gang intervention services to youth. Unlike many organizations, we are based on an atmosphere of love and warmth. We address the needs of young people, help them transform their lives, and help them experience God’s love. We work with youth who have experienced trauma, who have been abused, who have been in gangs, and who have served time. We also help youth who are just regular kids looking for something to do after school. No matter what the category or background of a youth—love works! Cloud and Fire is based on love, and provides a second family for young people who are looking for somewhere to feel safe, to feel that they belong.