life lines “Sally’s United Nations”

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Ian Robinson, Major

An early morning drive on the 110 freeway north into Los Angeles is not the best start to anyone’s day. But what was waiting at the end of the trip made it all worthwhile—and then some. I was on my way to dedicate Sally’s Place, a breakfast program for seniors at the Los Angeles Central Corps, and despite the traffic, the great Southern California weather and Alistair Begg on the radio eased my journey.

When Majors Lex and Patricia Giron arrived at the Los Angeles Central Corps three years ago they noticed an immediate and obvious difference from their previous appointment. The Santa Ana Corps is surrounded by a community of single family homes, duplexes, apartment complexes and schools. LA Central lies in the shadow of LA Live, skyscraper hotels, office buildings and the Convention Center. The few houses nearby were occupied mostly by senior citizens who had minimal services available to them, so the Girons started a breakfast program for a handful of them on Friday mornings. Gradually the program grew as word got out and pretty soon they were serving 50-60 people. They gave out food from the Los Angeles Food Bank after breakfast, ensuring these elderly citizens would have nutritious meals during the week.

On that particular Friday, over 140 people came for a breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage and pastries. There was even a massive chocolate cake that was gone before I could even smell it. A small army of staff and volunteers helped cook and serve the meal. Among them was Mei from China who spoke no English but still managed to communicate, showing me photographs of herself in a Red Army uniform, then pictures of her beautiful American grandchildren.

As I walked around the tables talking to diners, I realized this was no ordinary breakfast. There were people from Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador, as you might expect at LA Central. Others were from China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Korea and the Philippines. I found a family from Poland and even a Russian in the crowd. Singles, couples, families and children being looked after by their grandparents made up this United Nations of LA Central.

Then I met Ned who came from Ireland. Now in his 70s, he has lived all over the U.S., arriving in Los Angeles about two years ago. With no family or friends, he somehow found the breakfast program and now claims it as his family. He enjoys the diversity and the good food, but it is the Christian love and care that mean most to him. Ned loves LA Central so much he comes to the worship service on Sunday morning and is learning Spanish so he can understand what is going on.

And so it was, after a long drive in bumper-to-bumper traffic, I found myself standing before this United Nations breakfast meeting sharing an evangelical message from God’s Word, then offering a prayer of dedication for Sally’s Place. As I shook hands with them afterward I was in no doubt that God laid this program on the hearts of the Girons three years ago. After all, God’s promise to Israel is just as valid for us today when he said, “I am your God and will take care of you until you are old and your hair is gray. I made you and will care for you; I will give you help and rescue you” (Isa. 46:4 GNB).

God is taking care of the citizens of Los Angeles at Sally’s Place, no matter where they come from. We are all God’s children.

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