Recently, the Mission got the pleasure of celebrating the accomplishments of all our guests at this quarter’s graduation and celebration. This graduation was particularly special because this quarter’s graduates are a reflection of the Mission’s Ministry Intern Program.
The Ministry Intern Program was spurred from a desire that I had to better reach our guests and walk with them through their recovery journey. The idea finally got a direction and vision after my wife and I made a visit to the Dream Center in Los Angeles. As we took a tour of the Dream Center, we were in awe not just of the space and the program but of the young man that gave them the tour. I have heard Matthew Barnett speak on multiple occasions and if I had closed my eyes, I would have sworn that I was listening to Matthew Barnett again. This young man understood the heart of the ministry. He had a unique understanding of the history of where they came, where they were now, and the vision of where their ministry was going.
During the tour, the young man told us that he was a graduate of their long-term recovery program, and upon graduating that program, he joined the Dream Center’s Internship Program and now works as a staff member. All of a sudden, the solution on how to better serve our guests hit me. Who better to serve our guests than someone who has walked through the same doors? Who better to walk with someone through recovery than someone who has walked those same steps in recovery? Who better to understand the struggle of homelessness, poverty, trauma, and brokenness than someone who has come out the other side and is walking in their Jeremiah 29:11? It was at that moment that God gave my wife and me the vision for the Mission’s Ministry Intern Program.
Two years after that tour, our Ministry Intern Program is thriving. This one-year program gives graduates of the New Beginning Program on-site, hands on experience with our staff. They learn the ends and outs of what it takes to run a non-profit ministry. They learn how to be minister to the most hurting and broken in our cities. They learn how to love others the way that Jesus loves.
Five other graduates have completed the Ministry Intern Program. Three of those five have continued to work at the Mission in a variety of areas. Ginger continues to work on the Women’s Guest Services Desk, Haley became the Mission’s Kitchen Manager, and David manages our men’s Transitional Living Campus, TLC. Last night, the Ministry Intern Program saw Mindy and Jacklyn graduate and Donald and Eules enter into their Internship.
My vision for the Ministry Intern Program is far beyond what I could have ever expected. Fourteen years ago, God found me and my wife and delivered us from a life of hurt and brokenness. He transformed the lives of two sinners and gave us the burning desire and the means to reach the most hurting and most broken in our cities. The Bible reminds us time and time again that God can take anyone no matter their past and use them for good. That is the case with our Ministry Intern Program. These men and women may have a past, but God is using them to change lives in our cities.
Here’s what we know. Restored people help to restore other people. Free people free people. People who have found freedom in Christ can’t help but share that good news with others. Changed lives help to change lives.
Pastor Larry Otwell