Right now, thousands of people in Los Angeles are experiencing the cold reality of homelessness in winter. But weather’s not the only kind of cold. I spent years running from God, like Jonah, hiding in the cold, dark belly of the whale.
I grew up in an economically poor, but spiritually rich, family. Most of the men were preachers and ministers. But I chose a different path.
My passion was photography, and eventually I was trained by some of the biggest names in the photo world — people like Richard Avedon and Annie Leibovitz. My goal was to be one of the top photographers in Hollywood. And for 25 years, I flirted with reaching that goal.
The studios called me “Mastermind” for my ability to get just the photos they wanted. I worked with celebrities like Bill Cosby and Mel Gibson. My photos appeared in magazines like Vanity Fair and Cosmopolitan, and on billboards all over Los Angeles.
But I was terrible at managing my money. In 1993, I lost my house and studio, and my wife took our two daughters and left me. But I refused to give up on my dream.
Then about 15 years ago, I remember God called me — in nearly an audible voice — to “finish the outreach ministry of your grandfather.” Instead, just like Jonah, I ran the other way, pursuing my dream. And I enjoyed years of success. At one time, I lived in a home in the Hollywood Hills. Then the bottom fell out, I ran out of money, and ended up homeless. I found myself in the belly of the whale . . . until God led me to Union Rescue Mission in 2008.
Focusing on a New Future
I never had drug or alcohol problems, but God wanted me to go through their Life Transformation Program.
“This isn’t about you,” God said. “It’s about the people I’m sending you to.” I quit running and said, “Whatever you want.”to go through their Life Transformation Program.
Over the next year and half, God used the Life Transformation Program to help me get my act together, and to give me a heart for the lost and forgotten, for unfortunate men and women who’ve been kicked to the curb. And URM equipped me to love and minister to hurting people.
Looking Through the Lens of New Life
Today, I’ve honored God’s calling on my life. I’ve started an outreach ministry called Oil Fields Ministries to reach low-income, down-and-out people in Silver Lake and Inglewood. My vision is give them more than hope. I want them to become what God has envisioned them to be. God has given me the same passion for this as I had for photography.
Union Rescue Mission saved me from the belly of the whale. Now I’m focused on a whole new future.
On March 8, 2014, Union Rescue Mission will host the fifth annual Hearts for Hope Evening of Entertainment event at the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village to benefit Hope Gardens Family Center. Hope gardens is a transitional housing facility where women and children experiencing homelessness can find rest, regain hope, and receive the chance to build a better life.
This year’s event will include a shopping boutique, silent and live auctions, raffles with great prizes, delicious dinner, comedy, and more. In addition, our 2014 Heart for Service Award will be presented to Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, Pepperdine University’s Department of Mental Health, and Guggenheim Partners.
Hearts for Hope Evening of Entertainment
Date: March 8, 2014
Time: 5:30 pm
Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village
2 Dole Drive
Westlake Village, CA 91362
One thought on “The Mission Newsletter – February 2014”
By Judy and Jim Halvorsen April 22, 2010 – 6:13 pmThanks for sharing this Andy. We have been on sreaevl trips to Honduras and Guatemala working alongside sreaevl communities as they installed water systems and built a hospital. Each time we are moved by the hospitality and love we receive. God ministers to us all as we work together.