The Tenderloin District, San Francisco

As readers of this blog are now well aware there is a church in San Francisco that means a lot to me. It has been my unashamed goal to use this blog to bring their work to the attention of all who come through here (e.g. see this post as well as the others linked at the bottom). The Lighthouse was a safe haven for me and I know it can be the same for others.

Let me tell you about a dream they are dreaming.

This church wants to plant a “healing center” in the heart of the Tenderloin District. If you have been to the city you know this is a shady area. In an email correspondence their pastor (and mine), Jeff Garner, wrote the following:

“Part of living in San Francisco is being ever aware of the needs that surround you.  San Francisco tends to not cover up its ugliness or mask what it is behind cosmetic surgeries and “hollywood-ish” facades.  A walk through the Tenderloin or the Haight and one is very much mindful of how fallen mankind is.”

When I lived there I remember often being overwhelmed by the need. Thankfully this church didn’t hide from it but they have run head first into the mess. This is part of their vision of discipleship. Jeff writes,

“Lighthouse’s mission is pretty much straight forward–to make disciples, followers of Jesus of Nazareth.  We see this happening in various contexts and environments.  Disciples of Jesus, who make disciples of Jesus, must find ways to serve their neighbors–the poor and hurting, addicted and outcasts–so as to paint pictures of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through works and acts of grace.”

What does this “look like” for the Lighthouse?

We have thought long and hard about what would drop the jaws of unbelievers.  What would happen if the Gospel fully invaded the Tenderloin in all of its resurrection glory?

What would the critics and pundits say if healing and beauty were restored to this seedy area of the city.   Could we work through the Holy Spirit and Gospel to bring about radical change to the Tenderloin?  Is it possible to change the reputation, to redeem this drug-infested, urine stenched alleyways with the sounds of laughing children and smells of freshly washed streets?

We believe in Jesus and the work he did on the cross can and should be seen in the gutters and sounds.

So we have started dreaming and imagining that world being kissed with Heaven.  And here is part of that dream.  We see a Healing Center open 24 hours a day, where someone can walk in off the streets and find a safe place to be healed.  We envision a place where various non-profits come in under one roof and all work together to heal and love, share and transform lives.  We see ourselves partnering with the Church in San Francisco and the compassionate non-profits to work together toward bigger vision.

We see a facility that can house and feed, provide health and gospel shepherding.  A place where disciples are made on both sides of the table, where Jesus is shared over meals and in job training. Where love rules and songs are sung.  We see this revolution happening one block at a time, until eventually hope and peace, grace and truth has freed the Tenderloin from the grip of hell.

Easier said than done. But this is what is beautiful about the church. It is global. An assembly in Phoenix, or Sydney, or Hong Kong, or Paris, can hear the Spirit say, “This is your project too. This is your mission too.”

What is this church seeking?

1.  Human resources to help with this vision as they nurture and build relationships in this part of the city.  Those with or without experience who can work from abroad.

2. They need people who are willing to move to San Francisco as missionaries and move into the Tenderloin.  Who will build relationships and help us plant communities of disciples.  We will provide the training, we just need laborers for the Harvest Field.

3. We need financing to move forward with property transactions, development of programs and building awareness and coalitions.

Jeff ended the email writing:

“We are beginning to raise awareness and funds to get the project off its feet.  Our Meals on Heels was the first step toward this outreach.   For several years we have built relationships with those in the streets and other care providers.

“Within two years we hope to have the Healing Center off the ground.   This area its the darkest and most blotched area of the City.  Its the place where the Gospel and its evidences of grace can be most visibly seen.  Its the place that can be a huge apologetic for the name of Jesus Christ in our City.”

If you can imagine yourself dreaming this dream with them consider these request. Do you have skills you can offer from abroad? Do you hear a whisper calling you to serve some time as a missionary to San Francisco (it is an amazing experience, trust me)? Do you have funds that you can give (do so here)?