Redeemer Community Partnership is a nonprofit, Christian community development corporation that builds better neighborhoods in South Los Angeles by creating safe, healthy, opportunity-rich communities where children, youth and their families thrive.
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Last Friday my neighbor was worth $35.8 billion. However, you would never guess it looking at his property. His grass is covered in trash and he leaves graffiti on his property for days on end. His trash cans sit on the street all week. Paint peels off his building. Missing bricks in his façade have gone missing for years. Electric cords run across his roof. Instead of fixing a broken window, he boarded up all the windows with plywood.
My neighbor recently painted the curbs in front of his property red so others would not park there. Several of his neighbors got parking tickets at these fake no parking zones. On some days he leaves his diesel trucks double-parked in the middle of the street. On other days he leaves them idling in his driveway for hours. Residents’ homes fill with fumes that even closed windows cannot keep out. Sometimes, this fellow parks his trucks on the sidewalk blocking pedestrians and forcing our neighbors in wheelchairs to navigate in the street. Over time his vehicles have turned the sidewalk to rubble.
Heavy diesel trucks deliver towering containers of chemicals. Since June 2, he has pumped 24,000 pounds of acid into the ground under our homes. My neighbors report that their mature trees are dying. My neighbor has an active oil well just 10 feet from an apartment—the shortest distance in all of LA County. Last year his well ruptured and sprayed the house next door with oil and covered cars parked in the street. He calls it a “misting”, as if it was a fine French perfume. However, the frequent odious smell of petroleum is sickening.
Imagine our surprise a couple weeks ago when we learned this neighbor had applied to the City to drill three oil wells, 24-hours a day, 7-days a week for two months or two years! In his application he repeatedly asked the City to waive the public hearing. When the City refused he tried to sneak his plans through by not informing neighbors as required by law.
We learned about this threat on a Friday and quickly organized neighbors over the weekend. On Tuesday we won Round 1, putting a stop to the permit process. My neighbor—Freeport McMoRan Oil & Gas—is preparing for round 2.
I recently met with the company’s director of environmental health, safety, and government relations (which says a lot about how the company sees the relationship between these three). He told me my neighborhood was not exactly the Ritz Carlton at Laguna Nigel, as if that made his disregard acceptable. We labor without illusions about the company’s greed and power, but also with hope that one day, with God’s help, we might win our enemy over to what is right, good, and beautiful.
Acidization and fracking are re-opening once abandoned oils wells in densely populated urban neighborhoods. LA is on the edge of a second carbon gold rush that threatens to overwhelm disadvantaged communities with devastating health consequences.
Would you like to get involved? We are looking for someone who could help us integrate social media tools to inform and engage residents. We need volunteers to help inform neighbors in door-to-door canvassing. We have heard moving stories from neighbors that we would like to capture on video. Please join us in praying for the closure of FMOG’s drill site and for God’s Kingdom to come and his will to be done in our neighborhood—even as it is in heaven. To get involved email Richard(at)redeemercp.org
by Keo Booker
On Friday night I organized a Home Spa Night at my house for the ladies in my Spanish bible study. I invited a couple moms from the tutoring program. I was really hopeful that one mom that I invested some time in reaching out to, would make it out, but she cancelled at the last minute. I grew discouraged, but then prayed that God would help me to surrender the night as an offering to Him. And God did something really exciting and unexpected!!
Another mom from the tutoring program came! She and I had a conversation last October about joining a Bible Study and I had invited her a few times through out the year, but each time she had politely declined. A fellow staff member and I invited her daughter, who is very involved in the Children's Bible Club, to come to the end of the year celebration and led by the Holy Spirit I invited her to Spa Night... and she came! At Spa Night, she began to open up and share vulnerably where she was at spiritually and we were able to encourage her. I'm hopeful she will continue to come. God is calling those to him! It's an exciting time!
Being at my house created a relaxing ambience, which helped the women to leave their stresses at the door and to have fun. In addition, the spa treatments were very relaxing themselves and some women were doing them for the first time. It was fun to see grown women giggling and helping each other put on green face masks. At the end of the night, one of the women asked when we were going to do this again!
The evening had the potential to be very exhausting, as I had already spent many hours in preparation. However, I felt supported by the women in my Bible Study. They helped me serve food, wash dishes, bring beauty supplies, and welcome the new guests. What warmed my heart the most was when Hermana Lety, a grandmotherly figure in the group, slowly walked over to me and began to massage my back and neck. She is very ill and it's very difficult for her to walk, but even so she came over to me and served me in this way. Needless to say, my love tank felt full by the end of the night!
Praise God! The Spanish Pastor's wife shared this is a time of harvest, and many peoples' hearts are open to the things of God. I'm praying that there will be some more opportunities do this, specifically with moms at Adventures Ahead.
By Christal Green (Adventures Ahead teacher)
Henry started coming to Adventures Ahead when he was in 2nd grade. Now he’s in 7th grade, and we get to see him often when he drops of his younger brothers for tutoring. It’s not only a joy to have them in our tutoring program, but it’s also a joy to see them grow in faith and love for Jesus.
However, at the beginning of Spring Semester, the boys were missing from tutoring and Bible Club. After taking a visit to their home, it turned out that they took a cross-country trip to visit family. Thankfully, they returned to tutoring and Bible Club. Henry, particularly encourages his brothers to attend Bible Club because he enjoys the fellowship with other boys his age on Friday nights. But one of those nights, Henry fell ill and was in tremendous pain. It turned out that he had an appendicitis and needed surgery, then bed rest for a few weeks, preventing him from going to school and Bible Club.
During his time on bed rest, Keo and I were able to visit Henry and his family. It was good to see Henry recovering well, spend time talking to his mother, Aracely, and pray with them. We were also able to invite their family to Church of the Redeemer’s family retreat, and they seemed interested. A couple weeks later they accepted the invitation to join us in Big Bear over Memorial Day weekend.
At camp, Henry gave a testimony of how God healed him from the appendicitis. His family enjoyed the weekend, and when I picked the boys up from their home for Bible Club the other week, Henry’s mother embraced me with a hug and said, “I love you.” Aracely also told me (Henry translating) how much she enjoyed the church. She enjoyed how people spoke to her in Spanish and were very welcoming. We look forward to seeing how God will continue to do a work in Henry and his family. We are also looking forward to helping the boys catch up, especially given what they missed during their trip, with reading and math.
By Lisa Barlow
Fatima joined Adventures Ahead in January. Halfway through her kindergarten year, she could speak very little English and could only identify two letters: F and S. She called them "la F” and “la zzz." After reading with her for the first time, I came home, cried, and began seeking prayer and ideas from every source I could think of. Fatima's mom wanted to help but didn't know the sounds of the alphabet. While her home does not have a computer or access to the Internet, luckily Mom's phone had YouTube and she and Fatima began watching alphabet videos. Although Fatima wasn't ready for our normal interventions, someone donated an iPad and we were able to set her up with some individualized instruction.
In order for kids to succeed, they need to be motivated. We break this motivation down into two pieces: I want and I can. Most kids come to us with a desire to learn that's deeply buried by their belief - seemingly confirmed by their experiences - that they can't. For most of spring semester, Fatima didn't want. She didn't really want any part of what was going on. She went to the bathroom more than was physically possible, she resisted following instructions, and she argued with other kids, often ripping things out of their hands. Her reading goal seemed likea distant dream, but our teachers kept teaching, our volunteers kept reading, and our prayer team prayed on.
Fatima came every day to the Bridge program, our time between spring and summer to focus on the students who need the most support. Even though her behavior improved, she still tried to avoid learning time. On the next to last day of the program, Fatima was working on a one minute test of her letter sounds. Although the task was daunting, she was off to a good start when she confused G with H. Then she began to cry unexpectedly. For the first time ever she let us know that she wanted. Through her tears she admitted her deepest fear,"I can't do it." As the room silently prayed I walked her through all the work of the previous five months. I showed her where she started, and where she was now. We started the time test again. She read all the letters flawlessly to receive her very first "Great Leap."
The next day she had to finish our sight words challenge. Fatima used her new-found confidence to earn her ticket to the sight word party at my house. Then she said, in perfect English, "Now my mommy will be very happy I can go to your house." Although she met the growth goals that we set at the beginning of the semester, she's still not where she needs to be to start 1st grade. I'm really hopeful about how she will grow this summer.
Because of partners like you, Fatima can use her new motivation every day this summer to get ready for first grade.
Want to sponsor a student this summer? We will send you a letter from your child as well as a calendar to pray for them this summer right away.