Set Free on Skid Row

By Send Relief Staff

Set Free Church is no stranger to serving the unseen people of Los Angeles—those experiencing homelessness, battling addiction and struggling to survive in the streets.

The church’s Recovery Ranch is a rehabilitation program that provides a warm bed, free food and a committed team of addiction experts.

The ministry team is made up of formerly houseless leaders and gang members who found restoration in Christ and are now helping others find freedom. Their dedication to being the hands and feet of Jesus to the most underserved and overlooked made them the perfect partner for Send Relief journeyman Jacob Gonzales as he led a team of GenSend student missionaries in street evangelism and hospitality projects.

The GenSend student missionaries spent time making hot meals, passing out clothing and praying for the people of Los Angeles.

“A lot of the time, people may receive cold to-go meals and groceries, but rarely do they get nutritious, homemade meals,” said Gonzales. “Several women approached us with threadbare clothes, and we were able to give them new clothing that was appropriate for the weather. These students treated them as equals, sitting on the trash-covered ground and speaking with them eye-to-eye. We also offered a listening ear in asking about their life stories, which many people need.”

On one of these days, the team shared the good news of the gospel on the streets of Skid Row—a 54-block neighborhood with the highest concentration of people experiencing homelessness in L.A, roughly 66,000 people. Skid Row is notorious for its squalid conditions, rampant poverty and easy access to hard drugs.

Usually when sharing about Recovery Ranch’s free program, teams will have one or two people sign up each day. That weekend however, eight signed up for rehabilitation services!

“Eight is a God-sized number,” Gonzales shared. “We have never experienced that many people going to the ranch in a weekend! God really went before us and softened people’s hearts ahead of time. We had our students lean into prayer more than any other time we’ve done this ministry, and while we may underestimate it, God can do so much with devoted intercessory prayer.”

For 90 days, these eight new participants will walk with guidance toward sobriety and salvation. Afterwards, they will move to a Set Free house church for further discipleship and career coaching.

Becoming addiction-free is a grueling process for the mind and body. Pray for these new rehab residents to persevere with God’s help. Pray for more GenSend teams to come to L.A. and partner with Set Free as they share the responsibility of evangelism. Pray for Set Free staff to find the stamina to continue doing this emotionally draining work and for God to rejuvenate the streets of Skid Row.

If you would like to participate in a GenSend student missionary trip like this, visit our website to learn about other location options and upcoming service opportunities!

Published April 22, 2022

Send Relief Staff