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The Power of Presence

Another year of Love Fullerton is in the books. Although these one-day serve events provide benefit to our community, their real value is found in providing a touch point for relationship, connection, and presence to those who are often unseen.

We coordinated a serve project for former foster youth who are a part of the Guardian Scholars program at Cal State Fullerton. The project? Clean the studio apartments of residents living at Fullerton City Lights, a 140 unit, low-income housing complex here in Fullerton. These residents are on the brink of homelessness, most living on disability with physical or mental struggles and no financial margin.

To be honest, I had significant concerns about how the project would go since both parties have experienced significant trauma in their lives. However, the outcome was a living picture of beautiful community. The college kids understood that it was just as important to listen to the people they were serving as it was to clean their apartment. And the adults were appreciative of the efforts extended to them and gladly talked to their willing audience.

As only God could orchestrate, Brandon, who is taking a theater class at Cal State, and two others were assigned to clean James’ apartment. James, to his account, lived a full life in the entertainment industry before coming on hard times. For literally two hours straight, he told story after story as he and Brandon talked about their “shared” passion. Upon leaving, James asked if Brandon would come back and visit, to which Brandon readily agreed.

The project also allowed me to meet Cyndi. Cyndi lives in fear and rarely leaves her apartment. However, before she could pass annual room inspection, management was requiring her carpets to be cleaned. In order to minimize anxiety on Cyndi, the on-site case manager felt it would be best if she introduced me to Cyndi and I be the one to clean her carpets.

Although very little was said between us, the following two hours were spent in some of the most precious ministry I have been a part of. I was gifted the opportunity to be invited into a space otherwise completely closed off. For 20 years, Cyndi has lived alone in that studio with not even enough money to even have sheets on her bed. Completely isolated and unknown to the world but completely known and seen by our Savior.

And in that moment, the months of endless hours expended to pull off Love Fullerton became worth it.

On Friday I am heading back to take a set of sheets to Cyndi and my prayer is that she will once again allow me into her closed world. Would you pray with me that she sees Jesus, experiences His love for her, and comes to trust Him?

Amy Gaw
OC United

Visit ocunited.org to find out more about the impact Amy and so many others are having on our city. Names of apartment residents above were changed to protect confidentiality. 

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