The Life Cycle of Renewal is an annual rhythm designed to help us engage with Christ’s renewing work in our city, our world, and our lives. While poverty is often defined in solely socioeconomic terms, we are each created in the image of God with innate value and dignity and this intrinsically valuable personhood is not only affected by economic and social systems, class, and material wealth, but also by relationships, spirituality, culture, family, and opportunity. Brokenness in any of these areas creates poverty. We share a mutual poverty in which we can identify with one another.
Christ, in his love for us, identified with our poverty, died to set us free from the yoke of slavery, the curse of sin and death, and to make us whole as part of his family forever. He continues to make us whole — this is our personal renewal in Jesus, our poverty redefined as he moves us into flourishing! He meets us in our brokenness and calls us beloved. He meets us in our isolation and shame and calls us sons and daughters. He meets us in our slavery and sets us free. He meets us in our lack and woundedness and heals us, provides for us, and builds us up in his kingdom.
As we receive and experience this renewal from Christ, we then pour it out and minister renewal to the city of Los Angeles. We love because Christ first loved us.
July-September: Set Free
The cross of Christ has ensured that all oppression, power of sin, and curse of death have been broken. We are made alive in him, set free, and given hope. Because God is a God of justice, we are therefore a people of justice. But God’s mercy triumphs over judgment. And so we also have to be a people of mercy. This means we seek justice, freedom, liberty, and restoration for the oppressed. But it also means we seek a restorative justice for the oppressors. We must forgive as Christ has forgiven us. True freedom is being able to forgive the one who hurt or oppressed us in the first place.
Set Free Sunday
Set Free Sunday was a day for us to lean in and allow our hearts to break like Jesus’ for the oppression that takes place both here in Los Angeles and around the world. Some of this oppression happens behind the closed doors of our own lives, like addictions and pornography, while others take place on an interpersonal and social scale, like forced bonded labor and human trafficking. On this day, we had the opportunity to get a glimpse of local and global needs in these areas and to engage with a number of our partners fighting for the freedom of various groups in bondage.
Reality LA partnered with International Justice Mission and First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood to unite in prayer for freedom for those in forced child labor and sex trafficking. It was a time of crying out to God and an interactive immersion called the Rescue Experience.
A21 Walk for Freedom
This year, we will take our partnership with A21 a step further — literally — as we join their annual Walk for Freedom, a walk which took place last year in 475 locations over 50 countries, rallying tens of thousands of people to take millions of collective steps to disrupt the existence of slavery and create awareness of the magnitude and prevalence of trafficking — and not just globally, but here in LA — and raise funds to help disrupt the existence of slavery.