The Importance of Roots

SP staff Mark Walker reflects on the deep rootedness that his church has in Lincoln Heights—and how it enables ongoing service and love amid crisis


New Life Community Church coordinated vaccine clinics in their highly impacted neighborhood

In the low-income, immigrant-dense community of Lincoln Heights, California, many essential workers, undocumented residents, and families were hit hard by COVID-19. In a series of COVID-19 relief efforts, Servant Partners partner church New Life Community Church hosted vaccine clinics for residents. As old and new neighbors showed up, SP staff Mark Walker was reminded of the importance of roots in a community.


“Our church has become an institution in this neighborhood—and the church is the most important institution, because it is built by Jesus and will last for all of eternity,” Mark said. “I want to be rooted here as a stable presence, like long-lasting guardrails to help guide and support our young adults.”


SP staff David Kitani receives a vaccine at the clinic

It was this long-term presence that allowed New Life Community Church to respond to the COVID-19 crisis with community organizing, mutual aid, intercession, and vaccine clinics. Instead of an outside presence arriving to offer aid, the neighborhood itself led in ways that addressed the key needs of the community. Families receiving financial and health support were not strangers, but being connected through networks of old and new relationships.


Beto* and Tatiana* were one such family that arrived at the vaccine clinic. SP staff had discipled Beto over ten years ago, but he later faded from the community. While they sat in the clinic’s waiting area, they were greeted and offered prayer by SP staff and New Life pastor Chris Rattay. As they prayed together, Tatiana experienced God speaking directly to her heart. For years, she had experienced great difficulty caring for her child with special needs and blamed God for his disabilities. But in prayer, she was able to hear that her child’s disability was not God’s fault, and that God loved her and her family.


“Servant Partners staff had reached Beto in high school, and ten years later, we’re here,” Mark recounted. “This is what long-term presence in a community is like. In Mark 4, Jesus describes a great tree that grows up, and birds nest in its branches. As we are rooted and grow ourselves, our institutions, and our commitment to the community, we provide space and shade for others to grow and develop.”


While waiting, church staff offered prayer to residents

Beto and Tatiana have since reconnected with the church community and are exploring resources for ongoing support. As many neighbors like them experience the holistic spiritual, material, and relational support extended by the community, they recognize the love of God behind it.


“Being with people in the furnace, when it's hard, is something they’ll never forget,” Mark said. “Lots of people moved out of the city during the pandemic, but we stayed. We aren’t a drive-by ministry. We’re neighbors.”


“Being with people in the furnace, when it's hard, is something they’ll never forget,” Mark said. “Lots of people moved out of the city during the pandemic, but we stayed. We aren’t a drive-by ministry. We’re neighbors.

You can learn more about the ministry at Servant Partners Lincoln Heights at www.servantpartners.org/eastlosangeles.




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