As spiritual warfare is taking place across the globe, there are epicenters of activity that manifest the physical realities. One such place is the “City of Angels,” Los Angeles, California.
For years there have been attempts by Satan to gain complete control over the city, and the state it’s located in, and remove God from within its borders.
Standing against the forces of darkness and harmful manifestations of poor public policy such as homelessness, addiction, poverty and sex trafficking, the Dream Center led by Pastors Matthew and Caroline Barnett has been the light on a hill in L.A. since 1994.
In response to the recent pandemic and lockdowns that ensued, ministries like the Dream Center were put into emergency mode, and are still working to find what their new normal looks like post-lockdowns.
“I think the days are done of the former Dream Center,” Pastor Matthew shared with Charisma News in an exclusive interview. “We’ve been in emergency mode for three years, where every day feels like an emergency.
“I just walked up to my office…and people [are] lined up everywhere, just trying to get into the rehab program. And that happens now before the office doors are even open. People are lined up down the street, strung out on fentanyl…so we’re never going to be the same again.”
With recent legislative decisions from the state government in California, many crimes are no longer enforced or have reduced punishments. This lack of enforcement has led to a boom of prostitution, homelessness and addiction within L.A.
“[The lack of enforcement] definitely manifests itself in the obvious: more crimes,” Barnett lamented. “There’s that feeling in the air…that mindset that people really can’t be delivered.
“But I think the greatest danger of all is just…this mindset of, ‘We’ve just kind of given up, given up believing people can come off of drugs, that we can enforce the law’…lawlessness rules the day,” he continued. “That’s my major concern more than anything…it’s just kind of a city really gone wild with a lack of faith and belief that it can become more post lockdown.”
Pastor Matthew shines light on the oppressive spirit that is taking hold of people’s hearts all around the world. There is no passion within them, and they are accepting much less than what they are capable of. This spirit fills them with fear, doubt, depression, anxiety and so much more, but the best antidote for it is the love of Christ manifesting in their hearts and igniting a passion to follow Him for the rest of their days.
Even while local and state governments attempt to limit what churches can or can’t do, to the extreme point of regulating giving away food on the street, Barnett continues the successful blueprint of giving practical aid to those in need, but forming lasting relationships with the community first and foremost.
“If there’s ever an urgency to build relationships with people, to be in their life over and over again [it’s now]. That’s the only way people will really make long-lasting change, otherwise they’re just going to keep doing what they’re doing,” Barnett explained.
“Maybe it’s in the four walls of a house, and it’s off the street. Typically, surprisingly, a lot of people that are in the housing first, they end up living on the streets, despite the fact they have a little unit or something you build for them. It’s a mindset. It’s really a spiritual thing that has to be broken,” he continued.
This is the crux of the matter that government intervention simply cannot fix. The spiritual hold that principalities have over peoples’ lives can’t be fixed by throwing government programs and money at the problem.
In the wake of the lockdowns, Pastor Barnett revealed new problems that the Dream Center is encountering within their community, and sadly, communities all across the country.
“The issue of teenagers is out of control,” Barnett shared. “A lot of these kids, they were locked down in projects, and exposed to a lot. We’re finding a lot of physical abuse or sexual abuse, a lot of horrible things that happened to them during that era.
“And a lot of them learned to go online and discover how to find drugs, a lot of them join gangs…something’s got to happen.”
Crises like these, and so many more, are still just the tip of the iceberg with what the citizens of cities like L.A. all over the world are experiencing. Thankfully, there are outreaches and ministries like the Dream Center who are answering the Great Commission that Jesus gave to His followers and are making a tremendous impact on the daily lives of the people around them. Both here on earth and in heaven.
James Lasher is Staff Writer for Charisma Media.