The Dream Center in Los Angeles, CA, is a place driven by the belief that there is no person on earth that the love of the Father and the blood of Jesus Christ can't reach.
For 23 years, the faith-based, volunteer-driven organization has ministered to the local community, helping families in need, feeding the hungry and changing lives 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Housed in a 15-floor, 400,000 square foot hospital located under the Hollywood sign, the Dream Center serves over 85,000 people a month. Some of the more than 250 ministries the center offers, in addition to housing, include feeding the homeless and ministries to drug addicts, gang members, unwed mothers, AIDS victims and a number of additional ministry efforts.
"We try to not just minister to people's needs, we try to minister to their potential," Matthew Barnett, co-founder of the Dream Center and senior pastor of the Angelus Temple, shared with The Gospel Herald. "We try to challenge them in the area of looking forward to life again. People may feel like they're here to overcome a drug issue, but we're trying to make disciples out of them rather than just get them clean. And, I think that's a great thing about it - we challenge people far beyond what they ever dreamed they could accomplish."
The Dream Center is the subject of a new reality show, airing on the Daystar Network on Sundays at 7:30 pm PST. Hosted by Pastor Matthew Barnett and his wife, Pastor Caroline Barnett, the series gives viewers an in-depth look at the heart-wrenching true stories of people who have come to the center, experiencing tangible love, faith, and hope in the midst of tragedy.
"A lot of times, reality shows aren't reality, you know, producers kind of prod it a little bit," Pastor Barnett told GH. "This really is reality. It really takes viewers through the reality of what you see over the course over an entire year of housing these people and sharing the word of God with them and seeing walls be built and walls be torn down. It's a real honest look at how God does restore people from rock bottom, and I think that's the beauty of the show that you'll see how incredible the change takes place in these situations."
He added, "We're excited about people seeing the reality that goes on every day in the lives of some of the most broken people, and how they get picked back up again and re-engage in life."
The son of Phoenix First Assembly of God Senior Pastor Tommy Barnett, Matthew always dreamed of bringing a message of hope to the seemingly hopeless. He founded the organization in 1994 - at just 20 years of age - and with his father purchased the former Queen of Angels hospital complex in 1996 for $3.9 million, transforming it into the Dream Center.
"It's been a journey that's changed me on the inside," he shared. "I used to think church was a Sunday morning place where people showed up and attended. Now, I'm seeing it's a Monday-Saturday mission of helping people lives. It's changed me radically from megachurch pastor's son to someone who feels like a city janitor, you know, walking through the streets of LA picking up broken pieces and helping them become whole again."
Next year, Pastor Barnett will take part in the World Marathon Challenge, which has been completed by 30 individuals in the world thus far, to raise money for the Dream Center. He will run seven marathons on seven continents in seven consecutive days, beginning in Antarctica and ending in Sydney, Australia.
"It's kind of one of those things where you give your life to something and you'll do anything to see it go forward," he explained. "Even crazy stuff, sometimes, because you believe in it and you're willing to take a risk on risky people. That's what we do every single day."
And, just as Christ has transformed him through his work with the Dream Center, Pastor Barnett said he hopes the narratives shared in the powerful 12 episode reality television series will resonate with viewers and prompt them to serve.
"I think a lot of people watching this may feel that themselves, or their family members, are too far gone; their minds are fried on drugs, they've burned too many bridges," he said. "But, I hope watching this, they can say, 'It's not too late, my prayer are not in vain, my faith that I'm holding out for isn't needless or imperfect, God is moving all the time.' It's going to bring a lot of joy to people out there that feel like giving up."
He also hopes that the stories shared on the Dream Center television series helps people remember that no one - regardless of who they are or what sin they may be committing -- is too far gone for what God can do.
"One of the great highlights of the show is to really encourage the crowd that people will rise again and can rise again," he said. "I think these extreme radical cases are wonderful pictures of what can happen in the lives of people. The way it's told, and the vulnerability that's there, it'll minister to a lot of people. And, it'll minister to people are broken, whose dreams are shattered, who are too tired to dream again. I think it's going to encourage them to get back up again."
To learn more about the Dream Center, visit www.dreamcenter.org