Jonathan Silverston at the Dream Center

Throughout the years, I’ve had six different opportunities to come to the Los Angeles Dream Center on a short-term mission trip. Short Term Missions is a great program where groups of all sizes can experience serving with the Dream Center’s six different outreach ministries which include Adopt-A-Block, Skid Row, Kidz Jam, Foster Care Intervention, Mobile Food Bank, and Food Pantry. Serving in these areas allows God to grow your Love for people in greater ways. Join me as I share my Dream Center Immersion Experience in this blog.

My first trip was in May of 2013. My last trip took place in April 2022. During my last trip, I clearly felt that God was speaking to me and saying, “Stop coming on trips and stay here for a longer period of time.” Given that I was not in the age range to apply to the Dream Center’s Leadership School, I wasn’t sure how to be obedient to God’s command.

I ended up seeing a sign about a program called the Immersion Experience. A big draw for me to Immersion was the fact that you can focus solely on one ministry and learn what it takes to run it on a day-to-day and a monthly basis. Another big attraction about Immersion was the fact that it’s a long-term volunteer opportunity or in other words, a long-term mission trip. 

Click here to learn more about the Immersion Program

Jonathan with the Dream Center outreach team

Being able to experience life at the Dream Center has been life-changing to put it lightly. Being a part of a community of such loving and welcoming people is another thing that interested me about this program. 

So the question was– do I or do I not apply for the program? The answer, undoubtedly, was YES. There were so many uncertainties, but ultimately I knew that Immersion was the answer to obey God’s message to reside at the Dream Center for a longer period of time. My obvious next step was to apply to the program and begin to PRAY. After applying I had an initial interview with the program director and the wait began. After waiting for about two weeks to a month, I found out that I was accepted. 

Now the fun begins

I’d like to share a little bit about myself. I was born in Traverse City, Michigan. I lived there until I was 10 years old, then my family moved to Sugarland, Texas where I lived for the next 19 years of my life. Finally, I moved to northern California to a town called Vacaville which I lived in until January of 2023. So much was going on in my life as a teenager! My mom’s loss at age 7 weighed heavily on me, but finding acceptance among friends offered comfort.

Jonathan (on the far right) in his teenage years

Saying yes to a simple invitation to go to church from my neighborhood, was ultimately why I was saved. From the moment I was saved when I was 16 years old, I’ve always felt called to serve others with talents that God gave me. It definitely led me to go to other places and meet people to love them as Jesus would. Being able to go on mission trips in and outside of the United States has given me a greater love for people and where they are. It changed my perspective on so many things.   

Ultimate Act of Trust

When I was accepted to the Dream Center’s Immersion Experience, so much was going through my head. Where to begin? What to do first? After informing my family, I shared my major decision with my church community, who had been praying for me. God answered their prayers. 

Making a move from northern California to southern California was immense. This move was huge because I had made a life and was part of a community for 13 years. Essentially, I initiated a new beginning, forming friendships and becoming familiar within the community. I’m single and my family is spread out everywhere. I have family in Texas, North Carolina, and Michigan, and don’t often have the opportunity to visit them. Therefore, having a strong faith community around me is important.

Jonathan with members from his home church

I started the process of downsizing to see what I needed versus what I wanted. I also began the process of fundraising to cover the cost of the program. God’s presence was evident in my fundraising journey; within two weeks at the Dream Center, I was fully funded. When I fundraised for the remainder of my stay, it only took 9 days to meet my goal. That revealed to me that God truly had a purpose for me here at the Dream Center.

The definition of faith says it best. It’s trusting in the unknown, in the things unseen. Doing anything that God is calling you to do, is without a doubt, the ultimate act of trust. Not Letting others steer the direction of your life, and being obedient takes great courage.

Influential Moments Throughout the Year/ Things I’ve Learned

During outreach, God taught me about judgment. Going on many different outreaches has taught me to go into any situation with no judgment or preconceived notions. God showed me to see everyone as He does, with love and compassion, transforming how I view people. I’ve been given the opportunity to be a part of three outreach ministries which include Foster Care Intervention, Union Station Homeless Outreach, and Macarthur Park Night Outreach.

Foster Care Intervention – provides and assembles furniture for families who may be in need of basic necessities such as beds and dressers but are unable to afford them because of poverty-related issues. Foster Care Intervention has taught me greater levels of gratitude, and compassion, and to see people as Jesus would see them.

Union Station Homeless Outreach and Macarthur Park Night Outreach –  reach people who may be experiencing homelessness or possibly dealing with substance abuse issues. Certainly, both of these ministries have enabled me to unconditionally love people and ensure they feel seen, heard, and cared for.

Jonathan serving with foster care intervention and union station outreach programs

My recommendations for anyone considering Immersion

Interested in Dream Center’s Immersion? I advise praying and taking a leap of faith if you feel called. It will be a life-changing experience to put it simply. I absolutely love how God works. 

You’ll come here thinking that you’re going to gain more experience than what you already know, but you will experience God in a very different way through any of the amazing ministries here such as Kidz Jam, Foster Care Intervention, and everything in between. 

No matter the program that you’re in, you become family with everyone here. Being at the Dream Center will be a journey from the time you arrive here until you leave. Even in your worst days here, you have a community to lean on and help shoulder your burdens.