Dec. 13, 2017
Despite required practice hours, rigorous ensemble rehearsals, and grueling studies for the in-between times, a group of music students have found time and capacity for reaching out with their craft, opening their hearts—and Crowell Hall—to monthly visitors from inner-city Los Angeles.
While they could easily consider themselves too busy for any sort of outreach, junior music education major Lindsay Reed has taken the helm and provided leadership for this significant project, inviting other students along for the ride. “It’s an opportunity to get my peers involved in ministry and for them to be able to use their gifts,” she said.
The project is a collaboration between Biola’s Conservatory of Music and the Los Angeles Dream Center, a ministry focused on meeting both the practical and the spiritual needs of people held back by poverty and limited opportunities for advancing themselves. As Biola is deepening its commitment to return and give back to its roots in downtown Los Angeles, there has been an increasing connection with the Dream Center, which resulted in two Dream Center representatives visiting with Conservatory faculty and brainstorming what bringing music to inner city youth might look like.
Conservatory director George Boespflug explained, “The seed to partner with the Dream Center was planted during a faculty retreat field trip to the downtown Dream Center facilities. After discussions with Jesse Kramer and Ben Kay, members of the Dream Center staff, the vision was cast for regular Biola visits for Dream Center kids who would learn about music and enjoy fellowship with music students. The missing ingredient was a student who had a heart for inner city kids and teaching music—enter Lindsay Reed! Lindsay has gone above and beyond to organize monthly visits. She has worked tirelessly, prayed continuously, and shed many tears of love for these kids. Music and ministry—what could be better?”
The monthly visits to Biola have become so popular with Dream Center kids that the staff now uses them as a reward for good behavior during other Dream Center activities. Those who meet the behavior standard are driven to La Mirada, where they enjoy a morning of fun—starting with breakfast together, followed by private lessons, a group activity centered around music-making, and a performance from a Conservatory ensemble.
In thinking back over the past several months of Dream Center visits, Lindsay reflected on the many ways that the Biola Conservatory has impacted these kids’ lives. She told of one boy, “Pete,” who brought a variety of behavioral challenges with him from the very first visit to Biola. At the end of the first semester of the program, there was discussion about whether he should even be invited back, since his behavior was disruptive to so many. It was questionable whether Pete was really benefiting in any way from his involvement, so his ongoing involvement with the program was in jeopardy. At a Dream Center winter camp, however, an older boy approached one of the Dream Center staff and asked whether he was a part of the Biola music program. When the Dream Center staff member acknowledged that he was, in fact, involved with the Biola program, this older boy identified himself as Pete’s older brother and began to relate just what a difference the music program had made in Pete’s life.
Another boy who wouldn’t participate and interact has a story similar to Pete’s. After experiencing love and acceptance at Biola, culminating in a Christmas party complete with gifts for the Dream Center kids, one boy dropped his hard exterior to thank Lindsay and to even hug her. It was a beautiful demonstration of what God is doing through this wonderful partnership between the Conservatory and the Dream Center.
Related story: "Ministry through music" The Biola University Chimes
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