NY Times bestselling author, his latest: God’s Dream for You, (2013)
Senior Pastor of Angelus Temple
Co-founder of The Dream Center in LA which reaches more than 50,000 people monthly through its multiple church services in addition to its 200 need-centered ministries
Speaker at Promise Keepers and Hillsong conferences
Hosts weekly television program called The Church That Never Sleeps
Married to Caroline; Two children Mia and Caden
Matthew Barnett: God's Perfect Plan for Your Life
The 700 Club
GOD’S DREAM FOR MATTHEW
Matthew wanted to be a pastor since he was sixteen years old. He had hung around his dad, Pastor Tommy Barnett, for as long as he could remember. Tommy was the pastor of a church of fourteen thousand people in Phoenix, Arizona. As a teenager, God gave Matthew a vision of a city in need – it was Los Angeles. The vision showed Matthew that someday he would be in LA pastoring a church in the heart of the city. In 1994, when Matthew’s dad asked him to help out an impoverished church in the inner city of LA, Matthew agreed to help his dad out -- partly because of the vision God had given him, but also because he thought it was only temporary. No one wanted the job. Matthew says, “Failure after failure was the quick reality of this church plant. I always thought that church was about perfectly crafted sermons and good music. The truth is that I had none of that. No staff, no idea how to preach. I had to discover that a broken dream is the pathway to a better one - God’s dream.”
A few days after being on the job, Matthew woke up in the night. He felt God was speaking to him and telling him to walk to Echo Park over near Dodger Stadium. At the time, Echo Park was full of gangs, prostitutes, and many homeless people. Matthew knew God would protect him. The Lord told him, “Matthew, I didn’t bring you to the inner city to build a great church, but to build people…You build the people; I will build the church,” recalls Matthew. After three months into his job, Matthew was frustrated and discouraged. His congregation of twenty had dwindled down to nothing. He locked up his office, threw everything in his car, and started driving home. An hour east of LA, Matthew pulled off the interstate and up to a Dairy Queen. He sat in his car explaining to God why he was giving up and how sorry he was to disappoint God and his dad. As he asked the Lord for direction, he felt the Lord say, “Just give Me one more day.” Matthew recalls his response, “Lord, there’s no way I can pastor this church. And I can’t picture anything changing in the future.” After a period of silence Matthew told the Lord, “Okay, just one more day. That’s all I can promise You.” Matthew drove back to LA. In the days ahead, Matthew would make several trips driving East on Interstate 10 towards Phoenix. Each time he would always pull off at the Dairy Queen to explain to God why he was leaving LA, and each time God asked him for one more day.
After nineteen years, Matthew is grateful to the Lord that he didn’t quit even though he wanted to quit. Matthew says, “Quitting doesn’t only affect you it; affects the people around you. People you meet in the future will be encouraged to go on, because you went on.” He shares the testimony of Joyce, a forty-one year old woman who works with the food truck ministry at the Dream Center. Joyce’s dad abandoned her, she was sexually abused, and to cope with the pain she began smoking weed at the age of 12. By sixteen she was shooting up heroin and cocaine and hanging out with gang bangers. She was in and out of jail and rehab centers until she had nowhere else to go and ended up on Skid Row for seven months. Finally, she ended up on the steps of the Dream Center. They took her in and she went through the rehab program. Joyce graduated from the discipleship program, got her GED, and started a college program. Joyce is thankful she did not quit. Today she encourages others who are struggling and takes food to hundreds of families five days a week. “I know now that I have a purpose, and it is to serve people,” shares Joyce.
GOD’S DREAM FOR YOU
“God’s Dream for You was really inspired by my own life experience and everything I have seen since starting the Dream Center in 1994,” shares Matthew. Barry was a homeless junkie who sold drugs and lived under a freeway bridge in LA for fifteen years. He was an educated man who had once been a successful engineer then he lost his job. One thing led to another and he found himself living under a bridge. Matthew had driven by Barry and prayed for him for years, but never witnessed any evidence of change in his life. One afternoon, a teen from the Dream Center was riding in Matthew’s car. She insisted on asking Barry to come to the Dream Center for a meal. Surprisingly, Barry showed up for dinner every night for the next six months. Each night Barry would leave after dinner and return to his place under the freeway. Matthew and the folks at the Dream Center continued to pray for Barry. As Barry was sitting under the bridge one day he called out to God and it changed everything. He felt God’s presence and began dancing and singing. Barry hopped on a bus to the Dream Center. At sixty years old, Barry realized God had a dream for his life. He went through rehab at the Dream Center, graduated from Bible school and is now a pastor at the Dream Center to hundreds of homeless families. “I want to provide inspiration for those who, whatever their situation, want to discover God’s dream for their life,” shares Matthew.
On September 8th, Matthew celebrated the nineteenth anniversary of the Dream Center with an outreach called Serve24. He got 500 people to commit to twenty four hours in the community. Together they served hot dogs on skid row, rescued prostitutes, delivered food and furniture to families in need, and much more. Dream Centers all over America joined in. “The issue is not what we do during those initial twenty-four hours but what is inspired in us that will break our hearts to inspire long-term action. Serving opens the possibility of anything and that’s what makes the life of serving so inconvenient and so beautiful,” shares Matthew.
THE DREAM CENTER
Founded in 1994, The Dream Center in LA is a volunteer- driven organization that finds and fills the needs of over 50,000 individuals and families each month through its church services in addition to its 200 need-centered ministries. Some of those ministries include: mobile hunger relief and medical programs, residential rehabilitation programs for teens and adults, a shelter for victims of human trafficking, transitional housing for homeless families, foster care intervention programs, job skills training, life skills counseling, basic education, Bible studies and more. There are more than 100 independent Dream Centers that have launched nationally, as well as internationally.
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