Monday, January 30, 2006

A Different Side of Hollywood

In the fall of 1987, a group of my friends from Hollywood Presbyterian Church finally realized a dream that was years in the making. But it was not the typical Hollywood dream that is glamorized in film and television for all the world to see. Not a dream of fame and fortune, or of public recognition.

There is another side to Hollywood, a far less glamorous side. A side of Hollywood that few see, and fewer care about. Just blocks south of the storied corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street is the heart of this "other side" - the barrios of Hollywood, near the far less famous corner of Carlos & Gower Streets. In this neighborhood live the individuals and families that clean the tables, cook the fast food, clean the hotel rooms, and pick up after those of us who are more fortunate in this life. Theirs is often a life of survival from paycheck to paycheck and the struggle of coping with a neighborhood troubled by crime and gangs.

The dream we began to realize all those years ago was the purchase of a Community House for the ministry of HUP - Hollywood Urban Project - Now named DOOR. The house was purchased, additions made, and nearly every year since, there has been a physical presence of the followers of Christ in this neighborhood.

This presence continues today. Shown above is the current leadership team of HUP. On the right is Mandy Updegraff, a remarkable young lady you now have the opportunity to get to know much better. Mandy has just completed her first book "A Different Side of Hollywood" which chronicles the joyous, painful, difficult, and remarkable journey in a fast-paced, fresh, and fascinating account of a young woman leaving college behind - and becoming a missionary in the inner city. Mandy's book offers us the first-hand reflections of a remarkable young woman, as she transitions from the insulated world of a small Midwestern college to the harsh streets of Hollywood.

I admit bias, but I think that this book might become required reading for undergraduate and seminary courses on cross cultural studies and urban missions. Prepare to have your preconceived notions of inner city life challenged, as you journey alongside Mandy as she confronts her own fears, personal demons, and ideals in a completely new world. This book is candid and sometimes raw in its description of inner city life, and tragically, in violent death. Prepare to meet remarkable people, doing courageous things for the cause of Christ. This is the body of Christ. Buy this book!

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