Who Says You Can’t Find God in the Los Angeles Times?
Twenty-one years ago, I was a community news reporter for the “Our Times” section of the Orange County edition of the Los Angeles Times, and a new believer in Jesus.
FIRST IN A SERIES
As I settled into a bustling newsroom, I felt no obvious anti-God sentiment. I’m feeling fairly confident that there was no plot to keep God out of the Times. Yet, many people, mostly Christians, kept slamming the publication for its alleged godlessness.
Granted, on a personal level, while I was among about 50 reporters, photographers, and editors in the main office of the Los Angeles Times Orange County edition, I only knew of two of them who told me they were Christian. That doesn’t mean there weren’t more and that doesn’t mean the rest were on an intentional mission to make sure the paper (yes, paper) was without stories about God moving among us. After all, journalists whole heartily worked to be fair, honest and non-partial, especially a couple decades ago.
Yes, a Christian world-view was often missing from the “daily,” but I believe that was by mostly unintentional and not calculated omissions.
One of Media on Mission’s goals is to feature published stories in a variety of media that point to God in some way or fashion. The story about Gayle Knight and HOPE (below) is the first in a series of articles that I wrote for the Los Angeles Times and now to be published on the Media on Mission site. Some of my articles appeared in the Our Times section, and some in the Metro (or Orange County) section (later in my stint at the Times, I was asked to work for the Metro section after a media company buyout and during the transition period).
These articles prove that God can be found in the media otherwise thought “ungodly.”
Some children in the Buena-Clinton neighborhood of Garden Grove call Gayle Knight “the Church Lady.” And with good reason: Knight has been taking underprivileged children from the low-income area to church nearly every Sunday for the last eight years.
BY ALEX MURASHKO, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES (ARCHIVE)
December 21, 1999
But the earthly title may not fully describe the Seal Beach woman, who is the founder of Helping Others Prepare for Eternity, or HOPE.
Cathy Escobedo, 33, who met Knight in 1998 while living in a shelter that Knight was visiting, said she and her five children “see Gayle as an angel sent from heaven. I believe God works through her to help others.”
Knight began HOPE in 1991, shortly after she discovered that a woman who had asked if she could clean Knight’s house was from a domestic-violence shelter. She became friends with the woman’s family and started taking them to church. She would ask other neighborhood children if they wanted to go, and soon, with the help of others, as many as 30 children were going to church with her.
HOPE, a nonprofit, public benefit organization with a board of seven volunteers, now has services that include transitional living for the battered, tutoring, financial aid and health treatment for terminally ill children.
Each Child Gets Loving Attention
Knight, who works for a title insurance company, spent much of the past weekend doing what she said she loves doing the most. On Friday, Knight drove one of the vans that brought 27 Buena-Clinton children and three formerly battered mothers to a holiday breakfast in Seal Beach. At the breakfast she gave each child the attention a loving mother would.
On Sunday at 8:30 a.m., she was back in her “adopted” neighborhood, greeting each sleepy-eyed child and helping them pile into her van. On this Sunday, 14 children had breakfast at Main Place Christian Church in Tustin, which is a church with Spanish-language translation. Then the children sat and watched the church’s production of “A Christmas Carol” and on the way home were treated by Knight to some tacos for later. Back at the neighborhood, Knight handed each child a couple of wrapped Christmas gifts as they headed home with tacos in hand.
Knight, a Seal Beach resident for 25 years, credits God, a supportive husband and a giving father for her dedication. Reno Albert Gaudino, her father, died more than a year ago. During the time of his illness and afterward, her direction and giving have intensified.
“I have my gift [of giving] from my father,” she said. “He was the giver of all givers.”
Escobedo, who no longer lives in a shelter, said Knight’s impact on her life is beyond words.
“She still keeps in touch with me,” she said. “I can’t explain how much Gayle and HOPE have meant to me.”
Originally published at the Los Angeles Times now archived.
NOTE: I recently reconnected with Gayle Knight as she reached out to me through LinkedIn. HOPE is still going strong and information about Gayle’s organization can be found online here: http://hopebiz.org/.