In 1991, I flew from Kansas to Los Angeles for the weekend to lead a CSM group. I will never forget the experience.  Ridge Burns picked me up from the airport and took me to the “hotel” where we would be staying.  There were gang members in the parking lot and prostitutes in the lobby.  We walked up the stairs through the graffiti-covered walls to our room, and when we opened our door and turned on the light, cockroaches and rats scurried across the floor.  

The room had no furniture and the only bathroom was down the hall. The window had bullet holes in it and there was a torn sheet being used as a makeshift curtain. We unrolled our sleeping bags that night, and as hard as I tried to fall asleep, I was still kept awake by the sirens, helicopters, yelling, fighting, gunshots, and other city noises. 

The next couple of days, I led the CSM group. We served at food distribution centers, kids places, homeless shelters, and retirement homes.  They were all amazing experiences–but what really changed me was the prayer tour. We drove through Skid Row (and other inner-city neighborhoods) looking at the communities through the eyes of Jesus, and prayed for them.

I left LA that weekend knowing that I was going to come back and serve as a summer intern. After graduating from a small Christian college in Kansas, I drove back to LA and moved into that same hotel for a 3 month internship. In that summer, gang members and drug dealers became my friends. I never wanted to leave. Shortly after, I became the CSM Los Angeles City Director and served in that position for 11 years. I loved seeing God work in the lives of the youth that came to serve, and in the lives of the people in the city.  

During my time with CSM, I met my wife who was working for Union Rescue Mission. When we got married in 1994, she joined me on staff with CSM.  We had 2 of our 3 children while living in the Skid Row area of Downtown Los Angeles.  I was helping Central City Community Outreach and Church start an after school program for children living in the Skid Row area. I served with them for 12 years before leaving to serve at the Door of Hope ministry (for families experiencing homelessness). After 11 years at Door of Hope, I returned back to the heart of Skid Row and have been working at Union Rescue Mission for the past year.  

It was here in Skid Row that God broke my heart for the inner city–specifically for the children and families experiencing homelessness.  I’m very thankful for CSM and how God used the ministry to change my life.  Today I continue to be amazed at the work that CSM does in every city.

Tim Peters
CSM Board of Directors