I met this amazing lady when I first moved to LA. I’ll never forget the first words she ever said to me, “ Hi, I’m Ashley, welcome, where do you want to serve?” (Accompanied by the most loving smile and a hug so big it made you feel, like you were home) I didn’t think at the time that those words would impact my life in the way in which it has.
I had spent so much time wanting to make a difference and do good but not actually doing anything because something in my life was always more urgent. Having an idea of wanting to help and make a difference is wonderful but true honor comes from executing those dreams and plans with purpose.
Enter Ashley; she serves as the Outreach Pastor at Oasis Church under the leadership of Philip and Holly Wagner. The Outreach Team at Oasis Church is committed to revolutionizing Los Angeles, partnering with LAPD, City Councils, local and global organizations to battle the issues that rise from poverty and greed through service and compassion.
She has thought me that even if you reach just one person, that is enough. “You don’t need a reason to help somebody – just help somebody.” – Ashley
I have seen her tirelessly love and stand up for people time and time again. Her story is an inspiring one filled with courage, grace and love…
Ladies and gentleman I give you Ashley Abercrombie, Dreamer...
Dreams are full of layers aren’t they? I suppose the arc of my dream is to help people by doing good wherever I go. I want to live with an open heart, home and hand. I want my family and friends to get my best and not my leftovers. I want to make more babies with my incredible husband and I want our marriage to grow more alive as we grow in age. We want to give our children an example of faith, service and generosity that’s tangible and completely normal in our daily life. I want to love the marginalized and the poor and work towards holistic, community development that leads to transformation and restoration in lives and cities. I desire to leave an indelible mark in my wake that is redemptive in nature and that awakens hope for people. On the side, I want to write novels around themes of justice and drink wine and eat cheese with friends.
People! I believe people are God’s greatest treasure. I grew up watching my mom love all people the same. The paper boy, the principal, the day care worker, the store clerk, whoever and wherever, she used the same tone, offered the same respect and always, always spoke with kindness. I learned from her that we’re all the same. I am a Christian and I also honor Christ and as I continue to grow in my faith, I know that the ground is level at the foot of the cross. We have different gifts, skill sets, personalities, etc., but God values us all just the same. I am no better than anyone else and I can always learn from others, whatever the situation, whether it is positive or negative.
There are so many! I have a background of eating disorders, alcohol, drugs, rape and abortion. Those were some dark days, but I went through a recovery process in 2002 and had some years of sobriety under my belt. In 2007, I found myself in a relationship that was destructive, having a surgery for melanoma and I had just quit my job for one that didn’t pan out. I felt disappointed and frustrated that my dreams weren’t working out. I was dangerously close to walking away from my faith because I thought God had not come through for me. By a thread of grace, I hung in there, sucked it up, worked three part time jobs to continue living in LA and started to heal from the relationship. I am thankful now that I didn’t quit everything and I am also thankful that I didn’t settle for a less than life – a less than relationship, a less than faith experience, a less than lifestyle of health. God used those dark days to refine my dream, restore my body, mind and soul and He opened a door for me to love the poor. I didn’t know that justice was my passion until after that season. In our worst hour, if we don’t lose heart and give up, we can discover our greatest truths and live a greater life than the one we imagined.
Stories give me hope. Stories remind me I am not alone. Our pain has purpose and we matter to each other. We matter to God. I love this CS Lewis quote from The Four Loves: “Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: What! You too? I thought no one but myself…”
What stirs your soul?
My husband, my baby, music, words, books, my friends and family, Jesus, the ocean, museums, serving others. When I help people, I experience the presence of God – He speaks to me. He feels close to me and I find nothing more fulfilling than this.
Your message to the world in 30 Seconds
Let love be your highest goal. Care about others. Look people in the eye. You don’t need a reason to help somebody – just help somebody. Hug each other. Tell the truth. Be kind. Laugh often. Kiss your spouse all the time. Work hard and stay humble. Choose integrity over image.
What advice would you give to yourself at 7 years old, 17 years old, 27 years old?
7 year old Ash
Sunshine, you are bright, beautiful, and brilliant. Ignore anyone who leads you to believe you are less than these things and shine, girl shine. You love people, music and words. Stay true to this.
17 year old Ash
It’s going to get worse before it gets better. You will survive this and there is beauty you cannot imagine that will rise from these ashes.
27 year old Ash
Don’t give up now. You are about to meet the man of your dreams. You are about to have your heart broken for all the right things. You are about to blaze a trail for justice. Your dreams are about to come true. Courage, dear heart.
You can find out more about Ashley Abercrombie on her incredibly inspiring blog, Life & Love in LA