Desperate Reality is a unique program of the New Orleans Mission and the Giving Hope Retreat. The purpose of the program is to provide immediate help to people in desperate situations willing to make hard changes in their lives. Johnny Lonardo, "Johnny L", after losing everything he thought brought him identity, being without hope and without God, would dramatically be changed, ONLY through the mercy and grace of God, and through faith in Jesus Christ alone, he learned to "Let Go and Let God". Since his re-birth as a Christian, Johnny is known to have rescued people off the street to bring them into his own home. Today, Johnny is the Director of the Giving Hope Retreat and works closely with his long-time friend, New Orleans Mission Executive Director David Bottner and together they are being used as instruments by God for the work of the Lord.
The New Orleans Mission is the largest, full service Christian charity in the Gulf South and is an Interdenominational organization. Established in 1989, the New Orleans Mission is a private 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization initially created as a service provider for a growing population of homeless men living in the city. It is the largest faith based private service provider among 60 shelters catering to the homeless population of New Orleans.
The Mission serves over 250,000 hot meals a year and provides shelter for over 200 men and 32 women nightly. Mission Disciples receive services that address the physical, social, mental and spiritual areas of their life. This is all being done through the Mission’s ultimate goal for providing every resident with the three “R’s”: RESCUE - RECOVERY - RE-ENGAGEMENT.
The Giving Hope Retreat is located in Lacombe, LA and sits on 58 acres of land just across the lake from New Orleans.
Desperate Reality Street Teams Rescue the Homeless Live on the Program
Johnny Lonardo "Johnny L" - Host
In 1998, John Lonardo was in the darkest time of his life. It was six years earlier that he was invited to a church and heard the Gospel that Jesus Christ was Lord God and Savior and would forgive him of all his sin and give him eternal life. At that time he called on Jesus to save him. It wasn’t long before John, not having understanding, believed the lie that he was not good enough to be a child of God and continued to live the same way. However, a seed was planted; and God would be faithful to His promise that anyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Six years later the Lord Jesus Christ revealed himself to John in a very dramatic way. The reality to John in this, his great time of desperation, was his own “desperate reality”. At the same time it was the greatest Hope he would ever know. He truly knew that Jesus was Lord and had died for sinners, of which he felt chief; and his life changed in a moment.
From that time on John gained an understanding of the Truth, revealed by the Spirit of God. For the last 16 years the Lord has brought numerous men to John’s home. There he could love and help them to know God through Jesus, the one who would lead them out of their desperation and save them. The Lord showed John how to minister to men and women, find shelter for them, and get the help that they needed.
He was learning, as he ministered to the physical needs of people, that these same people were receptive to hear and believe the Gospel message. Sometimes, John found that the people to whom he was ministering would need to be detoxed and then placed in a Christian discipleship program (or a believer’s home) where they would spend 3-12 months learning to know and follow Christ.
Steven Scaffidi - Producer
Steven Scaffidi is an award-winning and longtime writer, producer, director for film and television. Steven is passionate about telling stories about the underdog overcoming the odds and realizing their dreams. His body of work includes the award-winning and controversial film "Execution", which was screened coast to coast theatrically and by invitation of top universities across America and in the United Kingdom; "Forgotten On The Bayou", released nationally on prime-time network television and winner of the prestigious Humanitarian Vision Award; and his dramatic documentary and Academy Awards finalist, "The People's Story: The Devastation of Central America".
Over his career Steven has penned more than a dozen original screenplays in addition to a book and stageplay about the New Orleans Saints entitled “Ain’t Dat Super!”. The comedy about the Saints winning their first Super Bowl was written before that magical season even began and drew a crowd of over 5,000 passionate Who Dat fans on opening weekend.
In 2015, Steven was searching for his next adventure when he was introduced to the New Orleans Mission as a venue for his new music series, "Hit Me America", where the audience participates in writing a song with top musicians and songwriters. This unique jam session gave birth to "Hard Times Don't Hit Me No More", an inspirational blues song that was co-written with the help of over 100 homeless audience members and considered for a Grammy in 2016. This unforgettable experience opened Steven's eyes and heart to the Mission and the opportunity to work directly with Mission Disciples on creative projects.
It didn't take long for Steven to collaborate with Mission Director David Bottner to form Mission Media Productions which gives homeless men and women the opportunity to work on actual films, television shows and other creative projects. When David introduced Steven to Johnny Lonardo, "Desperate Reality: Facing the Truth" took on a life of its own and found its way to the #1 radio station in the Gulf South.
The Desperate Reality Team
"I AM A DISCIPLE" featuring Johnny L.
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