Hollywood superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and his wife recently surprised a California pastor by visiting his church-run ministry to give hope, kindness and necessary items to an expectant mother.
Matthew Barnett — pastor of Angelus Temple, a Pentecostal megachurch in Echo Park, and founder of its homeless ministry, The Dream Center — said he was blown away by the celebrity visit.
“How in the world do I describe the magnitude of the moment when (the Rock and his wife, Lauren Hashian) showed up at the (The Dream Center) to take care of one of the mothers who lives on campus by providing for the needs for her baby delivery,” wrote Barnett in an Instagram post.
Barnett said he was studying for a Sunday morning service in his office when a staff member told him that Johnson’s wife, Lauren Hashian, was bringing donations for a pregnant woman.
When the items arrived, Barnett said he went outside to assist and express gratitude when he noticed Johnson on the phone inside the vehicle.
“I’m just walking down, getting ready to say, ‘Thank you,’ as we take all of her stuff out of the car,” Barnett told Faithwire. “The Rock’s in the back talking to someone on the phone.”
Barnett claimed he didn’t want to bother the former professional wrestler, now a successful actor in Hollywood. But soon after Barnett discovered the actor’s presence, Johnson sprung from the back seat. Barnett said Johnson was eager to meet the preacher and other people at The Dream Center — a facility that offers resources and transitional housing for those in need, including people experiencing homelessness and overcoming addiction.
“He’s like, ‘Hey, how are you guys doing?’” Barnett said. “Engaging people in the most real, normal level. I’m thinking, ‘How much time does he really want to spend here?’”
Barnett said Johnson engaged in lengthy conversations with a few visitors to The Dream Center, including a mother who was eight months pregnant. She was the expectant mother Johnson and his wife came to give a crib, plush toys, and other items to.
“[He was] talking to this mother … for 10 minutes, asking what she’s going through,” Barnett added. “She was in foster care most of her life … it meant so much for her.”
While taking pictures and conversing with others, Johnson spoke with a man participating in the ministry’s rehab program. Barnett posted pictures of the events on his social media pages.
The pastor shared on Instagram how Johnson tried to look after the expectant mother and how the actor dealt with everyone he met.
“Not only did he treat her like the most important person in the world, he stayed and listened with a heart of extraordinary compassion to her and anyone. I realized very quick that this man not only cares about people’s immediate needs but he cares about their potential,” Barnett continued. “I’m still in awe by his extraordinary humility and the spark of hope that he brings to the world.”
Angelus Temple was founded in 1923 by Aimee Semple McPherson, an evangelist who founded the Foursquare Church movement. In 1994, Barnett helped found The Dream Center. In 2001, he was appointed pastor of Angelus Temple.
The Dream Center and Angelus Temple merged in the same year.
Matthew Barnett is the son of Tommy Barnett, global pastor of Dream City Church, one of the largest AOG churches in the U.S.
Tommy drew attention last spring for his connection to Brian Houston after whistleblower documents uncovered Hillsong Church’s lucrative speaker’s circuit, or “celebrity preacher’s scam,” that netted as much as a million dollars in extra income for some high-profile preachers.
The report listed Matthew Barnett as a guest speaker at Hillsong who received at least $26,738 in honorariums.
However, The Dream Center holds a Candid Guidestar Gold Transparency rating for 2023 and is a subordinate organization of the General Counsel of the Assemblies of God.
Johnson later posted about his Dream Center encounter on his personal Instagram account.
“We got to take our lil’ tornados here, down to the (LA Dream Center) so we can help out some families who are going thru it,” Johnson wrote.
He praised The Dream Center’s “amazing work” and said, “The mana is real” when shaking hands and feeling all the hugs.
“Great to meet ‘mama to be’ Zaynah and congratulations on the baby!” he added.
In another post, Johnson highlighted a man he identified as Charles, who approached him and shared his testimony in The Dream Center parking lot.
“I was blessed to receive it,” Johnson said of the man’s testimony. “Sometimes we gotta go thru the great brokenness to recreate our future. Keep up the great my brother, way to be a positive example to our brothers and sisters.”
Johnson expressed his gratitude to serve and thanked the Dream Team for their work in the community.
“We’ve all been there a time or two and struggling people don’t need a hand out,” he concluded. “They just need a hand up.”