Our Family’s HOPE Trip to Nicaragua
For several years I have been dreaming of going to Latin America to serve on a CSB (medical brigade). I finally got the opportunity last week to serve in Managua, Nicaragua. It is so hard to express in just a few words what it was like. Not only did God bless me with this dream come true but he gave me a bonus by sending my husband and two teens as well. The people of Nicaragua are the most loving, kind, and generous I have ever met in my life. From the moment we arrived till the moment we left they poured out there hearts to us all. I really did not want to leave and my kids were really sad when they woke up after the brigade was over and wished there was another day to go out and be with the people (despite the 3 large earthquakes and hot conditions)….It just goes to show love conquers all. Jesus was present every corner we turned. Thank you Nicaragua for your out pouring of love… The Gasparians will be back!
- Jen Gasparian
2014 Catalyst Retreat
The 2014 Catalyst Singles retreat was an overwhelming success! Over 640 singles from the Greater Los Angeles area, Orange County, San Diego, Las Vegas, Arizona and many other churches came together in San Diego from March 7-9. The retreat’s theme “Catching Fire” focused on helping singles to catch a fire for God and catch a fire for the church.
The event started off on Friday night with a Hunger Games improv activity coordinated by the Turning Point ministry and ended with an inspiring message from our guest speakers, Elias and Rachel Deleault from Ashland, Oregon. Saturday started off with a morning quiet time, then men/women separate lessons, and then breakout classes taught by singles and some by ministry staff. There was a long fellowship break for lunch and dinner and activities in and around beautiful San Diego. Saturday night kicked off with a spirit-led worship night featuring many meaningful songs, spoken word performances, videos, and a testimony. The night was not complete without some speed-dating and a dance with DJ Joe Villasenor. The Sunday service was overflowing with retreat goers, more disciples from the San Diego church, and friends we had met along the way. Chairs were set up in the foyer because we exceeded the capacity of the facility!
“This was my first time attending and I can’t wait for next year. It was so inspiring, encouraging and spiritually uplifting!” – Catalyst Survey result
God definitely moved mountains to make this retreat a success (and for some…they are thankful we were not actually “in” the mountains this year!). Four weeks before the retreat, less than 100 people were signed up to attend. The committee prayed for God to move in the hearts of the singles and for the registration to exceed 300. By the time online registration ended, over 470 people had registered. And then another 170 people walked in and signed up on-site!
The Catalyst retreat started 6 years ago as an informal get-away for the Coastal and Orange County ministries in the LAICC. Over the last few years, other ministries were invited and eventually the retreat outgrew the original location. Who knows how we are going to top that for 2015? God always finds a way!
On April 20th we will be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. A strong case can be made that this is the pinnacle event of all human history. The resurrection of Christ is the hope of all mankind. By Jesus resurrecting from the dead he conquered satan and all of his plans to render mankind doomed. The resurrection gives us victory in every aspect of our lives.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. Revelation 1:17-18 (NIV84)
When Jesus rose from the dead he forever conquered death and the power of death in our lives ( Heb 2:14). To see the figure of a dead Jesus and three days later to see Him alive again by the plan and the power of God gives us hope for our own lives. Jesus’ death and resurrection was a fore runner of the victory that every disciple of Christ will share on judgment day. God proved that He was more powerful than satan and sin. Our victory is over the sin that had once conquered us. Each of us has experienced the emptiness and hopelessness of a life lived outside of Christ.
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins – Colossians 2:13 (NIV84)
When we are baptized into Christ we are forgiven of our sins (Acts 2:36-41 , Acts 22:6-16) and at that moment satan lost his grip on us. At that moment we took full advantage of Jesus’ death , burial and resurrection and became one with Him in all of His victories. We have won the victory over sin, death, and our old selves to be the person God has always designed us to become (2 Corinth 5:17).
We will be having a regional devotional on April 11 and 5 worship services on April 20 entitled “ALIVE” to celebrate the victories we share as disciples of Christ. Please join us.
7:30pm , 10 Goodyear Ave, Irvine , Ca, 92618
7:00am , Salt Creek Beach, 3333 S PCH, Dana Point, Ca, 92629
10:00am , 10 Goodyear Ave, Irvine, Ca, 92618: Services in English, Spanish and Korean
5:00pm – North Orange County- 900 S Sunkist Street, Anaheim, Ca, 92806
Family Ministry Women’s Retreat
Early Saturday morning on March 15th, 40 women from the Youth and Family Ministry descended upon the Hilton Garden Inn at Carlsbad Beach to enjoy a women’s retreat together. The Hilton Garden Inn is directly across the street from the ocean, so the location was the perfect setting for our theme, “Going Deep”. The path along the ocean is high above the beach which made for a breathtaking view of the endless horizon. On this path new friendships were made and old friendships deepened as we walked and prayed and shared our hearts with each other.
On this beautiful Saturday morning, we gathered in the hotel conference room and began by singing with all our hearts as we were accompanied by Carol Lopez on the guitar. Deb Eskew, our wonderful Youth and Family Ministry women’s leader, gave us two lessons. In the first lesson, “Deep with God”, we read scriptures about how much God desires a relationship with each one of us (Psalm 139), and that in order to know God deeply we have to be willing to draw near to him. In the second lesson, “Deep Friendships”, we learned how we can deepen our relationships with one another. We dug deep into Peter’s character and learned that tension is present in all relationships, and we can learn to love each other despite how different we may be.
After the morning lessons, we were free to spend all afternoon out and about in the town of Carlsbad to eat lunch, enjoy the flower fields or just sit on a blanket on the beach and relax. At 4:30 p.m., all 40 women met on the path across from the hotel that overlooks the ocean to pray with each other. After this inspiring time, we broke into smaller groups to share a meal together. Then at 7:30 p.m. we all came together in the conference room to play Family Feud organized by Angela Hines. We laughed and played for two hours and enjoyed the competition immensely.
On Sunday morning, we all enjoyed homemade muffins by Carol Lopez and Julie Paine outside in the Garden patio. Also, Isabella McBride led a yoga class in our conference room. At 9:30 a.m. we all gathered together for a group quiet time. Kimberly Bosworth and Karen Cantas led us in our thoughts. Suedine Nakano welcomed our guest speaker, Linda Brumley, our sister from the San Diego Church. Linda shared God’s word and her heart with us which prepared us for communion.
As the retreat drew to an end, the theme of the retreat, “Going Deep”, had been accomplished. The hearts of the women were filled with resolve and hope for a deeper walk with God and each other.
Orange County Church 2014 Missions Contribution
Since the year 2000 the Orange County Church of Christ has been a major contributor to mission work in Latin America. Our members have generously donated hundreds of thousands of dollars so that our brothers and sisters in Latin America can continue to spread the gospel to their people. This year the OC Church has a goal to raise over $235,000 for mission work in Mexico and Central America. We are excited about the great experiences and testimonies of some of the brothers and sisters who recently volunteered in the HOPE worldwide Community Service Brigade to Guatemala City. We hope to continue building stronger and deeper connections with the churches we support.
The money donated for mission work is managed by our partner organization, Mexico and Central America Missions. At times people ask us how it all works: missions donations, operations, distribution of funds. Please go to this page to read an informational article about how MCA Missions operates and how the present budget is structured.
Guatemala Community Service Brigade 2014
Wow! I cant believe that I have served on 5 medical mission brigades in Guatemala with Hope Worldwide. When I and the more than 50 US volunteers arrived on that 1st day I recognized many brothers and sisters from the Guatemalan church whom I had spent time with on the previous brigade. They welcomed me as a sister whom they loved.
In the brigade the brothers and sisters from the US and from Guatemala served the Guatemalan disciples, families and friends and the Hope Worldwide School and itʼs families. I was encouraged to see everyone engaged and giving of our God given talents. The medical volunteers and non medical volunteers mending bodies and touching souls. So many of the people we served hugged me, kissed me and blessed me for my services. I was humbled to see their gratitude for a bag of vitamins, used glucometers, over the counter medication or a simple prescription medication. All donations from the US, donated from our abundance.
On the ﬁrst day of the brigade a sister from Guatemala asked me “Why do you come back?” I was not able to answer that day but at Sunday worship as we praised and gave glory to our GOD the answer came to me: This is my family, Godʼs people, the fellowship of believers. I come back because I love my family in Guatemala. I come back to share the gifts and talents that God has given me.
Acts 2:44 – 47 “all the believers were together and had every thing in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their home and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” In the three days that we served in Guatemala we lived this out. My experiences, my opportunities, my talents and skills are all gifts from God so that I can better serve His people – my family – Guatemala
by Monica Martinez
This past February my daughter, Breanna, and I had the opportunity to return to Guatemala with the HOPE Medical Brigade for our third year. We traveled with a large team of medical professionals from all over the states and were able to serve hundreds of people. There are also a lot of us that are non-medical and that are able to serve in many other capacities as well. My daughter was able to assist with the various children’s programs and also support a nurse. I served in the Flouride station which teaches people how to brush their teeth and administer ﬂuoride treatments.
The brigades are amazing as we have the opportunity to help heal people and the opportunity to share Godʼs love with so many. It’s so incredible and humbling to be able to see the joy on peoplesʼ faces when they receive items that we easily take for granted such as toothbrushes and toothpaste. I was surprised to ﬁnd out that in such a poor country toothpaste is three times the cost in comparison to the US. There are so many people with illnesses and diseases that go untreated because of the degree of poverty in Guatemala so these brigades can mean the difference between life and death for so many. The brigades also provide 6 months supply of vitamins for everyone that comes in addition to medications, thanks to the donations of friends and family.
Each trip has been so special for Breanna and I. The people of Guatemala are so incredibly loving. I am always convicted by their gracious hearts and patience. We always return with our hearts ﬁlled with so much joy and love. My daughter has been so impacted by these trips that she has even decided to become a nurse so that she can continue to serve in this capacity. I deﬁnitely encourage families to join a brigade like this. It really is a life changing and unforgettable experience.
by Priscilla Policar