Guatemala Trip

Written by OC Disciples on . Posted in Church Update, Missions, Reporting

Guatemala Trip

Guatemala1

(Note: this article was written by Sonya Leddy.  She was a part of the HOPE Brigade in Guatemala this summer. She shares about her experience in this blog post.)

My experience in Guatemala this summer exemplified the words “It is far better to give than to receive.” It was set in motion as I joined over 50 volunteers ready to give at this 3-day medical brigade. We quickly joined forces as a team of doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, technicians, teachers, students and translators all with one mission – to care for the extreme poor and those in most need. It was evident after the first day of serving that our bodies were exhausted but our hearts were fulfilled & satisfied from the work that was done.

Guatemala2Each day our team assembled with joyful, giving hearts to painstakingly administer medical and dental care, count thousands of multi-vitamins and pain relievers, fill desperately needed prescription medication and entertain the precious children. Hundreds were served daily at no cost, prescription and reading glasses provided free of charge, and three months of multi-vitamins distributed to every man, woman and child seen. Words cannot do justice to the impact and blessing brought to this community from the donations and sacrifices made from the churches across the US. It was truly an inspiring testimony of God’s love for the poor.

Guatemala3The children’s program, in which I served, bubbled with smart & creative kids. They played games, had their faces painted, made bracelets and customized their very own T-shirts. It was a pleasure to watch their faces light up as they proudly embellished their shirts with rhinestones and glitter, or colored their names artistically written in bubble letters. One mom requested that ‘God loves you.’ be written in English on her baby son’s t-shirt. While this mother was grateful for the t-shirt, I was much more grateful for her faith as a mother despite her circumstance.

Guatemala5While countless moments like this moved my heart, as I expected. One moment stood out. During a brief conversation with a brother from the Guatemala church I mentioned how my faith has been challenged in recent years. I experienced the loss of my 4 year-old, son to a tragic accident, and my 35 year-old, sister to an aggressive cancer. He said tenderly, “You were called to have passion for all, not just a few.” Wow!

 

Guatemala6My heart has been humbled and my passion transformed. I have not stopped thinking of Guatemala since I’ve left. My husband says I’ve found my calling. I believe him. When you volunteer with Hope Worldwide your mission is to bring hope and change lives. YOU return with a greater hope and a changed life. It IS, far more better to give than to receive.

 

2013 Youth Camp Report

Written by OC Disciples on . Posted in Church Update, Events, Reporting

2013 Youth Camp Report

The following is an article written by Brian Craig about the 2013 LA Youth Camp.  You can find the original article on Disciples Today.

2013 Youth CampThe night sky was filled with thick clouds as Geo Garces began his Wednesday night message. The camp director was preaching about how we can approach God and talk to him about whatever we are going through–even if we are feeling angry, sad, or struggling with doubt. As Geo read from various Psalms, he emphasized how the writers were honest and vulnerable with God about their feelings. And then he began to share personally himself:

“Earlier tonight, I was in that field over there, calling out to God, ‘Lord, don’t you know its Wednesday night? Why all these clouds? Don’t you know we are supposed to have the Starlight Devotional tonight? I know the forecast calls for 90% cloud cover, but please, Abba!'”

He continued, “See kids, God hasn’t answered my prayer yet. But I still need to trust him, even when I doubt, and whether he answers my prayer or not. And God wants us to be honest, vulnerable, and real with him about whatever it is we are going through and how we feel about it.”

It was the third day of the annual LA Youth Camp, and the plan for the night called for the memorable “Starlight Devotional.” That was to be the special night when all the campers would be lead out into a large hidden field on the outskirts of camp where they would lie down in the silence and dark, look up at the stars and meditate. It was to be a night where the campers hearts would open up to God and they would make commitments to him. But with the current cloud cover and the forecast for the next two days, at this point it was doubtful if we would be able to proceed with the event.

This was my fourth year driving up to Idyllwild, to the annual LA Youth Camp. John Mannel and his team began the camp back in 2000 for kids going into 5th-8th grades. Every year it has just seemed to get better and better. This year we had well over 500 campers, lots of amazing counselors, and a full staff. The camp has gotten so large and successful that the decision was made to have two camp weeks next year and split the staff between the two camps. So everyone was in the mindset of learning all they could from each other so we’d be able to not miss a beat with next year’s camps.

2013 Camp 2There is something so amazing about being surrounded by hundreds of kids at this “magical” age as they are discovering who they are and how they fit in to their community. They still have so much of their innocence, and it is awesome to watch their eyes open to God and his word. They are responsive to the influence of their counselors as they are figuring out what to do with the different emotions they experience and relationship issues they go through. It’s coIMG 0743ol to wake up early in the morning and see little gatherings of campers all through the wooded areas and along the creek as their counselors lead them quiet times together. It’s the perfect time in life to teach them to begin to look to God for help in challenging circumstances and for answers to the deep questions of life.

There are so many fun things that happen at camp, with memorable activities and sporting events. The legendary “Water Wars” are a highlight of the week; Geo and the staff talk a lot of “smack” at every assembly leading up to the great battle, so by the time the war comes the kids are a frenzy of excitement to destroy the staff in a deluge of water. But for most of us, our favorite moments are the times of worship at night in the outdoor amphitheater, as the kids scream, shout, dance and sing their hearts out to God till they have no voices left. You can’t help but shed a tear at the sound of their young voices worshipping our Creator.

So, back to Wednesday night in the amphitheater. As Geo got into his final point about going to God when we are happy, praising him for good things and remembering to be grateful, murmurings began in the crowd. “Geo, look up!” someone said. Suddenly, clouds had cleared and the whole sky was full of stars. Geo told the campers to look up and to praise God for parting the clouds for the Starlight Devotional. The crowd erupted in cheer that God had heard our prayers. It was just one of those moments when God winks at you, when he reminds you of how amazing it is to belong to him. I felt a sense of awe and gratitude in my heart for this wonderful camp. And I was filled with the expectation that these young campers were on the right track towards one day devoting their whole lives to our awesome Creator.

Good News from Honduras!

Written by OC Disciples on . Posted in Announcements, Church Update, Missions, Reporting

Good News from Honduras!

Today we bring you a testimonial from a sister in Honduras, Mary Tabora. We hope that her story inspires you to trust that God always works out situations so that we may get to know Him and serve Him…

The Moreno  FamilyMy name is Mary Tabora. I grew up in a religious household; as a child I loved reading the Bible. But I resented our family’s strict religiosity, and I developed a view of God as a punisher. My sister Alma became a Christian in Boston in 1986, but she had to return to Honduras in 1988 when her student visa expired. She shared a few Bible studies with me. But we didn’t have any discipling churches in the area like the one that Alma knew in Boston. In 1995 the San Pedro Sula church was planted. Alma had been in Honduras for 7 years, and now she had a church … 4 ½ hours away! I saw my sister travel each week to San Pedro to worship with the church. Her commitment impacted me: I renewed my Bible studies and was baptized in 1996! And I began to make the weekly trips to San Pedro with Alma and my four children, for midweek and Sunday services; we did that for four years! My husband and the rest of our family were not happy with this. I kept on praying for my family, and I kept inviting my husband to church.

In 2000 the church was planted in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. Tegucigalpa is closer to Comayagua, so our weekly trips to church were shorter. God has blessed me with so many answered prayers. My husband was baptized in 2010, after fourteen years of prayers! And two years later, in 2012, the church was officially planted in my city of Comayagua, where we already had 22 disciples! Three of my children are disciples: my two daughters are involved in the worship ministry and my oldest son leads the singles ministry. I am very grateful to God, to my sister Alma, and to those who have sacrificed to help plant our three churches in Honduras!

If you would like to know more about the churches in Honduras, please go to their website. You can also follow the Comayagua Church on Facebook.

J. De Anda

Southwestern Mexico Family of Churches

Written by OC Disciples on . Posted in Announcements, Church Update, Missions, Reporting

The Southwest Mexico Family of Churches

In just a few weeks, the members of the Orange County Church will be collecting the annual Special Missions Contribution. As part of this effort, $275,000 will be allocated to support our sister churches in Mexico and Central America. Today we want to share great news from one of the ministry groups that benefit from our financial and spiritual support: the Southwestern Mexico family of churches.

SW Mexico Map

The 10 churches in the Southwest Family of Churches

The Southwestern Mexico family of churches includes eight regions of the Mexico City Church plus nine other churches in the country. The congregational groups range in membership from 18 (Acapulco) to 315 (Narvarte), for a total membership of almost 2100 disciples. Some of the churches are led by full-time ministers and some are led by volunteer ministry leaders. Mario and Angelica Espinosa oversee the whole group.

The group slogan is: “A Great Family Seeking to Serve a Loving Father”

SW Mexico Leaders

Ministry Leaders of the Churches

Good News:

  • As of April of 2013, over 60 people have been baptized this year.
  • A new HOPE worldwide medical clinic was inaugurated in Mexico City.
  • The campus ministry at the National University of Mexico was launched with an evangelistic conference that brought over 100 visitors.
  • Virtual devotionals are held every month by webconferencing to encourage and help the leaders of the various ministry groups, most of whom are not financially able to travel.
  • The Singles ministry in Mexico City organized a retreat near the Teotihuacan pyramids: over 250 single disciples attended.

Challenges and Dreams:

  • Planning to have our first summer camp for teens and pre-teens of the Mexico City Church.
  • Hosting the 12th National Conference for Single Disciples.
  • Praying for a location and finances to host a Conference for all the churches in Mexico in October. It has been five years since the whole Mexico City Church (3,800 members) has been able to have a full congregational meeting.
  • Praying for explosive growth in our campus ministries.
  • Praying to be able to identify and train future elders.
  • For contact information, please visit our MCA Missions website, MCA Missions.

Brothers and sisters, let’s remember that our missions contribution helps these churches evangelize their respective cities. Let’s continue to pray for the disciples in Mexico!