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Engaging the Crisis: Stories from Germany

The Lord has been opening up the hearts of many all across Germany! Take a look at some of the miraculous testimonies below:

A picnic lunch shared between the Syrian refugee family who received Jesus after hearing the description of Christ in Revelation 1:13-16 and some people serving with the ETC team.

A picnic lunch shared between the Syrian refugee family who received Jesus after hearing the description of Christ in Revelation 1:13-16 and some people serving with the ETC team.

The closing session of Global Outreach Day, a youth event where people shared the love of Jesus in word and deed at sites all over Germany.

The closing session of Global Outreach Day, a youth event where people shared the love of Jesus in word and deed at sites all over Germany.

"We're witnessing that God has prepared the hearts of different men and women in our city to receive the gospel, and some are already sharing the good news of Jesus with others! It's been encouraging to see God quickly move in people's hearts, and God has been moving in our hearts as we've gotten to know many refugee families and their stories."

"At a Cross Fit-style outreach for refugees, an impact team member met a Syrian woman who was battling depression and anxiety. However, she shared that she has had dreams of a man in white since she was 4 years-old. The team member shared the description of Jesus in Revelation 1:13-16 and explained that the man from her dreams was Jesus Christ. After hearing more about the Gospel, the woman and her husband both gave their lives to Jesus! They are learning more about how to follow Jesus and are telling friends about the good news."

"During an evangelistic outreach put on by the German youth, two impact team members met a Spanish-speaking woman and shared a diagram that showed how Jesus made a way for people to be free of our broken world and re-enter God's original design for their lives. The woman decided to put her faith in Jesus to return to God's plan, and that prayer was the first time she had ever prayed. They connected her with a German believer here, and the woman attended church the next day."

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Engaging the Crisis: Stories from the College Team

The college team is now on their way back from Germany after a whirlwind adventure! Check out some of their latest happenings: 

"We've spent most of our time at a main refugee camp in the city, where we've been given the opportunity to work with refugee men, women, and children from all over the Middle East, as well as the many native-born Germans and outside organizations that also come to serve. 

At the beginning of the week, we met a little girl, "Anna", as she came crying from the children's room of the camp. Taking our hands, she walked with us to the central courtyard where all the children went to play during the day, and we've met her there every day since. Yesterday, however, we were invited into her home to meet her family. Her father and mother welcomed us warmly and told us their story.

In Syria, Anna's family was very wealthy. Her father was a well-known pharmacist, and they had many friends. However, as a result of the war, they took the dangerous journey on the rubber rafts to come to Germany. From Greece to Turkey, it took about an hour and a half on boat, and from there, they made their way to Berlin, hoping to find a better life for their three children. Their family is very close, and the father says that without his family,he would have no hope for the future.

We also met a family of three, and they shared with us their story of escaping war in Syria to come to Germany.  The trauma they have experienced is unimaginable, as they shared with us about how they saw friends and innocent people get killed trying to flee. "Shawn," the 20 year old son of the family, shared with us a rap song he wrote about all the war and violence he'd seen in Syria.  He translated the song for us from Arabic into English.  Yesterday, some of us visited them again and we were able to talk about our faiths (Islam for them, Christianity for us) and how both teach us to love God and others.  In the end we prayed together and shared with them the "Prophets Video" - an evangelism tool that connects the prophets stories of Islam to Jesus as Savior.  

The Lams have also been reaching out to young families. Thanks to many moms from the U.S., Jessie has been giving out baby carriers to moms.  One mom she met, "Rosa," at the processing center told us about how for 1.5 months, she walked from Syria to Berlin while pregnant.  Her baby is now 4 months old.  She invited the Lams back to a hotel that the government is renting for refugee housing, and Jessie gave her one of the baby carriers!" 

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Updates from Germany: The harvest is here!

Our first Engage the Crisis teams are on the ground in Germany! Several planes, trains and buses later, they arrived after a 3 day training in Amsterdam. 

Europe is Beautiful ! 

Europe is Beautiful ! 

Check out this story from the Pioneer Team: 

"The shout of “Hallelujah!” resonated from several team members after an amazing day of outreach yesterday. A Syrian couple, “H,” and “M,” whom we met at a cross fit gym, invited some of us to meet with them. During our conversation, "H" shared that since she was a little girl, she's had recurring dreams of a man dressed in white motioning her to come to Him. The husband also shared a heartbreaking story of being imprisoned and tortured for months in Syria, and fleeing to Europe after being released from prison. After some time of sharing, "M" showed our team a message on his phone using a translation tool: "Can you tell me how to become a Christian?" What an amazing moment! Both of them received Jesus and committed to follow Him! The Harvest is ripe and we are privileged to harvest the fruit!

Another team went with the college team to visit a Syrian refugee center that houses 1100 refugee residents. We were warmly welcomed and spent hours playing games with kids and talking to the women. This center was receptive to having volunteers come and help - we feel that the Lord has opened a wonderful and strategic door for future teams to come and serve."

A residential refugee center called a "heim" 

A residential refugee center called a "heim" 

 

 

 

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STORIES OF IMPACT: MIGUEL

My name is Miguel. I’m 24. I have two sons, little Miguel and Jayden. 

Before meeting Jesus, I was pretty ignorant. I had a hard heart. I didn’t like being vulnerable. When things were going wrong for me, I would tend to find an excuse or people to blame. Now I take responsibility for what’s going on.

I met Enrique at school. He was outside of my class practicing his guitar and playing worship music. Once he finished practicing, he invited me to a Bible study every Tuesday and Thursday. I wasn’t too interested. I said no, but then I realized that I had nothing to lose. I checked it out, and I loved it! They invited me that same day to a retreat on Catalina Island. 

I took the risk and went to the retreat for one week. God really spoke to me in prayer. I realized a lot of problems in my life and a lot of pain that I hadn’t dealt with. I grew up in a pretty negative household. My mom used to go church, but her behavior at home wasn’t consistent with what she believed. I thought that as long as I was a good person, I would be OK. Coming to church and meeting Enrique taught me that I could be a different kind of Christian.  

For me, I want to make a difference at home. I want to make sure that my family life is healthy. I don’t want my kids to grow up the same way I did. I grew up with a lot of tension between my parents. It’s was always hard to forgive. Enrique has taught be that it’s better to have wisdom than be defensive. 

For those who don’t know God, I’d like to invite them and let them know that it’s real. When I started my journey, I didn’t have anything to believe in. I didn’t know if God was real or not. But I’d rather be following something than following nothing. With God, I know that I have a path and a future. When I used to go through hard times, I would try and distract myself with drinking and worldly things. God has satisfied me and changed my life around. 

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STORIES OF IMPACT: MAYALOU

I was born in Jaurez, Mexico. My family came to LA when I was 12 years old. Jaurez is one of the most dangerous cities of the world. Especially back then, there was a lot of rape and killing. Our routine was to go from home to school, and then school to home. My mom didn’t let us play outside because it was too dangerous. I didn’t really feel the heaviness of this when I was younger, but my mom always wanted to raise her daughters in a safer place, so we came to the United States. 

Our family had a lot of immigration issues. While I went to high school in the United States, I couldn’t apply for university. I couldn’t apply for financial aid or do the normal things that my friends were doing. As I grew up, I watched God work in the legal system to provide everything that I needed for school. I made a timeline of different laws that were enacted when I was growing up, and everything worked towards my favor. 

I’ve always moved a lot - maybe 15 times. My family moved every year. One of those times, in high school. I was a sophomore, and the reality of fatherlessness was pressing in on me. I realized just how broken my family was because my parents were divorced. I had a friend invite me to her church. God began the work to help me open up about my pain. This was the beginning of the process of healing for me. 

My life has been unstable in a lot of aspects. One of the things that I appreciate about God is that He has always been the stable one. God’s protected us, and helped us get to the States. Even if my parents, my school, or money is not stable, God is stable. 

As I’m close to graduation, I’ve been thinking about missions. I want to go to the underserved and the underprivileged. I went to Urbana 3 years ago, and I did Los Angeles Urban Project last year. This ignited something in me. I worked in Boyle Heights and helped tutor kids and worked with homeless people. I learned a lot about injustice though the Bible and what God says about this. This was really healing for me, because I never knew that God had such a heart for justice. 

I am the underserved, and yet I’m the privileged at the same time. I asked God, “What does this mean?” Now that I have an education and I’m bilingual, I’m able to appreciate and serve others in need through this. I’m going to be the first in my family to go to college. Recently God has called upon me to pray for Jaurez. I don’t know if it means that I will go back, but I know that it needs a lot of prayer. 

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STORIES OF IMPACT: PATRICK

STORIES OF IMPACT: PATRICK

I was raised going to church. I knew all the Bible stories, but at the same time, I didn’t really know Jesus. In junior high, I stopped going to church and shortly after, my parents divorced. I fell into a bad crowd, and got into drugs, alcohol, and partying. During this time, my mom kept praying for me and God took care of me, despite the path I was going down. God sent different people in my life to bring healing and acceptance to the things that had happened early in my childhood. 

One day my friend invited me to go to church. Even though I was still heavily partying and doing drugs, I kept going to the college group which became Epicentre Church. In the college group I began to experience God as I sought to know more about Him. I experienced healing, God’s acceptance, and I felt God’s presence. I heard God say, “I’ve been with you your whole life, you’ve not been without Me. When you were crying and sad, I was there with you.” By God’s grace my friends and I quit doing drugs. All my friends stopped together. But I was still drinking four days a week. 

For the next few years, I was one foot in the church and one foot in the partying world. In 2010, I chose to do Epicentre's Discipleship School. I told God that I would go “all in” and give Him a year of my life to see what He could do. Even though I was attending graduate school and doing the D-School on the side, I barely missed a class. I began to connect with God on a personal level and hear Him for myself. 

About 5 years ago, Evelyn Lo went on a medical missions trip to Sri Lanka. Evelyn told me her testimony about being a doctor and helping those in natural disasters. Something stirred inside of me, and I knew that I wanted to pursue medicine. I started volunteering and got into PA school. My desire was always to be in the midst of chaos and crisis to help people. 

In the years since I’ve fully committed my life to following Jesus, I’ve discovered that what really makes me come alive is seeing broken people - the homeless and drug addicts - experience the love of the Father. There’s something about the Father’s heart that has changed my life, and I need to share it.  There’s something about bringing healing to someone’s heart that brings me to life. I love working in medicine because it brings healing to the body, but only Jesus can bring healing to the heart, setting people free to experience the love of the Father. 

Ruth and I recently moved into the northwest part of Pasadena. We felt God telling us to move into this neighborhood as He is in the midst of restoring it. There are dreams and hopes that are already planted in this community, and we were called to join in and partner with His work. There are children, single moms, a lot of brokenness, addiction, and gangs - and they all need the Father’s heart. The vision I have for my community is to see God’s children experience the Father’s heart and His healing. 

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STORIES OF IMPACT: DARREN

At 19, I had a motorcycle accident. That’s when I met Jesus. I grew up as a pastor’s kid but didn’t have a relationship with God. The motorcycle accident was a pretty traumatic moment for me, and I got on my knees and said, “OK, God, I’m listening. Whatever you want from me, I’m yours.” That started the journey. 

I moved to LA twenty years ago for the film industry. The first ten years of my career I was single and figuring out how to work my way into the business. When you start out in the business, you don’t get a choice as to what type of film and TV projects that you work on, else you may never find work. A year into my marriage with Krista, after I’d produced two movies back to back that weren't very God honoring, my wife told me, “You lead Bible studies, we’re involved in church, but these movies are not the kind of films to show our family and friends.” This really began my journey to ask God, “How do you want me to use my gifts in Hollywood?” 

About 5 years ago, I realized that I had been in the business for 15 years and I knew a lot of people, but I still wasn’t producing content that was my own or that I believed God wanted to me to shepherd. I kept asking, "How God do you want to use me?" So I wrote a manifesto. I had a Jerry Maguire moment. I called the manifesto my "CHAZOWN” which is the Hebrew word for vision. That has led me to my most recent project, which is a film called “Same Kind of Different as Me.” This book really impacted me, and it’s the kind of story that as a storyteller I want to communicate. When I read the book 8 years ago, it completely changed my journey. It’s a story about helping the homeless and the poor. This book has cost us thousands of dollars, because it's hard to walk past a homeless person without doing something for them. In fact, One day I got home and Krista had given a lot of my clothes away to a homeless man. My hope is that this story that I’m so passionate about will have the same effect for the millions of viewers who will watch it. 

Because of Jesus in my life, I now make a lot of decisions to turn down paid work to stay focused on what God wants us to do. That’s the wonderful great challenge of being in this business. a while back, We went 18 months without cash flow because we decided not to compromise on the type of content for our mission. 

I’ve also seen myself change. Getting married and having kids you take on a lot of responsibility. So much of my struggle has been my lack of faith about my next job and paycheck. But also because of Jesus, I’ve been able to rest in the fact that God will take care of us. We’ve never missed a meal. He has a plan that’s bigger than what we can imagine. God has increased my faith to say no to certain jobs. 

The second biggest export for the United States is media and television. Tragically, most of what we export to the world is not great content. I’ve always tried to have an impact on the people that I’ve worked with, but now I’m trying to have an impact on the content that I’m producing. My dream is to have a production company that has true ownership in Hollywood, that puts out incredible content, more than just one movie a year. We want to impact the world through film and TV.

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STORIES OF IMPACT: VERNON

Before meeting Jesus, I was a pretty violent guy. I cursed a lot. I didn’t want to talk to anybody. God changed my life and now I know that He’s real. 

When I pray to God, He talks back to me. I got more intimate with Him.

Now I’m open to new people. I’m really caring and I love praying for people! If you need prayer, just ask me and I’m there for you! I love to love on people. 

I’m passionate about worship. I love singing songs. There’s a song that says, “His Love Never Fails.” It’s true because God’s been there for me through good times and bad times. 

My dream is for the world to be peaceful. I want the sun to shine everyday, and I want the violence to end in my neighborhood. 

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STORIES OF IMPACT: FRANCESCA

My dream for the entertainment industry is for God to encounter the storytellers of Los Angeles. My desire is to hear people tell prophetic stories, honest stories, and for people to ask questions about humanity and life through art and film. I would love to see a shift in the content of the films that are getting produced. 

The entertainment industry is so important because it informs how we live. Life imitates art and art imitates life. The industry has the power to tell you how to dress, how to speak, how to live your life, what to care about, what to pursue, and what to expect from love and family. 

I have a strong pull towards content that is truthful and that is not afraid to ask questions about God and life. Ultimately every screenwriter writes a screenplay with a question. "What happens if?” Unfortunately there’s a lot of good storytelling that has been sacrificed for finances. If we can restore the purity of storytelling back to truth-telling and honesty, rather than making a fortune, it would be so impactful. We need to tell stories that matter, because these stories encounter people. Film has a global voice to do this in our world. 

The Gospel is in all of our stories, because Christ is redemption. Christ is truth. Christ is in forgiveness. If we’re telling stories that are honest and good, that’s a reflection of who He is and his desire for humanity. 

Photo: Maritha Mae Photography

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STORIES OF IMPACT: JOSH

I grew up in Toronto, Canada. Before I knew Jesus, my life was pretty self-centered. Everything I worked towards in high school and university was about making myself happy with material goods. For several years I worked in the internet industry - I was immersed in a workplace that was driven by success and ambition.  

It was a gradual process of Jesus changing my life. I remember going on a missions trip to the Philippines. I saw a man who owned a fish farm. all he did was feed the fish once a day, and then he’d spend the rest of his time going through his neighborhood telling people about Jesus. This changed the way I looked at things. I felt that my life needed to have an impact on eternity. 

The trip to the Philippines solidified in my heart that I wanted to give my life to ministering to others. At the time I was volunteering in my church doing youth ministry with Charmain. My life really changed when I got a job offer in Austin, Texas, to do youth ministry full-time. We were able to obtain work visas smoothly and we knew that God was blessing us to go. 

For most of my life I was a Christian living for myself. Then I became a Christian truly living for God. While I’m still on a journey, and while I’m not perfect, I do have a desire to see others come into a relationship with God and be changed by His love. 

My heart has changed towards people who are different than me and who come from different socioeconomic backgrounds. God is breaking down my barriers in my own heart towards those He has called me to love and to serve. 

Where you find yourself is where God wants you to be a light. For Charmain and myself, we moved into Northwest Pasadena because we knew that this was the most socioeconomically downcast part of our city. We believe the light shines brightest in dark places. We found that this was a dark place of the city and wanted to be that bright light. We had been loving and serving young adults in group homes around Northwest Pasadena. Our question has always been, “Where can we serve and make a difference?” 

Serving at Marshall Fundamental School is an opportunity for us to make a difference. Education is part of the fabric of our city. Everyone goes to school. Schools in our city have great needs. My desire is to encourage this school, to serve them as best as I can, and to find families in need who live in Northwest Pasadena who send their kids to Marshall. We’ll also be working with the Christian Club as well. We’re also seeking to practically meet the needs of the school - through mentoring, tutoring, and mobilizing resources - to make Marshall Fundamental a great school in our neighborhood. The spirit of what we want to do is - to get in there, get our hands dirty, and to be committed over the long run - to a community in need.  This is a way for our church to change our city.

Recently we went to the Getty Center. I saw a painting of Christ’s triumphal entry into Brussels by the artist James Ensor. It’s a captiviating yet disturbing image. In the chaos and the craziness of the painting, it’s difficult to see Jesus. But if you look carefully, you’ll see Jesus in the midst of the revelry, riding a donkey. There are people defecating and throwing up and partying. It’s a commentary on our world. There are people who profess to be Christians, but really don’t welcome the coming of Christ into the city. 

This painting makes me think of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the celebration of the King coming and how that changes the atmosphere of where we live. Jesus is the Messiah, the Healer, and the Bearer of Good News. My dream is that Christ will be genuinely welcomed here in the city. I have an image of Jesus riding a donkey down Lake Avenue in Pasadena and people ushering in the Beloved King. 

My dream is to see an end to violence in our neighborhood. My dream is to see an end to the drug dealing, dependence on drugs, and an end to fatherless. I would love to see families made whole and for there to be peace instead of hopelessness. I dream that our neighborhood will be changed by the church and through Christians living there.

Photo: Maritha Mae Photography

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STORIES OF IMPACT: KIN

I got saved when I was a junior in high school. I was a wannabe gangster but I really didn’t know who I was. One day I was arrested shoplifting with the wrong crowd of people. God really used that day to get a hold of my life. I realized that if I continued down that path, my life would be bad news. 

The week that I was arrested I went to a Christian youth group. I was feeling so ashamed of myself. I went home and prayed that night, “Lord, if you’re real, I will receive You right now. The path I’m going on there’s no hope. But I welcome you God in my life.” 

From that point on, everything changed. Somehow I had grace to say no to being in a gang. I was able to reject the gang lifestyle and found a community of Christians who loved me. As I began to give my life to God, I found out who I really was. For most of my life, I wasn't interested in academics. I didn’t think that I’d even pass high school. But I discovered that my talent to draw and produce art was something that He could use for the Kingdom, and so I decided to go to art school here in Pasadena. 

My life change when I began to understand the Father's heart and see the beauty of God. I’m passionate about people seeing the beauty of God through art. My dream is to use art to impact the nations and share the Gospel. I am called to co-create with God and I want to help others do the same. 

Artists are special people; we’re trend setters. What we draw becomes the future. We tend to be twenty years ahead of society. But the Enemy also loves to attack artists. You look at Hollywood and the amount of evil that is pouring out of the entertainment and creative industry. Why can't we have other models for beauty, art, and entertainment? 

I'd love to illustrate children's books.  I’m passionate about creating children’s books, even though I’m scared of kids. Kids are like sponges, and I want to impact them, especially in a world where they're so exposed to so much junk and sin. Stories use our imaginations to convey truth, and it's  a powerful tool. 

My name is Kin, and I think the meaning of my name is special. While I’m an only child, God has made me passionate about encouraging brothers and sisters in Christ and building 'kinship' in the church. My prayer for our community in Southern California is for the walls between races and classes fall down. There is so much segregation, even in the church. But I long to see unity in God's family. When you have unity, God commands a blessing (psalm 133). With unity of the believers, the Enemy is powerless. 

Photo: Maritha Mae Photography

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STORIES OF IMPACT: THE GRAF FAMILY

Paul: "I came to know Jesus in 1982. I was a sophomore in high school. I was an atheist at the time, but I didn’t tell anyone because I didn’t want to upset my parents. I started going to youth group at our local church, and I saw people worshipping in a way that it was clear they really believed in God. I couldn’t explain it, because I thought the idea of God was ridiculous, but it caused me to pay closer attention. In a youth group Bible study we began to study Romans, and as I read it, I found it very compelling and exciting.

Jesus explained the world in a different way and different reality that I was really attracted to. And it was a better explanation than anything I had ever heard before. As I started to follow Him and study Him more, I realized that I was valued in a way that I had never understood. That made me want to follow Him more and do the things that He was doing. 

My life is so entirely different than it would have been had I not met Jesus. My career, where I chose to live, and the way that I see myself has changed. I used to measure myself on a grid of how I did socially - how smart I was in school, how much I could succeed in - and this was how I measured my value and self-worth. God has freed me from those measurements. I look at myself in a different way."

Rebecca:  "My Korean name means "purity; one who will become great." I grew up hearing from my parents that one day, I will be great. When Jesus won my heart over, my pursuit for greatness changed. Instead of pursuing the things that the world glorifies -- fame, self actualization, an amazing career, wealth, and success -- I've learned that the Kingdom of God is an upside down kingdom. Jesus said, “If you want to be great, you must be a servant and least of all.” I love that Jesus doesn't reprimand us for wanting to be great, but He showed us a path to greatness that is different from the world. Greatness in the Kingdom of God is through servanthood, loving other people, and becoming the least. He has been purifying what greatness means.

I want our kids to be great. All parents want that for their kids. But the path to greatness is through serving, and through caring for those who are the least.

For us, foster care is about that upside-down Kingdom of God. I asked myself, "Who are the 'least' in our community?" and "How can our kids experience the greatness of the Kingdom of God through serving?” Foster care is a great way. Our kids began to understand that there are children who have been neglected by their parents, abandoned, or abused, and who don’t have a home. We used to take our kids to homeless transition homes and intentionally go to parks to give out food to the homeless. But, I found myself feeling uneasy each time we would drive back to our comfortable home. I didn't want our kids to think that serving the least was us serving when it was convenient for us, but that it was about loving, inviting, welcoming, and inconveniencing ourselves a bit to love. I wanted us to "share our bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into our house." (Isaish 58:7)

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STORIES OF IMPACT: SALLY

I was blessed to be raised in a Christian home, so I would say I've always known Him. But there did come a point where I felt an outpouring of God's comforting love, leading to me understanding who God really was. Before that I felt purposeless, like a ship without a sail. All my striving and achievements were meaningless.

Pascal wrote, "There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man [and woman] which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ." Because of I have a personal relationship with Jesus, my vacuum is filled with peace that transcends all understanding. I do not have to feel empty, alone or unfulfilled. When I didn't know Jesus, I was like a ship without a sail, drifting aimlessly with the tide of a rough sea. 

Jesus has made me passionate about service. He said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you" (John‬ ‭13:15).‬ Jesus washed his disciples dirty feet. As an Athletic Trainer, I get to tape people's nasty blisters and soothe their broken bones. I am passionate about helping others succeed in the goals they are striving for. In my personal life, I seek to put others before myself, lay down my life for my brother or sister. 

My dream is that people would come to know God through the example of sacrificial love. In such a me-centric society, selfless love and patience towards our neighbor can be a profound testimony towards conversion. I dream to see all my family and neighbors at the biggest dance party ever in heaven.

Many come to LA to study or to "make it" in entertainment. Therefore, I see LA as the training grounds, launchpad for soldiers in the kingdom of God. I long to see Christians infiltrate education and entertainment to influence the world for God. 

Photo: Maritha Mae Photography

www.marithamae.com

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STORIES OF IMPACT: RYAN

Before I met Jesus my desires were pretty self-gratifying. In college I was on the path to become a rich, successful engineer. Because of Jesus, I now see that life’s purpose is about serving others and giving up your life for the sake of the Gospel. My path changed after college - it led me to move to Sudan and live with some of the poorest people in the world. And it also led me to open a bike shop here in Pasadena. 

My life because of Jesus is now focused on uplifting, empowering, and blessing others. It’s so much more others-focused than me-focused. There’s something about being transformed by Jesus that shifts the attention off yourself and onto others.  Jesus has since made me passionate about the poor and marginalized. I love seeing people that are typically overlooked by society be given a chance. I love to come alongside them and help them see their value and worth. 

Our bike shop is in Northwest Pasadena. There’s a fair amount of theft and gang violence in our streets and huge discrepancies in class and income. It feels like there are still aspects of segregation and racism in our neighborhood. In Pasadena people need to have an understanding of being loved by God -all equally - and that truth must define our relationship with each other. 

My dream is for our bike shop to be more than a bike shop. It’s an opportunity to interact with the local community on a very daily basis. We see people on all ends of the spectrum. We long for it to be an avenue where people can be blessed and receive blessing, whether it’s getting their primary mode of transportation working again, or receiving kind words when all they hear is the opposite. We also want to empower and train up people in practical skills and abilities related to bikes. My desire is to see heaven come in whatever I’m doing. 

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STORIES OF IMPACT: DAIZY

I accepted the Lord when I was 12. I went to a Bible study and the teacher was teaching about the crucifixion of Christ. I quickly realized I was a sinner and needed Christ. I was in a boarding school in India and at that time I really felt God become my Father. Since then I’ve been totally dependent on Him. It changed me. Nothing dramatic happened, but my connection with God has always been strong. I never looked back. I never had second thoughts about God. 

I have gone through a big trial recently - I had cancer - it was the biggest trial of my life. But I never denied or felt that God was not there. God is as true to me now as when I was 12 years old. He is true today. Every morning I recognize that I am a widow, and I have a son. There is a Bible verse that says, “He upholds the fatherless and the widow,” and so every morning I get up and tell God, “God, today You have to uphold me. Be the father of Samuel and be my God.” And God shows me everyday how He upholds me. 

At the age of 12, I knew I was going to become a preacher. I came from India, and I preached in India. The passion in my heart is to preach the Gospel door to door, to reach out to as many as I can. I always tell God, “God, I want to die serving You.” 

My dream is to see many house churches and life groups grow in Pasadena. My dream is also to see women my age being discipled and believing that they can disciple others. Jesus simply said, “Go.” He never said, “Bring.” So wherever I go, no matter where I live, I must preach the Gospel.

 

Photo: www.marithamae.com

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STORIES OF IMPACT: ISABEL

"I’m passionate about our community getting to know Jesus.  I want Jesus to make a great impact here in Lincoln Heights. I’m also passionate about addressing domestic violence. It’s a subject that’s kind of taboo here - nobody talks about - but I think it’s something God wants to bring to the surface. It happens more than we think. We have an obligation as the church to reach out to women and men who are in relationships like that. 

I've always had a passion for women. God has always brought to me women with domestic violence issues. I always ask “God how do I handle this?” "How do I say to these women that Jesus was still with you when you were being abused?”  They believe that they are alone, but I know that Jesus is with them. When I cry with them, I feel their pain. 

I dream that one day we will have a place of refuge in Lincoln Heights for women where they can come and release their guilt and shame for things that have happened to them. A place to open up and be free. To know the Jesus that loves them, forgives them, and was their with them through these trials."

Photo: Maritha Mae Photography

 www.marithamae.com

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STORIES OF IMPACT: LUCY

I grew up Catholic in Mexico. At 21, I became a single mother. When my baby ws 8 months old, I woke up and told my father I was leaving for the United States.  I came here by myself and started working right after I arrived. I saved my money and did all I could to get my son here. 

I met a local man here in Lincoln Heights and married him. I always had a passion to help people. I worked for the Red Cross in Mexico and I love to talk to people! I have a really strong character, though, and I used to have a really strong potty mouth, so I didn’t know how to really speak to people.

My kids went to local schools and they grew up here in Lincoln Heights. When my kids were in school there started to be gang violence and shootings in our neighborhood. I was so angry about it that I went to a Town Hall meeting and said “What are you going to do about it?” They told me, “You live in this neighborhood, you do something!” I ended up organizing a march against the violence in our community. We made signs, invited people, and got a group of about 150 people. I marched around the gang areas and made them know that we would not be tolerating this kind of violence in our community. 

In 2005 my son started played football at the local high school. I got involved as a parent. I was there at every single practice and game. I even went into the locker rooms and got into arguments with the coaches. 

One day the coach was very mad because the kids lost. I said, “What do you expect from them? They don’t get fed. How are they to give you 100% if you don’t feed them?” 

The coach said, "If you can do better, go for it." So I ended up cooking for them that day. I made spaghetti. I had never cooked for so many kids in my life - there were 65 of them. I made salad and bread too. The kids ended up winning the game. After that, I realized that this was my role. I cooked for the rest of the season and I was able to do it at the moment. 

One day I was bringing the food out of my van and this white man came over to me asking if he could help. I thought to myself, “Who is this white guy and what does he want?” I was really bossy, so I ordered him to help me. This was the first time I met Chris in 2008. 

I used to pray for the kids before the practice. I invited Chris to then join me to pray but I didn’t know he was a pastor. When he opened his mouth, I realized he really knew how to pray. The kids were really into it. After that he told me he was a pastor. I thought to myself, "If he’s a pastor and he can handle my potty mouth, maybe I need this pastor in my life."

He invited me to his church. I went one time and then I didn’t want to come back. I had a lot of problems in my marriage and with my family. I was abused when I was a kid, and my mother was absent the whole time. there were a lot of issues i had in my mind. I started having problems with my daughter too - she started smoking pot. 

My daughter started going to the youth group. Her friends invited her. I started seeing the change in my daughter and I didn’t believe it. I decided to go and check out the church. She ended up convincing me to go back to church. I never expected to see the same pastor. But I went back and it was Chris again. 

My daughter and I got baptized together. Chris talked to my several times. He wanted to introduce me to a very cool guy that he knew. It was Jesus. I said, “I know Jesus.” But Chris said, “you don’t know the Jesus I know. The Jesus I know is a loving Jesus. A forgiving Jesus. An accepting Jesus.” 

He started mentoring me at that time. He saw something in me. He told me to read the Bible. I thought it was too boring, but he told me just to try. So I started with Luke and I completely fell in love with Luke. I wasn’t sure what the change was in me. But I knew I felt different. 

I wanted to be more involved in the church. Chris came to me and said “I want you to be the leader of the Bible study.” I said, “Are you out of your mind?” But I ended up having a Bible study with a few people. I just laughed the whole time, throwing jokes in Spanish. But i still have the same Bible study and a prayer group of ladies that I'm leading. It’s amazing how things are changing in our lives. Every step of the way, it’s been a journey. It’s not easy. Sometimes it feels like life is a roller coaster. I never was promised that giving my life to Jesus would make it easier. But I’ve been learning to forgive myself. 

The guy that Chris introduced me to is a cool guy. And I’m ok with Him getting into my mess. And it’s been powerful the way He’s been changing my life. When God committed to me, He didn’t write a contract with me with all these things that I have to do and uphold. He just said, “Come to Me. I accept you.” 

Sometimes I ask Him questions. I feel like I’m a friend of Jesus. One day I asked Him, “Why did you allow someone to abuse me when I was 8 years old? Why why why?” I asked him all these questions and his response completely blew me out of my socks. He said, “How can you relate to others if you never went through this pain?” And I was like “Ok." I can relate to a lot of people, a lot of women who have been through what I’ve been through. I work with different people of different ethnicities. They come to me and ask me for prayer. People know I have a relationship with God. They know that I love God and that I respect God. 

I’m the most passionate about forgiving yourself. You can close a chapter in your life and remove the power that others have on you. When you forgive the the people that abused me as a little girl, I remove the power that they have over me. They don’t have power over me anymore. I can talk freely about the abuse because it just happened. 

I have a passion to have a Spanish service in my community. We have a big percentage of our community that speaks Spanish. I want people to come freely in this place and worship. I want people to come and learn. I’m trying to teach the ladies in my Spanish group. Even if the Bible is 2000 years old, we can learn it. 

Photo: Maritha Mae Photography

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STORIES OF IMPACT GUSTAVO

Gus hails from our daughter church in Lincoln Heights, New Life Community Church/Comunidad Nueva Vida. 

"Before I knew Jesus my life was drugs, prison, alcohol, anger and pain. Growing up was difficult living with an angry alcoholic father. 

Jesus change my life in a way that I never thought possible. He took the anger and pain when no one else could, not even myself. Because of the love that Jesus showed me, I now turn to love others including those that I used to hate, those I believed to be my enemies. 

My dream is to help as many young men grow into mature men. I long to see in LA more men who aren’t afraid to change, who aren’t afraid to set their pride aside for something greater, and to draw strength from the love of Jesus. I dream for men to know this humility as strength, and not to believe the lies of this world of what a man needs to be like. 

Knowing Jesus has made me passionate about wanting to know more about Him and how to be like Him. Jesus has changed my life so much that I want everyone to know and I want everyone to have the same experience." //  I M P A C T 

Photo: Maritha Mae Photography 

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STORIES OF IMPACT: SAMYRA

Jesus has changed my life by allowing me to see that there is something greater to live for. Through Christ, I've been able to see that though being a good person is challenging and yields great results, it is not holistically fulfilling. Christ and His followers have directed me to salvation and a way of living that is fulfilling. It's cool knowing that I don't have to do anything crazy for that fulfillment. Christ knows the one step at a time thing.

I am different because I see the importance of healing and not just good works. You can give someone money, food, shelter or status all day long but if they view themselves in a way that says that they are nothing then it’s not worth anything. People need to experience healing and see themselves as sons and daughters. God keeps stirring this in me. 

I long for people to know who they are. For people to believe and be rooted in who God says they are. African Americans are on my heart. God has put the dream in my heart to reveal self worth to those who have been told they are less.

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