Reflections: What is God telling me about Epicentre?

Reflections: What is God telling me about Epicentre?

Pastor John invited the congregation to ask God what He wants to tell them about Epicentre as a church and as a family. These are some of the responses: 

• God is telling me that Epicentre is my tribe. That I have an extended family I can depend on and that won't leave me. God is showing me that I'm able to pour out to others in part because I receive so much from this tribe.

• I love my church. I love my people. Sometimes when you get paint on your hands, things get messy, but my desire is to see many people with paint in order to make a beautiful painting together with many different colors.

• Epicentre is place of safety and growth. We are found secure in our identities which allows us to be accepted as we are.

• 4 walls are not required to be a family, home is not defined by 4 walls...at Epicentre, our family is a pulse that has a ripple effect from person to person, neighbor to neighbor.

• Epicentre is where I'm supposed to be right now. It's a resting place and a refuge from the busyness and stress of college. This community gives me a chance each week to reset and focus.

• I love her she means the world to me. She's the bright morning star. In my father's house there are many kings and queens. She's going to dream my dreams and everyone one of them will come to be. She's the apple of my eye. I can't stop looking at her. I've locked my eyes on hers forever.

• You are builders. And you're in a construction season: there will be deconstruction and reconstruction that occurs...but you will stand together.

• I saw an image of a flower bud that was slowly opening up into a beautiful flower. God's saying that Epicentre will be blossoming soon. Also God said to open up the gates. Not sure what that means exactly.

• Epicentre is apple of my eyes. It is indeed an Epicentre radiating out My fragrance and influence to the earth.

• God told me, "I love Epicentre."

• I am giving you abundant waters to drink from and be restored in this season; my waters will flow through Epicentre.

• God told me this church is a big church of love. Then I received an image of a plug, which had many silver parts sticking out of it. It plugged into a special outlet that light up a huge sign that said "A Big Church Of Love" And as a 1st time, temporary visitor - I see that and feel that love of Christ through the church body immensely.

• We are co-laborers in the world for God to be displayed and for those to know Him. Co-laboring is collaboration. We must work with other organizations to combine resources to do the work. This should impact how we view this campus.

• Epicentre is a place of love for you.

• As we are being parented by God, we are called to parent a new generation of believers.

• Be uplifted! Be cheerful! Laugh! Enjoy My Presence. Enjoy My Love. Live and rejoice in Me. Be free to prophesies and be encouraged by professing.

• "Don't be afraid to give yourself to what I am calling you to. I am with you to the end and always. The sacrifice is always hard but I will gladly help you carry your cross. Do you not know that I am sufficient for you? (Smiling)?"

• "You may feel like you're sacrificing a lot but this journey and adventure is so worth it."

• I got a picture of a playground. God said "there are many. My church is much like these structures. High points. Low points. Points that require group effort and points that only one person can go at a time. The point is, I want to invite you into a state of play and laughter. Others will see your team work, love, joy, and innovation of different ways to play together and want to join in the game. It is easy to invite others in when you are in the state of play. There is joy in my presence.

• A spiritual volcano. I see a picture of a volcano where spirit breaks out and fire burning lifting incense up to heaven.

• In God's face is delight, joy, overflowing laughter for this church.

• "Invest in the youth... they are the future."

• God told me yesterday: you are home.

• Image of a soda can being popped open. It is new, refreshing, light.

• You’re home; Follow, hold tight.

• Epicentre my child, I'm smiling over you now. My heart is for you to live with deep emotion and burning passion from your heart. To rejoice with those who … strength.

• God is telling me this is my new home church and I need to invest my time here.

• Epicentre may not be perfect but it is a safe place for my heart.

• I felt that God was speaking over my family and myself. The sense that we would acquire a lot of spiritual tools and blessings. And be stretched and taught. All over the course of many years. And that we would give back to this body and be poured out completely with what we have been filled with. I got the words "sowing and reaping."

• I will use you among many nations.

• Epicentre is a place of peace.

• Other situations that need to prayed for. For I know there is a group of single women who would love to be in a group where the prayer is directed towards.

• I created you in your own way to serve me and my people , so there's no need to compare yourself.

• I love you. I want Epicentre to flourish.

• "This is where I want you to be. I have things for you to learn and ways in which I want you to grow. I made this place easy to find so you would know that this is where you be long."

• Epicentre is a safe place, the family I've given you. let your family love you.

• God is telling me that Epicentre is home. A safe space where I can lean into the spirit of God and receive love and healing. Epicentre is family that I can trust.

• A shelter for me at times of fatigue and with hidden treasures where God has intended for me to explore.

• He told me, "Stay at this one."

• "No one has to be afraid of jK or condemnation with their family."

• God is doing something at Epicentre beyond what you thought it would be.

• Epicentre is a place that knows the importance of family. Where people check their pride at the door and shape leaders who will shake the foundations of this nation and world to turn toward God.

• I just moved here from Arizona and have been searching and searching for churches and felt a tug to come to church today so I'm here and just felt like God say this is your home this is where I want you. I want you to thrive here and build a foundation here at this church. I'm so so loved because I've been so lost for the pst two months of where God wants me and He wants me here at Epicentre and I'm so so thankful that god brought me to California and sent me on this trip then sent me here on Sunday to finally here where He wants me. God is so good and He never fail.

• You will overcome and this church will be strong.

• Epicentre is your root, where I have planted you. Your seed is being watered at Epicentre. Epicentre is helping you to see people through My eyes, not through segregated eyes. It is breaking down the South. | Epicentre is the center of God's heart. Through Epicentre people receive Jesus Christ and through Jesus Christ, people receive Me.

• God dwells here in this house through the hearts of each and every one of you.

• There is a time and season of everything under the sun. I have a place for you to encourage and bless.. to lift up and pray.. to grow and mentor... to u | She's a place of healing and rest/restoration... a birthplace of revivals... a place where the Kingdom's graces are extended, a home for the hungry with a foundation of love. .. a place where miracles abound.

• We are home! No more fear of intimacy in family. Freedom to belong!

• Thanks for sharing the pure love of God.

•  "These are the are the people I've called you to love. They are your family. They are your friends. They are your community."

• Chaos will be occurring all around Epicentre, but our church will stay where it is and stay strong through it all.

• Jeremiah 33:3 - Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ | For Pastor John, "You will raise a generation of hunger seeker that will bring forth revival in this city.... hungry.

• God is for us, He is for Epicentre. We are not perfect, which is even better because then it is truly all for the Lords glory, “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians‬ 12:9‬ NIV‬‬

• Casa – house in Spanish.

• Epicentre will invite PIHOP back.

• About Epicentre: A picture of a family sitting around a dinner table sharing highs & lows of the day. The family of God does day to day life together sharing in the good and the bad, the powerful and the mundane |  About me and Epicentre: This is a space of SAFETY to grapple with messy things like doubt, fear, vulnerability, and insecurity. Family wants to know, to wrestle through it together, and family stays no matter what.

• Isaiah 41:10 And - keep your eyes on me.

• The fruits of your ministry teams will be plentiful. The teams that are going and serving will be prosperous. And the Lord is moving through epicenter and it's teams. Never take for granted the strong community you have in this church. The devil uses division as strong tool to tear apart bodies Christ.

• I see so much renewal and joy in worship. There is so much more of God's presence coming upon us as we worship Him together, so much celebration as heaven joins in. I feel the invitation to be wide-eyed and hopeful like children, and to approach God with both awe and complete abandonment. I see puddles of his presence pooling at the front of the auditorium. Will we jump in and splash around?

Epicentre eNews August 2017

Epicentre eNews August 2017

Fall Kickoff

Every year Epicentre has an influx of people in the fall. Students from our APU ministry are back, school has started and people are back from family vacations, a new crop of Fuller students are preparing for their first quarter, and some people are just looking for a new church home. We encourage you to step out and welcome unfamiliar faces, and whether you welcome a first timer or meet someone who has been coming for years, you will help everyone encounter Jesus through the love of His people. To help new folks get connected we have a few special events planned:

  • College Meat & Greet 9/3 & 9/10
  • Vision & Values Class, Saturday 9/23
  • All Church Meat & Greet 9/24
  • Community Fair, After church 10/1
    Come meet us on the lawn after church for lunch, fun activities, and a chance to connect to ministries and lifegroups. 
  • Women's Quarterly Event 10/7
    Join us for an exciting event focusing on practical cooking ideas, tips and recipes. We will have cooking demonstrations (fast, easy and healthy meals, yummy desserts, instapot!), eating, fellowship and prayer.

Staff Transitions

Annie Thaichareon has served as the Children's Ministry Director at Epicentre for the last 8 years, seeing our ministry grow from 30 to 120 kids! To build our ministry even further we are looking to hire a new full-time Kingdom Kids Director. Annie will remain on our team as an Assistant Director, focusing on the preschool ages. This will allow her to focus on her areas of gifting while pursuing her passion to see kids know Jesus. Annie is excited about her upcoming role. Here are some of her reflections on the transition; 

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It has been my joy and privilege to serve as the Children's Ministry Director at Epicentre for the last 8 years. However, over the past couple months God has been speaking to me and made it clear that He has something different in store for me and for Kingdom Kids. I will be stepping down from the position of Children's Ministry Director and Epicentre will seek a new full time Director. I will become the Assistant Director, focusing on the preschool ages, as soon as we can install a new Director. This will allow me to be able to focus on my areas of gifting while pursuing my passion to see kids know Jesus and come alive! 

I was looking back through my past journals and found a prophetic word I was given last year. It was a picture of someone building a house: "Building a house is a lot of hard work and labor, but then there is a time to live in the house and enjoy it." As the Kingdom Kids ministry has grown from 20 kids to over 120 kids over these last 8 years, I have rolled up my sleeves, dug in, built, cut, built again, torn down, added on, painted, and polished this house multiple times. I have had to allow God to grow my capacity with each new child, family, added class, building, location, team member, intern, and event. God has been faithful every step along the way. In my facetime God said to me, "Well done, good and faithful servant. It's your time to rest, to let go, and to live in the house and enjoy." God has been showing me that my building phase is over and that it's time for someone else to come and build on to the house and foundation. tepping down is another stretching decision for me, but I believe and trust that God will continue to expand the tent pegs of Kingdom Kids and that it's not up to me or any one person. “Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1a AMP). Kingdom Kids was and is God’s idea in the first place and He has taught me to hold it loosely. This new role for me is part of God’s unfolding story in my life and in the Kingdom Kids ministry and I look forward with excitement to what God has ahead. 

DSchool

Our Fall DSchool launched earlier this month with nine students. We will be taking the next five months to delve deeper into their relationship with God and get equipped to be world changers. Pray for them as they go on the kickoff retreat this weekend. Our next Dschool will launch in February meeting Sunday afternoons and one Saturday a month. For more information, check out epicentre.church/dschool.

 

Epicentre eNews June-July 2017

Epicentre eNews June-July 2017

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All Church Picnic
Come and bring your friends to our All Church Picnic, this Saturday at 11:00!  We have a bunch of fun activities including bubble soccer and archery tag (think laser tag, with foam arrows - "It's super fun!)" as well as more traditional picnic games and lots of food to share!

We have plenty of shady spots and grass to spread out on, so bring blankets for sitting. We also have two softball diamonds, so there is plenty of space for sports and activities after.

Details: 
Pot Luck
: Bring tasty things to share. Bring a dish according to the letter of your last name. Please bring serving utensils for your dish, if needed.

  • Main Dish - A-I; 
  • Side or Salad - J-R; 
  • Dessert - S-Z; 
  • Bring your own drinks

Brookside Park (360 N Arroyo Blvd, Pasadena); Between the Pasadena Aquatic Center and Kidspace Museum.

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Town Hall Meeting
As many of you have heard, the campus where we meet is going to be put on sale. Although not on the market yet, the WCIU board has contracted a consulting firm to assist with the sale. All this has big implications for Epicentre's future. Come hear more and ask questions about our own discernment process about how to respond. We encourage everyone to come so we can pray together about what God has for us through all this.

Sunday, July 9th, 12:00-1:00. Childcare provided for 3 and up. (A light snack will be provided for the children, but there is no lunch for the meeting.)

Short Term Teams
Our outreach to Oklahoma City just returned, and our teams to Mongolia and South Asia have one more week. Our team to Berlin left last Saturday! Keep them all in prayer, and, if you know someone on a team, ask them what God did when they get back.
 

Epicentre eNews December 2016

Epicentre eNews December 2016

Dear Epicentre Family,
It’s hard for me to believe that 2017 is around the corner. And … this year, New Year’s is on a Sunday. This only happens once in a while (the last time was in 2011).

As Christmas is a time to celebrate with family and friends, New Year’s is a time to reflect and look forward to what the new year will bring. 365 days is a long time, but it also goes by quickly. I’ve often found it helpful to take time in the week between Christmas and New Years to invite God into the coming year. Here are some things we do to transition into the new year.    

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  • Make space to be quiet and reflect on the past year. I take a couple of hours to look at my calendar, and read over my journal.
  • Take time as a family to look through our pictures and videos we’ve taken in the last year. Josh, Evelyn and I sit in front of our TV and take turns streaming our photos to it. This gives us time as a family to laugh, and remember things that happened: places we went, food we ate and friends we spent time with.

  • Ask God to speak words or a verse to us about the coming year. Because 2017 is a blank slate right now, asking God to speak in advance is a powerful way of us entering into the New Year with intentionality and purpose, not just letting the New Year happen to us.

Along that line, if you are in town, I’d like to encourage you to come to Epicentre on Sunday morning, Jan 1, at 10:00 a.m. I feel like God’s given me a special word that will minister to our hearts as we come together on the first day of 2017. We’ll hear from God’s Word, take communion together and ask God to speak to us, meet us, and sanctify us for a year that He already knows about. We'll also have our full Kingdom Kids ministry available.

If you’re not able to join us (because you’re at home during the holidays or away on vacation), please listen to Jan 1’s message via our app or website.

Happy New Year and see you soon!

Warmly,
Pastor John

   

 

 

Every year Epicentre receives a significant portion of its tithes and offerings in the last week of December. We encourage everyone to update their tithes and give generously to what God is doing at Epicentre. For charitable donations to be counted in this tax year, and to balance our budget, we encourage everyone to make sure checks are postmarked by Dec. 31st, and online giving is completed by 1:00 p.m. on December 31st. (Credit card transactions can be processed later, but bank transactions close earlier in the day!).

 

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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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