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serve globally

BEYOND BORDERS SERIES // Danny’s Story

BEYOND BORDERS SERIES // Danny’s Story

“Just because you’re painting a door in Mexico, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done perfect and right.  City of Refuge is another piece of God’s Kingdom, God’s house.  Just imagine that when you’re painting a door, it’s not just a door in Mexico.  It’s a door in God’s house.”

Danny’s been an Eastsider for about five years now, and from the day he called Eastside home he knew he had to get involved; never wanting to be a “pew warmer”, as he calls it.  At the first opportunity, he signed up to travel down to Rosarito with the Global Compassion team to serve at the City of Refuge Orphanage.   

With 30 years of construction experience under his tool belt (pun intended), Danny began helping with various projects around the orphanage grounds.  However, when he realized a more efficient and accurate way to complete a certain project, he brought it to Arty’s attention, (Eastside’s Director of Global Compassion) and was asked to head it up completely.  He agreed, and his involvement took off from there. 

Danny became the Project Manager, leading teams and undertakings at the beloved orphanage which enabled the leaders of these trips--Arty Vangaloof and Jeff Swaney, to focus their giftings on the needs of the orphanage as a whole.  Soon a “pro-team” was formed, composed of 20-25 incredibly talented and skilled men each with a heart of compassion for serving the staff and kids down in Mexico. “There’s really nothing this team can’t do!”, Danny exclaimed.

Six to eight times a year, a handful of men from this pro-team respond to any pressing needs that arise at the orphanage, with Danny heading up the team each and every expedition. Since his first in 2012, there isn’t one Eastside trip to Mexico that Danny hasn’t been a part of--it’s now his personal obligation as he says, “I can’t imagine taking a hot shower up here while I know the kids down there have a broken pipe”. 

This ministry has become his passion, the calendar dates of these trips are what dictate his family’s plans each year.  “Through these constant trips I’ve become friends with the staff, I have special kids, etc. I even got to take my small group down--12 people all together.  All 12 had the time of their life, and at breakfast they said we need to do more, what can we do?” 

Danny is a catalyst, creating ripples of interest that lead to waves of change, all because he chose to use his existing giftings--to which God then formed into his heart’s passion. This retired contractor chose to use the skills he had acquired over a career of lessons for the furthering of the kingdom, and the kingdom has certainly come to Rosarito. We each have been fitted with gifts such as this, whether or not we recognize them fully.

 

If you have a passion or interest for helping at the City of Refuge, visit eastside.com/serveglobally.

BEYOND BORDERS SERIES // Ariel’s Story

BEYOND BORDERS SERIES // Ariel’s Story

Rebel.

This term was familiar for Ariel as she made her way through her teen years at an academic-centric high school.  It wasn’t that she had no drive for her education, just no interest in the scholastic avenues presented to her; she craved to follow a path all her own.

She connected with a boy who would become a long term relationship for her, but meanwhile struggled with her parents over her assumed lack of direction. She was encouraged to start working towards a financially stable career, and though she landed multiple well-paying jobs, her boredom was never quenched.  She felt stuck--living with her boyfriend, relationship with her parents severed and feeling dry in her work, as if “the wheels were turning but nothing in her life was moving forward”.

Ariel found herself at Eastside, hearing about the Global Compassion trips that lead to her to apply for Chile. The first half of her time in South America, Ariel felt misunderstood and couldn’t understand why until traveling down to the rural, mountain town of Ralco for the second part of the missions trip. 

It was in Ralco that an incredibly special communion ceremony took place: the sacrificing of a live lamb.  The calm animal was lead to the butcher’s knife in sacrifice that day, and as Ariel gazed upon the innocent sheep as it gave it’s life, the entire picture of Jesus made clear, perfect sense.

In the stillness of that moment, as Ariel gazed at the vast Andes mountains and heard God say to stop worrying about her life, to focus instead on Him. “Okay” was her sole response, anything to keep this divine feeling of being understood and fulfilled from departing.

She suddenly understood why she had felt so out of touch from the team earlier in the trip, that she had been “looking for fulfillment in earthly relationships.”  And now all she could focus on what how to stay in this newfound place with God! 

When she returned to the States she was lead to end her seven-year relationship with her high school boyfriend and move back in with her parents, asking her Step Dad if she could call him “Dad” from now on. 

Though these decisions came surprisingly naturally, Ariel didn’t know what else was next for her, until she discovered a bachelor’s degree in Intercultural Studies at Hope University. She applied and saw God provide for her every need: her acceptance to the university, funds to pay for it, and positions as the Campus Pastor’s Assistant and Missions Intern that she held until just recently when she accepted an internship position in the Global Compassion Department at Eastside!

“Before I would pray and expect God to bless the decisions I was making, but they were my decisions. Now, I pray and wait for His response, then focus on being obedient to that call.”

Ariel’s story is one of courage, bravery and trust, of finding the truth of living a life with Jesus at her side, and that it is the key to living a life bursting with purpose and fulfillment. 

BEYOND BORDERS SERIES // Recovery & Rediscovery-Ali’s Story

BEYOND BORDERS SERIES // Recovery & Rediscovery-Ali’s Story

Ali would have fit in perfectly with the image you’d expect a young woman in Orange County to portray: happy, hard working, devoted and determined.  What you wouldn’t have seen looming beneath the surface, is the drug addiction that held her hostage for 16 years.

Though Ali attended private Christian school from preschool to 8th grade, her home life was one of brokenness that lead her to begin using in 7th and 8th grade.  When in 2014 she was sexually assaulted, the drug use spiraled out of control leading her right into an abusive relationship and ultimately Juvenile Hall.

Drugs were a part of the majority of her life, yes, but she was a high functioning addict; one that completed her bachelor’s degree and started a small business. However, in the last two years of her addiction as she was striving to stay away from her abusive boyfriend, Ali had what you may call a spiritual awakening.  On May 10th of 2016, weighing 83 pounds with a black eye and busted lip, she knew she needed to return to her faith and made the decision to get clean.

She went back to her childhood church Eastside to find it had grown exponentially.  Daunted by the size, Ali was sure this was no longer a fit for her; but to her surprise the more she listened to Pastor Gene Appel, the more she knew she was in the right place.

In July, Ali listened to a service that used an old chair as an analogy; she felt directly spoken to as the piece of furniture reminded her of the business she had started, and the old behavior she needed to rid herself of.  That day at Eastside, Ali spontaneously was baptized, showing the world of her devotion to Christ and desire to change. 

Ali began to see God’s redemption and provision in the strangest of ways.  When a legal issue arose, requiring her to spend 90 days in an in-patient recovery program; what seemed to be an interruption in her “new” life living clean, turned out to be a blessing as the separation from her abusive boyfriend ended their relationship once and for all!

The one free day Ali had from the program she went to serve at Eastside, where she felt led to join the team in the upcoming Global Compassion trip to Kenya.  The trip enhanced her life greatly, as she returned back to the States and chose to sell her business that had been wearing on her for some time.  She then spoke to Erica Flora, Director of Local Compassion at Eastside about working at a non-profit organization, to which Erica knew of the perfect opportunity. 

A few days later, Ali had a new job at an organization called CityNet that helps connect people in transition with stable housing and resources.  She shared that on her first day in her new position, her team went to the Anaheim Riverbed where she ran into her past drug dealer and was able to speak with him candidly about the power of God in her life!

Ali said that desperation was what lead her to go back to her roots, to give up her way of living and begin listening to God.  “All I had to do was go home”, she said as she added, “I feel more at home at Eastside at 31 than I did at 8 years old!” 

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28.  Sometimes our own decisions lead us down paths of destruction where we become unrecognizable to ourselves; but like in Ali’s testimony, it only takes one right decision to start us back on the path God has destined for us. 

 

 

 

 

BEYOND BORDERS SERIES // A Trip Abroad That Changed Perspective-Amity’s Story

BEYOND BORDERS SERIES // A Trip Abroad That Changed Perspective-Amity’s Story

When Park Rapids Eastsiders Amity and her husband decided to go to Mexico with the Global Compassion team this past summer, it was quite the leap of faith.  “We needed passports, we need a new furnace, new propane for the upcoming winter season--we had needs, but God told us to go.” 

Amity kept hearing the lyrics to the worship song, “Oceans”, resound in her head: Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me.  “I wanted to get out of the boat, get onto the water and stand. We hear these lyrics, but do we respond to the call?”  This summer, she and her husband certainly did.

In Mexico, Amity was struck by how genuinely happy the children were.  As she kept interacting with these orphaned kids that exuded such joy despite having next to nothing, Amity realized that she had been letting her own difficulties in life get in the way of her own joyfulness.  These kids acted like they had it made, and it both warmed Amity’s heart and convicted it.

One day, the Eastside team headed down to the Dump Community to offer sack lunches to the families living there.  A young boy immediately approached Amity’s husband and bridged the gap between them and the poverty-stricken community they had come to visit.  Amity got to speak with one woman in particular who had asked for three lunches to help feed her family, but was distraught to not have a fourth for the last member.  Without hesitation, the same little boy gave his in sacrifice for this woman’s family. 

Amity was astonished.  How could this youth, living in the same conditions, not knowing where his next meal would come from, so readily give all he had to her?  Amity and her husband left the country wishing they could have given more.  How was it that their mission had been to give to this community, when in actuality, they had been the ones to receive?

Humbled and transformed, the married couple returned to their Minnesota home to discuss all they had learned with their two children who had stayed behind.  At the ages of nine and six, Amity and her husband had chosen to leave them safely in Minnesota, for fear of what the foreign country might hold their young children.  Amity explained that upon coming home, her mind had changed so drastically regarding the safety of her kids and that they had made the choice to make next year’s Mexico trip a family affair.

From her experience at City of Refuge Orphanage in Mexico, Amity’s perspective and passion in life underwent big change.  She said to make actual impact for the Kingdom of God we can’t just experience “head change” by the knowledge we gain through the news we watch or the sermons we hear.  We have to experience “heart change” that opens us to feel the hurt and the needs of this world to realize the eternal impact we have in this life. 

 

An Embrace that Crossed Cultures: A Sponsorship Story

An Embrace that Crossed Cultures: A Sponsorship Story

We’re both named Sam, I guess that’s what initially drew me to her sweet face in the sea of Sponsorship Cards I was looking over.  I had had this small and steady feeling on my heart for awhile to step up and join the many compassionate Eastsiders in taking a sponsorship child under my financial and prayerful wing.

A Love Like No Other

A Love Like No Other

With the love and prayers from her teammates, Morgan became well enough to help and participate at the orphanage. God showed her that life is best lived when it is with others and she left Thailand experiencing a love she will never forget.

Rainbows in Mexico

Rainbows in Mexico

Pam opened up a bible for the first time when she was 60 years old. Although she did not have a life-long relationship with Jesus, she was given an opportunity and found herself truly putting her trust in the Lord when she visited Temoaya, Mexico. This is her story: 

Pam noticed that her friend Sharon was radiating with joy, love and compassion after she had returned from a Beyond Borders Compassion trip with Eastside. After hearing Sharon’s experience, Pam became very excited and wanted to learn more about it. She decided to attend a meeting at Eastside that discussed a trip to Central Mexico. There she fell in love with the idea of spreading Jesus’ love by replanting a refurbished playground from San Diego, CA to Temoaya, Mexico.  As much as she wanted to participate in the trip, she was hesitant and fearful. At that time, her husband Steven recently had back surgery and would not be able to join. They had been married for over 45 years and this would be their first time being apart. Steven knew how important this trip was to his wife and reassured her that she would be able to make this journey without him. His support gave her the confidence to sign up. Soon, Pam dedicated her extra time in baking cookies and selling them to raise the funds for her trip. She also was leery of traveling abroad alone, yet after meeting and developing a bond with the Eastside team, she felt safe being amongst her new friends.

Pam was excited when the airplane finally landed in Mexico City. From there, she and the team took 14-passenger vans and traveled an hour and a half to the small town of Temoaya. They checked into their motel and visited the church. She was able to meet many of the local families and was greeted with utmost hospitality. The next few days were filled with fellowship and laughter. With the collaboration of the organization Kids Around the World, Pam and the Eastside team worked to install a playground…the first playground many of the kids living in Temoaya would ever see. After the playground was installed, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held and the children of the town excitedly ran onto the playground after the ribbon was cut. Pam felt so much love and happiness watching them. She prayed and thanked God for using her to spread His love. Shortly after, thunder clouds came rolling in and it began raining but did not last long. As the clouds began to dissipate, a brightly colored double-rainbow appeared over the new playground. Pam, the Eastside team, and the locals stood in amazement as they witnessed God expressing His joy. Since then, Pam has radiated with joy, love and compassion that still shines today.

Passage to Kenya

Passage to Kenya

“I’ll pray about it for next year.” Famous last words. Last year quickly became this year and Paige Haddick was caught completely off-guard by a friend and leader of the College ministry in the hallway at Eastside.

If not now, when? If not us, then who?

If not now, when? If not us, then who?

As we finished praying her husband came forward and accepted Jesus, called his daughter in the room for prayer, and they demanded we cut this rope off the woman’s neck and take it out to destroy it. They wanted it burned to declare wherever there is light there cannot be darkness, and wherever there is freedom, there cannot be bondage.