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Freedom Isn't Free

Freedom Isn't Free

As a second generation military man, I know the sacrifice our service men, women, and their families make to secure the freedom we enjoy. The long hours, the stress and strain of military maneuvers, the constant moving around from duty station to duty station, and the deployments that last months or years at a time are just some of the examples of our military paying for our freedom.

When people thank us for our service, most veterans will reply with a simple and humble, "It's been my honor to serve." The bond between brothers and sisters in arms is forged with blood, sweat, and tears. One of the common mottos in the armed forces is "leave no man behind". It's not uncommon for soldiers to risk their own life to save the life of a comrade. The potential loss of their own life is worth the risk to save the life of their battle buddy. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

This July 4th, while we honor those who gave their service and those who gave their life for our freedom, let us not forget the One who gave it all for us - for our freedom from the chains of sin, shame, and guilt.

At Eastside, we honor Christ's sacrifice… His blood, sweat, and tears by continuing His work to seek and save those who are lost. Those still in chains by life's hurts, habits, and hang-ups by offering Care & Recovery groups at all of our campuses. We know one out of every three people in our community find themselves in a difficult season of life. These Care & Recovery groups are a safe and welcoming place where people can find help, discover hope, and experience healing.

A place where you can belong and be part of a community of overcomers.

A place where you can believe what God says about you, and not what the world says.

A place where you can become all that God has designed you to be.

A place where you can find and experience the true freedom that only comes from surrendering the care and control of your life to Jesus Christ. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  John 8:36.

It wasn't that long ago that I found myself there - in a very dark place far from God. My 23-year marriage abruptly and unexpectedly ended and I had lost everything. In my darkest moment, I cried out to God. I asked Him to show Himself to me. And He did through my in-laws who invited me to come to Eastside.

I got connected to a Care & Recovery group on a Friday night, and have been coming here ever since. It didn't happen overnight, but I did heal over time. I began to surrender my all to Him. The more I allowed Him to work in me, the more He began to work through me.

If you had told me when I began my journey in 2010 that this is where God would lead me, I would've told you that you're crazy. God doesn't use people like me. What I've come to find out is that He indeed does. Our God uses the improbable to do the impossible.

If you or someone you know is in a difficult season, we invite you to check out the Care & Recovery groups at Eastside.

eastside.com/careandrecovery

Written By: Greg Arbues

Just Let Go

Just Let Go

My name is Sharon Jensen. I was about to lose the lease to the preschool I had been running for 28 years. It was the only source of income for my family as my husband was facing health complications that left him unable to work. On the verge of a nervous breakdown, I found myself at the end of my rope. That was when I remembered a postcard that had been sent to me in the mail about Eastside that I disregarded. I found myself needing help and discovered that Eastside was there to give that to me.

I nervously attended Eastside for the first time and was warmly greeted by the parking attendant who directed me to the entrance. At the door, a woman with a bright smile approached me and asked if I was Sharon. I was taken aback because I did not remember introducing myself to the parking attendant or to the woman. Her name was Jo and she welcomed me to Eastside and made me comfortable. At the end of church service, she waited for me at Guest Central and there, I shared my story to her. Talking to her gave me peace and her kindness comforted my spirit. We prayed over the loss of the lease on the preschool and for my husband’s health and placed it into Gods hands. The once uncontrollable circumstances I was facing started falling into the right place soon after.

With less than 2 months before we were forced to close the preschool, I was able to meet with the property developer of the building I was leasing and found out he also attended Eastside. He graciously and quickly found another property for me to move my preschool and made the transition smooth.

I continued to care for my husband who was facing complications from his knee replacement. After several surgeries, the doctors could not determine the root cause of the complications. After much prayer, I was able to get a hold of a specialist who was able to take my husband’s case. He discovered an infection and performed surgery and within 6 months, my husband was able to recover.

Having the preschool to run and my husband to care for, I had been putting aside my own health. One day, my co-worker noticed I was walking differently and insisted I went to the doctors who ran an MRI test on my back and neck, only to discover I had a ruptured disk pinching my nerve and four vertebrae that had cut through the sheath that protected my spinal cord. If untreated I could have became paralyzed. I had surgery immediately and fully recovered within 3 months of the medical procedure.  

God was using people around me to reveal Himself to me and answer my prayers. I have learned through these miracles that God is with me. And, whether He is by my side or carrying me, I will put my trust in Him.

Through faith, Sharon obeyed God’s words and found that He fulfilled His promises. She discovered that she could not face this situation alone and found support at Eastside.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4: 6-7    

Are you currently experiencing a difficult situation that you need to apply these words to? Here at Eastside Christian Church, we are happy to help, visit us during one of our services or fill out a prayer request form at https://www.eastside.com/prayer/#worship

Life Together

Life Together

By Devon Wayne

Our small group started with eight people who didn’t know each other, but over time our stories have woven together into a beautiful tapestry.

A job opportunity brought Julie to Southern California. She had been looking for a church but couldn’t find the right match, so she decided to join the one closest to her home. Google–that source of all knowledge–pointed her to Eastside. Since joining, Julie has volunteered to serve in Kidside, has travelled to Israel, and is preparing to go to on a mission trip to Thailand to serve people there.

Next is Bobby, known as Boy Bobby (as there was a girl Bobbie among our original eight as well). Boy Bobby has a huge heart and a gift of listening. He has taken on a leadership role in our group. He met Hannah, a beautiful, kindhearted woman who grounds him. Hannah has joined our group, and she and Bobby were married at the end of last year.

A few weeks after the group started, Bobby got sick enough that he needed to go to the hospital, and when he needed a ride home, he was bold enough to ask for help from a group of people he had only known for a few weeks. Brandi responded to his text and drove him home.

Brandi has a huge heart and sense of humor. She sees the Spirit within you and will be there to provide words of love and grace when you need them. Brandi leaned on the group as her mom, Nancy, battled with cancer. Before Nancy left us to join God in Heaven, a prayer of hers was answered. It all started at the end of summer 2015, when our group had a barbecue.

A former member of the group hosted the barbecue, and we invited her roommate, Aaron, to join us… and we wouldn’t take no for an answer. Aaron didn’t go to church or follow Jesus, but hey, barbecue is barbecue. We invited him to join us the following week when we started up our Bible study, and he came.

Brandi caught Aaron’s eye, so Aaron started attending church and asking questions about faith. We didn’t always have the answers, but we’d research them and come back the next week to talk more about his questions.

Last year, Aaron was baptized and proposed to Brandi. By then Nancy, Brandi’s mom, had gotten sicker, so a backyard wedding was planned weeks before the actual wedding. I had the privilege of doing Nancy’s hair and makeup for the backyard wedding, and Boy Bobby officiated the ceremony. Nancy went to Heaven a few days later, her prayer that her daughter would find a husband having been answered.

During this time Aaron’s mom, Michelle, started attending Eastside and was baptized a couple of months ago.

I guess that leaves me. I made the commitment to join Eastside in about 2014, and, after feeling lonely and lost in such an overwhelmingly large church, I decided to get plugged in. I joined a small group and began volunteering. The largeness of the church began to shrink, and it began to feel less lonely.

During the first couple of weeks of our small group, Brandi and I learned that we live a mere two-minute walking distance from each other. This proximity allowed us to do life together. She and her dog Clarence often stopped by for walks. When her mom’s condition worsened, I was able to provide dinners and next-day lunches for Brandi. These moments allowed our friendship to grow.

I was raised Lutheran and didn’t feel the need to be baptized again, but God’s whispering became more audible, and the Spirit swelled in my heart. In the beginning of 2015 I was baptized, and that summer I travelled to Kenya on my first mission trip. My heart for compassion causes has grown exponentially, and I am overjoyed as I prepare for my third mission trip. These compassion experiences make me feel more grounded and connected. My cousins left me a message online that resonates with me. They wrote, “Helping you turn the human race into the human family. God bless you.”

Turning the human race into the human family, I just love those words.

Our stories and lives have been interwoven through moments in time. We are now a group of twelve, and whether people have been with us for months or for years, their lives and stories are becoming a part of ours. Our group, like many others, shares life moments: baptisms, illnesses, deaths, mission trips, camping trips, potlucks, laughter, and tears, but most importantly we share God’s love as we seek to expand our knowledge of Him.

If you’d like to find a community of people to do life with, check out eastside.com/groups.

Holiday Season

Holiday Season

Making changes helped, but prayer is what got me through that dark period of my life.  I remember feeling at times I couldn’t survive the hurt.  I would get down on my knees and pray and cry out to God to get me through just one more day.  He did.

A Hike to Remember

A Hike to Remember

Story Teller: Abel Rodriguez

Abel Rodriguez felt compelled to be in a small group.

Abel had been attending Eastside for a few months at the invitation of his brother and sister-in-law.  He had initially resisted going to church but changed his mind when he realized that the choices he was making were taking him down the wrong path.

Abel decided to make Eastside his church home and attended a meeting to learn more about small groups, gatherings of people who meet weekly to make friends, follow Jesus, and make a difference.  Abel was chosen to lead a group, but the group members couldn’t make their schedules line up, so the group ended up folding.

Abel continued to attend church, but he still felt strongly about being in a small group.  He knew it would be easy to fly under the radar in a big church without ever developing the kind of friendships that truly impact our lives.

Abel learned that Eastside was going to start forming small groups based around people’s interests and passions.  Since he loves to hike, Abel decided to start a hiking group with Bernardo and Monica, the brother and sister-in-law who had invited him to Eastside.

Abel, Bernardo, and Monica now have 30 group members who meet on Saturday mornings at a local hiking trail.

One Saturday when they had just finished their hike and were having breakfast, Mark, a member of the group, saw a woman eating alone, so he struck up a conversation with her.  When the woman told Mark that she had been lonely, he invited her to join their group and to visit Eastside.  They prayed for her, and she went on her way.

The following week, the woman attended church.  She reached out to Abel, thanking him and his group for inviting her, telling them she could not wait to start hiking with her new-found friends.

If you’re interested in leading a little community of people who gather to make friends, follow Jesus, and make a difference, visit eastside.com/lead to learn more.  Not ready to lead a group just yet? We've got a group for you to join: eastside.com/groups

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)

Leadership

Leadership

What do you think about when you hear that word?  CEOs?  Generals?  Politicians?

One definition of leadership is simply influence.  To lead others is to influence them in a particular direction.

And given that definition, we are all leaders.  We all influence others.

We lead our coworkers when we spread rumors or refuse to gossip.  We lead our kids when we react out of anger or respond with love.  We lead our friends when we order one too many or choose to drink responsibly.

Paul, the guy who started many of the first churches, told others to follow him as he followed Jesus.  In other words, he said to them, "Hey, I'm a follower of this guy named Jesus.  I don't do everything perfectly all of the time, but take a look at the things I do get right and follow my example."

Paul was obeying Jesus' command to make disciples.  And disciple is just a fancy term for someone who follows Jesus, someone who says, "I want to follow Jesus' example of how to live as a person who has peace in every situation, puts others first, and has integrity."

“Go into all the world and make disciples,” was Jesus' last command before he left earth, and it's something we're all called to, whether we've been following Jesus for fifteen minutes or fifteen years.

One good way to do this is to gather a few folks and say, "Let's pursue Jesus together." At Eastside, we call that a small group, and we would encourage you to consider leading one. You can visit eastside.com/lead to learn more.

 

A Place to Call Home

A Place to Call Home

Storyteller: Arty VanGeloof

Most likely you have never met or heard of Pancho, Griselda and their two young children, Angel and Michelle. Yet, they know you. They know that you are generous, loving and compassionate. They have prayed for you for many years. This is their story…


Pancho and Griselda live in Mexico. Pancho works as a gas station attendant and Griselda, his wife, works at a nearby medical facility as a housekeeper. They lived in a run-down, 60 year old trailer that had no running water, bathroom, kitchen, or working front door, however, they still felt blessed to have a roof over their heads.  


Pancho and Griselda went to work each day with humble smiles while their children studied hard in school in pursuit of attending a University. They prayed that God would continue to bless their family and to one day, own a home. For the past 10 years, they prayed this. They knew God would answer their prayers, but they did not know how or when. This is where you came in.


2016 was the year that Eastside focused their Beyond Border Compassion efforts on Mexico. Arty VanGeloof, Jeff Swaney and the Compassion team felt compelled to reach out farther into the community of Rosarito. The plan was laid out to arrange compassion trips and build 3 homes to be given to families in need. Pancho and Griselda’s prayers were answered when they were told that their family was chosen to receive one of these homes. Both parents giggled uncontrollably with excitement and gratitude upon receiving the good news. With the help of Eastsiders, the walls were constructed in Anaheim and then transported to Rosarito to finalize assembly equipped with a kitchen, bathroom and divided rooms.


One quiet evening in Rosarito, Arty sat outside of his RV on top of a hill. The quiet was interrupted by music coming from a truck that was transporting water to local homes. The truck had stopped at the bottom of the hill at the new home of Pancho and Griselda. Arty heard a familiar giggle and he knew Pancho and Griselda were there greeting the delivery man. Arty could only imagine what they were talking about and he let out a chuckle himself. When the water container of their home was filled, the delivery man drove away and it was quiet once again. As Pancho walked on his door steps, he paused at the threshold, humbly smiled and thanked God for using His people to answer prayers and, with joyful tears, Pancho closed and locked the door behind him.


It was through you that God answered the prayers of Pancho and his family. As it is said in Hebrews 6:10


“…He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.”


We must continue to help. How can you help answer the unanswered prayers of others?

Did you know that Eastside has a Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing Ministry?

Did you know that Eastside has a Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing Ministry?

In the nearly three decades she’s worked with the deaf, both at church and as a professional interpreter in the school system, Nancy has gained deep insight. “The biggest struggle for the deaf is the lack of socialization with the hearing community. Isolation results when there is lack of communication with those who don’t know your language no matter what the language.”