Refreshing Our Community

Ian Stevenson has lived in Costa Mesa for many years. He has been a pastor at The Crossing Church for over 20 years and has participated in Mika’s work from the beginning. Ian feels the most refreshing sense of community when he comes to Shalimar Dr. for the annual C3 Basketball Tournament. “There is a sense of community that wasn’t there before. The neighbors are in it together.”

Police presence on Shalimar Dr. is not a new thing. This street has seen its fair share of crime and violence over the last few decades, but for the last six years Mika, city residents, and Costa Mesa Police have been working together to make it a better place. The goal of the C3 Tournament is to uniquely bring the whole community together. Each team is comprised of one Cop, one Church leader, and one Community member. This event draws area businesses, organizations, individuals and families to enjoy a day of basketball, food and lots of fun! It has become a community tradition that many look forward to each year.

Establishing neighborhood traditions is just one small aspect of the work of Mika’s Neighborhood Action Committees. The traditions that Mika’s neighborhood leaders have initiated and sustained are part of building a community where neighbors look out for one another and support each other. Mika’s Neighborhood Action Committees meet weekly to discuss and plan how to welcome new people to the neighborhood, gather funds for those in need of special help and to plan trainings to educate neighbors on topics that they want to learn more about.

View Mika CDC’s blog here.

Call Vignettes- A Series of Surrenders 4- A Call to Embrace

A friend of mine called the other day to ask what my theme for 2011 is.  For the last seven years or so I’ve operated with themes that keep me on course throughout a year.  It started a few years back in the Fall when the Lord was speaking to me about hope.  I embraced hope as a theme for that next year and each Fall since then the Lord seems to show me an area of my life to focus in on.  One year it was “Rejoice” and I was excited because I was looking forward to celebrating many things.  Instead, that year everything fell apart.

As I cried and watched things unravel the theme would come to mind- Rejoice.  Rejoicing despite disappointment and pain got me through that year.  Another year the Lord spoke to me about gratitude and not taking things for granted so I chose “Thanksgiving” as the theme.   Every day I would write something I was thankful for on a strip of paper and make it into a loop. I lived each day looking for reasons to give thanks.   By the end of the year I had a chain of gratitude looped all around my room and a grateful heart.  In the process of intentionally practicing hope, joy, gratitude and such, I have experienced my life more fully.

So when my friend called to ask about this year, it was as if he was waiting to hear what he should be looking for in 2011.  Luckily I was ready with an answer.  My theme for 2011 is “Embrace.”  I know it’s vague but it’s supposed to be big enough for the whole year.  Besides, I don’t make it up, it comes to me as I sit with the Lord and he gently exposes parts of me that He is refining.  It is fun, like a game almost or a challenge to see if I can listen and focus in enough to see the opportunities and ways he is teaching me to embrace others and their ideas and his timing and his ways.  I think of that Sunday School song- “His Banner Over Me is Love”.  It’s like this year his banner over me is “Embrace.”  And instead of beating me over the head with my stubbornness, he marches out with me under the banner of embrace, out on another adventure.

Really he could beat me over the head with my stubbornness.  I am not the most embracing of people.  I tend to have an idea of how I want things and if I’m honest, I like to have things my way.  But lately the Lord has been whispering, “embrace” to me as I listen to others’ ideas and when I meet people that seem just a little off.  “Embrace” knocks around in my head when there is an opportunity for a new experience or new way of doing the same old thing.  In 2011 I am looking forward to embracing all that the Lord has for me.  I anticipate letting go of my own way and embracing the ways of others.  I look forward to a whole new cast of characters that enrich my life because I choose to embrace them this year.  And already I can see some realities of my life that I need to stop fighting against and embrace.  This year I plan to embrace my limited budget.  I will embrace my loved ones for who they truly are.  I can learn better to embrace my shape and my own feelings.   And perhaps in practicing embracing I will learn something of what it is to walk humbly with my God, freed up to embrace His leading.

What theme would you choose for 2011?  What will you choose to embrace this year?

Crissy Brooks MIKA CDC, Costa Mesa, CA

Mika CDC
Kingdom Causes

The Nativity Story and Vampires?

Over the last 13 weeks our students at Step Up (Mika’s afterschool program) have been learning to “listen with their hearts” during our devotion time.  We have spent time teaching them some ancient Christian practices such as Lectio Divina, contemplative prayer and the Examen.  The younger ones are not so great at being quiet or still – major components in these traditions, but they’re practicing…

During the last four weeks we have been preparing our hearts for Christmas and doing a series for Advent.  We have been on an imaginary journey to Bethlehem to see the Messiah.  At first we did not know the way and encountered different people to help us reach our destination.  The first week we met the Prophets and the second week Mary and Joseph reminded us to “not be afraid”.  Week three we met the Shepherds who shared their great joy of the Good News of the birth of Jesus and week four the Wise Men told of the precious gifts they brought to the newborn King.

As part of our Lectio Divina practice, the students listen to the scripture and then sit in silence to see what they hear with their hearts.  What word stands out?  What phrase?  What image do they get?  When they slowly open their eyes, they are encouraged to share with the others.  It is unbelievable to hear what they come up with at each session.  The Holy Spirit impresses amazing truths to these tiny, innocent hearts.  They are unedited and open and excited to share what they hear from God.

I gave the lesson at both of our sites on Thursday and during my time with the kindergarten, first and second graders at the Hope Center I had asked the question I always ask when they open their eyes.  “What did you hear with your heart?”  Carlos raised his hand to share.  “Frankenstein.”  I tilted my head a little and repeated it – just to be sure.  “Frankenstein?”  He nodded.  “Yes.  Frankenstein.”  Hmmmm???  I had heard some odd things over these last thirteen weeks but not close to this.  I looked down at the scripture I had read, hoping for a clue.  Ahhhh – there it was.  “…gold, frankincense and myrrh…” – got it!  I explained what it was (without laughing)…after all, he had heard it with his heart!

An hour later I did the same lesson at the Maple Learning Center.  This time when I asked the question, “What did you hear with your heart?” I received another surprise.  Eduardo raised his hand and said, “Vampire.”  What?  Vampire?  First Frankenstein and now vampire?  Once again, I scanned the scripture and their it was – “…a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire…”  I smiled and told the students a very basic version of the political, economic, military and cultural influence on a region (history, right?) and closed in prayer.

Later that night, I smiled when I thought about how Carlos and Eduardo had actively chosen to open up and hear from God while they listened to His word.  It was precious to see these young boys confident in what they heard with their hearts.  Ok, so they needed a little explanation.  Don’t we all?  I am grateful they are in a place where they feel safe enough to share and explore what they are practicing.  For all they knew, there were monsters and vampires in the story of Christmas!  I was happy to set it straight and clear up any blurry areas but it did get me thinking.  Where do I need clarification in my study of God’s word?  Who can I go to get the right explanation?  Can I be open like Carlos and Eduardo and just be honest with where I’m at right now or do I pretend I know more than I do?  Over this Christmas break, I’m going to spend some time being quiet and listening to my own heart and hearing what it says.  Who knows?  Maybe it will be even better than “Frankenstein” or “vampire” in the Nativity Story.

by Caryn Kallal

Mika CDC
Kingdom Causes

Thanksgiving on Baker St.

Thanksgiving is a time to share, celebrate and to give thanks for what we have. This has been my favorite holiday since I came to the States ten years ago. This time of the year people gather together and express their gratitude for whatever they have received during the last 365 days they have been in this earth, but especially for being here in this great country of ours.

As I said, Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday but the love for this day has increased even more since I started working at Baker St. with MIKA. The reason why is because we at Baker, have started a new tradition of getting together two nights before the holiday, although last year was kind of informal, this year it was better organized.

People stepped up this year by bringing ALL the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner components, we even had three turkeys and there were so much food and best of all, so many people that it just turned out to be a great celebration.

I am so glad that we had the opportunity to celebrate this holiday with our regular neighbors, but this time we had two representatives from the CM Police Department, also Mike from the Halecrest/Hall of Fame community, MIKA staff members and other members of the Baker community that usually don’t attend our meetings. All in all, we had over 50 people in attendance.  I think that the celebration served its purpose of bringing people together and have a good time but most of all, have a time to give thanks.

by Walter Garcia

MIKA CDC, Costa Mesa
Kingdom Causes

Call Vignettes- A Series of Surrenders 3- “The Crash”

My mom talks of the crash in terms of a year, not a week. She talks about our household being off for a year, my dad distant, stressed and hurting after losing his friend; my mom trying to navigate their upturned relationship and maintain a household. There was much happening around me that I was insulated from by my own self-centeredness and ego.

The morning of the crash I crawled into bed next to mom. Dad was already up and out of the house. Mom rolled over and said, “It’s going to be a hard day for the Ketchum’s.”  It seemed like a strange thing to say first thing in the morning. The Ketchum family definitely wasn’t what was on my mind. Then she told me- the police helicopter had crashed in the middle of the night and my dad’s flying partner and friend, Dave Ketchum, had been killed along with two other men.

I was twelve years old and Penny Ketchum, Dave’s daughter, was my friend. I didn’t know what to do so like any preteen, I called my friends. After school a bunch of us went over to Penny’s house. She was sitting on the bumper of a car in front of her house. As we walked up she said, “Did you hear my dad is dead?” It seemed like such an obvious thing to say. Of course we heard, that’s why we’re here. But what else do you say when you’re twelve and your world just fell apart?

For the next week I vacillated between the two awkward preteen extremes of completely smothering my friend to staying away out of a total lack of knowing what to do or say. In my self centered mind the whole week played out like a big party. Mom and Dad were completely disconnected and unavailable for us kids.  They didn’t check our homework or make us dinner. We were at the Ketchum’s every night after school. All the kids rode bikes in the cul de sac as people came and went from the house. The adults sat around and ate and drank. They drank a lot. And they cleaned. The women buzzed around the house always cleaning, keeping themselves busy while Mrs. Ketchum sat on the couch.

I remember a couple sobering moments when I would be snapped out of my party mentality and be forced to remember why we were gathered. The second night we were over at the Ketchum’s, a few of us kids were in the front yard with Penny. She had broken down and was crying, and began asking all kinds of ‘why’ questions. “Why did that man have to steal a car?” “Why did it have to be my dad working?” Then she looked straight at me, “My dad tried to trade shifts with your dad. It should’ve been your dad! Why wouldn’t your dad trade shifts?” I was stunned. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know if it was true or not. But I figured it was a legitimate question for anyone feeling that much pain.

The evening of the funeral we were all gathered back at the house. TVs were on in the bedrooms with a constant parade of news coverage of the police funeral. We kids were sprawled on the bed and playing on the floor. One kid was playing a hand rhythm game against the wall, slapping the floor with her hands every few seconds in a constant rhythm. It seemed as if everyone was talking at once but no one was speaking to each other. All of a sudden Hilary, Penny’s sister, screamed at us, “You are all playing and acting like nothing happened. My dad is dead.”

The room was silent.  No one said a word. I felt ashamed and yet so estranged from her pain. I went to find my own dad in the swarm of adults. I found him sitting with Penny’s grandmother quietly listening to her despite his own grief. In the middle of the noise and chaos and pain, he sat peacefully, his presence comforting a grieving mother. It was then that I saw the difference between saying I believed in Jesus and choosing to live like Him.

In the midst of all the pain around me I saw something of the Kingdom of God. I recognized the difference between my parents and the other adults around them. This was the first time I saw my parents interact with non Christians over an extended period and there was a marked difference. Everyone was dumbfounded. No one knew what to do. The cops drank. Their wives huddled in corners whispering, so glad it wasn’t them, pitying the Ketchum’s. The news media buzzed around the periphery. But my parents and the other believers among us knew how to rally. They kept their heads. They sat on the couch with Mrs. Ketchum and sent her to nap when things were overwhelming. They had words of encouragement.  They were beacons of hope in a sad, sad place.

In the brief moments when I stopped thinking of myself, I recognized that we were different because we were Christians. We had a hope for the future and we had a trust in God that others could not muster up on their own. And in the year of the crash, I decided how I wanted to live my life.  I would live as a Christian, not because my parents did, not because that’s how I was raised, but because I wanted to stand out as a light in dismal situations. I wanted my heart to carry the hope I saw my parents leading with. In the year of the crash, I saw the difference I had heard about my whole life.

Crissy Brooks MIKA CDC, Costa Mesa, CA

Mika CDC
Kingdom Causes

Call Vignettes – A Series of Surrenders 2

I was a headstrong child.  When I wanted to do something it was hard to stop me.  I don’t remember why I decided it was time for me to be baptized but I remember telling my dad that it was time.  I figured if baptism was something you had to do to follow Jesus, then I wanted in.  I was nine years old and we were sitting at the kitchen table, Dad at his spot at the head of the table and me across from him.  “I want to get baptized.” I told him.  “Getting baptized is a serious thing, Crissy, are you ready for that?”

I don’t remember my exact answer but I remember him kind of trying to talk me out of it, implying that I wasn’t big enough.  Whatever I said must have convinced him because come Easter Sunday I was in the second row of baptism orientation.  I was the youngest one there, and the most excited.  No one else seemed to share my enthusiasm.  I volunteered to be the practice example for crossing your arms.  I raised my hand to answer the questions.  I was ready.

As we filed to get our white robes, the deaconess ladies struggled to find one that would fit me.  They finally settled on a modified version of a robe. It had big wide pant legs and a zipper up the back.  I felt disappointed that it wasn’t an official robe but trotted off to suit up anyway.  Then the time came for the baptism.  It was a Sunday evening service and all the baptism candidates sat in the front rows.  I sat patiently, swinging my feet as the others took their turns.  I don’t remember looking for my parents.  This was very much something I was doing on my own.

When Pastor Wood called my name I eagerly went up to the baptismal tank.  He asked me if I understood that by choosing to be baptized I was making a public statement that I wanted to live my life for Jesus.  He stuck the microphone in my face and I boldly declared, “Yes!”  I understood.  I crossed my arms like I had been oriented and went under the water.  I stood for a minute, waiting for something to happen, expecting to feel differently.  But I didn’t.  Next thing I knew I was ushered out, being covered with towels by the dutiful deaconess.

While nothing dramatic came over me, I felt happy and satisfied, like I was somehow one step closer to being who God intended me to be.  As I think back on this overly confident little girl standing up to her father, insisting on being baptized, I wonder where the drive came from.  What was this deep desire to take a next step in faith?  What compelled me to this public moment of surrender?  Was it the strong will of a little girl, a desire for attention, or the Father calling me to Himself?

Crissy Brooks MIKA CDC, Costa Mesa, CA

Mika CDC
Kingdom Causes

Developing the Next Generation- Johnny and Geo




At first glance Geo and Johnny don’t seem like the volunteering-on-the-weekend-kind-of-kids, but the neighbors of the Center St Community know differently. As the Neighborhood Action Committee Manos a la Obra planned a small garage sale to raise funds for their Hope Community Center, volunteers were scarce. Then Johnny and Geo stepped up to serve their community.


While waking up at 6:30 am on a Saturday is a stretch for most high school students, they shared that helping the moms out on Saturday morning was “chill” and would like to do it again. Volunteering at the garage sale opened a new interest in Geo and Johnny, and they are now volunteering as tutors at Step-Up program and helping in the Mika office.

The neighborhood leaders from Center St are involving their children and young adults as part of the neighborhood transformation by exposing the young generation to opportunities to participate and help out their community. Developing youth who are engaged is very important to the Center St. leaders. They have been inviting teens to participate and share the Vision that they have for the future generation of Center St. citizens.

Juval Flores MIKA CDC, Costa Mesa, CA

Mika CDC
Kingdom Causes

Call Vignettes – A Series of Surrenders 1

I am often asked, “How did you get in to this line of work?”  I assume they are referring to me living and working in neighborhoods that many people purposefully avoid.  Sometimes others will answer for me, “Oh, she feels called to this ministry.”  Which I suppose is true, if by called they mean compelled or led by Jesus into these choices.

When I think of being called I think of Moses and the burning bush or Abraham setting out for Canaan.  My journey has been more like a series of surrenders, a progression of saying ‘yes’ to the Father’s reign in my life.  Each surrender has led me deeper into relationship with the poor and with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I suppose the first person who taught me to love the marginalized was my mother.  It wasn’t so much that she reached out to the poor but she gave me eyes to see them.  Before school each morning she would pray that my sisters and I would see the kids who didn’t have friends and befriend them.  That’s how I started bringing home latchkey kids and newly arrived immigrants, kids who stuttered and were generally marginalized.  Even when I didn’t reach out or was held back by wanting to be accepted by my friends, I still noticed the lonely kids.  I believe it was because of my mother’s prayers.  I would hear her in my mind while I played at recess and moved about in our classrooms.

The first time I remember this happening was in kindergarten.  Our teacher, Mrs. Zebock sat perched on her chair up front, her light green eyes scanning the room as we found our places in rows on the carpet.  As I settled in I caught a glimpse of the boy’s underwear in front of me and my kindergarten mind started to snicker.  There before me the Cambodian boy’s pants gaped open in back and I could see that he was wearing pink girl underwear with a ruffle across the top.  As I began to nudge my friend next to me, something stopped me.  In the split second it occurred to me that he was wearing girl underwear for one of two reasons:  either he was too poor to afford anything else or he was so new to our country he didn’t know the difference culturally.  And it is in that moment I remember feeling compassion for the first time.  That is the first time I remember really seeing the poor.

It was 1980 and thousands of refugees from Vietnam and Cambodia were landing in Huntington Beach, CA, our city.  That split second encounter, under the laser green eyes of Mrs. Zebock, set me on a path to understand the plight of immigrants that I have continued on to this day.  Of course, I didn’t understand the significance that day in kindergarten, but I remember the moment clearly and see how the Lord was leading me even then.

By second grade it was established who the “bad kids” were. In our class it was James and Jason.  They had to sit way in the back in their own section of the classroom, away from the rest of us.   My heart did not beat quite so compassionately for these two boys but I remember being confused.  The teacher often told me I talked too much and corrected me, but I was never sent away or isolated.  This seemed unfair to me.  I couldn’t figure out what those boys had done that was worse than me.  So I asked to be moved to the back with them.  I didn’t become friends with James or Jason.  We rarely talked but I sat in the back with them in some sort of eight year old statement of solidarity.  At the time, being friends with them was just too socially risky but I could see them.  I could see that isolation wasn’t solving anything.  I could see that we were treated differently.

Before I felt compassion, before I decided to follow Jesus, before I chose to act justly, my mother prayed that I would see and the Lord continues to answer her prayers.  When was the first time you really saw the lonely or marginalized?

Crissy Brooks MIKA CDC, Costa Mesa, CA

Kingdom Causes

Crying in the Kitchen

This summer I was especially taken with the verses in Philippians where Paul declares, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in him.”  My heart resonated.  My soul cried, “Yes!  Christ is all I need.”  I made plans to simplify my life.  I stopped buying clothes.  I got more creative and made things I needed out of what I already had.  My gaze was set on knowing “Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

Then a new roommate moved in.  This move required me to share my room, to consolidate, to get rid of stuff- lots of stuff.  It is one thing to stop acquiring.  It is another to “consider everything a loss,” to actually get rid of things.  Don’t get me wrong, the move was my idea.  This was part of knowing Christ- of going to a deeper place of community and identifying with our neighbors who have their whole families living in one room.  But it turns out I like my stuff.  I have pretty things.  I have useful things.  I have things I may need later.  I have things that may come in handy some day for another life I am scheming.  I have lots of stuff.

So I moved the stuff from the closet to under the bed to another closet to a shelf.  I boxed up the stuff.  I took bits of it to the Goodwill.  I sold pieces at a garage sale.  I shuffled and sorted but I rarely let go.  It feels like loss to let it go, even irresponsible.   And yet this morning as I look around feeling cramped and needing to breathe, I wonder why I want this stuff.  What is it about the stuff that makes me hang on?  What is it about me that won’t consider it rubbish?

And it’s not just about the stuff.  It’s about the space.  My room is huge.  The closet is big.  There’s a lot of floor space and a sitting area and my queen bed.  It is so big in fact that my new roommate moved her queen bed in the same room.  Two queen beds.  Two women.  No more floor space.  No more sitting area.  There is simply no more space for all this stuff.  There is no more space to store up for an imaginary life to come.  There is no more space to throw things I don’t want to deal with.  There is no more space to hide.  Before the move, my roommates and I looked around the house, looked at each other and asked, “Where are we going to go to cry?”  There is no more space to hide.

Together we recognize that the very thing we long for- to be known and loved in a caring community- means vulnerability and not hiding.  It means hearing each other snore and crying in front of each other.  So we are taking steps into this life together.  We are stripping ourselves of stuff we have held onto.  And as I give up my own stuff I realize that I haven’t really lost much at all.  Now instead of one really cool antique chair, we have two.  And I sit in both.  This morning I was lamenting the loss of a pair of shoes and my new roommate broke out an amazing pair of boots for me to wear.  I gave away my bowls and my roommate has the set I’ve looked at in magazines for years.  Now I eat my breakfast out of them.

A couple of Saturdays ago, after our “where do we cry” discussion, one roommate and I sat at the kitchen table catching up on the week.  We chatted and drank coffee and the conversation slowly spiraled into deeper topics until we were both sharing from our heart and crying, even weeping as the pain of life boiled over.  As we listened and comforted one another our earlier conversation came to mind and the answer was clear:  now we cry in the kitchen.  All I thought would be loss, I have gained- beautiful stuff, sweet intimacy, a grace to be me and to love others for who they are.  With no extra stuff and no space to hide, now we cry in the kitchen.

Crissy Brooks MIKA CDC, Costa Mesa, CA

Mika CDC
Kingdom Causes


People are usually excited and ready to try new foods especially when it’s ethnic.

Last week I invited my friend Zack to try some Mexican cooking from the neighbors that meet at the Shalimar Park for Hoops, their weekly block party and food sale. I felt a little uncomfortable for a second when he asked, “Are you sure? Isn’t Shalimar the street with shootings and drugs?”  I felt good to be able to share with someone else the work that Costa Mesa residents are doing in their community- I said “Yes! That’s the street, but it’s different now. The street used to be rough back in the day but now the neighborhood has changed, and it’s all driven by the neighbors – they have been making a difference.”

I felt as if he was not convinced or was interested in coming so I drove to Hoops thinking to myself “maybe next time.”  I was about to drive onto Shalimar when my phone rang. It was Zack. Before I could say “hi” he asked me “you think if I drive over there immediately there will still be food?” Feeling ready to show him what the Shalimar neighbors have done to improve their community and way of life, I patiently waited for him. To my surprise not only was it my friend Zack but his sister as well eager to eat some homemade Mexican food.

Zach was able to see first hand what can happen when neighbors join together with a common vision for their community.

Costa Mesa ‘Hoods Bridge Immigration Gap

From the OC Register


You could say this is a tale of one city with two sides.

On the one hand, there’s the Costa Mesa that makes national headlines over its controversial policies on illegal immigration, its crackdown on day laborers, and more recently, its much trumpeted declaration that it is a “Rule of Law” city.

Numerous agencies and organizations attended the first annual Costa Mesa Community Picnic on June 12, including the Costa Mesa High School cheerleading squad.

Some called this latest move political posturing and just rhetoric. But it also sent shock waves through an already polarized community. So, rather than ease tension on the hotly divisive issue of illegal immigration, this move by the official side of Costa Mesa just further deepened the divisions.

Then, there’s the other Costa Mesa. I’m talking about the behind-the-scenes, on-the-ground residents who have to deal with the aftermath of the decisions taken by overzealous city leaders.

Click here for the full story

It’s Working!

In July, about thirty people packed inside the stuffy, airless garage of the Mika CDC office.  Neighbors, staff, interns, volunteers and a few teens from our youth programs had come together to talk about what we envisioned for the youth of our community.  How do we want our kids to look in thirty years?  What do we need to be doing now to make it happen?  After brainstorming and walking through some pointed exercises, we came up with an ambitious afterschool program for our neighborhood youth.  We all concurred on some important values and structure and we arrived at a program called, Step Up.

It would include academic tutoring, spiritual training and enrichment classes in art, health, finance and leadership training.  We would need 64 volunteers each week, experts to teach the enrichment portions and others willing to do Bible lessons with the students.  And we would do it at three different sites.  Could we do it?  Could we really make this happen?  That was July, now it’s December…

The answer is “yes”!  We did make it happen.  Maybe it doesn’t look exactly as we thought it would and maybe there are a few gaps, but it is working.  Sometimes when I think that it isn’t, I remind myself of what I’ve seen as I float from site to site to site.  I see Abigail at Baker Street who raises her hand to answer every question the group is asked about the Bible lessons.  She doesn’t always know the answer, but she always raises her hand.  I hear Juan’s mom calling him from the door at the Maple Learning Center at 5:45 when his session ended at 5:30.  “He never wants to leave here”, his mom says with a smile.  “It’s the best part of his day”.  Jasmine and Gio, both seniors in high school, give up nearly eight hours a week working with the younger students at The Hope Center.  They say it’s for their community service hours, but I know it’s more than that.

Together we are making Step Up happen.  We are providing a safe, warm environment for the kids to come and learn how to be leaders in their community.  We are giving them adult role models who know them and care about them.  We are giving them opportunities to learn how to be of service to each other and to the broader community.  We are connecting them to experts in their city who know about things that they have never been exposed to before.  We still don’t have 64 volunteers each week and we don’t have all the enrichment classes filled in on our master calendar – but each week we make it happen and each week more people are becoming involved.  I just hope I’m still around in 30 years so I can see how it all pans out!  These kids are going to be amazing because their community did “step up”!

Do You Really Love Your Neighbor?

Kingdom Causes – MIKA CDC

Crissy Brooks, one of our partners with MIKA CDC, has an interesting video on her blog about impacting communities. Check it out here:


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