In 2019 we set out into the community and the world and each month worked on mission outreach initiatives. In the photo above a volunteer lifts up a little girl at El Niño Memorial Day so that she can paint. How can you lift others up to serve? Here is a recap of everything we accomplished in missions in 2019.
On the second Sunday of each month in 2019, we had a group of volunteers prepare and serve lunch to groups of 100 to 125 people, many of whom are homeless. This gave us the opportunity to socialize and pray for guests, ultimately creating impactful relationships for both the volunteers and the guests. Each Friday during each month in 2019 we had Pizza Friday, also known as Jesus Pizza. Who doesn’t love Pizza, Jesus, and Friday’s? On these days we have a group of 15 to 20 volunteers efficiently serve around 300 to 400 Woodbridge High School students while modeling hospitality, a servant’s heart, and the love of God. This event provided a yummy lunch and a safe space for students to come and hang out, take a break, relax, and have fun!
In January we had Clean Comedy Night where the church helped our partner, Glad Tidings India, and over 150 people showed up. This had a significant impact on India including 180 women sponsored for 10-month literacy classes, 11 sewing machines sponsored for impoverished women, and 145 children sponsored for 2 weeks of Children’s Bible School. We were able to provide Bible school for children with our unexpected sale of scarves from this night! In February our church sent 3 teams to take Rooted (our young adult’s small group) to serve at Olive Crest and help with other Foster Care Family nights.
In March, we had El Niño Mexico photo day where volunteers spent the day updating information and photographs of all 240 sponsored children, as well as adding some new ones who would hopefully get sponsored. In May we worked with our local partner Salaam Ministries and members of Shepherd’s Grove had dinner with Muslim families during Ramadan. During Memorial Day Weekend we had a family service trip where 65 people from our congregation and people from three other Irvine churches helped pour a great amount of concrete for the foundation of a new community center. Shepherd’s Grove also worked to support the serve weekend by providing over $20,000 towards the building of the community center.
In June we had a shoe drive for Royal Family Kids. During this event, over 100 pairs of new shoes were donated by Shepherd’s Grove so that every child had a new pair to enjoy during camp and to keep once camp was over. Many kids show up to camp with only a trash bag with some clothes and flip-flops or worn-out shoes, so having a new pair is very exciting and significant for them. Our church also sponsored a Next-Steps luncheon for the local community to obtain accurate information and answer questions about getting more involved in the Foster care community. In partnership with Zero By 2020, around 30 people listened intently to the presentations and heard from people in the community who have adopted or fostered children and were reminded of God’s heart for vulnerable children.
In July, Shepherd’s Grove sponsored a faith-based soccer camp open for all kids but primarily targeted towards foster kids. During this, in addition to developing soccer skills and having fun, we had the opportunity to share Jesus with 38 kids, 28 of which were a part of Foster care or group homes. Each day we had 35 kids show up! We worked with Royal Family Kids again this month by helping sponsor a one week camp (along with Rock Harbor Church and St. Andrews Presbyterian). The main purpose of Royal Family Kids camps is to give foster children ages 6-12 a week of positive memories and royal treatment in a Christian camp environment. All of the kids have experienced trauma in their lives, including abuse and neglect. When one of these kids attends camp they receive a lot of attention and encouragement. For these kids it’s the best week of the year — it’s a special time when they can just focus on having fun and enjoy being a kid.
In August we had El Niño Fiesta, Mexico. We celebrated the 15th annual Backpack distribution Fiesta! 45 volunteers from 5 different churches joined together to support the students and families to give them a great start to a new school year. It was a wonderful day! At this event, there were 10 to 15 booths each set up with a different kid-friendly game. Over 700 people took turns playing games before enjoying an amazing taco lunch. After that, it was time to pass out backpacks, uniforms, and build relationships with sponsored kids and families. It didn’t matter if you spoke Spanish or not, everyone had a great time. We currently have 160 kids sponsored in elementary and secondary education and another 60 in the university program. Since we started the program, over 1,000 kids have attended school and over 100 have graduated from a university with a four-year degree! We are helping change a generation! With all these great things going on, we could use more sponsors! For as little as $240 per year ($600 for university), you can change a child’s life by helping them pay for an education.
In September we had Irvine Feeds The World where we helped build community through service in a fun, festive, and family-friendly atmosphere. Our church organized the event by bringing together over 500 volunteers from Jenny Hart Preschool, Woodbridge High School, members of the Irvine Community including the Irvine Police Department, and of course the local Shepherd’s Grove Church community. Together with 525 volunteers, we packaged 62,424 meals to help fight world hunger through our partnership with Kids Around The World and their One Meal Program. In October we helped several mission team members on a short-term mission trip to Armenia where they built a playground with our partner Kids Around The World.
In November we had Operation Christmas Child where Shepherd’s Grove filled over 200 shoeboxes with gifts to touch the lives of the children and the families around the world, bringing hope through the Good News of Jesus Christ in the form of a simple gift. Over $19,000 was raised at the Alternative Christmas Bazaar where several hundred people stopped by to shop for unique and meaningful gifts to benefit our mission partners in Orange County, Africa, Asia, Mexico, and India. Items such as purchasing shares of orphanage support, food and nutrition programs, livestock, farm equipment, building supplies, scholarship funds, books, computers, and more. Finally, in December 2019 we had a Christmas gift drive for Tijuana Christian Mission which is our longest-running mission partner. They provide for over 100 children from newborn to age 18. This year Shepherd’s Grove provided gifts for 53 kids by selecting a photo, purchasing and wrapping a gift (or several), and then taking the photo home to display on their own Christmas tree as a reminder to pray for that child or staff member.
Jesus was a servant. We see this evident throughout His life as described in the Bible. Christ calls us to be servants. Whether He calls you to be a servant leader or to have and show a servant’s heart, we at Shepherd’s Grove Presbyterian Church are always looking for ways to serve our local community here in Irvine and the world.