40 Years or More – Intentional Missions
Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, to the Ends of the Earth
Researched and Written by Greg Orozco
Almost every Sunday when you and I are in our worship service something will be brought up about a mission trip being supported, prayed for, or someone heading off. Why is it that? Well, while we’re a pretty good example of a ‘serving’ church, our identity is most associated with two things: Ministries and Missions. WCC has faithfully supported a 40 year love affair for missions and the selfless servants of God who go to places very much out of their comfort zone; but because of their devotion to the Lord, they heed the call. These folks are extraordinary people!
‘I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.’ (TNIV), John 4:35
The Early Days: 1970?s – 1980?s
WCC started in 1970 as Irvine Hills Community Church. Pretty much right from the beginning our church, led by founding pastor, Dr. Rich Samuelson, set aside funds to support the Baptist General Conference missionaries. In their first year’s existence they gave $1156 towards missions support and by the end of the first decade, that figure had grown to $5000. That money reflects passion and caring for others in need and this church was definitely pointing people’s hearts in the right direction!
The 70’s saw Jesus’ work being carried out in Ethiopia. Our church supported missionaries Bill and Alice Murray, Ruth Winterseen, and the Bill Head family. Also, in the early 70’s we began support for a couple Tom and Jan Crowell. They answered God’s call to help in the translation of the Bible withWycliffe Bible Translators and they settled in to do their work from Dallas, TX. For many years Tom was the International Coordinator for Literacy and in more recent times the director of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL). Jan taught English as a Second Language to those in the local public schools & others. Today she distributes strategic prayer information (Wycliffe Prayer Focus Bulletin) on the World-Wide-Web as part of her Wycliffe duties. People all over the world are reading the Word of God for the first time because of dedicated folk like the Crowells. Jan’s parents, Don and Marion Bowman, were one of the charter member couples actively involved with the establishment of our church. Making the connection stronger for the church and the Crowell’s, and in a way seeing Jan as a homegrown WCC missionary
Marc and Patty Rutter, once students at UCI, returned from Zaire to serve here in the USA as part ofCampus Crusade for Christ (now CRU)) serving at Indiana University, Pennsylvania sharing Christ with students & faculty. Currently they work as the U.S. National Director of Leadership and HR helping to build ministry leaders in order to prepare them to change the world. The Rutters have been serving for over 31 years!
Kristy (Lovett) Fox began her association with WCC as a student at UCI who made our church her home while studying. She took part in the youth ministry and while in college, she worked as part time secretary in the youth office. Upon graduation from UCI she worked as a volunteer for Young Life as well as the WCC youth group. In the 1990s she began being supported by WCC. Kristy has been an Area Director for Young Life in Tustin, California for almost 17 years overseeing 7 different Young Lifeministries. Today she and her husband Jon work with many of the middle school and high school kids in the Tustin area. Weekends are never boring for them as they have used many of them to run various camps in order to train kids in leadership, discipleship and other types of learning experiences.
Kristy Lovett-Fox as you can well see was a member of WCC. The Rutters you ask? Yep, former WCC members as well!
In the 90’s the hearts of the people of WCC felt compelled to begin offering support to the Home Missions programs of the Southwest Baptist General Conference. In a sense, this was an opportunity to give back. Home Missions programs that SWBC runs are programs designed to plant churches in the U.S. and WCC is a byproduct of these church planting projects. A church song written in 1969 called ‘Pass It On’ states, ‘It only takes a spark to get a fire going. And soon all those around can warm up to its glowing. That’s how it is with God’s love, once you’ve experienced it, you spread His love to everyone; you want to pass it on’. This spoke of the desire in the hearts and minds of the congregants of WCC, to pass it on through our support to the same program that we were started through! It might well be considered a “Pay It Forward” action.
From 1990 up to 2000, mission support grew rapidly. God was igniting a burning desire within the members of WCC to view missions as a top priority!
As the title of this article implies, ‘to the ends of the earth’ are where missionaries are called. For example, one of those who WCC began supporting during this time frame is Ruth Cowan. Ruth is a Board Member at Wycliffe Bible Translators and works out of their Orlando, FL office. Some others who we support as part of Wycliffe that came on in the ‘90’s are Dr. George Cowan, Dave and Nancy Wolfenden , and Tony and Colleen Barker.
Ruth is a great example of having taken God’s message worldwide! She’s worked in the U.K. and Peru as part of her Wycliffe assignments. These days she spends a lot of time traveling in the U.S. speaking to churches and at other venues spreading God’s message as well as taking part in projects that are associated with helping the people of Peru continue in their walk with the Lord.
Dr. George Cowan, the father of Ruth and Esther, another daughter whom we support as part of Campus Crusade, served from 1957 to 1981 as President of Wycliffe Bible Translators and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL). His other duties included responsibilities in Europe, Africa, Mexico, Canada, and Germany among other places. Wow!!! Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to support this servant of God?
Dave and Nancy Wolfenden work in Makati City, Philippines on Bible translation projects for both New Testament and full Bible versions. Their other duties involve a school program called Faith Academy in Bagabag (Dave teaches computer and computer science classes there.) Their entire family is active in A4J (All for Jesus) as an outreach to the poor communities surrounding Faith Academy.
Tony and Colleen Barker serve with Emmanuel Press in South Africa spreading the Gospel in the schools and taking part in discipleship via Bible lessons to others. Tony and Colleen also assist in church planting and government sponsored training groups. A former student recently wrote, ‘Put your full trust in the Lord Jesus and you will never be disappointed. Never give up in life because you do not know how close you are to what you need when you give up. Never give up on God for he will never give up on you’. This is an example of how WCC’s support is paying dividends in a former non-believer who has been transformed to the point where she is able to pen such sage advice!
Dr. George, Ruth, and Esther (more on her later) Cowan as well as the Wolfendens and the Barkers are current or former members of….you got it….WCC!!
“Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.” Mark 4:20 (NIV)
During this same decade WCC came to know Nick and Maia Mikhaluk of International Partnership who live in Kiev, Ukraine. In their home in Ukraine, the issue is atheism and a lack of interest in believing in God. For many, especially the men, dependence on God is viewed as a weakness. Nick and Maia point the people to small groups that utilize a combination of an interest (cooking, learning to speak English [ESL], etc.) and Bible study.
The ‘90s also brought Benjamin Musyoka (World-Wide Missions)to our church. He and his family were currently living in La Mirada while Ben completed his doctorate. Going back to his homeland, Ben has been teaching and helping many in Kenya, Africa. He and his wife Judith are very involved in the Kenya Food Project, important due to the drought issues that have been devastating this region of Africa where many lives have already been lost because of the lack of water. Effective Christian aid speaks volumes into the lives of those struggling just to survive. Ben also teaches at Daystar University where his classes incorporate faith as well as learning and provides training to local pastors in the Kenya area.
In the 1990s we began supporting Esther Cowan. Does that name sound familiar? She’s also a daughter of Dr. George Cowan and she was called to serve God through her work with Campus Crusade for Christ (now CRU). Esther has been working with CRU for 40 years as of this year! Another globetrotter for God in that her service has taken her to 48 of our states, plus Germany (and surrounding countries), England, Russia, Romania, Ukraine, and Slovenia. The last 6 years she’s been in Florida in the HR department for CRU Headquarters. God has blessed her with a great sense of humor based on how she closed out a summary of her 40 years with CRU: “Through the years many things have changed. The predominate color of my hair for one!”
2000 and Beyond!
Many of the families here at WCC have children or have had children take part in the AWANA program. AWANA offers many programs for children of many age groups (AWANA Clubs, 24/7, AWANA Lifeline, and AWANA International). We supported Brad and Margie Iverson who served in California and in Texas. Currently we offer our support to the efforts put forth by Don and Debbie Issaac for their needs to train, equip, and support those who are putting on these programs. AWANA has been a part of the WCC DNA almost from the day we moved into our current facilities, in 1984. The missionary support for AWANA did not begin until the 2000’s, but the ministry has been alive and well at WCC for close to 30 years.
There are two other WCC alums who answered the call to missionary work, one being Jared Hall and the other called to mission work in an area that is not safe nor friendly to God’s work. Hmm, are you beginning to see a trend here as it pertains to WCC and missionary work?
Jared Hall serves as a missionary with Fellowship of Christian Athletes in Irvine, CA. Jared has been on staff with FCA since 2007 as he spreads God’s Word with the high schools in Orange County. He gets together with these kids in ‘huddles’. What’s a huddle? Well, when kids get together to share their faith and to encourage each other, these are called ‘huddles’. An example of the Holy Spirit working through Jared was reflected in an article written for our bulletin in 2010 which showed that ‘the huddle size for these local schools is as follows: Woodbridge: 150; Northwood: over 400; Irvine: 130; Beckman: 120; Mater Dei: 170; Foothill: 300; University: 60’.
Our no-name alum, as mentioned earlier, serve in areas around the world that are hostile to the Christian faith and would not hesitate to kill or seriously harm our missionaries, but that does not mean they cannot be prayed for. Simply put, these folk have been to a great many locations that brings God’s Word to those who have little to no spiritual truth in their lives.
The 2000s brought about a relationship between Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) and specifically the Good News Clubs ministry that is under their umbrella of mission programs. The trained teachers of this program meet with groups of children in the local schools, homes, community centers and wherever else they can in order to present Bible lessons. They take part songs, Scripture memory games, and various other activities related to our faith in Christ. This ministry actually takes the Gospel to public schools. They even won a Supreme Court case to do so! Your support dollars and prayers helped in all of this!!!
Our support has also gone to a missionary, Tim Nash, who is part of the Baptist General Conference(BGC). Tim‘s work is in Tecate, Mexico. He works in the training and developing of those who are relatively new Christian leaders. Two programs that he takes part in are the Tecate Alliance of Churches and work with Kids Around the World, Inc. as they build a playground in the Tecate area for the kids which will assist Tim in his ability to create a safe haven for children and parents alike as he then teaches them the Word of God.
WCC and FACI together Envision larger fields to Harvest!
When WCC and the Filipino-American Church of Irvine came together so did mission support that was once part of FACI. “Together, We can do more than we can ever do alone”.
Part of this shared support goes to Baptist General Conference (recently changing its name toConverge Worldwide). Cirilo Doguilles the Executive Director of Converge Worldwide and it’s leaders take the Gospel globally through planting churches, mobilizing churches, developing leaders, and showing the love of Christ in all aspects of their work. What a blessing to be a part of this process!
Other forms of Church Planting that FACI, and now WCC have been supporting are TEAMerica and Decade Cebu Church Plant. These are also part of Converge. I guess you could say that in a manner of speaking WCC is in the spiritual farming business!!
Far East Broadcasting has been a big part of missionary work for years and we have been blessed to get an up close view of what they do through the contact that we have with one of our own,… Pastor Jonathan Mortiz. We currently support two programs through FEBC and this has become a very fruitful relationship with a very high yield (I may as well keep with the farming terminology!!!).
Another missions program that WCC incorporated with the merger is the Payatas Feeding Program. Payatas is a part of the Philippines where families live on a landfill area and pick through it so that they can eat. The Payatas Feeding Program provides healthy meals to these families as well as spiritual education to the kids with a program called the Jesus Fun Club. We have been so touched by this particular program that we’ve sent folk from WCC to take part and help out first hand. In this, our 40thyear as a church, a team of WCC volunteers visited the Payatas area to serve, just as they had done in 2008 and earlier.
‘Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.’ Matthew 28:19 (NLT)
Ken and Bola Taylor of World Venture International are missionaries who have come to be supported through the merge as well. Their missionary work is extremely unique in that it uses Black Gospel Choir music as the tool for reaching Japanese non-Christians, who in turn began using this as a springboard to minister to their own non-Christian friends and family members. The Bola’s stated, “ If you want to reach people no one else is reaching you have to be willing to do things no one else is doing.” Amen to that!
One of the very first missionaries that FACI supported and whom WCC has come to truly have a special relationship with is Pastor Glen Kennedy. His work through Christians in Action, and more specifically, Asian Relief Medical Services (ARMS) has been a blessing to many who are too poor to take care of their basic medical needs. Another aspect of the work done by Christians in Action that is incorporated in Pastor Glen’s work is church planting and putting those who get medical help into the hands of existing church leaders so that their walk with Christ can continue to grow and blossom.
With UCI being so close to us it’s only natural that we take the word of our Lord into that campus and we do that through our support of a wonderful missionary program called InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. This is an evangelical campus mission that serves students and faculty nationwide. Their Small Group format studies Bible passages in depth while also serving as a means of fellowship, encouragement, and lasting friendships. UCI’s InterVarsity takes part in conferences, mission trips, and various events. The next generation needs godly leaders and this is why it’s a pleasure to support the future spiritual leaders that InterVarsity is producing!
The Newest Support
In more recent times WCC has found it important to support missionaries who are going into areas of the Muslim world in order to bring these people to faith. While we cannot supply names or specific missionary programs for the safety of the missionaries themselves, we can say that our support is going to organizations such as CRU and Frontiers.
Short Term Mission Trips
While WCC has always been a supporter of missionaries throughout the world and from a wide range of organizations, it is not only these people whom we have supported or looked to as great examples of servants to our Lord. People of all age groups from within WCC have been led by the Holy Spirit to serve in missions work.
Medical missions have served as a means of taking care of the physical needs around the world as well as serving as an opportunity to serve the spiritual needs of the poor people in the areas where the medical teams go to.
Leon and Doreen Nickens, who are nurses in the Orange County area and part of our WCC family, have traveled to places like the Philippines, Cambodia, and other areas with Asian Relief Medical Services (ARMS). They have witnessed thousands of people over the years come to make decisions to accept Christ along with hundreds of miraculous healings that only God can provide! Leon and Doreen have been able to offer the opportunity to pray and accept Christ to those they’ve helped and have come away with a greater appreciation for the power and love of Christ!
Marina Ball is another from WCC who has traveled to offer her service as a dermatologist in order to bring relief and healing to the poor throughout the world. Marina has gone on mission trips withChristian Medical & Dental Associations in places throughout the Asian world. What we so often take for granted as far as the care and treatment of our bodies, she has witnessed the many who never get the opportunity to receive medical or dental treatments become healed. She has used this as a means to bring God’s Word to others. Our Sister is a living testimony to Christ!
One of our young couples from WCC having gone on various mission trip.s as God spoke into their hearts, have been shaped for full time mission work and will be heading of soon, going where God has called them to serve, where He has placed a burden on their hearts, and where they believe they can be used by Him to bring light to a dark world.
Another church leader who has taken part in short term mission trips is Marilyn Smith. Kidz At Heart International is an organization that helps in providing children from all around the world the opportunities to learn in ways that work for kids best, by training children’s leaders in presentations, activities and lesson building. In 2010 Marilyn took part in a 10 day trip to Uganda to present workshops for children’s leaders in hands-on teaching skills and how to create better Bible based lesson plans. 5 of those days included very intensive training. The rest of the time was spent interacting with the students themselves while practicing these new lessons. This January (2012) Marilyn is leading a team of 5 to Uganda once again take the next step in training leaders in Bible based lessons and activities for the sake of the kids and the long-term future of Christianity in a continent threatened by Islamic influences and power. Marilyn truly has a heart for God!
Training and teaching church leaders in parts of the world where church planting is taking place is another need. Pastor Graham McGuinness, our Care and Counseling Pastor, traveled abroad in 2011 to do just that. Pastor Graham, along with a team that included his brother, traveled to Asia in order to train the local pastors by providing necessary tools for the spiritual needs of those seeking to come to Christ and those wanting to maintain their relationship with the Lord. It’s amazing how God will use people from one end of the world to help people in another in order to keep us together as one church family!
Our youth has also joined in the privilege of serving God! In December of 2008 the WCC youth along with several adults, travelled to Mexico to serve our sister church in Guadalupe de Victoria, Mexico. They helped handout much needed items like clothing, blankets, shoes, etc. as well as gifts and toys for the children ages 0-16. This is a trip that had been an annual love mission by the church.
In 2009 the youth went a little further to take part in short term missions. They participated in thePayatas Feeding Program in Manila, Philippines. The youth got to see first-hand how the youth of this area live off of the scraps found in a trash dump site, sifting through garbage in order to find a meal for their family. The WCC youth helped provide meals and spiritual support and fellowship with their newfound Filipino Christian brothers and sisters.
On a Mission for God!
As you can see, WCC has throughout our 40 years of existence supported mission work. Perhaps this is the ‘what are you famous for’ stamp of our church. While we do a lot of things in the name of God and for the love of Christ, there is something about mission work that has always been dear to our hearts. When we give support to missions each and every week, you can almost envision us shouting, to quote the Blues Brothers , ‘We’re on a mission! We’re on a mission from God!’