You’ll Never Go Through This Experience Unchanged

It’s been more than 11 years since Stuart, a member of Gold Coast Christian Church in Oxnard, had the idea that he and some of his congregants start volunteering at the Mission. Unfortunately, his idea didn’t catch on quite like he hoped. One Friday a month, Stuart showed up to serve meals. Rarely did anyone else join him. “It was really humbling,” he said. “I just couldn’t twist anybody’s arm.”

So Stuart stopped coming. “I always say, ‘That’s when God stepped in.’ It was like right when I stopped, we got all of these volunteers. People started showing up and they just never stopped coming. So a lot of them have been coming for years and years. I can always count on them.”

About a year ago, Stuart added another monthly visit to the Mission—and he brought a group of vocally talented guys with him. “It’s worship singing, and we are there mainly to lead the men in worship,” Stuart said. “The guys love it. I don’t think I’ve ever sang for a more appreciative or more active group that wants to participate in my entire life.”

Every visit, the group sings “Break Every Chain,” a powerful song about overcoming obstacles. “They overpower us with their voices because they are so into it,” Stuart said. “They always tell me, ‘You can’t deny the spirit.’ It’s amazing to hear that.”

Stuart also pitches in to help with the annual events at Christmas and Thanksgiving. “The Mission is a real big place of hope. And all the volunteers I’ve seen over the years, they say, ‘I get more blessed by helping people than I expected.’ You’ll never go through this experience unchanged. You’ll be changed for the better.”