An Update and An Invitation

Hello Friends and Family!

I pray you are all doing well, and as always, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to open and read this short update from my family and I. It is such a blessing to know there are people who love us and care about what is going on with our ministry!

Our Step of Faith

Last month marked the one year anniversary of my family taking the step of faith to come on staff with SGWM. And while we had prayed for years for the opportunity to take a “full-time” ministry role with Saving Grace, it was a step of faith indeed. Because I work in part for Calvary Chapel Saving Grace’s Yorba Linda ministry, the church pays a portion of my salary. But because the other half of my work here is for Saving Grace World Missions, the other portion of my salary comes from us raising financial support. It’s been an amazing season of doing work so closely associated with with the heart of the Great Commission (you can read more about all of those things in our blog updates), but it has been a great step of faith to rethink the way God provides for us financially.

Why Financial Supporters?

Because I have such an active role in the “home” ministries of Calvary Chapel Saving Grace, many people don’t know that much of my work is actually for SGWM, and so I raise financial support like any other SGWM missionary. That may seem strange for someone who does not actually live abroad as a missionary! But this is the norm for our SGWM Home Office staff for a number of reasons. Our work here in Yorba Linda for SGWM is crucial for the success of our international ministries and missionaries, and therefore we know that we are just as much involved in the work of missions as they are. Living off of financial support also gives us a greater identification with our missionaries on the field, as this aspect of being a missionary is by far one of the most difficult and uncomfortable. And above all, by raising support from financial donors who want to support our ministries, we can keep the actual costs to SGWM and administrative fees to affiliate missionaries lower and we can use SGWM financial resources for other needs connected to our mission of reaching the nations for Christ.

Can I Be Honest?

In all honesty, I struggled greatly with the idea of writing this update, as support raising is one of the hardest things for missionaries to do. As our family grows we have realized that we are in need of more monthly financial supporters. We have been praying fervently for the Lord to provide all that we need. But, as we at SGWM encourage all of our missionaries to do, we also know that we need to present our needs to our brothers and sisters in Christ. We sincerely ask that you would pray for us in this area, and, if you are so led by the Spirit, we’d ask you to pray about whether the Lord would have you join our ministry through financial support. We would absolutely LOVE to spend some time talking with you about our ministry if you want to hear more! Please feel free to call, text, or email me and I’d be delighted to set up a time with you over coffee or in the office to talk about my family’s role with SGWM! I’ve included my contact info at the very bottom of this update.

If you would like to support us financially either on an ongoing basis or through a one-time donation, you can do so by clicking the “Become A Financial Partner” button below, OR you can mail a check written out to Saving Grace World Missions with “Joel Garcia support” in the memo section to Saving Grace World Missions, 17451 Bastanchury Rd., Suite 203, Yorba Linda, CA 92886-1873.

We also would love to keep you updated on our ministry via our newsletter email updates if you are interested. You can sign up for those by clicking the button below:

Email Updates

Thank you so much for your prayers, support, and consideration in this. To all of our current financial supporters, we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts as well for joining in our ministry in this way. I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for us!
In Christ,
Joel, Amy, Maggie, Harrison, Jude, and Baby #4 Garcia
562-322-4718
joel@sgwm.com

A Land Full of Potential

Hello Friends!

We pray you are all doing well, and thank you for taking a moment to read our latest update! I (Joel) have been reflecting lately on what in the past has been, quite frankly, my least favorite portion of scripture: Joshua’s dividing up of the land to Israel after they entered the Promised Land. The list of boundary lines and cities is not a thrilling read, but I was assigned to teach this to our Bible College students in South Asia (via Skype) through the book of Joshua as I finished up my portion of this semester’s teachings. As I approached this text, I noticed that the future of Israel’s rich history was represented in what was, at that time, cities and lands full of potential. This potential for them was the choice between honoring God with the land and seeing His blessings in it (with places like Shiloh and Jerusalem), or offending God with idol worship and receiving the curse of disobedience (as with Ben-Himmon or Dan). As we move forward in our lives of following Christ, the same pregnant potential lies in front of us at all times. Will we reach out and receive His promises in faith and obedience, or end up heaping trouble on our lives with sin, laziness, or cowardice? Praise God that for us, above all of this, stands His great and faithful grace!

Joel giving his last teaching of the semester for South Asia Bible College students

This last month has been a great one! I (Joel) got to lead worship for the church’s men’s retreat, which was an amazing experience to be a part of. It is such a privilege to have a front-row seat to seeing the men of our church lifting holy hands in prayer and worship.

Joel leading the worship team for CCSG’s men’s retreat

I’m also looking forward to traveling next year. Sadly, I will not be able to go to Jordan and Israel as I anticipated due to the proximity of those dates to Amy’s due date. However, that gives me a little more flexibility regarding another potential trip at the beginning of the year. I have learned to on hold loosely to plans for short terms missions, since I’ve discovered those plans can change in an instant! But once things are more firm for this particular trip, I’ll give you all some more details. I am excited about the prospect!

On the home front, the kids are doing great! Maggie is flourishing with homeschooling and loves to learn. Jude is starting to walk all over the place more and more. And Harrison is jumping in and learning lots of things alongside Maggie. It’s always an adventure with those three, and we can’t wait to add one more!

Speaking of #4, please continue to keep Amy in your prayers through this pregnancy. She’s doing great, but experiencing all of the fatigue that comes along with pregnancy and being the amazing, active mom that she is.

We also ask that you continue to keep us in prayer to find a larger home that fits our limited budget, as well as the additional funds needed for a move. We’d love to have a three or four bedroom house to have more space for the kids to run around, room for the new baby, and to be able to practice more hospitality and host more church gatherings.

Finally, please pray as I enter a busy season of running two of our church’s biggest events: our Halloween Front-Yard Outreach Parties and our all-church Thanksgiving Potluck. These are a lot of work, but are super rich and fruitful events, and we have an amazing group of servants at the church who step up to lend their giftings.

Love you all, and please feel free to let us know what is going on in your lives and how we can pray for you!

All The Best For His Glory,
Joel, Amy, Maggie, Harrison, Jude, and Baby #4


If you’d like to become a financial partner with us as Joel continues to work as a missionary with SGWM’s home office, please click the button below, OR you can mail a check written out to Saving Grace World Missions with “Joel Garcia support” in the memo section to Saving Grace World Missions, 17451 Bastanchury Rd., Suite 203, Yorba Linda, CA 92886-1873. Thank you all for your support and prayers!

Big News & Full Plates

Hello Friends and Family!

I pray that you are all doing well, and we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for taking the time to read this quick update and join us in prayer!

First of all, we’re excited to present our big news to you all: Amy is pregnant with our 4th child! We’ll be introducing our newest little one into the world in Spring of 2019. We are blessed that the Lord has allowed us to have a “full quiver” of children so close in age so that they can grow and learn and be friends together. Amy and I celebrated our 7th anniversary of marriage this past month and are blown away by God’s faithfulness to us!

Enjoying a coffee/Scrabble date on our anniversary

Baby #4!

With this big news also comes a busy season in our lives. Joel has been teaching a weekly Wednesday night class through the book of Joshua to some of SGWM’s Bible College students in South Asia. It is such an honor for him to play a role in training up future leaders for Christ in a country where biblical resources are scarce and the need for the Gospel is great.

Joel teaching an overseas Bible class via Skype

In addition, Joel is going to be attending our church’s School of Ministry every Thursday night for 3 1/2 hours for the next 8 months. This is a great opportunity for him, as he has never had any “official” ministry training. He will also be acting as a pastoral mentor for others taking the class in the ins and outs of ministry. Needless to say, between those two things, family, leading Life Groups and Worship Ministry, teaching Young Adults every Friday night, and running two big upcoming church events, our plates are quite full!

Joel announcing CCSG’s School of Discipleship/Ministry

On the home front, Maggie is beginning her homeschool/charter program, and is totally nailing it! We couldn’t be more proud of her, and of course Harrison can’t help but join in on the learning action occasionally. Amy continues to be an amazing mom and excels in the role of teacher for all of our kids. And finally, we know many of you were praying for us in past months for Jude (1) to sleep better through the night. His sleep schedule has been great for many weeks now, so thank you for your prayers; God answered them!

Harrison at a doctor’s checkup

Cute Jude (who’s started walking a bit more lately!)

Maggie at a recent princess birthday party for a friend

We ask that you keep the following in prayer:

  1. For a safe and healthy pregnancy for both the new baby and for Amy, as she juggles the difficulties of pregnancy with raising our three others while I’m at work during the days.
  2. For continued financial support. We are praying that the Lord provides the resources and opportunity for larger housing for us (specifically, we’d love a house with a yard for the kids to play in). This seems impossible in Southern California, but we trust God will provide us with it if He sees fit for us to have that for His glory.
  3. For increased energy and balance with all of the ministry on our plates. We want to do not just many things for the Lord, but we want to do many things well for His glory while maintaining a healthy family life.
  4. Please pray for Maggie (as well as Harrison and Jude) to continue to develop a love for learning, and for Amy and I to receive an ever-increasing vision and plan from God for educating our children and making them disciples of Christ
  5. Please pray for the many upcoming opportunities for Joel to travel for SGWM. He is planning on, Lord-willing, three fairly big trips in 2019, so we need wisdom on what opportunities he should take and for additional financial support to go on the trips the Lord would have him go on. (Hopefully more details to come on those opportunities in future updates!)

Thank you all again for your continued prayers and support, it means the world to us! And I know we usually end our updates with this, but we sincerely ask that you would respond to us with any prayer requests of your own. We love you all and are delighted to partner in prayer with you, not just your prayers for us, but our prayers together for the Gospel.

All the Best for His Glory!
Joel, Amy, Maggie, Harrison, and Jude


If you’d like to become a financial partner with us as Joel continues to work as a missionary with SGWM’s home office, please click the button below, OR you can mail a check written out to Saving Grace World Missions with “Joel Garcia support” in the memo section to Saving Grace World Missions, 17451 Bastanchury Rd., Suite 203, Yorba Linda, CA 92886-1873. Thank you all for your support and prayers!

Summer Update #2!

Hey Friends & Family! Here’s another quick Summer update along with some prayer requests for those of you who are following our ministry. Thank you all so much for your prayer and for faithfully partnering with us!

Last week, I (Joel) got to go on my first youth retreat in a couple of years. It took some mental preparation to get back into “Youth Leader Mode,” as it’s been over 2 years now since I stepped away from being the church’s Jr. High Leader to being our Young Adults Leader. I was honored to lead worship for the majority of the trip and give a couple of teachings, one on God’s holiness and one on God’s mercy. What a blessing to see these students worshiping God with their whole hearts! One of my biggest takeaways was the effect that past retreats have had on these students. Youth retreats like this produce lasting fruit that many of them will look back on as spiritually defining moments in their lives, and that was what I was hearing from them on this retreat.

 

Of course, all of this awesome ministry I got to partake in comes along with other youth ministry shenanigans, like having them drench you with (thankfully, waterproof) paint! But I have to say that at the end of the day, I kind of miss that sort of thing, messy and exhausting as the games and running and chaos can be.

As I write this, tonight will be my first night of teaching via Skype in South Asia for nine straight weeks through the book of Joshua. I am really excited to jump back into this ministry! This is, however, a busy season for me since I also teach our Young Adults weekly (currently through the book of James), as well as leading a Life Group (our church’s home groups) and helping facilitate our September New Believers’ Class, on top of worship ministry. My plate is full, but I can always ask the Lord for a bigger one, and he’s faithful to do so 🙂

I am also planning on going to Israel in the Spring of next year with our church to further my education as a Bible teacher, as well as to scope out some potential ministry in an adjacent middle-eastern country. I’m glad my travel schedule is finally starting to shape up for 2019 after some previous plans fell through, and I’m planning to help lead a Peru trip for our youth and young adults next Summer as well!

On the home front, the family is doing great. Jude is happy as a clam as always (though we’re still working on getting the kid to walk!), Harrison just turned three and is doing great learning how to be more responsible in helping around the house (he loves the working vacuum cleaner we got him for his birthday!), and we are in the process of getting Maggie enrolled in a charter program to begin her “TK” schooling. Amy, as always, is an amazing mom, and somehow squeezes in the time to meet with some of our young adult girls to disciple them on occasion. I’m certainly a blessed man to have such a wonderful family!

Here are some prayer needs of ours:

  1. Please pray for our finances. Even with young kids, food for a family of five has been a big expense and we have been stretched. We are trusting God, and praying that He will somehow, even though it seems impossible to us, provide us with a house to rent so both our kids and our young adults group, who meet at our place, have some more wiggle room.
  2. Please pray for wisdom and strength for us as parents, especially for Amy who takes the brunt of things while I am working during the days and often have other ministry at nights. She is a fantastic mother and can use prayer to continue to be so!
  3. Please pray for the additional finances we will need for me to go on the Israel/Jordan trip (over $4,000) in Spring.
  4. Please pray for wisdom in managing my busy schedule, as I am teaching and leading groups quite a bit, and this also requires lots of study time for me on top of other responsibilities.

Thank you so much for your continued support and prayers, and please let us know if there is any way we can pray for you!

All the Best for His Glory!
Joel, Amy, Maggie, Harrison, and Jude


If you’d like to become a financial partner with us as Joel continues to work as a missionary with SGWM’s home office, please click the button below, OR you can mail a check written out to Saving Grace World Missions with “Joel Garcia support” in the memo section to Saving Grace World Missions, 17451 Bastanchury Rd., Suite 203, Yorba Linda, CA 92886-1873. Thank you all for your support and prayers!

Missionary Spotlight Article for the Record Family: Defending the Faith in a Foreign Land

One of my favorite aspects of my job is interviewing missionaries and writing up articles describing their ministries to get the word out about what SGWM’s missionaries are up to. I’ll post some of those here on my own blog from time to time to give an example of what I’m doing to help promote the work of SGWM and our missionaries. Here’s an article I wrote awhile back about the Record Family, who have the unique role of doing Christian Apologetics ministry in Cambodia. If you’d like to become a supporter of our ministry, please see below this article for some instruction on that.

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“When I first heard about Christian Apologetics,” says Darryl Record, SGWM missionary in Cambodia, “my initial reaction was, ‘I’m not going to apologize for being a Christian!’ I had no idea what it meant.” I doubt that Darryl is alone in this experience, as we’ve been trained to view the word “apology” in a very specific light. But Darryl soon learned the true definition of apologetics, and he was hooked on the concept. Bruce Shelley, in his book Church History in Plain Language, says, “the word comes from Greek and means defense, such as a lawyer gives at a trial.” Darryl decided to commit the focus of his life to this defense of the faith, a journey that took him from not even knowing what the word meant to eventually receiving his MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University.

The Record Family: Darryl and Kayo with their son Benjamin

But Darryl wasn’t content to remain in the states for his apologetics work, where information and resources already abound. Before receiving his degree from Biola, he had a breakthrough in his relationship with God in which he simply surrendered his all to Christ. He promised not to say “No” to whatever God may ask Him to do. So, God said, in effect, “Go to Cambodia.” After a short-term stint, Darryl returned home to finish his education, during which time he met his future wife Kayo, a first-generation Christian from Japan, who also felt a calling to missions. They married in 2004, went out back out on the field in 2007, and haven’t looked back since putting their hand to the plow.

Darryl noticed that while there were plenty of gospel resources in Cambodia, there was not much material regarding creationism or evidence for the truth of the Bible. But surely the Cambodian people struggled with the same existential questions that had plagued Darryl earlier in his own life, right? For Darryl personally, he says that at one point in his life there was a “gradual flow of evolution and Biblical criticism that was seeping into my worldview from my public school teachers and later university professors. Little by little my faith was eroded.” These problems are not exclusive to western culture. According to Darryl, the Theravada Buddhists of Cambodia “believe that everything came into existence by water, wind, earth, fire, time, and chance.” And evolution is pushed hard in schools there, just as it is in the U.S. So Darryl’s heart is to not only present the Gospel, but also to gently and respectfully help remove intellectual obstacles in the hearts of the unbelievers there.

Darryl with his Cambodia Bible Institute Apologetics Class

Typically when westerners think of apologetics, we conjure up images of men in suites with lots of letters attached to their names trying to win an argument. But Darryl knows that apologetics is not about winning debates. Especially in the Asian culture he lives in, the focus needs to be on relationship and community, so that is how he approaches his broad range of work in his field in Cambodia. Primarily, he teaches Christian apologetics at a Bible school there, but he has also authored and co-authored two bilingual Christian apologetics books, written scripts for Christian radio programs, and is currently working on an exciting project of producing short evangelistic/apologetics videos in Cambodian. In this wide array of activity, he has mastered how to defend the faith with the gentleness of Christ in the way the Cambodian culture receives it best.

Darryl talking apologetics on the radio

Darryl clearly has his hands full, but he also has a laser-like focus. When asked to sum up his ministry in one sentence, he simply quotes Ephesians 4:12 – “for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Or, when put in his own terms, “We seek to equip local Christians to reach their own families and neighbors with confidence in the truth of God’s Word.” This is a vision that fits right in with SGWM’s: training nationals to reach their own people with the gospel in ways a westerner never could. And once he’s equipped nationals with the proper tools, they will be ready to, like Darryl, “give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have…. with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)

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If you’d like to become a financial partner with us, so that I can continue to work at promoting the work of SGWM and our missionaries through articles like this one and other means, please click the button below, OR you can mail a check written out to Saving Grace World Missions with “Joel Garcia support” in the memo section to Saving Grace World Missions, 17451 Bastanchury Rd., Suite 203, Yorba Linda, CA 92886-1873. Thank you all for your support and prayers!

Summer Update!

Hello Friends!

I pray that this Summer has been treating you well, and if it’s as hot (or hotter!) where you are as it is here in SoCal, I hope you’ve been able to keep cool!

The Summer months have been productive and fun for our family. Our SGWM team returned from South Asia a couple of weeks ago and brought back with them a boatload of vision for how God is going to move in that country in the coming months! One cool way that I get to participate is to bring my experience working in the financial department of SGWM to help our board see what kind of financial support is coming in and what funds are further needed to accomplish what God wants to do in that country. Crunching numbers and finances are not the most exciting part of missions, but it is incredibly vital and I’m so glad to play a role in this important aspect of SGWM.

While the team was gone last month, I got to finally launch our SGWM Prayer E-Book, which you can download in PDF for your Kindle or iBooks app here! Here at SGWM, we value prayer for our ministry and missionaries over all other forms of support, so this tool is a huge deal for us and we ask that if you have a heart for SGWM that you would download this and make it a part of your prayer life. What an honor that I got to be a part of its release! Here’s just a sample of what one of the pages looks like:

Another aspect of my job is representing SGWM outside of our church, and I was blessed to be able to do that with SGWM missionary Rebecca Alaniz a couple of weeks ago at Calvary Chapel Downey’s Missions Conference. It was so great getting to talk to people about who SGWM is and what we do!
Please continue to pray for wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit for our ministry. With so much happening in so many countries for SGWM, different trips are getting added and moved around, so I am praying about which trips I should go on to teach overseas, scope out terrain for new ministry, and encourage our missionaries in places like South Asia, Uganda, and Peru. Please pray for additional financial support to come in to help us pay for these trips.
I will also start Skype teachings for South Asia again next month, teaching through the book of Joshua for one of our Bible schools over there, so I am excited about that!
On the personal and church ministry front, things have been really fruitful as well. Our church is going through a 4-week Wednesday night series and I got to teach the first session on the subject of worship, which was a weighty responsibility and huge blessing! In about 3 weeks, I’ll also get to go lead worship and teach a few sessions for our church’s youth retreat, which I am honored I get to participate in.
Finally, our family got to do another camping trip with some friends of ours, which was a ton of work, but produced some great memories, fun for the kids, and some crazy cute pictures! And, I got to officiate my first wedding, which was a great blessing, and Amy and I cleaned up rather nicely for the occasion 🙂

Last minute pic of Amy and I right after getting ready for the wedding at my in-law’s place 🙂

Please continue to pray for us as life gets busy with three kids and so much ministry; we need lots of wisdom! We’d also ask that you pray for our financial support, as the cost of living is rising as our kids grow and we’d love to eventually be able to afford a larger living space for them to have room for more play and for us to be able to practice hospitality in ways we aren’t necessarily able to at the moment.

Thank you so much for your continued support and prayers, and please let us know if there is any way we can pray for you!

All the Best for His Glory!
Joel, Amy, Maggie, Harrison, and Jude


If you’d like to become a financial partner with us as Joel continues to work as a missionary with SGWM’s home office, please click the button below, OR you can mail a check written out to Saving Grace World Missions with “Joel Garcia support” in the memo section to Saving Grace World Missions, 17451 Bastanchury Rd., Suite 203, Yorba Linda, CA 92886-1873. Thank you all for your support and prayers!

Holding The Fort

Hello Friends and Family!

First of all, I want to thank you all for reading this. It is such an honor to know that we have people supporting us in prayer who want to know how to pray for us and what the Lord is doing in and through our lives!

As some of you know, about half of our SGWM staff has been on an almost 3-week (including travel time) trip to South Asia. With Pastor Mike’s wife gone there as well, leaving him to fill the role of mom and dad, that has left most of the day-to-day responsibilities for SGWM to land on myself and our awesome intern missionary (who is raising support to become a missionary in Croatia) Rebecca Alaniz. She has been such an amazing asset to our team and has helped make these three weeks a breeze! By God’s grace, we survived the team’s absence, but we’re looking forward to their return! I’ve already seen some of the amazing work they’ve been able to do over there, and I can’t wait to hear all about how the Lord used them! While I’m a bit jealous not to have gone, I’m honored that I get to stay behind and support them by holding the fort here at the SGWM office to free them up to be used by God there. Here’s a pic of our team there:

Part of the team in South Asia!

In the meantime, we are just about ready to go live with a project that has been in the pipeline for quite awhile, our SGWM prayer book! This will be an amazing resource that will showcase all of our missionaries and their basic prayer requests for their ministries. What a wonderful way to keep our missionaries and their needs in front of “senders” here at home! I’ll be getting the book live in PDF format this week so that people can download it for Kindle, iBooks, or just as a PDF. Be on the lookout for this!

With our senior pastor, Trent Douglass, gone on the South Asia trip, I had the opportunity to preach at my church last week, which was a huge blessing. I taught on one of my favorite passages, Paul’s prayer at the end of Ephesians 3. I loved studying and being reminded myself of my need for strength in the inner man, to be rooted and grounded in Christ’s love, and to be filled with the fullness of God! If you’d like, you can listen to it here 🙂

Things have been fun with the family as well. Maggie (4) and Harrison (2) are doing their first swimming lessons this week, and are already doing an amazing job! I’m proud watching them be brave out in the water. We also got to go on our first family camping trip with some friends in June! It was just a one-night test run, but it was super fun (even with all the hard work!) and we’ll be going again with our Life Group in July.

Maggie in the floral swimsuit, and Harrison on the far right leaning over the water

Jude kickin’ back while brother and sister swim

Camping!

Fun with friends

Plumb-tuckered out from camping!

Also, Amy had the opportunity to lead a workshop on the subject of Biblical community at our church’s women’s retreat in May. I got to listen in on it, and she did an amazing job! With all of her responsibilities as a mom, there are certain gifts she doesn’t get to utilize as much as we’d like her to. But I was able to take care of all three kids while she was gone, and it was great to hear her use her gift of exhortation and put her exegetical skills to use! I’m super blessed to have a wife who loves the Lord and can lead other women to look to Him.

Amy teaching a workshop at the CCSG Women’s Retreat

Please be in prayer for my upcoming trip to Uganda in October. We’re still ironing out some of the details, but I’m really looking forward to going there to sit with and encourage our missionaries, and to bring home a vision for all that the Lord is doing there. I’m praying about some other possible trips over the next couple of years, so please pray for direction for us on that.

Love you all! Thank you for praying for us, and please feel free to respond to this email letting us know what is going on in your lives and how we can pray for you!

All the Best for His Glory!
Joel, Amy, Maggie, Harrison, and Jude


If you’d like to become a financial partner with us as Joel continues to work as a missionary with SGWM’s home office, please click the button below, OR you can mail a check written out to Saving Grace World Missions with “Joel Garcia support” in the memo section to Saving Grace World Missions, 17451 Bastanchury Rd., Suite 203, Yorba Linda, CA 92886-1873. Thank you all for your support and prayers!

Come To The Feast!

A couple of months ago I was in the book of the prophet Isaiah in my Bible reading plan. I was down in a small room at our church with couches, an isolated little spot where I spend time with Jesus an hour or two before work during the week. This amazing poem in the book (chapter 25, verses 6 though 9) leapt off the page:

The Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain;
A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow,
Refined, aged wine.
And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples,
Even the veil which is stretched over all nations.
He will swallow up death for all time,
And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces,
And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth;
For the Lord has spoken.
And it will be said in that day,
“Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us.
This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.”

It was a moment of clarity and vision: This is why I do what I do with SGWM! I found my heart longing for this moment that awaits us, and the Lord renewed in my heart my goal of seeing people from every nation gathered with me on that mountain as my family in Christ. I’m going to get to feast with brothers and sisters from every continent, from every people group, and our job as Christians is to start inviting everybody we know to join us by spreading the gospel to our neighbors and the nations. Those little reminders from Him are so precious to push me to continue to do what I do!

Things in the ministry have been great! A couple of months back, I got the opportunity to go to an organization that supports me, Evangelical Christian Credit Union, where I used to work, and share in their staff meeting a little bit about what I do with SGWM as a US-based missionary. It was so sweet to share and see all my old friends there!

Speaking at ECCU

A couple of weeks ago was incredibly busy, but come Saturday night May 5th, all of the work we’ve done over the last few months paid off at our SGWM Missions Banquet! It was a roaring success, as all of the pieces came together perfectly. Our administrative staff and some amazing volunteers helped us put on a fruitful night of spreading our vision of what it means to disciple the nations as a missionary-sending and church-planting ministry. I got to lead bi-lingual worship with one of our church-planters from Mexico as well as interview one of our missionaries (and my friend), Rebecca Alaniz, who is preparing to head to Croatia, about what it means to have a strong sending ministry. It was such a blessing to be a part of this night!

Bilingual worship with Pastor Mike Vincent

Interviewing SGWM missionary Rebecca Alaniz

With Tim Pappas at the banquet

Two days after the banquet, Pastor Mike Thiemann (SGWM’s Director) and I got to head up to Sacramento for a couple of days at a conference with Church United, an organization that helps church leaders get involved in what is going on politically. It was really informative, especially regarding some troubling bills in the pipeline for California. We had a sweet time worshiping in the center of our state’s capitol building and got to meet with some of our assemblymen. The enemy is at work in the political realm, and it is time the church got on our knees to pray for our government and leaders!

Pastor Mike & I in front of the capitol

Senate in session!

With other church leaders in the capitol building

Finally, looking toward the future, I will not be able to go on the trip to the orphanage in Mexico in July after all, as I will be officiating a wedding here. I am, however, still planning on going to Uganda in October. Please pray as I will need to raise some additional support for that trip. I’m looking forward to visiting and blessing some of our missionaries there and getting a better vision for our involvement in Africa!

On the family front, things are going really well! The Lord has been good to our family. Maggie is growing so fast in her learning and maturity in being a helper around the house, Harrison is potty-trained and doing amazing, and Jude just turned one this month (and has plenty of dance moves to show for it!).

Love you all! Thank you so much for your prayers and support as we seek to be a family focused on inviting the nations to that future “feast on the mountain.”

In Christ,
Joel, Amy, Maggie, Harrison, and Jude Garcia


If you’d like to become a financial partner with us, so that I can continue to work at promoting the work of SGWM and our missionaries through articles like this one and other means, please click the button below, OR you can mail a check written out to Saving Grace World Missions with “Joel Garcia support” in the memo section to Saving Grace World Missions, 17451 Bastanchury Rd., Suite 203, Yorba Linda, CA 92886-1873. Thank you all for your support and prayers!

Missionary Spotlight Article for Rebecca and Brenna: Life, Death, and Waiting

One of my favorite aspects of my job is interviewing missionaries and writing up articles describing their ministries to get the word out about what SGWM’s missionaries are up to. I’ll post some of those here on my own blog from time to time to give an example of what I’m doing to help promote the work of SGWM and our missionaries. Here’s an article I wrote a few weeks ago about Rebecca Alaniz and Brenna Kulla, who are both preparing to go serve Jesus in Eastern Europe. If you’d like to become a supporter of our ministry, please see below this article for some instruction on that.

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“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:34, 35)

“He who does not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matthew 10:38)

The experience of the Christian life is the experience of death; that is, dying to ourselves, dying to our desires and passions apart from Christ, so that new desires and passions in Him may be the driving forces of our lives. For most of followers of Christ, this typically means setting aside selfish desires for either sin or just plain comfort, putting aside our tendency to make ourselves comfortable and secure, and instead stepping out of our proverbial “comfort zones” for the sake of the Gospel. If you pressed a lot of Christians in the United States, you’d likely find that the ultimate “dying to self” experience for most would be picking up and moving to a foreign country.

A Gypsy village in Zagreb, Croatia

That was not, however, the impression that I got as I sat in my office flanked by SGWM missionaries Rebecca Alaniz and (via Skype on my laptop) Brenna Kulla. Both of these young ladies are currently in a preparation period, gaining training and support before heading out to Eastern Europe, not far from each other in fact. Rebecca feels a call to head to Zagreb, Croatia, and Brenna plans on heading to Pecs (pronounced paych), Hungary. In Zagreb, Rebecca’s heart goes out to those in the Gypsy villages near that area, extending the love of Christ to those she says are looked at as “the despised, thieves, and unworthy of love” by many. Brenna sees a unique opportunity in Pecs, a university town that has become a center of diversity (a “borderless city” as she has heard it described) where she can work with other believers to offer the true gospel to foreign students and send them back to their home countries with the message of Christ.

Pecs, Hungary

For both of these young missionaries, they felt called to the mission field from a fairly early age, but the Lord gave them more specifics during their time at Calvary Chapel Bible College (Rebecca in Murrieta, California after a trip to Croatia, and Brenna in Hungary). They both heard of Saving Grace World Missions, and that brings us to the place they are in life now, the period of waiting to go. It’s a period that Brenna describes as death. While leaving the American dream behind to bring the gospel to the nations is an act of “death to self” that many Christians are so afraid of making, Brenna and Rebecca feel that staying in the comfort of home is the ultimate act of dying to all that they want. They want to go. But God is asking them to wait. How long? Neither of them is sure, though they hope it isn’t much longer. But the irony is that, through this waiting, God has increased their trust in Him and His timing, so that even if it is longer than they hope, their trust in Him is unwavering.

SGWM Missionary Brenna Kulla, preparing to go to Pecs, Hungary

Part of what makes this season so difficult is that as they seek to raise financial support, many are only willing to partner with a missionary who is actually on “the field.” The problem is, missionaries in the waiting season like Rebecca and Brenna need willing financial partners before they are able to head out. A good sending organization wouldn’t send out a couple of single gals without the financial stability they need to be safe and fulfill their calling, but if it were up to these girls, they’d leave in a second with barely enough to scrape by. Part of the blessing of waiting for Rebecca is that she is not only learning to raise financial support, but gaining a team of spiritual supporters behind her. She is being discipled, trained on cross-cultural issues, and learning the gravity of leaving. “Once you’re sent out,” she says, “you’re gone, so I’m learning to enjoy the time I’m here with family and friends.” Plus, she’s realized that the more she shares her story with people in the states, people here are learning about Gypsy culture and their need for Christ who wouldn’t have otherwise been informed. She’s actually providing her target culture with more prayer warriors on their behalf by her staying!

SGWM missionary Rebecca Alaniz (far right, preparing to go to Zagreb, Croatia) with some children in the Gypsy villages

Brenna feels much the same way. For her, “This season is an opportunity to invite people here to see the need and feel the calling as well.” It’s also taught her a lot about herself and God. “The walking and the waiting,” as she calls it, sometimes feels like a mountain in front of her, too big to scale. But as she realizes her own frailty, weakness, and inability, she is seeing God’s faithfulness do the work. Now she knows that when she finally makes it to Pecs full-time, it will only be because God has done the work, and she will have a greater confidence that he will get her through any challenges waiting for her there. For both Brenna and Rebecca, God has been redeeming the time of their waiting period. So while the preparation period may feel like death, they are finding abundant life in Christ in unexpected ways; abundant life that they can’t wait to see God use to turn Eastern Europe upside down for the Gospel.

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If you’d like to become a financial partner with us, so that I can continue to work at promoting the work of SGWM and our missionaries through articles like this one and other means, please click the button below, OR you can mail a check written out to Saving Grace World Missions with “Joel Garcia support” in the memo section to Saving Grace World Missions, 17451 Bastanchury Rd., Suite 203, Yorba Linda, CA 92886-1873. Thank you all for your support and prayers!

Missionary Spotlight Article for Vincent Family: Preach. Disciple. Send. Repeat.

One of my favorite aspects of my job is interviewing missionaries and writing up articles describing their ministries for SGWM’s monthly newsletters. I’ll post some of those here on my own blog from time to time to give an example of what I’m doing to help promote the work of SGWM and our missionaries. Here’s an article I wrote a few weeks ago about the Vincent family in Rosarito, Mexico. If you’d like to become a supporter of our ministry, please see below this article for some instruction on that.


Preach. Disciple. Send. Repeat.
by Joel Garcia

Attending a church service at Calvary Chapel Rosarito is a dynamic experience from the very beginning. As you walk into the courtyard, you’re immediately faced with the fact that this church genuinely wants you here. They want you to feel at home. They want you to feel like a part of their family. They want you to eat with them and talk with them and laugh and cry and sing with them. Their friendly greetings and hearty handshakes and warm smiles are a message from God through His people. What they’re really saying is, “You matter to us, because you matter to Him.”

And that’s not where things stop for Pastor Mike Vincent’s church in Rosarito, Mexico. If you’re a newcomer (or if you’ve brought a newcomer along with you) you’re given a gift of a book or music. But what really hooks people is the fact that this church is alive. After all of the warm greetings, you’re seated in a pew and the celebration begins. The church’s bilingual worship time is a thing of beauty, a small taste of the believer’s future singing praises with people from “every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9) as Gospel-centered lyrics swing back and forth between Spanish and English in an upbeat, celebratory style. And this is functional as well, with a fair share of the church’s congregation being English speakers; Pastor Mike preaches in English through a Spanish translator as well. And with each message comes a clear presentation of the Gospel with an opportunity given for the lost to respond.

People are getting saved at Calvary Chapel Rosarito in such numbers that, about a year ago, Pastor Mike implemented a new believers’ class during their first service on Sunday mornings. Those who put their faith in Christ at CCR are encouraged to skip the sermons for a month and head to a four week class where they learn the basics of the Christian faith, culminating in publicly declaring their commitment to Christ by being baptized at the church’s monthly baptism. In fact, at a recent church baptism, 11 out of the 16 believers baptized had been saved for under 2 months!

Completing the new believers’ class at CCR culminates in baptism with the church body

So Pastor Mike’s vision for CCR is to gain converts to Christ and disciple them; but his big-picture goal is not to fill his church. In fact, he’s seeking to send them out! Pastor Mike is a church-planter at heart, because that’s what he sees in scripture, and that was what was modeled in his own life as a believer. “I was sent out myself, and it was a really exciting time for me,” he says. “I kept seeing it happen around me [at his home church, Calvary Chapel Saving Grace in Southern California], and from the very beginning I had it in my mind to start doing it myself.”

The Vincent family was sent out by a church passionate about church-planting, Calvary Chapel Saving Grace, over a decade ago

It took awhile to get the process going, getting his own church established in Rosarito and raising up leaders being the first steps. After the first two church plants to come out of CCR didn’t end up panning out, Pastor Mike became more proactive in training, implementing a church-planting class to train people in the skills it takes and the hardships involved in the process that he knows so intimately. The class is an extensive 2 year program, with weekly 3-4 hour classes led by CCR’s pastors. In addition, prospective church-planters need to be actively involved in ministry as pastors and, where possible, staff members. They need to lead at least one ministry at the church as well as a home group. It may seem like a long process, but this type of training is invaluable according to Pastor Mike. And the fruit of this work speaks for itself; out of 19 church planting teams that have been sent out of CCR (15 in Mexico and four in the United States), 16 are still presently meeting. Those are amazing numbers!

And so the process continues for Pastor Mike Vincent and his team at Calvary Chapel Rosarito. They preach the gospel, sinners come to Christ, new converts are discipled, and church-planters are sent out to new locations, where they repeat the process all over again. Preach, disciple, send, repeat; this is the heartbeat and rhythm that drives this booming church in Rosarito, Mexico.


If you’d like to become a financial partner with us, so that I can continue to work at promoting the work of SGWM and our missionaries through articles like this one and other means, please click the button below. Thank you all for your support and prayers!