Culture of Isla Vista

Here are a few pictures of the culture of IV…we love this city and watching God change it from glory to glory!!

* pics by Alexa Wan

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Isla Vista 70’s

I Love IV

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FMLYBND

The FMLYBND was part of a conference-like event this last weekend @ PIHOP (Pasadena House of Prayer).  Thankful to have my favorite worship band be the people we are both doing life with and ushering in the presence of God with into our city.  The IVC family is favored to be listening to this stuff weekly and watch the FMLYBND grow is their gifting and calling.

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Support Jesus Burgers

This awesome band in Nor Cal decided to donate ALL the proceeds from their new album to Jesus Burgers…who does this??  Check out their music, if you like it then buy it and support Jesus Burgers.  God is good!!

Feed a Fish a Man

 

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DP House (aka Jesus Burgers House)

On Sunday some of the JB House went camping together as a family…ah, this is going to be a hard year for us as about 1/2 the house is leaving IV and going off to do more amazing things for Jesus!!

In my opinion, this has been the best year since the home began 10 years ago in 2001…I could not have asked God for a better group of people!  I thank Him often for the gift this remarkable family has been to both the city of IV and the church.  I know each of these people will be rewarded one day in heaven for genuinely living out their faith on probably the gnarliest street in California when it comes to partying.

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Round # 1

Round # 1 of edits…super stoked!!  Apparently, Barnes & Noble is really interested in the book, requesting the video that is under the resource section of our blog to put up on their website.  God is good, always looking to magnify His name!

“Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name give glory,”  (Psalm 115:1)

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Saturday IVC BBQ

We had a BBQ at my favorite local parks in IV yesterday…it felt like the retreat again, we all loved it!!  Tons of food, fun, and fellowship.  Not to mention, intense games of corn hole, bouche ball, and some slack-lining.

I love that the things that the early church was devoted to are things that the IVC family has a high values for:

“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”  (Acts 2:42)

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Jesus Burgers – Friday Night

Here are a few pictures from last night…like always, God showed up in a real way!

There was an incredible peace over the night and we had the chance to pray for many people, including the guy in the picture with the two gals (Heather & Cassie who live at the Jesus Burgers home).

Romans 6:1-2 speaks to living in IV, doing Jesus Burgers week in and week out, and sharing Christ with countless lives: “but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,”  (Rom 5:20)

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Ken Nelson – Jesus Burgers

Ok, one more Jesus Burgers testimony that did not make the book…Ken Nelson is one of the more amazing people to have come through the IV Church over the years.  He lived at the JB House for 3 years, met his wife Celia there, and now lives in San Diego still doing great things for God!  I hope after reading this you will be encouraged as I was about the faithfulness of God to love people through His people.

Adventures with God

I grew up in San Diego and had a hunger for God from a young age. I began seeking God on my own and was able to go to church regularly in high school. After graduation, I moved to Ventura, California, to attend Brooks Institute. I got connected to Jesus Burgers and Isla Vista Church through my friend Jimmy, and I moved into the Jesus Burger house during my second year of college. I lived in the house for three years, eventually meeting my beautiful wife Celia and making lifelong friendships.

One night before we had moved into IV, Jimmy and I carpooled from Ventura to attend Jesus Burgers, as was our custom. After all the barbecue food was gone, I felt a strong urge to take my Bible down to the beach to read. It was past one o’clock in the morning, but we were planning to spend the night at the Jesus Burger house instead of driving home.

I didn’t have a Bible on me, so Jimmy offered one of his. It was an extra he had recently purchased and basically new. With Bible in hand, I walked down Del Playa and crossed the street to the beach access. At first it was too dark to read. About halfway down the steps a beam of light from a house on the bluffs made it just bright enough. I opened the crisp pages and began to read.

Within minutes, a girl wandered up the stairs from the beach. As she passed me, I gave her a polite greeting. Her name was Molly.

“What are you reading?” she asked.

“The Bible,” I said right away.

That got her attention! She stopped in her tracks, suddenly full of questions.

Why was I reading the Bible? What was it about God that drew me to pursue Him?

For nearly an hour we talked about what it meant to have a relationship with God. We talked about the reality that God is good—even in a cruel world. She shared some of her deepest wounds and how those hurts had distorted her view of God.

As our conversation was winding to a close, I encouraged Molly to continue her own pursuit of the Lord. I asked if she had a Bible of her own. She didn’t.

“Take it,” I said, handing her Jimmy’s new one.

I encouraged her to accept the gift, explaining that God cared for her and was inviting her to pursue Him. Nothing like that had ever happened to her. She was blown away. Molly insisted I fill out the dedication page of the Bible. We said our goodbyes and she went on her way.

After she disappeared over the top of the stairs, I ran back to the Jesus Burger house overflowing with gratitude to God. I went into the prayer shed and fell on my face in worship. It was wonderful knowing that God had brought Molly and me and that Bible together at just the right moment.

I remembered Jimmy and went to look for him. I recounted what had happened to him and our friend Neil. Jimmy explained that he had bought the Bible a couple days earlier because he felt that the Lord wanted him to give it away. He was excited that I was the one who had the privilege to gift it. Praise the Lord!

On another night at Jesus Burgers, the front was crowded and I went in search of some space to reflect on what God might be doing. I crossed the street and sat on a bench in the little park. Soon a guy named Mike came along and sat down next to me.

We spent a good deal of time talking. The only moment Jesus came into the conversation was when I asked him if he wanted a Jesus Burger—he declined. We talked about a lot of different things, including his broken arm. Explaining that his arm had been broken in a fight, Mike said, “You should see the other guy!”

After that night I didn’t expect to see Mike again, but about a month later, I ran into him. It started with a prayer walk, with two others guys and two girls, up and down Del Playa Drive. One of those guys was Nick, a friend of mine who was a Christian from Westmont College. Nick had never been to Isla Vista on a party night. The other three were good friends and IV veteran prayer warriors, Terry, Nelli, and Marilynn.

That evening we all felt receptive to the realm of the Spirit in a way we had never been before. We sensed the Holy Spirit was moving. After walking up and down DP once, we decided none of us could stop walking—we just had to keep praying. We came across one party where Marilynn and Terry felt led to pray over people. I cannot recall all that had happened, but I do remember clearly a moment when a drunk girl came wandering down the street.­­

Now, anyone who knows Marilynn knows she has a heart to minister to girls like the one we saw stagger past us. Nevertheless, I felt a check in my spirit, as though this woman was a distraction sent from the enemy. I waited to see what Marilynn would do. As she decided to let the girl go, we continued down the street on our mission to pray and intercede for Isla Vista; however, everyone in our group expressed the thought that we had all felt the Spirit warn us against trying to minister to the inebriated girl.

At some point our group did stop to pray and minister to one girl, and then another. As Terry and the girls spoke with these women, I separated myself and went across the street to watch and pray. My friend Nick was standing between the group and me. Not quite sure of what to do, Nick waited and continued to pray silently. At this moment, Mike came walking down the street, right past me.

“Ken!” he declared, and he ran around the corner of a house to urinate before returning to strike up another conversation. We started with the usual small talk, but then Mike blurted out, “Hey, look, they’re gonna fight!”

I looked across the street quizzically because at first all I saw were my friends peaceably sharing the Gospel with some young woman. But Mike pointed out to me something bad happening farther down the street. I saw a man grab a girl, throw his hand over her mouth and begin to drag her into some dark bushes. Without hesitation I took off after the man with Mike by my side and Nick trailing after us. I don’t think Terry or the girls saw me take off, and they didn’t find out that night where I had gone.

I shouted at the man as I approached him so he would realize he was being watched; he released the girl from his grip. I found out later that the girl had slapped the guy across the face before he grabbed her. It turned out that the two were a couple that had been fighting. Because she thought her guy had cheated on her, she made out with some stranger at a party to get back at her boyfriend. Now the five of us were standing in the dark trying to figure out what was going to happen next.

The girlfriend needed her purse from the boyfriend’s car, so he began leading all of us back toward his car. Suddenly, the guy bolted. As the girl took off after him, Nick, Mike and I looked at each other and, without speaking, took off after the girl.

We chased the couple back to his truck where the girl retrieved her purse. Then she began to freak out because she had never been to Isla Vista before and was not sure how she could get back home to Ventura. Her boyfriend, still a bit worked up, took off running again. Freaked out at the thought of being abandoned so far from home, the girl took off after her boyfriend. The whole scene was like some crazy teen movie. But we wanted to make sure she would be safe, so we kept running.

On one side of me, Nick was praying silently. On my other side, was the guy Mike. “When we catch the dude, you knock him to the ground, and I’ll just start kicking him in the head!” Needless to say, he was taking a different approach.

Eventually we lost the boyfriend. We were all standing in the middle of the street. The girl collapsed crying, completely at a loss. I was able to lead us all back to the truck where the girl in her panic had left her purse on the curb.

When the boyfriend reappeared, I had a brief conversation with him about what had happened between him and his girl. We offered her a ride home, but we were strangers and she refused. I gave her my number and let her head home with her boyfriend. She texted me later that night to say she had made it home safely.

When the three of us were left standing alone next to the empty parking space, we needed to decide what was next for us after this ridiculous adventure. Mike was still not interested in getting a Jesus Burger, so we all walked him back to the dorms where he was staying, clear across the other side of Isla Vista. Though he did not say a word all night, I was certainly glad for Nick’s silent prayer support throughout the entire time.

On our way across Isla Vista and onto the UCSB campus, I began to share the Gospel with Mike. We sat in his dorm as I shared who God is—it was one of those times when you learn about who God is by letting the Spirit share the mystery through you. Like a dry sponge, Mike was soaking up every word. He confessed that if someone like me had been there to minister to him in high school, he might now be in a completely different place in his life.

Mike heard God speak that night. After three o’clock came and went, I reluctantly ended the conversation. I still needed to drive Nick—silently praying in support of God’s ministry the entire time—back to Westmont. Although I have not seen Mike again since that night, the story does not end with that unusual evening.

About a month or two after this experience, my good friend Jimmy had gone out for a walk on the beach and was led into a conversation with this guy standing by the ocean. The two had never met before, but as they shared about their experiences with God, the stranger turned out to be the very Mike I had not seen since that dark night with the girl from Ventura.

Since then, Mike had started down a path of searching out the Living God. So it wasn’t long into the conversation that Jimmy and Mike came to realize that I was the mutual connection they shared. But one thing I know for sure, on that night long ago when the Jesus Burger ministry family had been praying for Isla Vista, Mike began to seek God. “Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, says Jesus, and I shall give you rest! (Matthew 11:28).”

 

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Pre-Order the book Jesus Burgers ($12 w/free shipping)

You can order your copy of Jesus Burgers the book for $12 with free shipping…it may be released as early as August, for sure by September.

JESUS BURGERS THE BOOK

 

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IVC Retreat…A Few More Pictures

“”How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!  It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe.  It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.”  (Psalm 133).


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The Love of God

Here’s a link to a video by author Brennan Manning speaking the truth about the love of God…his words always serve me as a good reminder of the importance of knowing the love of God in the midst of doing ministry in IV.  God loves us just as we are, never as we should be.

Watch This

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Children Inherit the Kingdom.

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Jesus

This weekend  was  blast with the IVC Family in Ojai, especially for our children…they joined in with everything going on from hiking, water fight, playing guitar, wrestling, praying for people (Baby Bonita), and eating meals with everyone. We are beyond grateful to watch our kids grow up in a culture of faith & love, being around so many incredible people who love God with their entire life.

Family is the DNA of Heaven and children inherit the kingdom.

 

 

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IVC Retreat to Ojai

We took a church retreat this last weekend to Ojai…it was close to 50 people packed into a 4 bedroom home; however, it never did feel packed when you are with an amazing family!!  I will post a few pics in the next day, here is blog post with pictures from our lovely friend Jessica Braziel.

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Jesus Burgers House

Watch this video and get a small glimpse of the Jesus Burger House:

click here

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Bryan Marleaux

HERE IS THE LAST TESTIMONY I AM POSTING OF ONES THAT DID NOT MAKE THE JESUS BURGERS BOOK FOR DIFFERENT REASONS.

BRYAN AND HIS WIFE MERCEDES ARE SOME OF OUR FAVORITE PEOPLE TO COME AND VISIT US IN ISLA VISTA…EVERY TIME THEY COME TO IV WE HAVE INCREDIBLE ENCOUNTERS WITH GOD AND ARE ALWAYS IN AWE WATCHING HIM DO MORE THAN WE COULD ASK OR IMAGINE.  HERE IS THEIR WEBSITE, CHECK THEM OUT:  http://www.graceworldmission.org/index.html

I went into the bathroom at the Jesus Burger House and happened to grab a book sitting on top of the toilet. As I flipped through some pages and read, suddenly God started speaking to me out of this book.  The Lord has communicated to me often out of unexpected places ever since I had received Christ over a random radio station I came upon as a young teen years back.
So I was on the toilet in this bathroom trying to discern what God was saying to me when all of a sudden “bang, bang, bang” somebody was knocking on the door really hard and wanted in that bathroom.  “What’s up with the psycho banging?” I shouted. It turned out to be six drunk girls who were trying to barge into the bathroom—they were demanding that they get in—while I sat on the toilet yelling, “Leave me alone a minute here would ya? God’s speaking to me here and you’re interrupting.”

Those crazy girls seemed like they were going to bust the door down so I quickly finished, jumped up, and ran out the door, sidestepping them as they all rushed in.  One girl fell down and began to puke all over the floor.  “Wow, if it’s Friday and people are puking on the floor I must be in Isla Vista at Jesus Burgers.” I said as I walked down the hall, fixated on the book I was reading.

I went into a bedroom where the glory came down as the Lord flooded me with his presence; I was struggling with a lingering cold and feeling a bit weak.  The Lord filled me with a fresh touch of power and gave me some new strength.

Fully ready for what God had in store now, I went out into the living room and straight into some divine appointments. One was with a young guy who I ended up talking with for a few hours.  Questions were being fired at me about this and that: what about the crusades? What about Christians who do this or that?  I shared about the love of Jesus with him and I think I was able to answer a lot of his questions and finally had a breakthrough, praying with him and leading him to the Lord at about 2:30 am.
Meanwhile, my wife Mercedes was outside on the street prophesying over some guys she met with our friend Scott Martinis.  She prophesied to one of the guys on the street she met that he had been on a search for God without realizing it, the young man was quite surprised by her words and taken aback, then his eyes began to well up with tears, touched by the revelation that God knew he was seeking him.  He was opened up and Mercedes led him to the Lord out there somewhere around 2:00 am as well.

In spite of the loud music, raucous environment, and occasional flying beer bottle, God was at work; not only did I lead this one guy to the Lord but witnessed to and prayed with many others as well.

There was another guy who kept talking to me about surfing when a guy from the house asked us to join them in praying.  This guy I was talking to about surfing wasn’t a believer but we invited him to pray with us anyways.   When he joined in I laid my hands on him and asked the Holy Spirit to touch him.  It was clear that God’s presence had penetrated spiritual walls he had up and was touched and looked like he was going to cry, but was trying not to.  Afterwards he gave me a big hug and said we’ll have to talk more later about all this Jesus stuff, and, wiping his eyes, he took off.  God’s touch went past his intellectual barriers as the presence of the Holy Spirit planted seeds of the kingdom in his heart.

My wife Mercedes also witnessed to and prayed for many others as well.  We realized Jesus himself would be very comfortable here as He was accused of being a drunkard himself for hanging out with wine bibbers and publicans.

Divinely Orchestrated Guidance While Stumbling in the Dark

A spiritual connection with what is happening in IV came years back through what seemed like just a wrong turn in the night.

Roughly eighteen years ago my wife and I went up to Santa Barbara for her birthday. Born on November 1st, we ended up being in Santa Barbara on Halloween night.
We were cruising around and ended up north past Santa Barbara when I saw a familiar off-ramp on the freeway.

Having surfed on a college team with UCSB as one of our competitors, I had been in competitions while staying in a little surf shack in the area back in the day.  I took the off ramp deciding to have a look at the old surf spot and maybe have a nice walk on the beach.
We took a wrong turn somewhere though and ended up smack in the middle of Isla Vista where UCSB earns its reputation as one the heaviest party schools in the nation, right on the absolute craziest party night of the year.

We suddenly found ourselves unable to drive any further, surrounded by loads of students in costumes and togas and some in, umm…no costumes at all, drinking and walking up and down the packed street.  I slowly inched the car over to the side of the road and parked it.
“Did you see that? A guy just threw a keg off that balcony!”  I told Mercedes as it rolled down the road with people jumping out of the way.  It was like watching a car crash, we just sat there with our jaws hanging down staring out the window taking it all in.

“I think we’re gonna be stuck here for a while. Why don’t we just pray a bit for this area—there is nothing else to do,” I said.  My next thought was, “What am I thinking—what am I even doing here?”

“Our little impromptu prayer session got invaded by God speaking to us that he was “going to pour out His Spirit here in the future.”  “What? Is that right? Maybe I’m just getting affected by all the alcohol fumes,” I thought.

We saw a hole in the drone of people and made our getaway and drove out of there, our senses a bit overwhelmed by all we just experienced. I would slightly remember that incident for the next few years if we happened to drive by the area but over time the memory faded.

God’s Timing—Often Different Than Man’s

The years rolled by, but just about two years ago, we were returning from ministering in Monterey, Salinas, and Santa Maria, and were headed back to Southern California late at night through Buellton when we got a phone call from our friend Lauren Dowler.
She told us that she thought we should come by Isla Vista and meet some of her friends who are involved in this “Jesus Burgers ministry.”  “Yeah, but it is 11:00 at night. Isn’t it a little late?”  “No, it’s fine, just pray about it and call me back.”
We prayed and felt led to go: “Yeah we’re coming, just hope we don’t end up sleeping on the floor, done that enough on this trip.

It was mostly college students who were hanging out so the fact that we arrived around midnight wasn’t a big deal.

We ended up staying the night and of course sleeping on the floor but it turned out to be well worth the slightly sore butt and shoulders.

The Word Given Us in the Halloween Mayhem Begins its Fulfillment

The next morning we were talking with Jason, the pastor of the Jesus Burgers ministry, when somehow the conversation veered towards the Jesus People Revival. I realized I had a little video with me that we had just picked up on the Central Coast about the Jesus People and Lonnie Frisbee.

We started showing the video and right in the middle the Holy Spirit started falling on people sitting around including Jason, his wife Holly, and his worship leader Mac who happened to be observing everything from underneath his hoody.  We began to pray for those who were being touched and the Spirit began to be poured out in power, spreading God’s glory onto people who were trickling into the house.

As more and more people showed up, the power of God continued to be poured out throughout the day, touching those who came in.  We found ourselves in the middle of a roughly five-hour outpouring with bodies strewn all over, slain by the manifest power, presence, and glory of God.
Some people told us later, “I just felt the Lord leading me to come here today and didn’t know why, I drove over and wow, what an encounter with God!”  Some told us that they had never been filled with God’s power like this ever before.

After five hours of reveling in the glory and praying for others, we realized we hadn’t eaten or drank anything all day long.  We were offered some water and some sardines as something of a joke since it’s a dish we’ve suffered through on many mission trips.  I was glad to have anything to eat though, after being in the intensity of an all-day Holy Ghost outpouring.
My last sardine was sliding down my throat when a guy asked if we were up for hitting the waves for a little afternoon surf session.

We were getting ready to drive up the coast a bit to find some waves but one of the guys took a quick look out at Campus Point by the university, and came back saying: “It never, ever, breaks in summer like this, but it’s actually breaking right out front and looking pretty good.”  We quickly grabbed the boards and headed out into the refreshing blue waters, rejoicing to surf some fun zippy miracle waves on Campus Point right after a glorious Holy Ghost outpouring.

As I sat there in the lineup on my board, gazing at the crystal reflections of the sun striking the water, I suddenly realized that the still small voice we had heard speaking about an outpouring in Isla Vista eighteen years earlier while stuck in the car in the middle of the party craziness, was God revealing His plan for the area.

Although we thought we had just made a wrong turn, we had actually stumbled right into God’s plan. What seemed like a random phone call while driving late at night through Buelton was actually a divine appointment that led us into a Holy Ghost outpouring the next day.  Riding this bit of miracle surf at the moment was another sign of His hand over every last thing taking place; He is Master even over the waves.

Each detail of what had taken place reflects the reality that He is orchestrating our steps. Finding a random book on top of the toilet in the DP house spoke something into my life. Six drunk girls banging on the door caused me to go out and seek to hear more clearly from God, which led to a fresh touch and straight into a divine appointment with a young guy in the living room of the house who came into the Kingdom of God that night.

Surely he orders our steps. Even in the things that seem random and chaotic, we can see His hand if we take a close and discerning look.

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Dushan & Kalli Mikichi

HERE IS ANOTHER TESTIMONY THAT DID NOT MAKE THE JESUS BURGER BOOK FROM A REMARKABLE COUPLE THAT WAS INVOLVED WITH THE IVC FAMILY MANY MOONS AGO.  DUSHAN AND KALLI HAVE 3 BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS TODAY AND THEIR STORY IS TESTIMONY OF GOD’S GOODNESS!

Meet Dushan. I grew up in San Jose in a loving family where my parents were married and financially successful, with one sister, and no knowledge that God existed or a desire to know him. I knew that some people believed in God, but I equated their belief to the same level as the Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy. And besides, even if there was a God I thought I was “okay.” All in all I thought I was a “good enough” person to get to heaven if it did exist. I also knew people who scoffed at those who believed in God or religion, perceiving them as naïve, misled, or weird.  My parents put me in gymnastics as an energy outlet. It kept me busy and ultimately helped me get into college, where, on the gymnastics team, I met my wife Kalli.

Meet Kalli. I grew up in a small town in Southern California that you’ve never heard of. My parents were married, although not always “happily.” My siblings, (two sisters and a brother), and I were raised with a Christian faith, but did not attend regularly as our sports often coincided with Sunday morning church. My parents were loving, hardworking, and supportive, but my dad was a farmer and a Christian who’d lost his way, and we were poor both financially and spiritually. I learned biblical principles from my mom, but wouldn’t recognize them as such until later in life. I believed in God in my own superficial way, but I had idols before Jesus. Primarily, my love for gymnastics and desire to compete on a college level was elevated above all else in my life. I thought of Jesus as a means to attain my desires instead of seeking to live a life bringing Him glory.  In my mind my identity and self worth were directly linked to my success as a gymnast. God was very graciously long suffering with me in my half-hearted faith, and it wasn’t until I was in college that he really started to rein me in and use what little was there to bring me into a deep relationship with him.

At UCSB I competed on the Men’s Gymnastics team, lived with teammates, attempted my academics half-heartedly, and partied with my friends on the streets of IV. In the back of my mind I knew that drinking and partying still left me with an emptiness, but I thought this was just how it was supposed to be. I didn’t realize that my dissatisfaction came from the longing of my soul to know the living God personally.

I worked hard my freshman year of college to make the gymnastics team as a sophomore, as injuries in high school caused a set back in my plans. As I practiced at the gym and attended some competitions, I quickly noticed and developed a huge crush on Dushan. Hard not to, he looks Hawaiian and, obviously was in great shape. We became friends, and started dating at the start of my sophomore year. I completely adored Dushan for his quick wit, honesty, good humor, for the respectful way he treated me, and for his washboard abs. As a Christian I had a vague idea that you weren’t supposed to date someone who wasn’t a Christian, but at the same time I didn’t know or understand the reasoning behind that. I easily dismissed that concern as irrelevant because we had such a strong relationship, and that idea didn’t fit into MY plan.

When Kalli and I started dating I immediately knew that we would get married someday. I knew I loved her before the relationship was “official” and didn’t hesitate in telling her. In our quiet alone times together we would plan our future. We talked about how our wedding would look, how many kids we wanted, where we would live and what jobs we would have. I knew that Kalli was a Christian and when I, preparing myself with open mindedness, asked her how she wanted to raise our kids she said Christian. I knew that if my kids were going to be Christian I wanted to find out if God was real, and what Christianity was all about.

I told Dushan everything I knew about Jesus and what it meant to be a Christian. That took me all of about two minutes. This was the first time I realized how inadequate my faith was. I didn’t know enough to paint even a partial picture of the Gospel and the love of Jesus. In our weakness He is strong, and since I did such a poor job at sharing Jesus, Dushan decided that we should attend church regularly so that he could find out the truth for himself. Looking back I give all the glory to Christ for our coming to Him. Jesus met us in our depravity and began to take us into a real, meaningful relationship with Him.

A friend took us to a Friday night college group called Reality. We didn’t know what it was, but we had heard that some “surfer guy” was going to speak, and that sounded interesting. Reality was a college bible study where students from churches all around Santa Barbara came to worship and hear the word of God taught truthfully and powerfully by Britt Merrick. After attending Reality for a month, Dushan gave his life to Jesus. He started attending prayer meetings, which in my pathetic little faith seemed like something only for pastors and people who worked at a church. From this point on God took my own faith in Him to a new level.

Kalli and I grew in our knowledge and love for Jesus, but we still listened to the lies of the enemy with regards to premarital sex. We though since we planned on getting married eventually, that sex outside marriage was okay with God. He knew how much we loved each other. I thought sex before marriage wasn’t culturally acceptable in bible times, but we lived in different times and sex before marriage was the norm. We both reciprocated a genuine love for each other and sex seemed to be another piece of the puzzle that was neatly falling into place in our Godly relationship. Isaiah 55:8. We were about to be rudely awakened to the fact that our ways are not God’s ways. Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Reality both began teaching premarital sex was unacceptable to God.
At that point we were planning on getting married after college, and had been having premarital sex for about a year. Wanting God’s best for our lives and our relationship, we knew we had to change abruptly. After several “failings,” Kalli and I decided to set parameters that removed temptation completely. We even went as far as to stop kissing. It just was not worth the risk. After just over a year of premarital sex, we stopped, and maintained that for over a year before we finally got married two weeks after graduating from UCSB. Why in the world didn’t we just decide to get married sooner? I don’t know. That thought never occurred to us.

During this time, in my personal life I was being pummeled with trials. My dad was in jail, my identity in gymnastics had been stripped away due to a knee injury, and I had been losing friends because of my belief in God. My faith was growing, however. I found myself in Him, and realized the worth that God placed on me as a child of God, and I was able to slowly let go of the shreds and remnants of what I once held so dear. My forgiveness grew as well and while I had once disowned my dad, I now prayed daily for him, writing him letters weekly to share what I was learning about the character and faithfulness of Jesus. My dad died suddenly, tragically, in prison at the age of 52. It was April, 2004, three short months before he was to be released. I was devastated, but my faith was sound and I trusted God’s plan for my dad’s life. Now Jesus was my God and my earthly father as the bible calls him a Father to the Fatherless.

As we grew in our faith we felt the desire to share Jesus with the people in IV. Before coming to God, we had lived in the party scene, scurrying from one party to the next in the darkness expecting that each night spent partying something special might happen, and bring an end to the silent, nagging emptiness inside.  All of the searching through the streets had come to nothing, leaving our appetites unsatisfied. Though we still would listen to the lies of the enemy that next time it would be different. Finding Jesus, and leaving that behind, we knew we had the answer to that longing deep within and wanted to share it with those we had left to the parties. Through Reality we decided to go street witnessing with Korean Christian Ministry. We didn’t even have the courage to talk to a single person! It was a start, however, and when we heard the opportunity to bring the gospel to IV we jumped at the chance.

Before we started our Jesus Burgers ministry, everyone who gathered to share the gospel got a binder from Jacob with verses to memorize. We also studied the foundational truths of Christianity so that our faith was deeply rooted and unmovable. I think that was very important because a lot of the people we talked to were there to talk you out of your faith, rather than trying to come to terms with Jesus in their own lives.

Each night we would gather together and spend hours worshipping and crying out to God on behalf of the students that walked the streets. There was no formula or schedule, we just knew that we needed Jesus and we needed to be filled to overflowing so we could pour out His hope into the streets. We basked in the presence of the living God and were filled.  In stark contrast to the worship and prayer, I distinctly remember going out into the night and feeling the emptiness and the need for Jesus. It was written on the faces of those partying in the night. Knowing that God loved these people we went out into the night completely dependent upon God.

In my experience the simplest plans worked best. While giant snails and “Jesus Squirrels” hold some appeal, just depending on the Lord’s leading was clearly more fruitful.  Some nights I started conversations about Jesus, though many nights I served by cooking burgers, talking only a little to Baron cooking next to me as we cranked out burgers as fast as possible. Other nights I felt the Lord calling me to just be available. There were several nights where people would wander in off the streets, lost, or too drunk to walk, or bloody from a recent fight.  They came to the Jesus Burger house seeking help and refuge, and there was always someone ready and willing to help and pray for them.

Dushan and I loved the people of IV, while being scared as well, and were blessed beyond words to evangelize at Jesus Burgers. From my experience there are two instances that really stick out in my mind where I distinctly felt the hand of God use me at Jesus Burgers.

One night as the crowds faded and the cold and weariness began to set in, Dushan and I stood on the deck of the front yard chatting with friends as the clock approached 3AM.  As we were just about to say our goodbyes a guy jumped over the low, brick wall and landed in the middle of our little circle. We greeted him and not knowing we were the “Jesus Burger’s House” he asked us if we had any crack to smoke with him. We said no, to which he continued to ask if we had any alcohol or pot to smoke. Again, we said no and we told him that we were out to share Jesus with people who were partying. At the beginning of the conversation he was cold and calloused, and he mocked us. We talked with him and asked about his life. I can’t remember his hardships, but I remember how we revealed the love Jesus had for him. As we talked God softened his heart right before my eyes. It was as if I could see it melting into the Father’s hands. He opened up to us and was brought to tears. I looked on in awe as I saw the word of God penetrate to the heart of this guy. He didn’t accept Jesus that night, but we all laid hands on him and prayed for him. And he left a different person than the one looking for a substance to help him forget his life.

The other account I clearly remember was the only time I’ve had the privilege of leading someone to salvation in Jesus. The front yard and inside of the house was packed. We had just come out from prayer and worship and I felt an urging from God. I was looking for someone that God wanted me to talk to. I would stand with friends briefly, but knew that I needed to find someone specific. I had a few failed attempts at initiating conversations with people in the yard so I prayerfully kept moving. Finally, I began a conversation with a guy who I learned was from Ventura. He’d come to IV to party. I talked with him about God and he had openly shared the ways that he knew there was a God watching over him. His family and friends were involved with gangs, but God had protected him physically from dangerous encounters with gang members. He had never known about Jesus, but as I spoke the truth of God’s word through the verses we had memorized he knew that this is what he was searching for. He confided that he wanted to pray for salvation and I excitedly searched for a pastor for him to pray with. I quickly returned without a pastor, as they were nowhere to be found.

When I returned he said that he didn’t feel comfortable praying with a pastor.  Although I felt completely inadequate for the task we bowed our heads in the midst of the cold, crowded yard and he asked Jesus to be his savior. The bible says that when a sinner is brought to salvation heaven rejoices, and I could feel my own heart rejoice with all of heaven at the salvation of this young man. This was the first year of IV Church and I remembered his name and prayed for him for a long time, but now it has been so long that his name escapes me! I do still pray for his continued faith from time to time, as I know that Jesus knows his name.

Kalli and I eventually moved away from Santa Barbara, but our faith in God is unmovable. We face hard things in life like death and cancer, suffering and helplessness knowing that we have an unchanging God who is always loving and faithful. We have seen our family members come to Christ and know of friends that have fallen away. But, we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, and that His love endures forever. As we now raise our three daughters to know and love the Lord as we do, we continue to depend on Jesus and desire His plan and purpose in our lives.

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Alan Dowling

THIS IS A TESTIMONY FROM ALAN DOWLING WHO — USED TO BE A PART OF THE CHURCH BACK IN THE DAY. ALAN LIVED AT THE JESUS BURGER HO– USE FOR SEVERAL YEARS AND WAS AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE BODY DURING THOSE YEARS IN ISLA VISTA. HE WAS ALSO THE PERSON WHO DESIGNED OUR WEBSITE FOR JESUSLOVESIV.

http://jesuslovesiv.com/

ABOUT 10 TESTIMONIES DID NOT MAKE THE JESUS BURGERS BOOK FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS…THIS WAS ONE OF THEM.  I ABSOLUTELY LOVED WHAT ALAN WROTE IN HIS STORY, SHARING HIS HEART SO FREELY…I HOPE YOU WILL BE ENCOURAGED, AS I WAS, THAT JESUS IS THE GOD OF RESTORATION.

Childhood Perceptions and Family Baggage

While in college I had a tendency to overcommit to everything. In fact, I’ve struggled with this my entire life. In junior high school, I had some kind of extracurricular activity every week night. When I first came to UCSB I quickly filled my schedule beyond capacity and, quite honestly, I don’t really remember all the things I did that I thought were so important at the time. What I do remember is an overwhelming burden to not screw my life up. My general life rule was to try and do the opposite of my parents. I’d avoid drugs, chaotic life choices, and would go to college and do something with my life. That’s a lot of pressure for a young eighteen year old who ultimately knew almost nothing about the world and was heading off to college. A relationship with God wasn’t exactly top priority for me at the time.

My earliest memories of church generally consist of either stuffy Catholic church or weird cult like little fringe churches. My childhood was not what one would call “stable”. I come from what I tend to joke is the new American family – divorced parents and multiple half siblings strewn across multiple states. I attended at least fourteen elementary schools and two high schools while growing up and I was not in a military family. We simply were virtually nomadic.

At some point as a young kid when it was just my mother and me, I remember attending my grandfather’s Catholic church and hating it. I didn’t understand any of the rules or what they were talking about. We kept having to stand up and just as randomly sit back down again. When I finally did get to join the other kids in Sunday school, I was reprimanded for not remembering any of the ten commandments beyond “don’t kill people and don’t steal stuff”. It didn’t help that I had to dress up with a collared shirt.

A bit later in my life, a neighbor friend named Robby invited me to his Jehovah’s Witness youth group. They were having a night of treats in which any kids that had memorized a page of about a dozen verses out of the Watchtower Bible would get a great big ice cream sundae. Robby convinced me to try and quickly memorize the verses before the group so I could come and partake in the reward. What kid doesn’t like the prospect of free ice cream? When we got to the youth group, Robby struggled through the dozen verses but managed to get them all out. Then the youth leader turned to me with an expectant look and I spit out about the first six or so before I couldn’t recall anymore and shrugged. He slowly shook his head and I was denied an ice cream sundae. I had to watch a bunch of other kids enjoy their treat while I sat there angry and dejected.

It might sound stupid but those two examples were a good picture of my view of church, religion, and specifically Christianity while growing up. It was just a series of vague hoops to jump through for the hope of some reward at the end and I was completely ill-prepared for the whole thing.

My family was not religious in any sense, but they were conveniently spiritual. There were always concepts of karma, horoscopes, and some sudo-spiritual feel good dogma floating around my house as a kid. I think my mother talked a lot about that sort of thing as a sort of rebellion to my grandfather’s stiff Catholicism. I thought the whole thing was ridiculous and wanted nothing to do with any of it.

However, although not really raised as such, I called myself Christian years before I ever really knew anything about Jesus. It was just easier to identify myself as such to be able to hang out with the kids that seemed to be from more stable families and didn’t appear to want to spend their time partaking in, gasp, pre-marital sex or illegal drugs. I even wore a cross necklace throughout much of high school.

When I was in junior high school overfilling my schedule, I started to attend my good friend Brannon’s youth group at a Baptist church. I still knew nothing about what they were talking about but continued going anyway because I liked Brannon’s family who seemed much more stable than my own. I did the same thing in high school with my friend Matt. By the time I showed up to UCSB I had already been calling myself a Christian for what was roughly a third of my life up until that point and I had barely ever even touched the bible, let alone read it. I had no concept of who God was and I certainly didn’t know quite what was so good about this “good news” that my Christian friends always when on and on about even though I could fake it pretty well.

My identity got so tied up with being a Christian in name that I almost joined the Christian fraternity my freshman year at UCSB. I think it was around that time that a tugging in the back of my mind started. There was a slow but increasingly intense feeling that something in my life was wrong. I had emotional burdens, family baggage, and by own admission was most defined by an outright lie. I was a liar and was slowly feeling the pangs of something. Regret? Guilt? The pull of a loving God? I’m not sure. I’d like to think it was the last option but at the time I did what I had become very good at – I continued ignoring the whole thing and went on with my busy schedule.

The Dam Sprung a Leak

It wasn’t until a couple of years later that something finally broke inside me after a long term and fairly serious relationship was ended abruptly. I thought I’d be with that girl forever, at least at the time. I even wrote horrible poetry about the whole thing. The girl and I ended up trying to date again for a few more weeks and ultimately called it off. During those few weeks, though, she and her roommate brought me to Reality, at the time a college church group on Friday nights at Calvary Chapel Santa Barbara led by Britt Merrick. That was the first time I ever really truly heard The Gospel. It was the first time I ever really experienced worship. God seemed tangible in that room of ragtag college kids. Britt, the pastor, challenged the group with the concept of Jesus’ resurrection and the redemption God freely offered and I was struck to my core. It wasn’t about going through hoops or reaching some ambiguous unattainable goal, it came down to an act of love by our creator on our behalf as a free gift. I spent the next few weeks devouring every text about Jesus and his free gift of salvation I could get my hands on. The truth of it was too big to ignore. My bible, previously in perfect condition from never being used, quickly found it’s permanent place on my nightstand.

By the time my girlfriend and I had ended things officially I had been attending Reality for three weeks. I went the fourth week and Britt again shared the good news of Christ, did an altar call, and I responded. Two days later I attended the first church service of Isla Vista Church (IVC) which was known as Reality Isla Vista Church (RIVC) at the time. It was weird. It was even weirder that it was the first Sunday church service I had ever attended as a Christian and it was held in the front yard of a house on Del Playa amongst houses with empty red cups in the front yards and the faint sound of ocean waves crashing against the shore.

Community Around Jesus – Issues and all

My first real experience with Jesus Burgers at the ministry house on Del Playa was about a month after I had become a Christian. It was Halloween weekend and some friends dragged me to Del Playa to check out the costumes and revelry. While we were out we ended up stopping by the IVC ministry house and they were passing out hamburgers. I was told that they planned on passing out burgers every weekend, albeit on a much smaller scale. It seemed like such an odd way of reaching out to the community. Plus, I couldn’t imagine how meaningful conversations would be with drunk colleges students who just wanted a free late night snack. Despite my reservations, I started coming out to the ministry house each weekend when the burgers were passed out and began helping out. Within a year I had moved into the house and found myself learning about community on a level I had never experienced before. It was dirty. It was crowded. It was too much sometimes. And I loved it.

Most of my experience with “Jesus Burgers” was anything but glamorous or even remotely supernatural. I know other peoples’ stories consist of a lot of things like prayer and healing but my experience tended to be making sure people didn’t urinate on the side of the house when hamburgers were being passed out to people. It sounds ridiculous but it worked out really well. I had a lot of incredible discussions with people while they were waiting to use my rest room away from the loud partying going on outside on that infamous party street. In fact, for me, that was the entire point of even having a ministry house consisting of young people from the church living in a place like that. We were there to love each other in community in the name of Christ and to make connections with the larger community we were in. It just so happens that Isla Vista as a whole has a community that tends to like partying on Del Playa every weekend, so we took Jesus to where the people were.

I know that this writing is intended for something called “Jesus Burgers” but passing out hamburgers on Friday or Saturday nights was such a small sliver of my experience at that place at the time. Being surrounded by other young men and women who were passionately living for Christ in community together has had a long lasting impact on my life. Living in the ministry house on Del Playa for a couple of years was like being entered into some kind of bizarro world Christian seminary and I like to think that Jesus approves of the whole chaotic hodge-poge family near the ocean.

My own immediate family was affected by my life at the ministry house too. I was so excited by my new found relationship with Christ that I told my whole family about it. Not everyone was quite as excited as I was but my aunt did come to profess a relationship with Christ. I also started having a couple of my younger sisters come visit every summer starting when I lived on Del Playa. One sister, who was living a similar childhood that I had experienced, was able to visit me in Isla Vista more than the other and eventually decided for herself that there was truth to Christianity as well and came to profess a relationship with Christ. And if “profess a relationship with Christ” sounds foreign to you it just means she became a Christian. No one is born a Christian. It’s an act of free will.

I’ve tended to use free will in my life to crowd my schedule. For a long time, I chose to fill my life with everything but the thing that mattered most – a relationship with my savior. I still tend to overcommit to things. My schedule is usually just a little too full and sometimes I don’t make time for God but no matter how badly I screw up I’m assured that God is still there for me. He’s the one that never changes and despite my issues He will continue to love me. And if you’re reading this and you don’t know it yet, He loves you too – issues and all

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FMLYBND

Check it out, get it, & support the FMLYBND…epic song too!!

How We Love You

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Del Playa

This picture was taken in front of the Jesus Burger House on a Friday night…this picture describes well what happens each week, as people cruise up and down the street from party to party / house to house not knowing that what they are really looking for is at the JB Home.  Please pray for the 15 amazing people who live at the Jesus Burger House and the ministry on Friday nights.

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Our Kids

Our friend Kristen Tait took these pictures of our kids last week…we are thankful for these incredible munchkins!!

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Bunk Bed = Love It

Our friend Derrin built Samuel & Hope a bunk bed this last week…they are so stoked & absolutely love it!!

Derrin has been part of the church for about 6 years now and lived at the Jesus Burger House for 3 of those years.  One of my favorite things in life is watching people grow up in the Lord.  It has been amazing to see Derrin grow from a boy to a man over the last six years with the IVC Family. He is one of the most selfless guys I know with his time…always serving whoever and whenever, and always with a good attitude.  Derrin is a testimony of someone who the life of God has taken root in by saying yes to Jesus’ recipe for life:

“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.”

It is the upside down kingdom where you lose your life to find your life…thankful for Derrin and his heart of worship through serving.

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There is Going to Be a Wedding…

A few weeks ago I was flown to Arkansas to officiate my friend Chris Curry’s wedding…such an amazing day watching two lives who love Jesus became one. Chris came to Christ at Jesus Burgers in 2005.   He is in the Air Force now and still in love with Jesus.  God is good, always faithful!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHt7wdPGOTc&feature=related – 3:30 mark

 

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Isaiah Saldivar

This last weekend we had Isaiah Saldivar speak at the Upper Room and Sunday at the Family Gathering. He is from Manteca, California up north, this man is carrying revival and a raw gospel message for this generation.  It was an honor having Isaiah with us to share his heart for souls to come to Christ and for the Church to be all in with Jesus.

A video of Isaiah preaching –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEO52VhM0wA

 

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Hope – Jeremiah – Samuel

We went for a walk on Saturday and discovered a jump house at our favorite local IV Park…and yes Hope asked if they could go on it.  The kids had a blast, thankful for these little hook ups from above that He gives us.

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Be the Light in Darkness

Our friend An Bui, who lives in the Bay Area now, sent us this Friday.  He felt God was going to do some gnarly stuff at Jesus Burgers this week while he had been praying for us (An used to live in IV, but moved back home for different reasons).

Well God did do awesome things Friday and we were all in awe!!  God is good, and Jesus’ church will continue to be the light in darkness.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;”  – Jesus

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Encounters With God

I am in awe of how God is using our “Free Spiritual Encounter” sign each week.  This sign could offend some Christians, but for the city of IV they love this non-religious sign we put up every Friday night across the street from the Jesus Burgers House.

Last night we got into tons of amazing conversations, prayed and prophesied over many people, others got healed of different physical stuff, and one guy gave his life to Christ and got baptized around 4am in the morning – ha ha.  God is good, and this sign is a modern day net for fishers of men.

And He (Jesus) said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

This picture was of a group encounter…tons of people on the street wanted to experience the love of God!

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Joanna Joy

Baby Joanna Joy turned 1 today…I call her Bonita or Bo or Bo Bo (all stemming from the word Beautiful).  We absolutely love this girl, sweetest personality ever!!  She has been nothing but a gift from above, thank you Father!

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”  (James 1:17)

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Graduation = 1 month

Ah, it is crazy that in a month it will be UCSB’s graduation again!!   This picture is of Annalisa* (a spiritual daughter to us) and Bianca a former UCSB student, who left IV after graduation to do a DTS with YWAM.  Please pray for the IVC family to finish the year well and for peace in the midst of transition for everyone.

*Annalisa leads our IV House of Prayer: http://jesuslovesiv.com/ivhop/

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Jesus Burgers – September

The book will be available in September of 2012

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