Contagious Love

Jo Anna Mendoza was new to faith in Christ. She was attending the Monday night women's Bible study at Ventura Missionary and was trying to figure out God's plan for her life. Her leader told her that in order to grow in her faith, she would need to take a step of faith. She was already doing clean-up work at The City Center. She loved what this ministry was trying to do - provide a transitional place for homeless people who were ready to make a change in their lives. She decided to take a step of faith into unknown territory when one of the pastors here told her that the Center was in need of mentors for its residents. Jo Anna didn't really even know what it meant to be a mentor, but she was ready to give something a try, because she wanted to share the transforming love of Jesus that had changed her life. The City Center contacted her and said they had a young woman they wanted to pair her up with, and so began a journey she could have never imagined.

Cassie had been battling addiction, and because of her destructive choices had lost everything - job, car, kids, home. She entered a 6 month program at Casa de Vida, an addiction recovery home. After becoming sober and graduation from the program she was accepted as a resident at The City Center. The transitional home provided her with a case worker who coached Cassie and showed her the various options she had. Cassie was ready to take responsibility for her own life, and she wholeheartedly took advantage of the tools she was now being afforded. Within a week, she had a job. It was during this time that Jo Anna became Cassie's mentor. Thinking back on this, Cassie shared, "Jo Anna loved me with an unconditional love. She took me shopping. She took my kids and I to Chuck E. Cheese. She took me to church. She prayed with me. She turned me to God. I am so grateful for her affirmation through everything. She helped me stay on the right path through all the struggles. And back then I was in a position where there was no way out without places like The City Center. It was a wonderful stepping stone so I could thrive. But I had to surrender it all to God and then make the choice to do the work."

Cassie has been blown away by God's provision through this season. The timing has been perfect. When cold weather set in and she needed a jacket, God provided. When she obtained her job and needed transportation to get there, a bus pass was given to her. She didn't share these needs with other people. God just took care of them.

Cassie is over two years sober now. She has been promoted at her job. She was able to get her own vehicle, and has been living in her own place for over a year. The impact of God's love bubbles out of this young woman and onto those around her. It's infectious - so much so that several of Cassie's co-workers and relatives are now coming to church. She has also shared her story with current residents of Casa de Vida. She beams as she talks about her new life.

Struggles don't go away, and Cassie is going through some hard things right now, but it's different when you have God and His people in your life. And she says the messages on Sunday mornings are always so fitting, so personal with what she is facing at the time. She loved the recent series in the Beatititudes.

Cassie is not only taking care of herself, she is serving others. She volunteers in our KidZone program every week. She says, "And it's not going to stop there!" She loves giving back and hopes to eventually become involved in missions.