In anticipation of upcoming changes and to check up on how we are meeting the needs of our community we recently did a short survey on a Sunday at Pura Vida. The results warmed my heart. Five years ago when we started the Pura Vida services we knew that a Spanish language ministry was a major need in Santa Barbara, what Pura Vida has become, according to the answers from this survey, is so much more. It has gone beyond serving simply in another language and has created community.
When asked to describe the Pura Vida church in one word most people referred to community, family, home, support and similar terms. This is amazing in that it is only through Christ that such a hodgepodge group of Christians would use these words to describe Pura Vida. With a multiracial (60% Latino, 40% Anglo) multilingual congregation from all walks of life we can come together in the name of Jesus to form loving relationships where before there may have been no reason to do so. In the last five years Pura Vida has been a catalyst enabling us to be “ambassadors of Christ” as Paul called us to be in II Corinthians 5. By being in authentic relationship with others unlike ourselves we promote the reconciliation that Paul calls us to in this passage.
This month also marks the end of our first year on the Eastside. The last two years gang violence has been in the forefront of the Santa Barbara news. As a Christian community directly affected by this lifestyle our hearts are grieved at the loss of life and we ask why and what can we do. Paul answers, Christ did it for us, His death reconciled us to God so that we can be transformed by His love and share that reconciling love with others. “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all and therefore all died. And he died for all that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” II Corinthians 5:14-15 Our presence on the Eastside has not gone unnoticed. As His “love compels us” we are becoming known through small groups, Kids Club, food distribution and Sunday Services.
Pray for our community, that we can continue to be ambassadors of Christ, reconciling the world to Him just as He reconciled us to Himself.
Love, Familia Leon on behalf of PVC Santa Barbara