The true fight is to love.
Pain, Death, Sorrow, is how this story starts. A grieving mother whose son died in a tragic car accident. Her son was only 16 years old. For a few months before his death, she had been reaching out to a group of young men and asked them if they could engage with her son and help him through his struggles.
The young men tried an idea; take her son to a skatepark, bring all of his friends and develop relationships with those kids. The young men showed up at the skatepark at the stated time, but the boy never did.
A few weeks later, these young men were playing music at his funeral, and when the man driving the Hearse needed some extra hands, he asked them to help carry the coffin. With sadness and confusion, David said to Beto “I can’t believe we are carrying the dead body of this young kid we tried to reach out to a few weeks ago.” In that moment, there was something heavier than the coffin itself, it was almost a burden too hard to lift, it was the weight of failure.
More than a hundred kids showed up to Jacob’s funeral. His life ended when his car hit a tree right in front of his High School in Costa Mesa. Leaving this lingering question in many minds: how can we help kids in the same circumstances as Jacob? How can we engage in their lives and maybe give them a word of advice, a piece of encouragement, a little push to tell them they are of worth and they can make good choices for a better future.
Westside Nights is a story of hope after failure.
As we ended 2017, some of the community leaders, including Lucas of Mika CDC, Christian Parra of Iglesia Harbor, Beto Gudino and Mike Decker of Palm Harvest Church and people involved in our local Estancia Highschool, the Bargas Family, Brook and Mike (Athletic Director), sat down and thought, how can we help create a fun night like Mika Youth reach a broader audience.
In 2018 Westside Nights was born to provide an opportunity to work together as a community and engage the younger generation with some of the wisdom and advice that the older crowd garnered through the years. It wasn’t very long after we understood something was still missing, we had a great “program” for youth, but still felt there was a missing connecting point.
At the end of that year we realized the need for the church to become something more than a building. The church is people who believe Jesus can live through their actions. In partnership with CRU (Campus Crusade for Christ), we moved away from the festive nights and started a new journey in which we invested our time directly with students at the place they spend the most time at, their High School.
In 2019 Westside Nights evolved into Westside Network. We started utilizing the tools of the 21st century, we invested our time and effort into a Podcast format to start connecting with leaders in our community who could bring light into the dark issues we face in any stage of our lives; we started to learn from one another how to deal with our depression, anxiety, loneliness, anger. And how there is always an antidote to heal our relationships.
As we start 2020, a new decade, we now believe we are part of a bigger story that connects us all. An all inclusive, cosmic tale. A story that utilizes the Kingdom of God and its relationships to bring justice to one another, to bring life and true joy as we give ourselves away and start loving our neighbors as well as we do ourselves.