New Saddleback Outreach

12/28/2017 .
Saddleback Church

God’s Heart for the Foreigner: Responding to the Refugee Crisis

New Saddleback Outreach in the Works

Local PEACE is Saddleback’s tool to achieve our Daring Faith goal of assisting people in need.Through ordinary people, empowered by God, our church family serves our community in a variety of ways. From serving the military and elderly to helping the incarcerated and the homeless, over 500 ministries are available to do what Jesus did, together, wherever we are.

One of the newest outreaches developing in Local PEACE was sparked by a desire to respond to the current world refugee crisis. At a PEACE Practical gathering for anyone interested in being part of local and global missions efforts, Local PEACE Manager Michelle Thune invited members with a desire to respond to the refugee crisis locally to be part of an exploratory launch group. This team would start by learning about our local refugee context and start an outreach response in alignment with our Saddleback’s core missional values expressed in PEACE. Several enthusiastically responded, and a new outreach began!

This evolving outreach will be for anyone who has a heart for foreign people seeking a new beginning in America. Volunteers have been meeting together to pray for God’s direction as they learn about issues, explore challenges, and uncover opportunities to minister to refugees locally. 

One discovery in the process is the story of thousands of Haitians who spent over several months walking from Brazil to America, only to be detained once they arrived. Around 200 of them are in local detention centers Musick, Theo Lacy, and Adelanto. After hearing that tragic story, Saddleback member Ilene Bradberry knew she had to get involved. “They have no voice,” Ilene says. “We want to help them. First, we need to identify their problems.” 

Volunteers are now regularly visiting these asylum-seekers at a local detention center, and feeling incredibly blessed by seeing just how significant their visits are in encouraging the detainees. A simple 30-minute visit to listen to their story, encourage them, and pray with them is profoundly meaningful. It is an easy opportunity that truly has a huge impact. It’s beautiful to have an opportunity to live out Matthew 25:26 - “I was in prison and you visited me.”

If Saddleback’s new outreach can offer compassion and connect them with resources including ESL, it has the potential to bring increased stability when they are released into a new culture. Since many of these asylum speakers do not speak English, the team is looking for more people able to translate conversations, especially French and Portuguese speakers.

Ultimately, the goal for this outreach will be to spiritually and relationally minister to refugees and asylum-seekers, and support them in successful assimilation to their new home. Our desire is to connect these men and women into our church family and available ministries including the PEACE Center’s Food Pantry, medical clinic, Resource Coaches, and Career Coaching, to name a few.

Once the outreach has officially launched, Saddleback members will be able to connect to opportunities and receive training to build relationships, spiritually encourage, and provide practical help to refugees in transition from another country. This will be a tremendous opportunity to trust God and let him stretch our faith as a church family.

“Jesus urged the church to lead the way,” says Ilene. “This is our chance to step up and show mercy and compassion.”

 To learn more about serving in Saddleback’s community outreaches, visit

Photo Credit: Refugees by climatalk (2005) / Attribution, Non Commercial ( / Photo Attribution by