Audacious Dreams

10/22/2016 .
Clayton Heilman  .  Storyteller

Therez dreamed audaciously. She was confident that one day she would move to the United States. Growing up in Indonesia, she studied and worked hard, but none of it came easy. Suffering from polio as an infant left Therez disabled, but she insisted her physical limitations wouldn’t hold her back. She believed God had an incredible plan for her life and her challenges were taking her toward the dreams he had given her.

Therez purchased a one-way ticket to Colorado and stepped into the unknown. As her plane landed, she thought of the uncertainty ahead with no friends, no family, and only a contact at a local church that promised to help her get settled. “Random people were helping me. My mom was worried, but nothing was going to stop me,” Therez said.

A few years later she found herself transitioning to California. Her sister had moved to San Diego, and she knew God was calling her to take another leap of faith and move to the West Coast. This time her move didn’t go quite as smooth. Her employment contract ended a few months after the move and she was stuck looking for work. In the midst of a terrible recession there weren’t many options. She retreated back to the safety of Colorado where she had a more established life.

The failure didn’t deter Therez from her dream. She found a short-term contract job, giving her time to look for more permanent work. She moved again, and found her faith stretched even more. Some of the provision came at the last minute, but Therez continued to hold on to the hope that God was calling here to Southern California

Therez met a few friends that attended Saddleback Church and invited her to join them. After her first visit, Therez knew she found something she wanted to be part of. She walked out of the service feeling encouraged by the message and friendly community of people. “I felt so welcome,” Therez said. “I’ve never had that before.” But she lived so far away. Commuting to the church every weekend would be a huge commitment.


She continued to regularly attend a church in San Diego, occasionally making the trip north on the weekend to be part of Saddleback until the church’s 35th Anniversary celebration at Angel Stadium changed everything. There in the crowd of worshipers, Therez committed to making Saddleback Church her home. She and her fiance, Devin, had been attending separate churches, but she knew if they were going to be starting life together they needed to be planted in a church together — they wanted Saddleback to be that church.

They found a small group of Saddleback members in the San Diego area and commuted to the San Clemente campus on the weekend.

When the plans were announced to open the new San Diego campus, Therez couldn’t have been more thrilled. She attended the first launch meeting with anticipation, excited to meet Pastor Jeff Gonzalez, the San Diego campus pastor. As he shared the vision of Saddleback Church in San Diego and his excitement to reach out to the local community Therez felt God urging her to get involved. “I thought I just wanted to attend, I never thought I’d get involved or help serve.” When Pastor Jeff asked for people to step up, the response was overwhelming. Therez connected with the Production Team and signed up.


Early mornings aren’t Therez’s thing. Starting as early as 6:30 AM, the production team is one of the first to arrive and last to leave. But Therez had experience in production and felt that would be the most effective area for her to contribute.

“It’s really cool to see people in this community excited that we are starting a campus in San Diego,” Therez said. “I’ve shared about the launch on Facebook and people have been so positive and excited about this new church.”

Therez’s journey with God has been highlighted by big steps of faith. Now, Therez and Devin, her fiance, are excited about their journey together and serving at Saddleback’s newest campus. “We believe God has great plans for both of us,” Therez adds.

As Saddleback Church reaches out to new communities and takes steps of daring faith to fill God’s house with 40,000 worshipers every weekend, Therez feels like she is part of a bigger story of what God is doing in Southern California.

Click HERE to learn more about Saddleback Church in San Diego.


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