Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58
It was a place I had gone past many times before. Michaels Arts & Crafts, the former lessee of this location used to draw a modest crowd that usually left the large parking lot fairly empty.
But today it was different.
As I approached the corner of 808 Jackman Street, the site of the East County Rock Church, there was a palpable buzz in the air. Today, March 9th was the Ground Breaking Event and it seemed like all of El Cajon was alive with anticipation. The parking lot was jammed with cars looking for spaces to park and the sidewalks were teeming with people. God’s plan was unfolding and people were hoping to draw near to a loving Father who was making good on His promises.
Walking towards the building of what would soon be the Rock Church, my senses were heightened by the smell of food cooking from the half dozen food trucks. There was a crowd of people waiting for the doors to open to reveal what the newest home of the Rock would be like for this community that eagerly looks forward to its opening in the Fall.
"I have been praying for the Rock Church to be here so I can fellowship with real people and not just watch on my computer...my prayers have been answered tonight!"
So many people I spoke to related the same sentiment over and over again: they were thrilled to have the Rock in their community and no longer have to commute to Point Loma. Some of them live as far as Alpine as well as Lakeside, Santee, El Cajon and Blossom Valley. Of course they’ll miss their community in Point Loma. But they were looking forward to starting their own community here in East County, sharing God’s love with others and building a Rock family that was ready to serve their communities side by side. To put it simply, they were ready to Rock!
The excitement was everywhere. People were only too eager to share their joy about such an extraordinary event. “I’m so excited!” said one woman who was passing by. “I can’t wait to dig in!”
Another lady was ecstatic. “We’ve needed this for so long!”
A teary 65-year-old widow related, "Wow, if they can do this kind of worship in a unfinished building, I can't wait to experience it when it’s done."
A man stopped to say, "I have been praying for the Rock Church to be here so I can fellowship with real people and not just watch on my computer with my dog. My Prayers have been answered tonight!"
A "thirty something" father of three kids under the age of seven, stated, "I feel like my kids were more excited after tonight than after they went to Disneyland. We could have saved a lot of money coming here first."
A family of five with a 3rd grader, 6th grader and 8th grader shared, "Our search for a Church just ended right here in the old Michaels. Wow! That's crazy!"
CBS morning anchorman Dan Cohen was there with his wife and new baby to support Pastor Ricky who had ministered to them and are friends.
There were roughly 1500 people on hand to celebrate the groundbreaking event. It speaks volumes to what the Rock has created through Pastor Miles' vision, which is of course, God given and fueled by the Holy Spirit.
The joy, excitement and anticipation of the event was unmistakable and folks were happily greeting each other as familiar faces and friends started to gather.
As we waited, families were pouring in with kids that were excited to soon be playing on jumpies, skateboarding and eating popcorn and cotton candy. Funny paper bag and balloon hats graced the heads of not just the kids but the adults too. The joy, excitement and anticipation of the event was unmistakable and folks were happily greeting each other as familiar faces and friends started to gather. It seemed to all be adding up to this: God’s people joyfully showing their love for each other and rejoicing.
Once inside, the place quickly filled and became standing room only, but it was not a problem. Kids scrambled to the play areas dragging their parents along. Folks were running into people they hadn't seen in awhile, hugging each other and catching up. Then the music began and everyone jumped into Worship and the energy level in the building became reverent with arms stretched high as they worshipped God, praising in song, lifting a gutted building into a high place of holiness. Children on their parent's shoulders, trying to catch a glimpse of the worship team, were also throwing their hands up in the air. It was proof that God meets us wherever we gather to seek Him.
There was one moment where two women suddenly shrieked and started jumping up and down and hugging each other. It turns out they hadn't seen each other in 20 years and ran into each other at the event. It was a God moment—a huge blessing for both and I too was blessed, to witness God's hand at work.
Finally, I got a glimpse of Pastor Ricky making his way through the crowd, and whose charge of this church would be his destiny. I quickly ran up to him and even though he was being pulled in several directions, he took the time to answer my question. "So, how are you feeling right at this moment?" I asked.
Without skipping a beat, he simply shrugged and said, "This is all God’s work and what we've been led to do, what we've been working towards. It's all happening here, right now. We’re in the middle of it. So many ministries came early in the morning to set everything up and it's through their help and wanting to serve that it's all coming together. We're all just doing Gods' work. God is everywhere in this building." His son was close by his side and when asked if he would follow in his fathers' steps, they both chimed in, "Absolutely!"
Their conviction and boldness in knowing who they are in Christ is a shining example of what God does when we, His children, surrender, obey and open our hearts to all that His Holy Spirit will do in our lives.
The East County Rock Church is on fire for God and it's evident that it is going to take off in ways no one BUT GOD could imagine…Hallelujah!
However, as it is written:"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him." 1 Corinthians 2:9