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Hope Rising in South Bay
By Shawn Maree McCowan - June 19, 2014

For many, the pre-launch dedication of Rock Church San Ysidro on Saturday, June 14, was more than a church service – it was like going back home, going back to their roots.

Situated on the campus of San Ysidro High School, the location is the third of ten multi-sites planned to be in operation by 2020 in order to spread the church’s mission of pervasive hope. The North County site was launched in 2012 and East County was formed in 2013. The San Ysidro site will officially open in September, hosting 400 seats and services at 8AM, 10AM, and 12PM. In addition, a centrally-located facility in Chula Vista will provide a hub for other ministry outreach in South Bay.

“For us to come down here is almost like a welcoming back, a homecoming,” said Travis Gibson, the South Bay site’s new campus pastor. “It’s a very special thing.”

“The plan is to be a place of hope for all people in South County” and even nearby Mexico, Gibson said. “There are no borders in the name of Jesus…Let’s bring hope to everybody that needs it.” He added that one goal is to impact the students, who already have a Young Life and Fellowship of Christian Athletes on campus, and are excited about also partnering with Rock Church.

Speaking from the football field into bleachers filled with over 600 people, Senior Pastor Miles McPherson emphasized the need for Christians to remember the mission of the church to save, equip, and send out believers wherever they are, and that the south bay area represents unique possibilities.

“We’re going to give people an opportunity to have a relationship with Jesus Christ,” said McPherson. “A gang of people come across that border and there’s a whole nation right there,” said McPherson. “We’ve got a whole lot of ministry (to do).”

As part of the celebration, the church hosted kids activities, including face painting and animal balloons. Children romped on giant inflatables and many gathered around for a shot at dunking East County pastor, Ricky Page, in the dunk tank.

The new site, with its ocean breeze and view, is a welcome solution for those who began to drop off in attendance due to the distance to the Point Loma or East County campuses.

David Williams, the associate campus pastor, explained that as a civil engineer for CalTrans, he helped build the I-805 and SR-905 freeway interchanges and has seen the growth of the region.

“It’s a gigantic community, all of South Bay,” said Williams. “San Ysidro is a growing population. There’s so much open space and new housing developments...a lot of people who want to know about this Jesus that we worship and serve. This is a huge population of folks who really could be impacted by the gospel. We’re super excited to be here.”

“When I heard about this, I was like, ‘Perfect!’” said Ruiz. "I live about 10 minutes from here.”

Amanda Ruiz, 18 and her friend Carlos Leon, 20, were enthusiastic about being able to attend and serve at a closer location of Rock Church. “When I heard about this, I was like, ‘Perfect!’” said Ruiz. “The other one is too far for us, that’s why we had to stop going. All of them are too far. I live about 10 minutes (from here).”

Leon said, “It’s going to be a good opportunity for us because we love going every week. I want to volunteer, do more events for sure, because most of the time we couldn’t go to the events because they were too far.”

Martha Ruiz lives near the SR-905 and came with her son Joel, 15, at the invitation of a friend. “My friend told me they were having an event and they might start a church here, so that’s really convenient for me because Point Loma was really far for us,” said Ruiz. “We went to service for about a year, but we kinda stopped going because of work and the kids got older and got jobs. But this is nearby, so it might be easier to get everybody over.”

Though her son Joel attends nearby rival Montgomery High School, he admitted that because the church is on campus, “I think more high school students would attend.”

Nick and Alejandra Lacy, who were attending East County, said they plan to attend since they have family and friends in the area. “It’s a great opportunity to bring our friends and family to this location and spread the word,” said Nick.

“I think it’s great,” Alejandra said of the location. “I grew up in San Ysidro my whole life. I just think it’s great that I can finally invite my friends and my family to come down to services. I’d invite them to come to Point Loma but it was always a drive for them, so now that they’re here, they have no excuse. I really hope to be coming out to this campus and volunteering.”

Following the service, attendees inserted tiny white flags that fluttered from a display reading, “We all carry a flag, but they fly under one name.” Penned on the white flags were words representing the many ways hope is being demonstrated throughout the county.

“This campaign is called Hope Rising,” said Gibson, indicating the slogan on his shirt. “We wanted to be (here), and now we’re here. Hope is now risen; that’s what this is all about.”

View photos from the pre-launch event here!