Ken Vargas started attending the Microsite at Grocery Outlet in 2014 and shortly after began volunteering. "I was walking through the parking lot on my way to do some shopping. I was approached by Robert [a Microsite volunteer], who told me about...how Pastor Miles and Rock Church were reaching out to the community through Microsites. I was in need of and desired fellowship, so I sat in for the service and have been attending since."
Through that year, Ken was enjoying his fellowship with the others who attend service at the Grocery Outlet and growing into a deeper relationship with Jesus. Then, in September of 2015, Ken was transferred to the Vista Detention Facility for parole violations.
While in the Administrative Segregation Housing unit, Ken encountered 6 men who knew the Lord. He recalls having the privilege and blessing of getting to know each of their testimonies and their ongoing relationship with Jesus. "After meeting and talking with the 6 brothers, I was inspired and deeply moved to encourage them through Bible study, prayer, and fellowship. I saw them through the Gospel. No matter what their actions were that brought them to jail, I saw them through the stories of grace that we read in the Bible. The love of Jesus overwhelmed me as I thought of Jesus saying, 'Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.' John 8:11. 'Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.' Luke 23:43. And Paul writing, 'But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.' Romans 5:20-21." Though this experience, Ken was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write letters for other inmates to read while in custody. He believed that writing these letters would be a good way to encourage believers in the facility, but also to tell nonbelievers about the Good News of God’s grace.
While in custody, Ken wrote to Joyce who helps run the Grocery Outlet Microsite telling her about the need to encourage the people in this detention facility. He presented the idea about starting a ministry of writing letters to these men and when he was released in December 2015, they started planning. "When Kenny was in jail, we communicated with him nearly everyday," Joyce said. "We also got letters that he passed on from the Christians that were with him and we put them up on our Microsite bulletin board and asked people to pray for each of them. We know from Kenny how much they appreciated our support, to have Christian brothers and sisters who were not judging them, but lifting them up and asking God to give them boldness to share about our God with the other inmates while we shared about our Lord on the outside.
Ken continues to correspond with the men he passionately refers to as "brothers". "They tell me in their letters how thankful they are to God bringing me to the Vista Detention Facility. They continue to pray everyday at 4:30PM for each other, based on Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 5:5, John 14:27 and James 5:16. One brother, Santo, writes to me and shares with me what God is speaking to him through his Bible reading and prayer time."
The grace of God is not only scandalous, but also beautiful. His grace meets us in the most unsuspecting of places. His grace spreads arms open wide to welcome us home. His grace has already forgotten our sins. His grace calls us sons and daughters of the King.
"We know how much it matters to the brothers in prison right now," Joyce said. "We know how much it matters to our Microsite community to be accepted by God right now just as they are. We are saving lives right now. We are affecting people in prison right now. It will be amazing to see how many more we touch with God's love."
To learn more about Microsites and how they are establishing Pervasive Hope in the city, visit www.sdrock.com/microsites.