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Sharing the Love…the Luv-Em-Up Ministry
By Vanessa Dimalanta

Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?" The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:37-40

Tucked away in a strip mall on a busy street in Lakeside, the ordinary facade of this building hides an amazing secret. There is going to be a Jesus party here tonight.

Luv-Em-Up Ministries, led by energetic Pastor Bobby Yates, meets Monday nights at Calvary Chapel for worship and fellowship. Pastor Bobby is assisted by wife Rosie and a team of dedicated volunteers. The very special ministry members find not only a place to honor God but receive much, much more.

Just Persons

There is always an overwhelming sense of love in this special ministry
There is always an overwhelming sense of love in this special ministry

The ministry's purpose is to assist individuals in overcoming burdens that a variety of physical and mental disabilities create in their daily lives. In addition to an interactive weekly service, each person receives one-on-one counseling, mentoring, friendship and prayer.

Many of the members need assistance in seemingly simple things that often majority of us take for granted. For many who attend, there is a huge challenge in just getting to service. That's not a problem here. Pastor Bobby proudly shares that there have been four vans donated to assist with transportation needs. Vans provide rides for Sunday Rock Church services in addition to doctor and therapy appointments and special events such as ball games and camping outings.

According to Pastor Bobby, society often assigns "little boxes" to the disabled, subsequently compartmentalizing them instead of trying to understand their unique needs. In this ministry, there are no disabilities, "just persons".

The Power of a Hive Five and a Hug

Members are encouraged to seek God for direction and strength. A favorite ministry verse is Philippians 4:13, That you do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

Pastor Bobby encourages each member to seek strength through the Lord.

"There is weekly witness to God's hand powerfully touching and changing lives," he says.

Great excitement occurs with each individual's progress and members who have overcome a challenging obstacle receive high fives and hugs.

Jesus Party

On Monday nights, as the vans deliver members proudly sporting Luv-Em-Up T-shirts, empty seats quickly become filled with those eager to praise God. The environment is warm and welcoming. All are greeted by name. There are hugs and people genuinely happy to see each other.

Volunteers help getting people inside and then, once all are seated, a question is posed:

"Are you ready to party?"

The change in energy level in the room becomes palpable. Each side of the room tries to outdo the other in a chorus that of praise that rocks the room.

"We've got Jesus, yes we do! Who's got Jesus?"

And the other side shouts, "What about you?"

Everybody in the Luv-Em-Up Ministry is a comedian
Everybody in the Luv-Em-Up Ministry is a comedian

The service continues in a manner that is easily understood by all, including sign language. Memory verses are proudly shared. The room resonates with excitement and love for the Lord and for each other.

As Pastor Bobby keeps the group focused on praising the Lord, he developed a tickle in his throat. One of the members wasted no time in literally running for a cup of water so Pastor Bobby could ease his cough and continue leading them in worship. He is a study in energy and enthusiasm.

The evening begins to wind down with the attendees splitting into smaller groups, led by a volunteer, for prayer and scripture discussion. The members also share dilemmas that they may be facing and get support from all in their circle. Depending on the challenge of the day, there may be tears or laughter-and no one is afraid to share their emotions.

After this very special time is over, there are snacks served by volunteers in the lobby. Cookies and punch are shared plus more warm conversations and encouragement. As the vans are readied to take ministry members back to their homes, hugs are given and loving goodbyes exchanged.

Spreading the Luv

Not only does this group do homeless outreaches, they also take part in hospital visitations. Work is also under way to develop the Luv-Em-Up Foundation for national support and outreach. There is a larger vision that includes national and international ministry. The group has ministered throughout Mexico, performing gospel illusion shows in addition to the preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. In January 2005, Pastor Bobby went to Africa with the Dream for Africa Mission to help with efforts to stop hunger and spread the Word.

Volunteers are needed to help the Luv-Em-Up Ministry meet goals of reaching out to those not only in need in San Diego, but also to those needing the Word outside of the county. As Romans 10:2 says: The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

If you are interested in being a worker in an amazing and rewarding harvest, please contact Pastor Bobby Yates at [email protected] or 619.312.0174.

For more information about the Disabilities Ministry, click here »