City Heights Soccer League

soccer feet

My unexpected journey working with refugees begins three years when I moved to San Diego. Back when I made my decision to pack up everything I owned and move to a city I knew nothing about, many people, including myself, weren’t really sure what I was doing. I had just returned home to Seattle from a six-month apprenticeship in Kaffrine, Senegal, and the only thing I really knew for sure after returning home was that I wanted to continue to serve and love people like Jesus has so graciously loved me. I’ve learned that being in a place in life where you’re uncertain of what’s coming next, can actually be the best spot for your heart to be in.  When you do not fully know what you are doing, but have a strong desire and calling that God has placed on your heart, you can be content in your uncertainty. Trusting God in uncertainty gives Him the opportunity to lead you according to His purpose and plan instead of your own. For my wife, Christina, and I, this constant state of uncertainty of what God is doing next has become our new normal. Since arriving in San Diego we’ve often battled losing sight and have had to fight to guard our hearts from frustration and despair of the unknown. Yet, we are always reminded of the goodness of God and we learn to rest in thankfulness and awe of where His hand has brought us. We have come to understand our journey into uncertainty as one that is teaching us to trust God more everyday with our lives. He has directed our path in a direction we would not have chosen or foresaw, in order to lovingly produce lasting change in our hearts and ultimately our community that wouldn’t happen otherwise.

Although we’ve always had a love for people and learning about culture, we didn’t realize when we moved to San Diego it’s a city with over 150,000 refugees from all over the world. As soon as we began to learn about the large numbers of refugees being resettled in the neighborhood of City Heights, we started spending time there without really knowing what we were doing or how we could get involved to meet families and build friendships. We volunteered with a few different organizations and started to meet new friends in the neighborhood who had also been on a journey to grow friendships with refugees. Through these new friendships, we were connected with multiple refugee families from various countries who were very recently resettled. We couldn’t believe the amount of heart wrenching stories we heard from many of these families of what they had endured on their journeys before arriving in San Diego. At this point, I really didn’t even know where to begin or how to go about being a friend to these families that had been through so much. So we just started visiting these families in their homes, and offering to take them to run errands to grocery store, to find furniture, get immunizations, set-up cell phones, help to register their kids at school, or in ESL classes. These things that are seemingly simple in daily life can become complicated for our friends who are transitioning their families into a new life in a new country with very little resources. We never knew what the details of refugee resettlement looked like and the amount that refugee families endure upon first arriving to the U.S. In the time spent with our refugee friends and wanting to learn and know who they are, Christina and I have been amazed at how much joy, gentleness, and hospitality they show. Something shifted in our hearts throughout this time. Instead of just helping these families, we started looking forward to going on picnics with them, going to the beach, going to the zoo, having each other over for tea, sharing traditions and food, and just living life together. These families were not just people that we were helping; they had become great friends that we so greatly enjoy spending time with. We look forward to the life long friendships that we will have with these families and are excited to continue to make new ones!

Throughout this time of building friendships with refugees, I have wanted to find more ways to build community within City Heights. While talking with friends and walking around the neighborhood, I started to see that just about EVERYONE plays soccer in this area. I mean, it’s like being in another part of the world! As it hits late afternoon in City Heights, when people start to get off of work and school, parking lots and local parks are filled with people ready to put together small games of soccer with whoever wants to join. Growing up and playing soccer myself, I often find myself joining in on these games and playing on an almost dirt field, using extra shoes or bags as goals, and having about 20 people on each team. Through desiring to build more community, experiencing playing soccer like this, and talking with several local leaders in the community, we came up with the idea of starting a refugee soccer league. This would allow for more friendships to be built with players and their families as well. It would also provide a fun and organized environment for people of all skill level to compete in. We have lots of ideas to not only create a league, but to also have kids be coached and trained, create competitions, and hopefully get connections with clubs and other sports programs so that we can give kids opportunities to gain experience with a hope to offer college scholarship opportunities. This soccer league will also provide another way for our Kaleo Missions teams to help serve the community and build relationships. With our teams we could do special games, trainings, coaching, camps, etc. We are so excited for this opportunity to work with local leaders in City heights to create this league and involved our teams in it as they come to San Diego!

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Summer 2014

The Kaleo summer season began for Christina and I on June 7th when we welcomed our summer interns into town.We loved getting to work with our summer intern team! They were each a apart of making the summer what it … Continue reading

For The City

It is all because of Jesus, who is the mercy of God, that we go forward to be apart of His redemption story in our world and for this city.

Kaleo Missions partners with churches to equip communities of Christians to engage our city with the gospel. We partner with local San Diego ministries and exist to be a blessing to the work Jesus is doing through them. San Diego is “home to more than 150,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Southeast Asia, East Africa, Burma, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Bosnia, Kosovo, the Former Soviet Union and other war-torn regions of the world” (San Diego Refugee Forum). Our hearts are set on serving this growing refugee community and low-income families in the neighborhood of City Heights. The community we have been working with is comprised of people from some of the most marginalized and oppressed countries worldwide.

JUNE

Our summer intern staff arrived in June. They are literally from all over the country; Haley’s from Northern California, Jocelyn’s from Arizona, Luke’s from Pennsylvania and Josh’s from Texas. Scott and I are thankful to have their joy and their help this summer, and excited that we get to learn further still about living in gospel-centered community together.

In June, we had the privilege of launching the summer off serving San Diego with youth students from Golden Gate Community Church and Simi Valley Community Church, and a team of families from Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church. On June 20th (also Scott’s 24th Birthday!), we celebrated World Refugee Day at Bridge of Hope with many City Heights students who had been resettled in the United States from refugee camps in Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, Sudan, Burma, and Thailand. We loved getting to hear many of their stories and experience a snapshot into the lives refugees in our city.

Over the course of time that our groups were in town, we also began our summer Kid’s Clubs. In the previous months we have experienced an increased need for a consistent after-school Kid’s Club program, specifically geared for elementary aged students. We see a definite need for a safe place for these young students to gather after school to hear the stories of Jesus’ love throughout the bible, and to participate in organized art and sporting activities. This has already been a great avenue in the neighborhood to meet parents and families as well. We are currently preparing to launch an after school Kid’s Club at Bridge of Hope in the fall. Please join us in prayer about the details surrounding the  launch of this. Also, we want to say “Thank You” to Creekside Elementary School in Issaquah, WA and to Megan Graff for collecting classroom/art supply donations. We are excited to utilize these supplies towards empowering these kids!

JULY

I can’t believe we are into July already! Currently we are on a two week break between ministry teams that will be coming into town to partner with us. During this time we are praying, planning and preparing for the following weeks of ministry teams, for the fall, as well as continuing with our mid week Kid’s Clubs and serving with our local ministry partners. Scott and I are also scheduled to soon to begin two classes focused gaining practical tools for muslim outreach. Without offering great detail here, we simply ask that you be in prayer for us for what the Lord is doing in our hearts.

Scott and I are deeply grateful for your investment in us and in Kaleo Missions – both in prayer and in financial support. Currently, we are financially funded at 20%. If you have not already responded with a prayer or financial support pledge, we encourage you to pray about committing to join together with us in what God is doing here in San Diego.

PRAYER NEEDS
– Encouragement and energy for Kaleo summer intern staff
– For our ministry partners
– Kaleo summer ministry teams (That God would give each student/leader gospel vision for their city as they return home)
– The launch of Fall Kid’s Club, and our need for “The Jesus Story Book Bible” book & curriculum
– Continued prayer and financial support pledges

Kaleo Summer 2014 Interns

(From left to right: City Director: Scott Graff, Luke, Josh, Haley and Jocelyn) Meet our much prayed for Kaleo Missions summer intern staff! They assist with the day-to-day operations of the partnering ministry sites, serve alongside of the Kaleo Mission’s teams, and lead … Continue reading

Scott & Christina: An Update


S&C GRAFF SAN DIEGO, CA 2014


Dear Friends,

             It is with great anticipation and joy that we write to you with a brief yet poignant update. We want to share our story with you and hope that in some way it brings you encouragement. We are excited to soon be celebrating our first year of marriage in May as we continue to make our home together here in city we love, San Diego. God has worked His grace into our lives over and over again even in the short time we’ve been married, and showed us how marriage is a picture of the Gospel to the world. Jesus is so gracious, and we’ve both been richly blessed through the growing friendship and love He has given us. We are thankful for the work of the Holy Spirit in us, working profoundly through our families and community and teaching us about His faithfulness, steadfast love and sovereignty over our lives. So, family and dearest of friends, we’d like to say “thank you for pointing us to Jesus. If you’ve prayed for us and with us, thank you. If you’ve called us out to repent of our sin and to trust again in Jesus, thank you. If you’ve pushed us to forgive each other, because we’ve been forgiven, thank you. We love reflecting on the uniqueness of the story that God is writing – may it be forever be His.

          The story we want to share with you begins in 2012 after (I) Scott returned to Seattle from my apprenticeship in Kaffrine, Senegal with Serving in Mission (SIM). After much prayer I shortly thereafter moved to San Diego, CA to join in with a local church plant. At the same time, Christina had just completed a year of interning for two different community development organizations in Costa Mesa, CA and then she returned to finish her BA in Psychology at Northwest University. After we were engaged, she joined me in San Diego to be a part of the church plant and to take on a new role in a local San Diego social services organization as a Job Developer, helping empower workers with developmental disabilities. Within the last two years there have been many life changing and joyful transitions, as well as some unexpected challenges. We are thankful for our time spent serving in the church plant and getting the opportunity so early in our lives and marriage to build our foundation on the gospel and experience being the church practically under the leadership of wise believers. Towards the end of 2013, our pastor and his family accepted a new ministry role and made the transition to a new city, and our church community was absorbed into several other local San Diego churches. Though this was a difficult transition for us, we know that God has used it in many ways and specifically to confirm in our hearts His call to remain in San Diego and to join him in pursuing restoration for the city.

             In January (I) Scott took on a new role as the City Director for Kaleo Missions, where we are now working and serving predominately in the neighborhood of City Heights. Kaleo Missions partners with churches to equip communities of Christians to engage our world with the Gospel, while blessing existing ministries in the city. The heart of our ministry is to equip and mobilize the church to live out it’s calling to represent him to the world. The primary way we accomplish this goal is by hosting relationally centered mission trips focused upon both learning and serving the city. We create opportunities for groups of youth, college students and families to partner with us year-round as well as provide opportunities to learn about mission, justice and the Gospel. With a population of 1.3 million people in the city of San Diego, and a total of 3 million in San Diego County, it is the second largest city in California and the eighth largest in the U.S. Unfortunately, like a multitude of many other of our nation’s cities, San Diego has marginalized populations of people who are living in desperate need. According to a 2011 report by the Center on Policy Initiatives, San Diego has over 450,000 residents living in poverty and, according to the 2011 homeless census, over 9,000 people are experiencing homelessness. Beyond all of that, San Diego is one of the largest cities in the country for refugee resettlement. A refugee is defined as, “a person who has been forced to leave their home and seek refuge elsewhere”. According to the San Diego Refugee Forum, San Diego is “home to more than 150,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Southeast Asia, East Africa, Burma, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Bosnia, Kosovo, the Former Soviet Union and other war-torn regions of the world.” We are excited to be partnering with several ministries and churches to specifically serve this growing refugee community in City Heights. The community we have been working with is comprised of people from some of the most marginalized and oppressed countries worldwide. In serving with Kaleo and partnering with several other City Heights organizations, the Lord has placed a desire in our hearts to come alongside the existing ministries involved in the City Heights community at a full-time capacity.

               As well as serving with Kaleo I (Scott) have been working a second job at Starbucks to meet our monthly financial needs. However, after much prayer and consideration, the Lord has put a desire in our hearts to be serving in full-time ministry in the City Heights community. In order to do this I need to make the bold transition out of my second job and raise $900.00 in monthly support. Currently, we are receiving income from Christina’s work and a partial income from Kaleo Missions. We know that this opportunity has been placed in front of us by the Lord, and with all of our hearts we desire to be obedient and faithful to His call. We invite you join in what God is doing in this city to bring the light of the Gospel to people from all over the world. Partnering together can look several different ways: The first and most vital way to join with us is through prayer. We will be sending out a monthly update so that you can rejoice with us and be aware of prayer needs.  Our blog is also a great way to keep up with us on a weekly basis. We invite you to follow us there as well: TheGraffsBlog.Wordpress.com. The second is through a pledge to support us financially on a monthly basis or with a one-time gift. Many of you have faithfully supported us in the past in many ways, and we are forever thankful for the encouragement each of your friendships has brought us. We would love to talk with each of you and answer any questions you may have about Kaleo Missions and our work here in San Diego or, if you would like more information on sending a mission team to serve with us. Praise be to God for the mission He sent His son Jesus on to redeem our lives. It is all because of Jesus, who is the mercy of God, that we go forward to be apart of His redemption story.

In Christ,

GraffLetter

Scott & Christina Graff

 


S&C GRAFF SUPPORT PLEDGE


If you would like to commit to any of the following, please fill out the form below. Thank You!

 


Kaleo Missions is in the process of receiving 501c3 status, and all contributions will be retroactively tax deductible when that is approved. Also, please note that other than small a PayPal processing fee, 100% of your donation will be received and utilized by Kaleo Missions San Diego City Directors, Scott & Christina Graff.

Thank you for prayerfully joining the Kaleo Mission Support Team! Your prayers and financial support are essential in empowering our ministry in City Heights, San Diego. Here is two ways you can send your gift:

1)   You can mail your support to: Kaleo Missions PO Box 1371 Denton, TX 76202

(Please make checks payable to Kaleo Missions and write “Scott & Christina Graff” on the check memo line.)

2)   You can give online via PayPal: http://kaleomissions.org/donate

 (In the “Intended For” box, simply note that your support is for “Scott & Christina Graff”.)


 

 

Meet Ryan & Mary

Meet Ryan & Mary

“It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer Meet Ryan & Mary. They’re getting married! Mary and Christina became the best of friends in the summer of ’06. … Continue reading