2020 has presented itself with many challenges, and as a church, we have met those challenges head first. From a global pandemic, economic fluctuation, and social unrest — Destiny has continued to do what it has always done: be a place that loves well, serves well, and pursues the presence of God, because it changes everything.
Destiny has not stopped its community outreach through the pandemic but has only expanded its reach and services. With the help of congregation members and our local community, we’ve made an impact in 2020 far greater than we expected.
In 2019, there were two initiatives that we launched to support both the special needs community and foster children, and those ministries did not stop in 2020. In February (before the pandemic), Destiny hosted a “Shining Stars” prom for special needs children and their families. With over 80 families in attendance, it was a joy to host such a wonderful event. Sensitive to noise and light, we brought in sensory-accomodating entertainment to make it a great experience for these special needs children.
Then, COVID hit the United States — and a lot of uncertainty befell families who were out of work and fearful of what the future held. In April of 2020, Destiny launched a COVID response network of over 100 churches and non-profits to provide families with food, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and personal protective equipment throughout Placer County. A crisis hotline was created for members of the community to call with needs and prayer.
To help with the emotional burden this pandemic brought, Destiny launched online classes for families and children like “Coping with Stress & Anxiety” and “Understanding Grief” for the community to take.
At the beginning of the crisis, PPE was scarce and very hard to come by. Our outreach team assembled a team in early April to sew and distribute over 5,000 masks to VA hospitals and homeless veterans in the community to help provide critical supplies during the shortage.
With families moving to a virtual education platform starting back in April, Foster families were especially at a disadvantage for online learning. In collaboration with Ticket to Dream, our team visited foster families to deliver laptops to foster youth in need, giving them the head-start they needed to be successful in this new environment of education.
Our women’s ministry, in partnership with the Holt’s family, created thousands of gift baskets full of food, gift cards, written prayers, and books, and delivered them to elderly members of the community, many of which had not seen another person for months in the midst of the pandemic (all of the deliveries were done with PPE and social distancing). We receive hundreds of phone calls and letters from this ministry activity, with tearful gratitude from hundreds of community members. One of the most memorable notes was the following:
On April 10th, my husband of 42 years died in-home hospice, after a long battle with IPF, a terminal lung disease. Someone in Destiny’s women’s group heard about our family’s loss, and I was stunned to receive an amazing delivery of two enormous bags of food (some homemade), devotional and crossword books, and other care package items such as scented soap. Although I am very close to my family, I still feel that Destiny’s willingness to provide the actual real contact I needed, rather than just online, has been essential to my healing during this first year of widowhood. It has given me the opportunity to help support others in a way that is simply not possible remotely. I will forever be grateful to the staff of Destiny for their courage in remaining a personal, faithful, vibrant force that provides the environment we all need as followers of Jesus. May each and everyone be blessed!
The pandemic presented numerous mental health challenges for children. Our kid’s ministry wanted to do something about that. Our kid's pastor spent weeks visiting hundreds of houses drive-thru style with puppetry to (from the safety of the car) talk with the kids, pray with the kids, and laugh with the kids. The joy we witnessed on these kids' and families' faces as they interacted with the puppets was a highlight of 2020.
This pandemic has been hard on mothers too, who have taken much of the burden of not only caring for their families but not juggling the day-to-day struggles of virtual education and the mental health of their children during a season of isolation. In May, Destiny hosted a single mom's drive-thru event in celebration of Mother’s Day where we were able to give hundreds of gift baskets full of essential supplies and gift cards to moms.
In June, we partnered with Assemblyman Kevin Kiley & the American Red Cross to host a Blood Drive at the Destiny Community Center to help meet a growing shortage of blood in hospitals.
In August, we hosted a drive-thru event for hundreds of community members who received groceries, school supplies, and backpacks in preparation for the new school year.
This year, California saw a dramatic increase in fires that ravaged the states and displaces thousands of people. In September, we hosted a Fire Relief Event at the Destiny Community Center. A mobile clothing boutique was set-up, along with groceries, toiletries, and prayer, which were provided to families who were displaced by the fires.
A few years ago, we committed over $500,000 to missionaries Henry and Ivone Smith to build a state of the art school in Guayaquil, Ecuador. In October, the school was completed, and the project will reach thousands of children and families in one of the most impoverished regions of Ecuador.
In December, we hosted “Love Our City Christmas” drive-thru style. With so many families struggling financially, we wanted to take the pressure of presents off the table for them. We distributed almost 1,000 toys to families to give their kids a Christmas.
COVID-19 has presented countless challenges to local businesses. With stay-at-home orders, we couldn’t have imagined the increased stress as a business owner. In November and December, Pastor Greg launched a new campaign called “Placer Freedom” to support small businesses devastated by the pandemic. A portal was set up to list businesses that were still offering services to encourage the community to patronage them. Within 4 days, over 30,000 residents had used the directory.
We wanted to do more than that, though. With the help of some business owners in our congregation, we established a fund of $55,000 to assist businesses (open and closed). We have assisted over 40 businesses and counting with financial aid during this season.
During a year of uncertainty and fear, Destiny has been a place of hope, healing, and blessing. Whatever the challenges that come in 2021, we will do what we have always done: love our city.