Kaleo Church El Cajon held its first service on September 12, 2009; but long before that day, people had been praying for and working to make this church plant possible. Tim and Abbey Cain spent all of 2008 in Minneapolis doing a church planting residency at Bethlehem Baptist church in Minneapolis where John Piper was pastoring. After that year, Bethlehem and Kaleo Church Linda Vista sent Tim and Abbey to plant Kaleo Church El Cajon.
Arrival in El Cajon
We arrived in El Cajon in January of 2009 and began a Missional Community in our home. In February of that year, Tim and Abbey began a second Missional Community to reach out to the poor and homeless in the area. Abbey would make spaghetti dinner every Friday night, and we would invite all the homeless and needy people we encountered during the week to come and join us. The inspiration for this came from Luke 14:12-14 where Jesus calls his people to invite the poor into their homes for a feast. To this day, Friday nights are feast nights at the Cains’ home, and all are welcome.
Our First Service
By the time September 2009, we had grown to three Missional Communities and around 45 people (about 15-20 of them were homeless at that time). That is when we began weekly services in the fellowship hall at the First Baptist Church in El Cajon.
Sometime during that first year, God brought in a great group of young men, and we started an internship. Three of those first interns are now Missional Community leaders. After about one year, we moved into the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church.
The Christmas Party
That Christmas, we had our first annual Christmas party where we invited everyone in the neighborhood to come for a turkey dinner, and then we all played games together and ate and heard about how Jesus was born in a stable so that dirty shepherds could be the first to visit him. The past two years, we have had over 300 people attend this party, the vast majority of whom are either homeless or refugees. Our Christmas party is definitely one of our favorite times of the year.
A Second Pastor
In July of 2012, we made Wes Van Fleet an elder and then brought him on staff full time as a pastor. Since we first planted, we had been praying that God would bring us a partner to share the load, and God answered that prayer with Wes.
Serve the City
With Wes on staff, we were able to do a lot more and the first thing we did was a one-week missions trip to the city of El Cajon; we called this week “Serve the City.” During this week, we had a basketball camp for neighborhood kids, planted a garden at a nursing home, and helped clean out a home in our neighborhood. In the evenings, we gathered together for a meal and then rehearsed the story of the Bible from Genesis all the way to Revelation. This has become an annual event and is another one of the highlights of our year.
God has been doing some really sweet things at Kaleo over the last few months. Our family ministry has grown, and we now have more children at the church than ever before. Each week there are new people, and we are regularly seeing unchurched people join us in order to learn more about Jesus.
Each week all of our Missional Community leaders are getting together in order to pray and strategize how to better love and shepherd the people that God has brought to the church. We are really excited about the future.
While we don’t know exactly what the future holds, we are hoping to begin our first church planting residency sometime this year. We are also hoping to send a team to India in the next year or two in order to visit an orphanage that a couple in our church supports as well as to train pastors. Kaleo currently supports 10 church planters in India, and we are excited about getting to meet some of them and hear about what God is doing. We are also praying that God will raise up more Missional Community leaders this year so that we can plant one or two new communities. What we do know is that Jesus Christ will build his church, and we are very thankful that God has allowed us to be a part of what he is doing in the world.