Once upon a time, no wait… It was a dark and stormy night, hmmm …. no that won’t work either, how about I was a drug dealer and user, who would fight at the drop of a hat, and who was kicked out of three high schools. Ok now that’s closer to the truth. My name is Doug Sala and I grew up not knowing anything about God other than how to use his name in vain. All the religious people I knew of were weird and judgmental. In fact, I never even went into a church until a girl I worked with in invited me when I was 18. So I went, and for some unexplainable reason, those folks loved me and accepted me—long hair, foul mouth, bare feet and all. They even seemed to look past my arrogance.
So after two years of being loved on, prayed for, and thank God, rejected by the young lady who first invited me, I decided to give God 30 seconds to change my life—and He did! It happened on April 25th, at 10:36 p.m., facing south, sitting on my dad’s bed in Glendale, Arizona.
From that moment on I have tried my best to follow God, who has mostly asked me to partner with Him in reaching teens and young adults. I went to a Christian college received two bachelor degrees and then off to seminary to receive two masters. I was a youth pastor for 18 years and loved every minute of it. Then God opened some new doors for us to work with young adults and eventually to plant a small church. As the church has grown we have become more involved in the 24-7 prayer movement out of England and also in fighting social injustice. So that is my journey in a nutshell.
Now Renee and I still felt a call to work with young people and their families and to see neighborhoods transformed for the better. And that is where Every Neighborhood Partnership comes in. We were introduced to ENP and its founder Artie Padilla about a year ago, via the Oildale Faith Collaborative.
I was so moved by the stories I heard about ENP that I decided to take our church’s leadership team up to see the ministry in action. Several months later, after a couple others declined the role of director for the Bakersfield chapter of ENP, I was asked if I would consider taking on that role. As Renee and I prayed about the decision, we both felt that God was clearly asking us to take this step. We saw how the neighborhoods in Fresno had been changed, how the kids had become greatly improved students and citizens, how people from all sorts of churches were working together, now this was something I have longed to be a part of. The other amazing thing we saw was how so many other ministries, and other Non-prophets have joined to work along side ENP that is truly amazing.
Although I am feeling Gods hand leading me I am also aware that my experience and skill level are not equal to the task. Renee and I are trusting God to bring together the right mix of folks who can work together in developing this ministry here in Bakersfield. I have experience leading a small non-profit, ALLSK8 yet the task still seems a bit daunting. But I believe this is a God inspired ministry, and as such, I believe God will provide the necessary resources for it. I am learning how to be a fund-raiser, which is something that is new to me. I am also learning how to run a board of directors, which is also something I have very little experience with. The one thing I do have experience with is helping multiple churches from different backgrounds join together in serving their community for God’s glory.
We have only been ministering in Oildale for about 4 months but already God has opened up doors for us. Dr. Silberberg has been a huge blessing, allowing us to start our outreach in his school district, as well as being a wonderful advocate for the ministry.
We have started the Saturday Sports program at three schools–Standard Elementary, Highland Elementary and Beardsley Elementary. Between the three schools we have about 200 kids involved and are adding more to that number each week. Young people are coming out on Saturdays with a lot of excitement and parents are becoming involved as well. We have also been able to implement classroom volunteers in two schools so far.
There are currently 8 churches working together, including Riverlakes, Oildale Church of Christ, 1st Assembly, His House of Refuge, Cornerstone, Liberty Tabernacle, and Oildale Christian Fellowship.
For those who sense God asking them to partner with us through volunteering you need to go to solomoms porch coffee shop at Westbrook Chapel and get finger printed, the cost is on us. Second go to the ENP website http://everyneighborhood.org/ and go to the partnership link and then go to the resource link and fill out a volunteer form. If you want to donate please contact Doug Sala at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can help you with how to donate
At this time we have several needs that need to be met. We would like to provide a sack lunch or some kind of meal to the children or at least snacks and juice. We also need more volunteers, as well as a volunteer administrative assistant to help with all the paperwork that running the program entails.
So far we have raised $32,000 in funding, Praise God! But we still need to raise $8,000 more to meet all of the financial needs for the year, so we ask that you please join us in prayer about this.
Every week that we spend with these children and their parents, they are becoming more comfortable sharing their lives with us. As a result, we are getting the chance to love on them, pray for them and speak love into their lives. We believe as we mentor them and model the love of God to them, that many will turn their lives over to Him.
In the mean-time, we need your prayers to fight the enemy as he tries to ruin this work, and your help in spreading the word about what God is doing through this outreach. Together with God we will see Jesus glorified and many more enter the Kingdom.
Peace and Grace