Thursday, January 16, 2014

2014 Update

The Mission

     As some of you may know I have been a missionary to Catalina Island (a small island about 30 miles south of the California coast) for about 4 years now. It all started back in December of 2009 where God started to take me totally out of my comfort zone. I received a message one day that a young brother of a friend from school was having some major health issues due to a tumor he had and for some reason it totally rocked my world . This was weird for me because I had never even met the kid but God kept putting the situation on my heart in a heavy way. The younger brother did not end up making it and I decided to go to the funeral. As I was sitting there I heard of all these amazing stories of faith that this kid had at such a young age while going through all this pain so I prayed and asked God to give me the faith that kid had. Well God works in some amazing ways because just a few weeks after that I started having some really rough health issues. I decided to go to the hospital where I found out what was going on and that I now have a tumor (Matthew 7:7). As you could probably imagine that totally shook me up and I had no idea what was to come. I remember so vividly sitting in the hospital room after receiving the news and a million thoughts were going through my head. As I was wondering what was going to happen next I committed to God that no matter how the story ended to let my life glorify HIM.

     As God was doing all of this He started to grow a passion in my heart for missions and that totally freaked me out. One thing that I always promised myself was that I would NEVER be a missionary and the one thing I said I would NEVER do God was leading me to do. God has built a huge passion in my heart for working with youth and of living a lifestyle of worship (John 4:16-26) but now it was growing into missions. I found that the more I fought this calling, the more God was leading me and now the question was "where"? 

     After much prayer and fighting, God started to reveal to me that He was leading me to Catalina Island. I started to hear of the mission work to be done there with the youth and God started to stir in my heart even more so that passion about missions. I started to pray and really seek God and through some amazing affirmations God has assured me that's where He was leading me. 

Does It Get Any Easier?

     A lot of questions get asked about living on an Island and many people assume that it is the easy life but I can truly say that the last 4 years have been some of the most challenging and at the same time the most rewarding times in my life. When I first knew that I was being called to Catalina Island I felt like I was prepared for the unknown but I can honestly say that I wasn't. I have been challenged in so many ways, I have struggled, I have questioned and yet there has been one consistent this whole time and it has been the love of Christ. 

     I remember growing up that once a year my church would bring missionaries to speak on what was going on in their part of the world and there was always this thought they had it all together. They left everything to bring the gospel to the unreached so they had to have it all together. I can tell you first hand that being a missionary doesn't simplify things but in many ways challenges you more than you could ever think. I don't want this to sound like I'm complaining because I definitely am not. I am truly thankful for this mission God has brought me on. I would not change it for anything.    

     Through the good and hard times God shows his love and grace and in turn ministering to others doesn't become a monotonous task but a proclamation of what He is doing in your life. If it was all easy then where would the growth be? I have seen God move in more ways the last 4 years than I have ever seen in my 27 years of life. Lives have been changed not only here but in many other places because of the perfect love and grace.

Youth

     I am still working with the youth on the island. I have been mentoring, counseling one on one, tutoring and have started a small life preparation group which is biblical based and helps them face life's issues the right way. Avalon (the only city on the island) has about 4,000 people that live here year around and yet has 3 times the crime rate as the city of Los Angeles. The youth here are dealing with the same issues as youth everywhere are but being such a small town it is majorly magnified. Drug addictions, mainly meth and suicidal tendencies are the biggest issues at hand and God has placed me in the middle it all. I am also coaching on the high school football team on the island and that has been a huge ministry. It has been a blessing to see 4 of the players dedicate their lives to Christ and openly live it out. Most of my time is spent connecting either up at the school or around the town. I have been blessed because the youth have developed a trust and have been very open about their issues. This in itself is full time and takes up most of my time here.

Worship

      One of the main ministries that I was apart of when I first moved out here was being part of the worship team and leading worship sets. Those were some of the greatest times I have been apart of. God moves so powerfully during worship and it's so humbling to be apart of. Recently I started having a lot of throat issues so I went to a throat doctor to find out what was going on. The doctor placed a small I camera down my nose to look at my throat and saw that. My throat and vocal chords have been majorly damaged. The doctor told me that I can no longer sing until  I have a specific surgery to try and repair the damage. With all that being said I know that God is greater than any physical issue and if He calls me to sing then I just be obedient.

The Mission Continues...

     The missions, no matter how easy hard, continue and not just here but throughout the world. Gods message is being proclaimed and I am humbled to be apart of it. My plans for 2014 are pretty simple and that is for me to focus on the things that glorify Christ and live a life that shows His love and not just speaks of Him. At this time I am trying to raise fund to continue the mission here. It does take support from my brothers and sisters in Christ to do this. It takes me a little under $15,000 a year to do all of this and due to the economy being so bad, support has been rough lately but I know God will provide. Thank you so much for taking the time to read all of this and I do appreciate your prayers and support.
     

Your brother in Christ,
Michael Forcella



  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

My Old And New

Well it has been about a year since I have posted one of these and there is not really a specific reason why but I feel that I should put into detailed words what my life for the past year and a half has looked like. This is not supposed to be insulting or offensive to anyone but just me laying my heart out for all to see.

One of the hardest things that I have ever had to do so far in my life was to leave. Leave family, friends, job, work, vehicle, my own place... and in so many ways myself. I was living a very comfortable life but as soon as I knew that God was calling me to give it all up the greatest war I could ever have imagined broke out deep inside of me only to surface very soon.

I remember vividly driving away from the all I ever knew in a huge 26ft U-Haul truck with a 14ft trailer attached to the back of it with all the possessions that were left and wrestling with God every moment in every state from Florida to California. I never knew that I had so many tears. I felt in so many ways that I was letting down those that I was leaving behind felt like, "Mike doesn't care anymore" or even "Mike doesn't think this is good enough anymore and is going to the next thing and on to even the next" and 100% of my focus and dedication was on those thoughts and feelings which made life legitimately horrible.
January 17, 2011 I board a very large boat to leave the mainland and head to my mission destination that God was calling me to. Everything that I was talking about and building up months prior to this all came down to today. I could not stand the thought anymore of doing this and it had not even started yet. I left the main cabin of the boat walked to the back where I was by myself (or it at least seemed that way) and I watched as California drifted away and I remember apologizing in my head to all those that "I have let down" and thinking to myself that the first opportunity I get to leave this mission I will take in a heart beat. I arrived on Catalina Island with very little strength but a lot of posing (I had a lot of experience). I remember getting off of the boat and there were so many to greet and welcome the "new comers" and all I could do is put on a smile and try to think of something "Godly" to say because after all I am now a missionary. This continued for the first couple months. So many nice people giving all of themselves to make me feel welcome and at home but in my head home was 3,000 miles back east and NO ONE UNDERSTOOD! (satan’s lies are pouring on at this point).

With all this pain and frustration going on I then decided that there has to be someway of making it all go away or maybe even a way of numbing it all and I found it. Work. Something that I was not a big fan of before but it was now my salvation. It is amazing that on an island as small as Catalina how much work there is that can be done and how much work there really is to do and believe me I found every bit of the first. From working in the grocery store to helping clean out houses (now let me say that doing those things are not wrong in anyway shape or form when done with the right heart and my heart was anything but right at that time) there was never a quiet moment for me which was great because then my thoughts could not be consumed with Florida and what was left behind. I found a solution! I was then offered a job working on boats with the Santa Catalina Island Company which was an answer to prayers because now I can work and get paid. It has to be a “God” thing right? As a missionary I need some way of making money I mean after all Paul was a tent maker so there's nothing wrong with it... Right? (again my hearts condition) I was caught up working a schedule of about 6 days a week from 8 hr days to 12 hr days and the one day I had off I was either leading "worship" at one of the churches or I was gone. Hiking was my thing so when I had the chance I would make myself as scarce as possible by going out for a hike into the interior by myself. I had no more of a connection with the people on Catalina Island 8 months into it then I did on Jan 17th and to be honest deep down inside I was ok with that because why would I want to build a relationship with these people. They are the reason why God took me away from my family, friends and my comfortable life (my Jonah-Nineveh moment I guess).

By September I was drained in every way that you can think of. Physically I was weighing around 165 lbs which is about a 100lb difference than 2 years before. Spiritually I was still pursuing Jesus but on my terms and only when I wanted to. Emotionally I was checked out but the poser was really working overtime and getting me by. I started hearing from God at this point that it was time to go back to Florida and that was it for me. There were no more questions to be asked. Of course I will go back to Florida I mean that is what God is saying and I get my old life back.

In October I left Catalina for about 2 weeks to seek out a job (my dream job) that I was offered and since God was calling me back then this had to be the job that He was calling me to. I interviewed for the job and was offered the position. I was going to have the “good life” back again and maybe even better this time around since I sacrificed a year of my life for Gods work. I was going to have my dream job, my own place to live again, a vehicle that is not a golf cart! I went back to Catalina Island with a new purpose. Saying goodbye. I finished out the month of November and prepared for my departure and as I was doing that God kept on giving me a dream of the island and that the island was a completely black place but there was light that was penetrating the blackness from the people of the island (this will come into play a little bit later). December the 1st came and this was now my last day on the island. I was leaving on a 3:00pm boat and I had to say the rest of my goodbyes but something was wrong. My heart was breaking and at that moment I did not want to leave but I kept pushing on through the day. I met up with Andrew Hobbs first because he had to go into work and He gave me a verse from Joshua 1:7 about being strong and courageous through this next journey and then he started to tear up and he began to thank me for helping him and being a part of his family. He drove off to work and I was standing outside of his house and I collapsed to the ground and I could not stop crying (shake it off Mike you have more goodbyes and you cant be crying the whole day). The day went on and it was finally time for me to drive down to the boat and now it was all setting in that my life for the past year almost seemed to have been for nothing. I arrived at the boats and there were a bunch of people from the different churches and even the guys that I worked with on the boats were there to say their goodbyes and the emotions were flooding in like a dam that was broken but I somehow found a way to plug it. It was time to get on the boat and leave. I picked up my bags and started to give my last hugs to everyone there. I then reached the Hobbs kids and that plug came flying out and the emotions released and released hard so I had to quickly leave that moment because I couldn’t let anyone see this part of me. I got on the boat and went right to the back where I was by myself again and I started asking God, “Why? Why all this pain? Why cant it all just be like the old days? Why cant life be the way I WANT IT!”

December 2, 2012 I stepped foot off the plane right back into the thick Florida humidity but this time it had such a nice feeling to it (weird I know). I was back and ready to hit the ground running. Before I had to start my job a couple of very close friends and myself decided we wanted to go on a vacation to Seattle and by this time I needed a vacation. I spent about 4 days in Florida before flying back out west and to be honest for the most part those 4 days were a blur. A lot of resting, thinking and eating. My friends and I flew out to Seattle on December the 6th and I remember feeling so free. I was back with friends and going on trips where I did not have to worry about being “someone” but just having fun. Throughout the trip I remember multiple times where I went through major culture shock because of living on an island the year before and now in a huge city like Seattle. I look back on that trip and to this day (only 6 months later) I feel that it was the most fun I have had in a very long time and more importantly my heart started to open back up and the poser started to release somewhat. We spent a little over a week there and then flew back to Florida where it was time for me to get back to work.

I had to get back into the swing of things and I remember sitting in numerous meetings with people and they would all ask the same thing “How was it being a missionary on Catalina Island?“ I would tell them all pretty much the same thing about how the past year had been amazing and great and that God did some awesome things but not really touching on the little part on how my life at times really SUCKED! Denial? Maybe. I didn’t want to feel that the past year was all for nothing but at the same time I truly believed that it was. The more life went back to “normal” for me the weirder it became. I no longer was feeling happy being back and to go a step further I was completely miserable but in my mind I just had to get back into it all again and everything would be fine. That was not the case at all. I spent some time with family for the holidays and that I remember being one of the best times that I spent with them that I could remember and it was fun but right after that ended, life went right back to being miserable. “What is going on? God I followed you back to Florida and now it seems even worse now than on Catalina.”

I went in to work on a Wednesday and I was sitting in my office when this feeling became so overwhelming I decided to take a drive around town. I was driving only a couple minutes when I passed by a church and I felt such a strong conviction to go in. I pulled in to the church went inside and sat away from everyone and just opened my ears to hear. The pastor that night was talking about Gods calling on your life and how you know if it is God calling you or not. He continued by explaining that if its God calling you then you will have a peace that passes all understanding and if not there will be a ton of confusion and how God is not a God of confusion. As I was listening the only thing that came to my mind was, “What the heck! Where are You calling me to God? What do You want me to do?”. I left the church and decided to drive around a little more and I called a few friends to talk and get my mind off of this. I finally arrived at home for the night and decided to just relax and give it a break but that is not what God had in mind. I walked in and there was a Bible that friend handed to me and I remember holding the Bible asking God, “Make it clear what You want from me.” I opened up the Bible and there were these old sermon notes inside the Bible and they had a few points to them. Point number one said, “God wants to use you to help penetrate the darkness” (well this could just be a coincidence about the dream I was having). Point number two said “Yes this means you” (getting kind of weird at this point). Point number three stated something along the lines of “Follow God in obedience”. I then looked at the passage where the sermon notes were sitting next to and it was Isaiah 61 which talks about pulling others our of the darkness! I then felt like I should call a missionary back on Catalina Island and explain to her all that just happened and when I got to the part of Isaiah 61 she started to flip out (a good flip out not a bad one) and she went on to tell me that God had recently given that passage to the church leaders on the island and that right before I called she was talking to the church leadership about how that passage is going to change the island. That was it for me. I knew God was telling me to go back to Catalina and to go now.

I packed my belongings, left my job, gave away my truck and within a week I was back on Catalina Island. Since being back God has made it very clear to be working with the youth on the island and it has been such an amazing and defiantly trying time. Since January of this year there have been about 10 salvations here on the island and God is moving in a lot of ways. He made it clear to me that it is ok to work but not as much and to mainly focus on ministry so I have cut my work schedule down to only 3 days of work each week and the other 4 are ministry. It has not been any easier this time around but the huge difference is this time I am letting God Father me in it ALL and not letting myself live it the way I want. The posing side of me still lives but with the help of God it is being put aside on a daily basis. The Bible says “For the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Focus on the part that says “That which was lost.” For me I lost my heart somewhere on the journey and my life was burdened down with wounds that accumulated over the years and then from those wounds agreements were made. Agreements that this is how life is and should be but despite all of that junk something amazing happened. Jesus came pursuing after me and gave me my heart back. Jesus sought out that which was lost and saved it.

My journey continues on and for now it is Catalina Island and I must live in this moment and not focus on what is next because to hear clearly what Gods mission is for me here and now I must listen in the here and now and not tomorrow. There have been many people that have been hurt by things I have done or even put off with my actions and I do apologize and I yearn to make that right. Whatever the mission God has called you on let Him be the one doing the calling and just as important let Him be the one leading you through it all. “The lives of many rest in the hands of a few.” Believe it or not you can make a difference but only through Him.
Your brother in Christ,
Mike Forcella

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Island Life

Hello again!
Well this is almost week 3 on the island and the ministry has definitely begun. I arrived here on the island Monday January 23 and it has been quite a ride ever since. The people here on the island have been awesome and have done everything that they could to make us feel welcomed and at home. The last couple weeks have mainly consisted of traveling around the island and getting aquatinted to the landscape and the people of the island. Besides almost being caught in a stampede of wild buffalo and having a small earthquake it has been somewhat normal. I am still in search of a job but fully trusting God for provision. So far I am also either leading worship or just playing with the band here on the island for the church worship services but that is going to pick up here quite a bit very quickly. Great ministry has already begun with the youth on the island and God is doing awesome things here already.
Until next time.
Mike

Sunday, January 9, 2011

It has begun

I wanted to go ahead and do another post here on what is going on with the Catalina Mission. The honeymoon phase has worn off, all of the talk of what is going to happen has ended and now the rubber meets the road and it has definitely been a time of mixed emotions. I am no longer employed so my financial needs are being met totally by God like they were when I was employed but now God is working through the people who are supporting the mission to provide. My car is also gone but that was not hard to let go of and I am now living motel to motel or campground to campground.
The roughest part so far started the last week of December through the first week of January and that was saying the goodbyes to family and friends but I was reminded of the verses in Mark 10 that says, "I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life."
As I am writing this I am on day 6 of the road trip out to Catalina and I am in a hotel in Sedona Arizona. God has been very apparent in the trip and it seems that everyday He is showing Himself in amazing ways. Please keep the Hobbs family in your prayers and myself as we continue on this journey that our strength comes completely from God.
Your brother in Christ,
Mike

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The age old question.

What is Gods plan for my life? The question that has been asked forever and some never seem to find the answer. When we look at Gods word and really study to what He has to say about this then the answer is right in front of us. In Luke 18 we see the young rich ruler approach Jesus and ask him how he can inherit eternal life. When Jesus explained to him that the one thing in that mans life that was holding him back from God was his wealth and that he needed to sell it all and give to the poor the ruler left sad. In order to truly find out what Gods plan is for our lives we must first examine ourselves and see what is there in our lives holding us back from fully walking with God. We have become so complacent in our lives as "rich rules" having everything that we want that it makes us uncomfortable to think of giving up the tiniest bit of it. Right now our earth is populated with a little over 6 billion people. Out of the 6 billion people 4.5 billion are without Christ and 1 billion of these people have never heard of Jesus. So why is it that we are living our lives complacent, wanting more than we have and trying to be as comfortable as possible when all of these people are going to hell? Why is that we are participating in superficial battles in life with outcomes that are just for our pleasure when the spiritual battles are raging against souls that will be forever lost? We are commanded in the Bible to take up our cross and follow Christ which in its literal meaning is to take up every form of ourselves and lay them down to fully follow Christ. I guess the question shouldn't be "What is Gods plan?" but "Will we obey Gods will?" Christ makes it very clear that he requires everything of us and for us not to do so is simply to live for ourselves. As followers I think its time that we start risking everything in our lives for God. We need to start giving up our comfort, possessions, safety and all of our lives to make the gospel known.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Update on Catalina

Well I wanted to post something new up here to inform you as to what I will actually be doing on Catalina Island. I went out to the island back in October of this year (for this first time) to see exactly "why" God was leading me there and I soon found out that I did not have to know "why" but just to walk in obedience. The mission that God has made very clear to do out there will be with worship and primarily music worship. I will be leading somewhat in the two churches on the island but a lot of my work will be outside the walls of the church and doing music worship with a lot of the camps that are located all over the island. The people of the island long so much for the fellowship of "The Church" and to worship God but don't have the resources to really do so. As I stated earlier I will also be living off of support from those who feel God is leading them to do so. Due to how the economy is out there job opportunities are few which then makes it hard to find a place to live. Its so great though because Matthew 6 keeps coming back to me where Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Thank you so much and I will try to keep this updated as much as possible.
Your brother in Christ,
Michael Forcella

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Mission

Hello all!
       Some of you may already know but I am on my way to Catalina Island off the coast of California and I have a strong conviction from God to do so. This all started back in December of 2009 where God started to take me totally out of my comfort zone. I received a message one day that a young brother of a friend from school was having some major health issues due to a tumor and for some reason it totally rocked my world . This was weird for me because I have never met the kid but God kept laying the situation on my heart in a heavy way. The younger brother did not end up making it and I decided to go to the funeral. As I was sitting there hearing all of these amazing stories of faith that this kid had at such a young age while going through all the pain I prayed and asked God to give me the faith that kid had. Well God works in some awesome ways because just a few weeks after that I started having some really rough health issues. I decided to go to the hospital where I found out what was going on and that I now have a tumor (Matthew 7:7). As you could probably imagine that totally shook me up and I had no idea what was to come. I remember so vividly sitting in the hospital room after receiving the news and a million thoughts were going through my head wondering what was going to happen next and then I prayed and asked God that no matter how the story ended to let my life glorify HIM.
       Its amazing how God puts people in your life to encourage you and to help you grow closer to him (1 Thessalonians 5:11). As I was going through all of this I decided one Sunday morning to head over to a church service at one of the local churches where I ran into the Hobbs family and from that point on God started to quickly build a relationship with them. I started to hear some amazing stories of surf trips, mission trips and of God. My eyes started to open to things that I have never seen before and I started to see God work in some ways that blew me away. As God was doing all of this He started to grow a passion in my heart for missions and that totally freaked me out. One thing that I always promised myself was that I would NEVER be a missionary and the one thing I said I would NEVER do God was leading me to do. God has built a huge passion in my heart for worship and the "Lifestyle of Worship" (John 4:16-26) but now it was growing into mission worship. I found that the more I fought it the more God was leading me and now the question was "where"? After much prayer and fighting, God started to reveal to me that He was leading me to California. I started to hear of the Hobbs family speak of how they were being led out to Catalina Island for missions and I also started to hear of the mission work to be done there and God started to stir in my heart even more so that passion about mission worship. I started to pray and really seek God and through some amazing affirmations (I will share in later posts) God has assured me that's where He is leading me.
             This has so far been an amazing year dealing with all of this and I am looking forward to what is to come. I  will be living off of support with no job and no car and I am leaving everything I have known behind to follow God and  it scares me but also excites me so much. My prayer is still that no matter what comes of my life that God is fully glorified through it and I look forward to the amazing things God has in store. I ask that you would pray for me as well as the Hobbs family in this journey and also for yourself to see how you can be part of this mission. Thank you so much!
Your brother in Christ,
Michael Forcella