Sign up for The Good Stuff

Our weekly newsletter filled with news, updates, and inspiring stories of how God is working in the Bay Area.

"*" indicates required fields

Sign up for The Good Stuff

Our weekly newsletter filled with news, updates, and inspiring stories of how God is working in the Bay Area.

"*" indicates required fields

The believers shared a common purpose, and every day they spent much of their time together in the Temple area. They also ate together in their homes. They were happy to share their food and ate with joyful hearts.

— Acts 2:46 ERV

The disciples in Acts had a joy that came in part from their shared purpose. Jesus had called them to change the world by helping people get to know him, and one way they did that was by loving others in the same way God loved them (John 13:34-35). We are tasked with that same purpose today—to change lives and save souls by sharing the love of God with everyone around us.

The holiday season can be a magical time, but it can also come with challenges—like painful thoughts of absent loved ones and unfulfilled dreams. Regardless of how we are entering this season, we can have a truly happy holiday when we choose to live for a greater purpose.

Purpose contributes to happiness—when participants in a study felt a greater sense of purpose, they tended to feel more positive emotions—specifically contentment, relaxation, enthusiasm and joy. And they felt less angry, anxious, sluggish or sad. They also reported greater satisfaction with life and overall wellbeing. This was according to a brand new study by Kaylin Ratner published in the Journal of Happiness Studies. Many other studies have linked purpose with all kinds of benefits, from reduced mortality and incidence of cardiovascular disease to less loneliness.

— Tracey Brower for Forbes Magazine

Today, we have a great story of joy and purpose from our campus ministry as well as an upcoming opportunity to give joy through our annual Toy Drive.

Purpose brings joy

Markus Varela and his friends in the Contra Costa North campus ministry understand the joy that purpose can bring even through the stressful time of college finals.

Markus met Jeremy in a basketball class at Diablo Valley College in February. Markus started a conversation with Jeremy about his shoes, invited him over to play NBA 2k23, and they became good friends.

After coming over to Markus and his roommates’ apartment and watching shows or playing video games and basketball together, Jeremy saw something in his new friends that he knew he was lacking. He decided to study the Bible.

Jeremy needed God and friends to help him overcome his isolation and loneliness. He saw that he was living his life in a selfish way, but he couldn’t change without the encouragement of God’s love. He needed help believing he mattered and that God had chosen him to impact the lives of others in ways no one else could.

As Jeremy studied the Bible and began to believe in his purpose, God transformed his life. He went from avoiding the truth to facing the deep truths in his heart. God helped him overcome envy and learn to express admiration for his relationships. Through studying the Bible, Jeremy changed and on November 19th he was baptized.

When talking about overcoming his selfishness, Jeremy said, “It wasn’t me, it was definitely God. I tried myself before and it didn’t work, so I know it’s God who’s done it in my life.”

Give joy at our annual Toy Drive

My child, never drift off course from these two goals for your life: to walk in wisdom and to discover your purpose. Don’t ever forget how they empower you. [22] For they strengthen you inside and out and inspire you to do what’s right; you will be energized and refreshed by the healing they bring.

— Proverbs 3:21-23 TPT

We can get the energy and refreshment we need through discovering our purpose. One way to find purpose in our lives is through serving others in our community, and our annual Toy Drive is a great opportunity to do that.

The holiday season is a magical time, but for many children and families in underserved communities, it’s also a stark reminder of their challenging circumstances. Nearly one hundred times a day, a child in California is placed in foster care.

For 15 years, the Bay Area Christian Church Toy Drive has collected toys and gift cards to make the holidays a little brighter for Bay Area children in underserved communities and the foster care system. Since 2008, we have given over 21,000 toys and more than $50,000 in gift cards to more than 20 organizations in the Bay Area.

As we prepare for our 16th annual Toy Drive on December 17th, please join us by praying for our efforts, spreading the word to friends, coworkers and family who would like to contribute, and bringing an unwrapped toy or gift card to any of our eight Holiday Celebration Service locations.

Until next time,

Written by

Sam Manuel

Sam is a former outside linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers. Since retiring from the NFL, Sam has worked in the ministry serving communities in the Bay Area.