I have a very distinct memory of lying on the Lomelino’s sofa one night surrounded by people chatting and kids playing after dinner. I was overcome with a tangible peace and sense of belonging as my ears focused in on the song in the background, which played “I’ve finally found where I belong.” I closed my eyes and thanked God for somehow creating this little community for me in Isla Vista, which only three months prior I had not known at all.
That night was powerful because in that moment I knew there was nothing I could do or say that would lessen the love I felt and in that, I realized what home could feel like apart from an actual place. I felt accepted and understood in a way that made me never want to leave. Concurrently, I felt empowered with an urgency to leave and share this quality of life with the rest of the world.
It’s the perfect combination: to be secure and at home in your identity as a son or daughter, and altogether believed in and supported. The result can only be a bold and fearless life committed to sharing that same love with every person you encounter. This experience, the mindset established through it, and the lifestyle that follows, is one that catalyzes a Jesus movement—and it begins with fathers and mothers.
We were each created to experience love, belonging, and acceptance in Christ, and therefore in family (biological and otherwise). God promises to set the lonely in family, and that’s what He was doing in the living room that day. The Lomelinos had established a place where God could gather a bunch of confused, hurting, and in many cases abandoned, college kids and place them in family.
Family-oriented community hinges on the roles of parent figures and the values they prioritize, embody, extend, and teach. Holly and Jason have chosen to pursue the role of father and mother to countless college students who simply do not know the love they have been missing.
The first time I ever spoke to Jason, he immediately invited me to have dinner with his family. He did not hesitate to invite me into his home, which to this day is known as a place marked by the freedom to come as you are. And that home is simply a manifestation of the lifestyle and culture they have cultivated in their relationships, which abound in acceptance, safety, and many other characteristics of heaven.
God is all about family, and church family doesn’t just happen. The atmosphere has to be established in prayer, kindness, refinement, hardship, and sacrifice. Fathers and mothers in the faith have the opportunity to lay a foundation in someone else’s life that propels them into wholeness and growth. Five years later I still remember that evening. As a result, I too have chosen to intentionally fight for those around me to have the same revelation: that they are worthy of love, acceptance, and empowerment in Christ.
Psalm 68:6 “God places the lonely in families; He sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.”