During our Christmas Serve Day on December 7th, we mobilized over 400 Cottonwood family members to deliver Christmas dinners to families in Long Beach, Orange, and Tecate, Mexico. We handed out 1,650 meal bags locally and about 600 in Tecate. We also had teams help do home repairs for veterans, feed the homeless, provide gifts for foster kids through Olive Crest, work with at-risk kids at a youth center, deliver gifts to our first responders, pay for loads of laundry at a laundry mat, and much more.
Learn how Erika plugged into community even in the midst of a large church.
Karell Mirabel and his family first walked through the doors of Cottonwood Church in 2015. Even from the first day, Karell “knew this was it,” and began calling Cottonwood home.
From the outside Karell seemed like he had it all together, but his life was actually in upheaval.
Recently released from jail, Karell was now facing a series of court cases that left his future uncertain.
It was in this troubling time that God called Karell to baptism.
The call from God was clear, but Karell’s joy soon turned to fear. As a condition of his release, Karell’s movements were tracked with an ankle monitor. Could he submerge it underwater? Getting baptized in front of a crowd meant everyone seeing the device. Would they judge?
Clouded with doubt, Karell approached someone he had grown close with during his time at Cottonwood: Pastor Joe Montoya. Even Joe wasn’t sure how it would work, but assured Karell they would find a way to get him baptized.
So Karell obeyed God’s command.
That obedience came at a price, however. With baptism two weeks away, Karell wrestled with guilt and doubt. Part of him didn’t want to go through with the baptism, scared of what people might think of him when they saw the device.
On the day of the event, Karell wore sweat pants in an attempt to conceal the monitor. As he waited his turn at the tank, he grew more and more emotional. Someone in line eventually noticed Karell’s inner turmoil, and asked if he would like prayer. “Even in that moment, God had me.”
Finally when his turn came to be baptized, Karell stepped up to the tank. There waiting for him was none other than Pastor Joe. Now Karell knew without a doubt this was exactly where God wanted him. Accompanied by his wife and three daughters, Karell entered the tank, and careful to hold his ankle above the surface, was submerged under the water. When he arose, Karell experienced a supernatural tranquility in his soul.
“After the baptism, my family and I felt an overwhelming sense of the peace of God. The noise of the world went away and we all felt so happy.”
That joy exuded from the Mirabels into the crowd. A photographer at the event recalled, “it was such an emotional moment for everyone who witnessed it.”
Now a new man, Karell was ready to walk in the steps God ordered.
He no longer lost sleep over the upcoming court cases, knowing God’s word was a “lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105 NIV).
Shortly after the baptism God once again commanded Karell, this time telling him to serve the church. Again Karell complied, but thought his past would bar him from serving. Instead, he was welcomed with open arms.
Karell knew it was God making a way where there is usually none.
Nowadays, you might see Karell’s smiling face as you pull your car into the Cottonwood lot before service, as he devotes time to the Cottonwood Parking Team. “I’m still going through all of my stuff, but God is getting me through it.” What does Karell hope others take away from his story? “I just want to give people hope.”
“God is always with you.”
Hear about Marco’s transformation from hating God to walking in His grace.
Kenric walked through the doors at Cottonwood not long after a failed suicide attempt. Hear how his life turned around through Christ and his connections at Cottonwood.