La Jolla is beautiful. The San Diego County neighborhood is known for its rugged coastlines and year-around mild temperatures. The crystal blue water twinkles in the light as onlookers stand on the scenic shoreline. But as beautiful as La Jolla is, this jewel of a city is also known as a graveyard for church plants.
“It’s one of the most unchurched regions in San Diego County. It’s also very affluent and there’s a lot of old money,” said Elena Brefo, a church planting wife. “In a community like this, it’s hard for people to see their need for Jesus.”
Elena and her husband Obed planted King’s Cross in 2018. Originally from London, they planned to return after Obed finished seminary. But as time passed, their affection for Southern California grew.
“We planted King’s Cross on March 8, 2018. It isn’t in the suburbs and there’s not a lot of stable families. It’s a very transient area. People are in and out. But we’ve created a culture where we’re really there for one another,” said Elena.
Through a myriad of circumstances, the Brefos and other leaders at King’s Cross have created a community of comradery and care — particularly in seasons of great distress.
A RECOMMENDED ABORTION AND A LOT OF PRAYER
This was exemplified during a season when a couple in their church who wanted to have more children had trouble conceiving. While the grief of infertility alone is burdensome, the wife also began experiencing strange symptoms.
“She went to the gynecologist, and they found a very large tumor. Naturally, she saw multiple doctors and underwent a lot of tests. During one of her follow-up tests, she found out she was pregnant,” said Elena. “But the doctors told her the tumor would continue to grow and the pregnancy was detrimental to her health and life. They told her she needed to abort the baby.”
The leaders and members of King’s Cross did everything they could to be there for her and her family, and a cohort of leaders in the church began praying regularly for their family.
“A group of healthcare professionals in our church also stepped in to pray with her and talk through her options. They reiterated the severity of the situation. It was all very complex. Morally, they didn’t recommend an abortion, but kept the conversation open and didn’t force any opinions and just tried to trust the Lord each step of the way, while seeking the advice of professional Christian doctors who were familiar with her medical condition,” Elena said.
REJOICING WITH THOSE WHO REJOICE
The Brefos and other members from King’s Cross continued to pray for them and meet to verbally
process. During the nine-month pregnancy, doctors tried everything they could to terminate the tumor. They tried to freeze it and they tried chemotherapy, but nothing shrank it.
“God was gracious to them, and they made it to the end of her pregnancy. They gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and the mom had her tumor removed six weeks postpartum,” Elena said. “The church really stepped in in so many ways. During this time, her husband lost his job and they moved in with one of the resident doctors from our church who was speaking into their situation.”
The Brefos prayed they would plant a church that is present in the suffering of their members and displays the love of Christ in the way they cared for one another.
“It was amazing how the church was there for them in their time of need. We wanted to love them in it and to ‘weep with those who weep,’” Elena said. “I tend to be more logical and facts-based, so for me, it was a challenge to step out and pray and believe in the power of prayer. But God really strengthen my faith in that season.”
Whether through words, deeds or a combination of the two, there are many ways to show a watching world what the love of Christ is like. Sometimes through verbal proclamation and other times by sitting with friend in a deep season of grief.
La Jolla is beautiful. But perhaps the true beauty isn’t in the crystal beaches or pristine homes. The truer sense of beauty — the one we all hope to possess in some form — is in moments like these, when God’s people bear one another’s burdens.
Published January 7, 2022