San Diego is America’s eighth largest city.
Located just 20 miles north of the Mexican border, it is a richly diverse city with over 100 different languages spoken. San Diego features nearly perfect weather, beautiful beaches, rolling mountains, top universities and tourist destinations, legitimizing its claim to be “America’s nest city.” Because of its beauty, the city is driven by consumerism and a real worship of recreational activities. San Diego is a juxtaposition of wealth, success and glamour alongside extreme homelessness, a strong gang presence, human trafficking and poverty. Embedded within all of San Diego’s beauty and charm is a lack of healthy, gospel-centered churches and a desperate need for the good news of Jesus Christ.
Jimmy & Julie Steele
Jimmy and Julie were born and raised in Atlanta Georgia. The two have actually attended school together since the 3rd grade! They began dating after high school and shortly thereafter were married. This year they will celebrate 14 years of marriage and three wonderful kids: Payton (14), Nathan (9), and Adlai (4).
Just a few years into their marriage, both came to faith in Jesus Christ. Shortly after returning from a mission trip to the Middle East, they knew their family was being called into ministry. Burdened with a passion for the nations, they relocated to North Carolina into 2010 to attend Southeastern Seminary and answer the call to what they believed to be overseas missions. However, God had different plans.
During their time at Southeastern, God began stirring a renewed passion
for the local church in their marriage. Through an internship at Open Door in Raleigh, their growing desire to plant a church in a dense and diverse city in North American was confirmed by the elders. After an intense season of prayer and seeking the Lord’s direction, God melted their hearts for San Diego. The Steeles’ desire for the Lord to use their family, background, and experiences to see a healthy gospel-centered church planted in the strategic city of San Diego, specifically in La Mesa.
La Mesa is a transitional community in many ways. With a population just over 60,000, La Mesa is able to maintain its distinct hometown feel known as “the Jewel of the Hill.” However, due to accessible public transportation and desirable schools, locals are quick to tell you just how fast the area is changing. Of the 60,000 who call La Mesa home, over 14% were born outside the U.S. And while there is a presence of church buildings in La Mesa, 57% of the residents claim no religious affiliation. San Diego State University is 2.5 miles from downtown La Mesa and is ranked 7th in the nation for racial and ethnic diversity with just under 35,000 students.
But for the Steeles, what makes La Mesa “the Jewel of the Hill”
is its central location between its distinct surrounding communities. Within a 6-mile radius, are the communities of City Heights, Lemon Grove, and El Cajon. City Heights, to the west, has a population of 95,000 people, 41% of which were born outside the U.S. El Cajon, to the east, has just over 100,000 with 30% immigrant born. In El Cajon alone there are between 30 to 40,000 Iraqis and Syrians. Just south Lemon Grove is a smaller yet very diverse community of 26,000 people.
Jimmy says, "For these reasons, and many more, we see La Mesa as a perfect location for a gospel-centered church to be birthed!"