Newsong Church and the Mix Academy
Newsong Church is a multi-cultural non-denominational Christian church in Santa Ana. Maribel Toan, local Global Initiative Pastor and Executive Director of the Mix Academy said Pastor Dave Gibbons founded it in 1994 as a place that came from a vision of loving the misfits of this world in the midst of pain and suffering.
Pastor Dave founded the church in Irvine, but he always wanted to be flexible to move where God felt that he was leading the way. Pastor Dave also started also a Newsong Church in Bangkok, and relocated the Irvine church to Santa Ana eight years ago.
“Santa Ana is something more in alignment with his vision, there’s diversity and it’s where Pastor Dave saw a need for a church,” said Maribel. “He purchased the building where he could be close to people who were on the fringe. People who attend come from all over OC and LA, who believe in the vision.”
“Maybe someone felt uncomfortable entering spaces because of the way that they look, maybe they don’t have the financial means to be in community, or their resources to integrate,” said Maribel. “We want people to feel like they belong here, we want people to be seen as not a deficit, but as a blessing. We believe we are better together.”
Bracken’s Kitchen has been able to partner with Newsong Church to provide meals, pasta, meat, salads, vegetables, and hot meals at both its ongoing drive-thru food distribution and its weekly MIX Academy, a meeting space that serves as a retreat to recharge courage, confidence and the joy of life together, and to build social ties.
“Our hope is that everyone who comes and benefits from receiving food, or any resource, know that they are valued and that one day they have an opportunity to give back wherever they are at,” said Maribel. “Some of the families that have come before are now serving. We were able to build a relationship with, and with the pandemic, it has been more challenging to live life together. “
That’s why food is so important. “A lot of the people who come to eat the food on Wednesday night, the food not only nourishes their bodies, but it nourishes their souls, too. During that time of eating together, we get to hear their stories, and we get to share our lives. It’s such a key component to life,” said Maribel.
“Jesus ate with his apostles, he didn’t just give them food, he ate with them. That’s why Bracken’s Kitchen was a huge part of the MIX because that space is like sacred ground, people get to be seen and valued and eat together. And, at Food Love Friday a lot of people share that they might not have a place to live, but they will have a place to eat food.”
Every other Friday, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. there’s a food distribution for families and people from all over can come to pick up meals donated by Bracken’s Kitchen. Normally there are about 300 to 450 families, which amounts to 1600 to 2000 individuals. People who attend are a bit more private at the food distributions. They are proud, hard-working, and most of them drive-thru, or quickly walkthrough. The food is helping them save money for other bills that they can’t afford.
A mother at the distribution shared this message to Maribel:
“I want to give you my infinite thanks, about 2 weeks ago we received bags with
food, delicious vegetables, fruits, oats, rice and more.
Thank you so much for sharing this when we need it. With all my heart, thank you very much to the people who make this possible, to those who donate, to the volunteers, to everyone. May God bless and multiply the help to others that you do.”
Every Wednesday evening, Bracken’s Kitchen provides warm meals from 6 to 7 p.m.
at the Mix Academy for anyone who would like to come to eat. The door is open, and then they offer about 20 classes starting at 7 p.m. including art, cooking, crochet, Zumba, homework help. soccer, guitar, basketball, yoga and much more.
We’re honored to be able to serve nutritious meals to those at the Newsong and the MIX Academy.