Orange County Christian Outreach Week

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Today is the first day of the 47th annual Orange County Christian Outreach Week.

Though the name has changed over the years, the purpose remains the same.  It is: “Reaching out together in love and unity to our friends, family, neighbors and co-workers with the Good News that Jesus Christ changes lives.”

Over the next week, approximately 2,500 people will hear one or more of 23 different speakers in clubhouses, an automotive museum, and homes throughout the community.

“Orange Coast Christian Outreach is a celebration of changed lives,” explained Pamela Curry, chairman of OCCO.  “This is a great opportunity to hear ordinary people tell extraordinary stories of what Jesus Christ has done in their lives.”

The origin of the week goes back decades.  In the early ’60s, a local resident named Lloyd Johnson attended the Presidential Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.  Afterwards, Lloyd formed a “think and pray” group with other men to find ways to reproduce the effectiveness of the prayer breakfast and to affect their community. The first annual “Newport Harbor Christian Leadership Week” was held April 18-24, 1964.

“In fact, Mariners Church really evolved out of one of those coffees back then,”  Pamela said.

Since then, there is always a Mayors Prayer Breakfast modeled after the National Prayer Breakfast.

“It’s our flagship event, because of its history and its impact,” explained Pamela.  More than 600 people are expected to attend, and nine local mayors will be present.”

The speaker this year is Bob Roberts, Jr., global diplomat and a friend of kings, presidents and political leaders.  He is also the founder and pastor of Northwood Church Dallas and author of several books, including “Real-Time Connections: How to Use Your Job to Change the World.”

The week is filled with luncheons and evening desserts, where speakers share their personal stories.

“We have over 25 churches participating,” Pamela said.    “Newport’s are St. Andrews Presbyterian, Mariners and Newport Coast Lighthouse.  The week functions so smoothly because of God and the wonderful hundreds of volunteers.  Each home event has its own support system, with hosts, co-hosts, etc.”

“Our committee meets every September to begin planning for the next spring. There are ten of us on the committee, and God clearly put us together,” Pamela explained. “We are all different people of different ages from different churches.  But we all have the same desire to share Jesus with our community.   Each year we look at all the relevant topics for everyday life in Orange County, and we pray a lot.   This year, I kept hearing God’s voice saying: ‘Ordinary People with Extraordinary Stories.’  It’s nothing one of us does, we all pitch in and God shows us.”

Pamela also credited God with guidance choosing speakers.  “A committee member will know of someone or meet someone with a relevant story which we share with the committee and we agree on them.” She said.

Two locals who will share their stories are Alex Sytnyk and Barry Meguiar.

Alex is a CdM man who lived in Ukraine during WWll.  When he was 3, he and his mother were taken to be killed; she told him to run to escape, saying “I want you to run away from here; God will protect you and guide you.”  His life included several escapes and a lot of running; in fact, he is a marathon runner almost 70 years later.

Newport resident Meguiar, president and CEO of Meguiar’s Inc. will speak at the Marconi Automotive Museum.  A rogue virus kept him the hospital for two and a half weeks, including 7 days in a coma on life support.  He will share about hearing God’s voice while in a coma and about his new global ministry for lay people.

Some of the other stories to be shared by speakers include: a woman’s experience as a US Marine reservist; the difference a father makes; caregiving with grace; dealing with autism; life behind the veil of a Muslim; transitioning home from war; when homosexuality hits home; overcoming addictions; a rape victim keeping her baby; and overcoming sexual abuse.

For complete a schedule, visit www.outreachweek.org

Pamela has been the chairman of OCCO for 10 years.  She loves helping people hear about God changing lives because God changed hers.

“I’m a cancer survivor.” Pamela said. “Cancer took me from being achievement oriented to being relationship oriented.  Jesus is the most important relationship anyone will ever have.  I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 1999 and have had nine surgeries with one more to go.  God gives strength where you don’t have it.  I love this week and what God does.  I’ve been on many committees, but have never seen anything like what happens here.  It’s a God thing.”

Cindy can be reached at [email protected].

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