Calvary Chapel of Mission Viejo's 'Labor of Love' Seeks to Build Bedrooms for Two Teenagers Living with Their New Family After Losing their Mother to Cancer

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In hopes of honoring the request and wish of a woman who lost her battle with cancer, an entire church congregation in South Orange County, California is rallying in support of one of their families in a special way.

In South Orange County, an entire church congregation is rallying in support of one of their families in a special way…but they are going to need a lot of support to reach their goal and to have their collective heartfelt prayers answered. The reason for the project is at the core of the story, one that demonstrates the heart of a special family, and the heart of a faithful church.

The church hopes to provide, through donations, two small bedrooms and an additional bathroom to the family’s current 1,100-sq. ft. home. Modest, yes, but the project will still take up to $80,000 to come to fruition.

The church is Calvary Chapel Mission Viejo (CCMV), and their ambitious project is called Labor of Love. The family they are reaching out to was, until 2012, a somewhat typical family of five: Ben Lubbers, a hard-working dad; Stacey Lubbers, a stay-at-home mom; and their three young children, ages 4, 5 and 9.

Until 2012, their modest three-bedroom home had accommodated the family well enough. But that’s when things changed and where the story takes a life-changing and heartwarming turn. That’s when Ben and Stacey opened their small home, permanently, to two teenagers who suddenly needed a home because their mom was dying of cancer.

In September 2012, Brenda Rios (a single mom and CCMV church member) passed away after a long struggle with stomach cancer. Brenda’s final prayer and plea to the pastors at Calvary Chapel was that her two teenage children—a boy, 15, and a girl, 12—would not become separated from the church. Her wish, made to the church leadership, was that a church family would raise them to become godly people. There were no immediate family members in Orange County to help.

The church promised it would do all it could to make her dying wish come true. And they had the faith that they’d somehow be able to fulfill that wish.

As it turns out, Brenda’s prayers would be answered faster than the church leaders thought.

While Brenda was in the hospital, her two children stayed with the Lubbers family. And it was during that time that both Ben and Stacey came to the same decision, without ever being approached by the church: They decided that the teenagers should stay with them permanently. They applied for legal guardianship, which they obtained in June 2013. It was a long-term, life-changing and incredibly caring decision.

Their selfless act and step of faith didn’t go unnoticed by the church leadership.

While it was certain that Ben and Stacey had plenty of room in their hearts, it was obvious that they did not have enough room in their modest home. A small house of five was suddenly an overcrowded house of seven—with three small children and two teenagers sharing two small bedrooms.

“Teenagers need their own space and privacy, especially these two teenagers, who are adjusting to an entire new life and family,” says Neil Travisano, pastor of Calvary Chapel Mission Viejo. “Plus, young children have their own issues, and the need for stability for them is vital.”

That’s when the church's leadership and body decided to come alongside the growing family, and the idea of providing more living space was born.

“Ben and Stacey Lubbers showed incredible compassion and sacrifice,” Pastor Neil continues. “It was never intended for one family to shoulder the burden of raising the teenagers, especially a family who already had three young children. But Ben and Stacey felt they were called to take action, and quite frankly, no other scenario presented itself. It seemed only right that we come up with some way to bless them, so we created the Labor of Love mission project this summer.”

In a short amount of time, the 350-member church has been able to raise $29,000 for the project. A number of construction professionals and craftsmen/tradesmen within CCMV have been involved with preparing the blueprints, obtaining all of the required approvals and permits, and coordinating the project.

But as of now, everyone is standing by. More donations are needed at this point to reach the $80,000 so the project can officially get underway. The church leadership has faith that their prayers will be answered.

“Brenda’s kids needed help and the Lubbers responded unselfishly. We want to bless them by showing our commitment and support. If our hearts as a church body and a community are in this together, we will all see something special happen,” says Pastor Neil.

You don’t have to be a church member to make a donation, of any size. If your heart has been touched by this story and you would like to be a part of this special project, go to to see the short video and for information on making a tax-deductible donation online.

Those who have questions can contact Calvary Chapel Mission Viejo directly at 949-951-9678 and speak with Alan Grimshaw, Labor of Love Project coordinator.

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