Don and Debbie Helen
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Joy Lutheran Church

Contact: 810 Buena Vista Way, Chula Vista, 619-262-4444

Membership: 100

Pastor: Deacon Don Heien

Age: 56

Born: San Diego

Formation: Lay Leadership Program for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod

Years Commissioned: 3

San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach?

Deacon Don Heien: Grace. It’s a part of forgiveness, and grace and forgiveness tie together. Many people are thinking that God can’t give them grace because they’ve messed up so much, but grace is a do-over; it gives us that chance to say, “God, I messed up.” Please forgive me. As believers we are forgiven.

SDR: Why did you become a minister?

DH: I was a contractor by trade. For the last 20 years or so, I thought about the process of becoming a deacon. I never went into it with the thought of being a deacon because I’m not normally someone who likes to be out in front of people. I like to do the behind-the-scenes work – put the chairs up and fix things and that kind of stuff. When I got into the program, God was pushing me a little more each day. I went in for the knowledge and came out realizing that I was supposed be a deacon after all. God showed me every day that this is where he wants me to be at this stage of my life. That’s how God works — he sometimes puts us in situations that we don’t really want to be in, but we’re there because He has something for us to do. There was nothing specific in discerning my path to becoming a deacon. I’m geared to seeing Him in all things and being from a construction background I know that sometimes God needs a two-by-four to help get my attention in order for me to understand what he wants me to do.

SDR: What’s the mission of your church?

DH: Our mission is to bring people to the saving faith of Jesus Christ. Our people go out and ask, “How can we pray for you?” It’s going to be a huge focus of our ministry when we build our School Campus, merge and change our name to Victory Lutheran, which will include Lutheran High School, Joy Lutheran Church and the church we’re merging with — Pilgrim Lutheran Church and School in Chula Vista. We’re doing the merger in phases. We’re basically waiting on the details to get ironed out. Our goal now and especially once we’ve merged is to be community-minded and open the doors — serve as a hub, if you will, to bring our community together.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

DH: I’m going to be with Jesus. I don’t know what it looks like. The Bible talks a little about it in Revelation 21. My job on this Earth is to prepare myself and others for a life with God. I can’t tell you what Heaven looks like and I know I don’t want to go to the other place — it’s a little too warm for me. Who knows what hell is going to look like, it’s just not going to be comfortable. I think Jesus lays it out pretty clearly when He said to the thief on the cross: “You’re going to be with me in paradise.” To avoid the other place, you have to believe in Jesus. The only way to get to heaven is through Jesus.

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