October 21, 2014

Tony Boyd and Frank Sanicola

Prior to October of 1992 Tony and I would spend most of our Sunday’s relaxing and watching football. Church was something we did only once in a while to get our wives off our backs. Maria and Pam would scout different churches hoping to find one that we would like. As luck would have it, they happened upon Cornerstone, which at that time was meeting at Margarita Middle School. They assured us that we would like this Pastor; he was funny and his sermons were not too long. Thank you Jesus! Most importantly to us at the time, the girls told us that they served free donuts after the service was over. Reluctantly we agreed to go.

When we first started attending, we would take our time getting to church in order to avoid as much of the worship as possible. When listening to Ron speak, we would pass notes back and forth to get each other to laugh. The girls got so mad. We would comment that watching Ron speak was like sitting center court at a tennis match. When services ended, we made it a point to sit on the other side of the courtyard, desperately avoiding eye contact with any of the pastors while we waited for Pam, Maria and the kids to get done so we could go out to breakfast. But as luck would have it, every once in a while one of us made the mistake of making eye contact with Ron, Mike, or Ron Clinton which triggered one of them to come over to where we were sitting and talk to us. This went on for a few weeks until the Sunday before Thanksgiving. We’ll never forget what Ron said when he got up to preach. He said, “We’re going to do something different this morning. Instead of a sermon, we’re all going outside and have a slice of pie.” Tony and I looked at each other and smiled. From that day forward we were hooked.

Then the Holy Spirit started working on us. The church moved to the Front Street location and we were asked to do something unthinkable—go to our first bible study! It was led by Pastor Ron. Of course it helped when we were told that the person bringing the snacks to the study made the best cookies in the world. We found out that we knew very little about the bible. We were just like little kids staring at a pizza with vegetables on it. It was pretty much study 101 and Ron made it very enjoyable for us to want to learn more. For that we are eternally grateful.

The church then made the move to Wildomar and we both started getting more and more involved with church activities. We helped get that new/old building at the Wildomar campus ready for services. We helped with Christmas and Easter performances, ushered and worked the sound board. All these activities became something we looked forward to. It was then that we took our biggest steps in our new walk— both of us made the decision to turn everything in our lives over to Christ. The economic recession of the 90’s was taking its toll on both of our families, but by putting our faith in Jesus Christ we survived.

It was soon after that that Pastor Mike asked if we would lead foreign missions projects in Mexico. We were ready to do more than just send financial support, so we decided to use the gifts God had blessed us with to do construction projects in Mexico, and then eventually around the world. Tony would build, Frank would cook.

During the next 14 years, with Pastor Mike leading us, we took teams to Belize, Romania, India, Nepal, Haiti, Mexico, Missouri and Mississippi. We made over 80 trips to Mexico alone building churches, missionary housing, dormitories and medical clinics in both Tijuana and Ensenada.

Our boldest achievement was a 5,000 sq. ft. battered women’s shelter called Casa Esperanza. It took us six years of short trips to build, but we were always able to get more done than we thought possible. Each trip was successful, by God’s grace, and incredible people signed up with us over and over again. The fellowship, friendship and leadership that developed will last a lifetime. Together we worked hard and ate well. Today, Casa Esperanza is still a wonderful facility that offers protection for dozens of women and children.

It’s hard to understand the value of a church and church family until you’re in one. We’re so grateful to be a part of this one. We’re also grateful to Pastor Ron and Pastor Mike for the love, guidance and patience they’ve shown us over the years. Cornerstone has helped us through some very tough times as well as opened our hearts to become the servants that God has called us to be.

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