This is José Ireta’s third year as Camp Director for Messiah West Coast. Jose works as a high school counselor and has been working in education for nearly 20 years. Additionally, José was in ministry working part time as a music director in the church up until 2013 when he heard the call to follow Yahweh’s Law. José has led the music / praise at Sukkot in Orosi the last three years and he and his wife, Yanina, have worked closely with Bryan Barnes of Growing in Torah since coming to Torah. José and his family live in Southern California and can be seen in The Way; A Documentary. They host a weekly home fellowship.
Bryce Jones lives in Idaho with his wife, Melissa and two children and are expecting their third child! He is currently working in Challis, Idaho for the Bureau of Land Management. He holds a degree in Wildlife Resources and Rangeland Management.
He believes the biggest challenge facing Messianic youth is finding other kids their own age with whom they can fellowship. His advice to youth is for them to realize that they are not alone. Today’s youth are the next generation of believers that have a real opportunity within the Messianic walk to make an impact on the world at large.
Bryce came to know and grow in his faith largely due to meeting his wife. While his parents taught him about Torah, it wasn’t until meeting Melissa that he implemented a Torah observant walk. He lives his life significantly different now (set apart). Last year, Bryce was Co-Activities Director with his brother, Russ. He loves following Yahweh and wants to demonstrate to today’s youth that being obedient can be fun and it’s what we are called to do.
“Yahweh has worked in my life by helping me gain more of a personal relationship with Him. Reading the Scriptures and really beginning to search out answers has been a huge blessing. In doing this, I have been able to put away worldly things such as sports, specific career goals, etc., that are not important.” – Bryce Jones
Russ & Michelle Jones
Russ lives in Roseburg, Oregon. He is married with three children. Russ works as a paramedic / firefighter. He and his wife, Michelle, facilitate a home fellowship. He is very physically active, enjoys the outdoors and loves to see young men and women grow in their faith, which includes mentoring young men. Russ is passionate about Messiah West Coast and is a true servant. Russ believes that one of the challenges for today’s young men and women is being truly set-apart, a peculiar people. His encouragement to them is to ‘choose life’ as the world only offers death. Russ will serve as the Camp Medic for the third year this upcoming year and as Co-Activities Director with his brother, Bryce, for the second year in a row.
“I grew up in a traditional Christian home. Never knowing what it meant to really love Yeshua. Always wondering why it seemed like I could do whatever I wanted and there was no difference between my life and anyone elses. In my early 20’s, I began questioning and looking into all the pagan holidays. Then I began reading the Bible for myself and studying the Torah and realized that all of Scripture is relevant to me. Starting a Bible study and fellowship has helped me grow in my everyday walk as a child of YHWH. We have put ourselves out in the Torah Observant community much more than we have in the past.” – Russ Jones
I grew up in a small town in northern California. My family consists of seven children. We didn’t go to church but were influenced by my aunt who was going to a 7th Day Adventist church. She always led us in prayer as we sat around our dinner table and spoke highly of Messiah. I always wanted to know my Creator; especially after I lost my father to cancer when I was eleven years old. When I was seventeen years old, Yahweh brought my beautiful husband Russ into my life. His upbringing was Christian focused, which allowed us to be able to talk about God. We both valued wanting to know God, keeping us together through Russ going into the Coast Guard and myself going to college. I had the opportunity to receive a scholarship to play softball while going to school at San Jose State, CA. Russ and I were engaged during my senior year in college and I soon after obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Recreation & Leisure Studies with an emphasis in Therapeutic Recreation.
Life changed after he shared with me some of the truths he had been discovering in Scripture as well as history. I didn’t know our Creator gave us instructions to live by or special feasts to celebrate in honor of Him. I was also surprised to learn about the origins of many traditional holidays. I started reading my Bible and looking for myself at the history behind why I was celebrating traditional holidays. Russ and I married and moved to Astoria, OR where he was serving the United States Coast Guard and I worked as a Physical Therapy Aide. Life continued to change as we started walking out our faith. We encountered many struggles with extended family but continued to grow together and with our Creator.
Life continues to change in a positive way. Two years ago I left my career for the second time to homeschool our children. I understand that my responsibility is to teach my children Yahweh’s instructions, set a good example as a wife/mother for my boys and to others. Russ and I have also grown together in seeing how important it is to love and delight in Yahweh by following His ways while being a helpmate to each other AND to others. I am thankful our Father continues to shine a light on our path as He continues to help guide us in truth and in love. We have to be willing to continue to show Him we love Him back by keeping HIS commandments. Praise Yah!
Michael & Alicia Cozzie
Together, Michael and Alicia have eight children (six are pictured). They are originally from Illinois but currently reside in Southern California. Michael and Alicia worked at camps in Wisconsin at Lake Lucerne for a number of years. Additionally, Alicia worked as a children’s counselor for Lutheran Social Services for seven years before choosing to stay home to raise her children. She currently home schools three of her children…all boys! Michael is a talented musician who sings and plays a variety of instruments well (piano, guitar, bass, and drums). Michael was the drummer at Sukkot in Orosi (Growing in Torah) the past two years. He also played bass on the MWC music team. Both Alicia and Michael were cabin counselors last year.
Both Michael and Alicia were in the Christian church for nearly twenty years, even while having doubts. After learning of the Father’s name, as well as several years of uncovering lies in the modern church, they both felt called to leave the church where they were both leaders. They chose to follow Torah and state, “It has been a complete blessing and has completely changed the way we live. His Law is not burdensome and brings blessing.”
Their counsel for today’s youth is to persevere through difficulties, choose blessings and not curses, and keep your focus on Yahweh. His joy is our strength. He has plans for you that are good and He delights in you! This will be their second year at MWC!
Julia Reagan (Julia Kelly after June 10th!)
Julia has an amazing story. She grew up in Texas as you might be able to hear in her southern accent when she speaks. She met Jose & Yanina Ireta through some mutual friends and in 2016, Julia assisted with leading the music at Sukkot in Orosi that year. She has spent a large part of 2017 in Mozambique at Kedesh Santuario, a Torah Keeping Orphanage. She is passionate about sharing the Word with young men and women. She is gifted in story telling and has had a significant amount of experience living with and mentoring teenagers.
Since Torah means “instructions”, she emphatically believes it was made for all mankind. She states that the greatest challenge she has witnessed within this walk is the feeling of loneliness youth face among their peers and within the majority of “Christian” circles. Her counsel to youth is to stay connected to Yah by making time to read His World and pray daily. She also encourages youth to be alone with Yah in nature, making time to seek Him and walk away from worldly distractions.
Julia speaks from experience, having grown up with an understanding of Torah and observing all the Biblical Feasts, but it wasn’t until her father passed away four years ago that her faith became alive. Losing her father changed her life; her walk with Yahweh was no longer just a routine, but her identity! MWC is grateful to have Julia serving as a cabin counselor this year.
Just as Yahweh promises to change our mourning into dancing, Julia recently became engaged to Jeff Kelly! Messiah West Coast is blessed to have both Julia and Jeff at camp this year!
Jeff Kelly is a man of many talents. As a single parent of two teenagers for the past eleven years, Jeff has firsthand experience regarding raising children, a valuable asset to have as a MWC staff member. This will be Jeff’s second year as a staff member. Last year, Jeff was a co-team leader and a musician on the MWC music team. Jeff also assisted with leading music at Sukkot 2017 in Orosi alongside Jose Ireta. Jeff is a talented musician, singer, and songwriter. Here are some links to some of his original songs as sung and led by him:
“I’ve learned to trust in the Creator through trial and error over time. This is a lesson I am continually learning more completely. I believe this is very relevant to teens who are so tempted and driven to take shortcuts in order to achieve instant gratification. I’ve learned the hard way that this leads to curses and death. As a father of teenagers, Cloey and Caleb, I am able to share this experience appropriately when relevant to conversation. Also, as someone raised “in church” and who has come into Torah within the past couple of years, I am freshly aware of many of the contradictions present in mainstream false doctrines as compared to Scripture. I think many of the teens will relate to this issue in their interactions with others who are not on this walk.” – Jeff Kelly
Jeff’s counsel for today’s youth is, “Don’t allow yourselves to be enticed and lead astray by the temptations of this world and the culture we live in. These temptations are in essence lies that will lead to sin and death. The wages of sin are certainly death, which becomes very tangible to workers of iniquity – especially those who are raised in the Truth and know the Truth. Learn the Word and seek the Father in prayer, continually. Seek His perfect will for your life, and seek discipleship and wisdom. Learn from the successes and failures of others when at all possible rather than incurring difficult consequences yourselves through sinful choices. There are enough mistakes out there in the pasts of Yah’s people to learn from (wisdom), without having to make the same mistakes yourselves and learning the hard way (foolishness).”
Messiah West Coast is excited to welcome Jeff Kelly for a second year. He will serve as a cabin counselor.
Luke & Kayte Abaffy
Luke and Kayte Abaffy are probably best known for their production of The Way, a documentary about the Torah movement. We are extremely excited to have them be a part of Messiah West Coast for a second year. Luke grew up on a farm in Ohio. His mother first began to follow Torah when Luke was living in New York, where he met Kayte. Kayte grew up in the suburbs just outside of Washington D.C. in a Christian home. She attended Christian schools from Kindergarten until she graduated from high school. She attended Columbia University and earned a degree in Creative Writing: Non-Fiction. Luke and Kayte met at a church in Manhattan, New York. It was love at first sight. Luke and Kayte have a rich cultural heritage. Luke’s father is from Hungary and Kayte’s father is from Ghana.
After they were married, Luke and Kayte moved to California in 2014. While in California, they joined a Torah Observant Fellowship where they grew in the knowledge of following Yahweh’s Law. It was also in California that they met Jose & Yanina Ireta, who later introduced them to Bryan Barnes. In 2015, Kayte led much of the praise singing at Sukkot along with Jose and others on the music team. It was there that Luke began to film for documentary. The film was nominated by the International Christian Film Festival for Best Documentary and Best Director for 2017.
Last year, Luke and Kayte were both counselors at MWC and Kayte led music alongside Rod Woodruff. This upcoming year, Luke and Kayte will have a new addition, a baby boy! Thus, their roles will be a bit different at camp, but we’re still so excited to have them back for another year!
Luke and Kayte are an incredible addition to the Messiah West Coast staff!
Messiah West Coast is pleased to have Officer Joe Gossett at camp once again this year. Joe and his family attend Hallel Fellowship in Santa Rosa, California. As with many of us, Joe grew up in a Christian home. He served in his church’s leadership for a number of years until he finally realized that he could not fully Torah while in the church. As a police officer, we are encouraged that Joe will be providing security services to ensure the safety of all while at camp.
Chenoa is currently a sophomore at the University of Sioux Falls, South Dakota studying computer science. She loves people and more importantly, loves Yah! She desires to make long lasting relationships with campers. She recalls being influenced herself by camp counselors when she was younger and this is what compels her to serve at Messiah West Coast.
Chenoa believes that today’s youth need to learn to relate to others with different beliefs. Many people in this walk can be very critical or judgmental. It is important not to become argumentative and it is not us, as people, that can change people, but only the Ruach. She also believes it is important to have a solid base of friends who are going to hold you accountable and to also do fun things with that are not going to lead you to sin or into temptation. She strongly recommends that everyone have friends who are filled with the Ruach.
Chenoah’s grandparents on both sides are Christian. During her sophomore year in high school, her father began to keep Torah. He taught her so very much. During her senior year, she and her father traveled to Oregon to observe Sukkot where she met so many other believers. In her own words, she writes, “I live differently because I have a more thorough understanding of the Bible and Yahweh that comes along with keeping the Torah. I also take the Bible a lot more literally. Over the past few years, I have been reading and praying a lot and have begun dressing more modestly; my views on a lot of things have radically changed and I feel much more knowledgeable about life in general.”
This will be Chenoa’s second year at camp. Messiah West Coast is excited to have such a vibrant person serve as a cabin counselor at camp!
Les Alexander and his wife have six children, 5 of whom are grown adults. He has had plenty of experience corralling children and looks forward to corralling more children, not just at camp, but also potential foster children as he and his wife are in the process of becoming foster parents. He loves to impart to today’s youth what it means to be a true follower of YHWH through being an example.
Les grew up in Calvary Chapel schools, but soon realized that church doctrine did not match the Scriptures. He was convicted by the Ruach to give up pork and keep the Sabbath. Yahweh continues to reaffirm that he and his family are walking The Way. He continues to show him and his family how His ways are not burdensome, but rather a delight. In Les’ own words, “YHWH is the creator of all things. The very reason I live. His Ruach haKodesh is the breath that fills my soul, that gives me life, and leads me on a path of righteousness.”
Les believes that one of the greatest challenges facing today’s youth are the snares set by the enemy via technology (i.e. social media and entertainment.) To combat this, he longs for young men and women to learn to walk uprightly, which will guide them down a path that has meaning and purpose. He believes that when one walks The Way that’s laid out in the ENTIRETY of Scripture, there is no trial one cannot overcome nor is there a fire one cannot walk through.
Les has worked in both personal and group security scenarios. He will be this year’s Camp Security personnel, ensuring that everyone is accounted for, following the rules (i.e. curfew, cabin checks, etc.) and providing relief when needed for camp staff.
Messiah West Coast is excited to add a new addition and a brand new experience to camp this year. Kristi Powell, a member of Reedely HRBS (Growing in Torah in Orosi) will be joining MWC this year! Kristi has been involved with youth for over 25 years through youth groups, vacation Bible schools, Sunday School, beach camps, and as a karate instructor for the past 20 years! She also personally knows what it’s like to grow up in a big family as she is the eighth child out of nine in her family.
She believes that one of the greatest challenges Torah Observant Youth face is being set apart from their peers and a lack of resources for our faith. She wants to encourage young men and women to own their faith. In her own words, “Your faith is yours; for no one else can walk it out for you. Research the Scriptures to be sound in your belief so that no one can say you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Like many of us, Kristi began to ask questions preachers could not answer. It was not until the tragic loss of her teenage daughter that she began looking for answers. It was during that dark time that Yahweh showed her His answers and now she walks in His ways. She believes that everyone should follow Torah for it was given to the tribes of Israel, their descendants, and the foreigner and sojourner who desire to graft themselves to Yahweh, His Laws and His People!
During this past year, Kristi has been seeking Yah’s place for her in His community. She actively reaches out to others and seeks opportunities to serve. Kristi has family in Southern California and fellowships with Jose and Yanina Ireta when visiting family. Kristi will have multiple roles at Messiah West Coast, including enforcing the dress code, security, and teaching self-defense classes. It’s going to be an exciting year with Kristi at camp this year!
Sean Bostrom has attended MWC for the last 5 years as a camper. Sean has had many leadership / training opportunities when he was in the Civil Air Patrol for three years, all of which contributed to who he is as a person. As a college student, Sean knows that the biggest challenge today’s youth face is that the modern popular culture is quite anti-Torah. The fact that there are not many like-minded youth to relate with can be truly despairing for youth who seek to follow Torah.
Sean’s advice for today’s young people is that he recommends they do NOT obtain a cell phone until after high school. In his own words, “Unless it is completely necessary, resist the temptation. I believe that cell phones are quite possibly the main distraction from what matters.”
Sean’s parents left the church over time because of the 7th Day Sabbath realizations. Shortly thereafter, they began studying Torah. His life completely changed. Daily, Sean thinks about YHWH’s plans for him. YHWH has been teaching him patience and how to love. Before going away to school, Sean was challenged with not being with like-minded people, but now, YHWH has shown him how to continue with this walk even when others are not on the same boat.
When not away at school, Sean attends Shalom Fellowship in northern California. And if you didn’t know, Sean is a phenomenal pianist! You can see him playing the piano here.
Sean will helping out in a variety of ways at MWC 2018 including, but not limited to being a Tribe Leader and working with staff children.
Leiah Bowling lives in Colcord, Oklahoma. She has served as staff at both Camp Yeshua and Camp Awake. Leiah grew up in this faith and has made it her own by studying it. Her heart’s desire is to share the good news with all. The more she learns the more she feels transformed. She knows from personal experience that young men and women need to make their faith their own by taking responsibility for it. There is no room for a half-way walk. You are either set apart for the Father or you are not.
Yah has been teaching Leiah through leading music, speaking to crowds and growing in confidence when sharing His goodness with strangers.
Mariah has served on staff with Camp Awake as well as Camp Yeshua. She feels Abba calling her to serve at Messiah West Coast. She loves encouraging others to shine the light of Yeshua. Mariah and her family are involved in street ministry in both the U.S. and Israel. They believe that all peoples should follow Torah and that we would share His love with everyone. Mariah believes that the greatest hindrance youth face to seeking Yeshua fully is the lure of secular entertainment. Her advice to today’s youth is to, “Stay strong, stay rooted in your faith, and find like minded believer to encourage you and
don’t give in to peer pressure.”
Though Mariah has grown up in this walk, she is continually changing from the inside out. She and her family host weekend worship events on a bi-weekly basis. They continue to remain steadfast despite challenges in their lives. Mariah lost her brother in late 2016. Abba showed her, along with her family, how their faith can also guide them through tragic trials and tribulations. In her own words, “Having faith is not just believing that Abba is going to work, but it is working towards what we have faith in.”
Jonathan has been to MWC as a campers five times. This will be his first year as a staff member. Prior to coming to the truth of following Torah, he also was a helper for AWANAS in the church. Jonathan’s heart has always been to help the next generation grow in the right direction, which translates into also following Torah, Yah’s perfect plan. However, culture and peer pressure that youth face combat Yah’s plan. Therefore, in Jonathan’s own words, “Cling to that which is good, and strengthen yourself in your knowledge for the Bible. Don’t take the support you have for granted.” Yahweh has been helping Jonathan gain a spirit of discipline in college, in both study and in spiritual focus, so as not be distracted by the world. He is blessed to have supportive parents and siblings and we are blessed to have him at Messiah West Coast this year!
John Leppke is on the Board of Directors for Growing in Torah. He has worked at other camps including Sicon Educational Camp, Hartland Christian Camp and Messiah West Coast as a counselor, coach, and director. Like many of us, John found himself on the broad road that leads to destruction and he now walks along the path that is straight and narrow. He holds the conviction that it is through Yahshua that all can enter back into covenant with our Creator (Father) and that it’s through repentance and instruction we live the life that He has appointed for each of us here on earth AND the Kingdom to come.
John believes that our youth today need older adults with whom they can connect with who will not only direct them to the straight and narrow path, but also encourage them remain on that path. As such, John’s role at Messiah West Coast will be that of an elder for both campers and staff. In John’s own words, “Through His faithfulness, He has exposed my weaknesses and strengthened me in the process.”