Our Team

Michael and Julie Meissner

Our Founders:  Executive Director and Ministry Director
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Michael and Julie have been married 22 years and have three children:  Caleb, Courtney, and Joshua.  Pastoring churches for 21 years in San Antonio, Colorado Springs, and Cypress, Michael is the founding pastor of LifeBridge Church in Cypress, and has an M.Div. from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO.  Michael has a passion for gardening, the outdoors, good conversation, and telling “dad” jokes.  He can be found most days working in the garden or visiting with a neighbor.

Julie, with a B.A. in education from Concordia Texas, homeschools their children, is a certified spiritual director through Leadership Transformations Inc. and a member of the Evangelical Spiritual Directors Association.  She offers soul companionship and spiritual formation through Dwell Ministries.  Julie loves great books, inspiring art, nature, and cooking/eating with her Paleo friends.  She can most likely be found helping the children in the home with their school work, cooking up dinner in the kitchen, or hiding in her prayer closet with Jesus.

Their family has fostered children through Loving Houston, a YWAM ministry that provides Christian foster homes for street babies.  They have taken numerous overseas mission trips to Nepal, Africa, and Belize, and worked extensively with local refugees from a variety of nations.  One of their greatest delights was hosting four girls from the India Children’s Choir to live in their home for a month in 2004 and 2005.  Together, they have a passion for helping women and children in vulnerable situations, especially refugees.  The Meissners will live in Abba’s House to work daily with the refugees in residence.

Wendy Lemmons

Administrative Director  wendy

God led Wendy to LifeBridge Church in January 2012.  A few months later she went on her first mission trip… 3 1/2 weeks in Nepal.  During that time God filled her with such a love for the country and people of Nepal that she did not want to leave.  On May 29, 2013, Wendy arrived “home” in Nepal where she worked alongside Nepali Christian church planters, helping with their micro-finance program for 2 years. In early 2016, having returned to the States, Wendy joined a small group from LifeBridge that began meeting to fellowship and pursue the possibility of something God had been putting on all of their hearts for years, and at last it seemed God was guiding them towards His plans for Abba’s House. Of course, having lived overseas, and having experienced first-hand Nepali Christians who lovingly helped her learn a new language, new customs, and how to simply navigate day-to-day activities, Wendy feels beyond blessed to offer those same gifts to refugee women and children who will be arriving in America.

Leslie Sjurseth

Life Skills Mentoring  Leslie 3

Leslie has always desired to travel and experience the world, even as a young child. God answered her prayers and for the past 35 years she and her husband have traveled all over the globe and lived in 5 countries; Tunisia, Qatar, Australia, Egypt and Malaysia, but always called Houston home. Along the way they were blessed with 3 children, and now 4 grandchildren. While living in each country, Leslie integrated herself in the lives of the people and culture by leading fundraisers, partnering with NGOs, working in orphanages and with refugees displaced by the tragedies within the countries they fled. Leslie has worked in the relocation industry for 20 years assisting fellow Houstonians, AMERICANS and international expatriates relocate and make Houston their home. Leslie is sensitive to diversity and multicultural issues, and has an inherent gift of helping people assimilate into different situations while showing God’s Word and love. She believes God has given her the wonderful opportunity to help people assimilate into their new home, no matter where it is or what difficult situations they face.

Ericka Grappe

ESL & Job Skills MentoringEricka

Ericka has a heart for missions and attended Youth With A Mission’s (YWAM) missionary training schools and bible college.  She has traveled to numerous countries and loves different cultures.  She and her husband have been married 13 years and have 3 daughters.  Ericka serves as a volunteer for her church Bayou City Fellowship as they launched a new ESL program in Cypress.  She worked as the coordinator for the children’s program and now also teaches an adult ESL class.  She loves the international community and enjoys making them feel welcome while helping with the practical skill of learning English.  She is excited to serve Abba’s House and love on all who come through the door.

Angie Trevino, LVN

Health & Wellness Mentoring Angie

Angie met Rob in 1996, and they married in 2000.  All she wanted to do since she was a little girl was take care of people and make them smile–a calling she does so well.  In her vocation of wife and mom, Angie cares for her husband and their four children, which brings her heart great joy.  As a nurse, Angie has worked in hospitals, doctors’ offices, a nursing home, natural medicine, and a school over the past 19 years, including Hotze Health and Wellness Center in Houston, TX.  Ever since Lifebridge Church began working with refugees at Los Arcos several years ago, Angie has felt compelled to care for these vulnerable people in a more real and direct way.
“And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”  Isaiah 58:10

Heather Pedoto

Artisan Skills and Creative PlayHeather

Heather Pedoto is an award-winning author, as well as an artist. She has an undergraduate degree from the University of Houston’s honor’s college, where she majored in creative writing. In her free time she enjoys experimenting with different forms of art, from sewing and weaving to sculpting and painting. She’s also working on learning Swahili and French to help the women and children she will be working with feel more at home. She has a particular soft spot for making sure people know that they’re valuable and loved in the eyes of God (and that she loves them, too). On any given day she can be found with paint smudged in her hair, glasses, and clothes.

Renee Johnson

Life Skills Volunteer CoordinatorReneeJedited

Renee home educated her 2 beautiful daughters through their high school graduation and has been married to her husband, Ricky since 1995. During her years of home educating, she served on the leadership team for multiple home education cooperatives and performed duties such as volunteer coordinator, teacher and scheduler.   She has a heart for missions and has been on mission trips to Mexico and Guatemala.  Renee is excited to serve the Lord in the mission field right here in Texas!

Taylor Handfelt

Life Skills Mentoring Development & SupportTaylor Handfelt

Taylor started The Refugee Project in 2014 after meeting a group of refugee women in Houston who were in desperate need. What began as a group of roughly 20 women has now grown into serving over 200 refugee women and their families. Her husband Cullen and Taylor’s mission is to serve refugees by coming alongside of them in times they need it the most. Their vision is also to give volunteers the opportunity to make disciples of all nations right here in Houston. Cullen and Taylor live in The Woodlands, Texas with their daughters Hadley and Winnie. They share a love for serving and the outdoors.

Rick Sims

Campus Project Coordinator17883699_10212653503438586_5937758000520004433_n

Rick has been married to the love of his life, Julie, for 35 years. They have three grown sons: Cooper, Ben and Matt, and one daughter-in-law: Natasha. After 30 plus years in sales, Rick has found a new home in the nonprofit world as a disaster case manager with Hope Disaster Recovery. He also works alongside a ministry based in India that operates orphan homes, trains pastors and plants churches in India, Nepal, and Bhutan. If you have a group interested in volunteering for one of our many campus projects, Rick is your go-to man for the job. He may be contacted at rick@abbashousetexas.com.

Cindy Wu

NewsletterCindy M Wu

In addition to serving on our Board, Cindy is also the producer of our Abba’s House newsletter.  A two-time published author, she is the perfect person for this role!

Cindy M. Wu holds an M.A. Religion from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She has served in church-planting contexts in the United States, Mexico, and East Asia. She co-authored Our Global Families: Christians Embracing a Common Identity in a Changing World (Baker Academic, 2015) with Todd M. Johnson, director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, and her book A Better Country:  Embracing the Refugees in our Midst was published and released in 2017. Cindy is a research associate with the Center and one of the editorial assistants on the World Christian Encyclopedia, 3rd ed. (2020). She enjoys reading and writing about refugees, and is currently writing a book about Houston’s refugee history. As much as Cindy enjoys writing and volunteering with refugees, her main job in this season of life is part-time homeschooling her three children.

Kristen Morrisett

Construction Co-coordinator
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Kristen is the incredible behind-the-scenes construction  coordinator and wife to Paul as he oversees the construction of the house.  Kristen has a B.A. in Education from Southwestern University, has taught underprivileged children in HISD, plays the flute, and is boy-mom extraordinaire to Weston, Grant, and Thomas.  She has a special knack for making the house look welcoming, with impressive builder skills for an amateur!  If there is a unique piece to be found, rest assured her honing device will find it on the cheap!  Kristen coordinated the Advent Giving list for Bayou City Fellowship, which drew in many of the trades people that helped us continue and complete construction of the house.

Fred Billings

Landscape ArchitectFred Billings

Fred, co-owner of Buds and Blossoms in Cypress with his beautiful wife Barbie, has developed a gorgeous master plan for the property on which Abba’s House is situated.  As groups volunteer to take on various campus projects, this plan will come to life over the course of the next year or so.  We are incredibly grateful to Fred for lending us his gifts and skills so that our guests can enjoy the beauty of God’s outdoor creation!

 Team pic

 

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