John Markert: Randy and Roseanne, when they decided to build in our neighborhood, we met them and the idea of battle life group for Westside came up and my wife and I, we decided that yeah, we know some neighbors that we could start a life group. So we started a life group.
Chris Barcus: So we joined it and it's all of our neighbors and we've gotten to know a lot of our neighbors just by being here.
John Markert: We have people that are in our neighborhood and people who are not in our neighborhood, but it's become a great group of friends and friendship. And out of all that came the idea that we probably should go a little bit further with our group and we started to investigate supporting a foster family.
Harmony Holman: I was looking for a reading tutor for my foster daughter and I was directed towards the Westside Church and they got me in touch with the Care community.
Chris Barcus: So Harmony is a foster mother, she's a single parent, she has an adult son and for foster children who are under the age of seven.
Harmony Holman: Oh my gosh, to have the Care group come alongside me, I feel like they've just invested in me so much so that I can invest in the kids. For so many years, it was taking everything out of me to take care of the kids. Not that I regretted any of it, but it was definitely like I was at the end of my rope and trying to do everything and just anything that they give back to me, I feel like I can just take that and put that into the kids and whatever they need.
Chris Barcus: Our life group is one of the first life groups at Westside that is trying a program called the Care Community and so we were given a foster family to kind of come alongside and just kind of be bonus aunts and uncles to the mom and the children.
Debbie Barnes: And it's been such a joy to do that. It's been awesome getting to know Harmony and her children and it's really been a super two-way street though because she's open her house, her home and her children out to us.
Chris Barcus: You know, besides just like the physical things of bringing food or helping me with the laundry or helping me watch the kids or distract the kids while I'm trying to organize things. I think the more important part has been the relationships that developed between the kids and the members of the Care group. I mean, every one of my kids has one or two members that they're like, "Are they coming tonight? Are they coming tonight?" So they've all connected with different people and that's what I've been praying for for so long for these kids that there would be adults that would be willing to be invested into them.
John Bridgewate: The kids love us being there, they love us and we love them.
Nancy Bridgewat: These children have so much energy. The kind of energy you want to can and keep for yourself, but to also utilize that energy to create.
Barbara Nelson: Well, we were asked to think about what gifts we might have to offer, and I thought about the fact that I'm an artist and I could help the oldest child do artwork.
Debbie Barnes: How wonderful that people can come along beside like we're doing it. It's a wonderful and it's easy. It's simple. It's a joy. It's fun. It's great.
Chris Barcus: They didn't have a place out in their backyard and they were going to the park, which is a lot of work for a foster mom to get four or five children out of the house to a park. So we pitched in and purchased a play set at Costco and went over and spent a couple of days and built it in the backyard and cleaned up the trees and made room for it. They have their own little park in their backyard now.
John Bridgewate: Harmony has an older son, Andrew. So we're putting this swing set together and Andrew is sort of watching and Hey, Andrew, come over here. And it was sort of more of a mentoring with Andrew and working with harmonious group of people, all working together. It was a great experience.
Chris Barcus: So our hope and Westside's hope and Harmony's hope is that every foster family would have a Care Community to come alongside them and do what we've done for her in the short two months that we've been with her. It's just been a as much of a blessing to our life group as it has been to her and her family.
Harmony Holman: You know, they become a second family to us. The aunts and uncles and grandparents for the kids and friends and role models and mentors for me. I can't imagine my life without them now.
So when I was 18, I went off to college and that was an experience that I didn't necessarily know how to manage per se, and just was living a pretty party, wonderful life. And I got involved with a young man, and well, next thing you know, Desrae is going to have a baby. So that was ... I don't even know. It was very surreal to see those two pink little lines and you're like, "Oh my goodness." But it was exciting, but all at the same time, I was scared to death. What am I going to do? Where am I going to go? I don't even have a place of my own and I'm ready to be a mom? Made the best decision I thought what was best for me, it's very way. So I went to a clinic and it was taken care of, and in that moment, I didn't think I was going to survive.
So years later and through many miracles that happened, I ended up here at Westside Family Church. I heard in the service or one of the connect cards or wherever, everything online, is the SHAPE Assessment. And I remember asking, "Is that for me?" I'm kind of in a weird place. I'm not on staff, but I companion work directly with Jason Morris through the online ministry and where we see thousands of people, which is amazing. I didn't know it was possible to minister to people halfway across the world. Why not, give it a try?
So I took the SHAPE Assessment. I got an email from Amy saying, "Are you ready for the next step?" And I'm like, "Okay." So I scheduled with Debbie. The words that came out of my mouth, the verse where it says, "They bubble up from your heart," I couldn't have stopped it if I tried. But it was because she was listening with her heart, I felt no need whatsoever to edit. She's like, "I have this woman that has been working in the past with post-abortive women." And I'm like, "Really? You do that here?" I thought I was just going to be a part of the group. I'm going to be leading the group in the fall.
So not only do I get to now reach the lost through the online community, I also get to minister to a different group of lost, women lost in shame, women that are struggling with their past that keep them from their brightest future, and I am absolutely scared to death. So for Westside Family Church to be willing to come alongside women, it's an honor to be a part of that.
John North: Well, we moved back to Kansas City in 2005 and found Westside.
Kay North: And out kids loved it, and I think that's the most important.
John North: Yeah, at that age, it was the kids, the kids' program.
Kay North: The kids would ask, "When are we going to go to church again? When are we getting to go to church again? I want to go to church. Why are we not going to church today?" I mean, they asked all the time. That's what I wanted, and that's what we got from Westside.
John North: It's so awesome how Westside partners with families and my situation specifically with Pastor John Huber. We just have these daily conversations. Sometimes they're five minutes. Sometimes they're a lot longer. And it's grown our relationship up to the point where Pastor Huber's come and picked up my son and taken him to lunch just to talk about some issues he was having at school.
Kay North: So, throughout my time at Westside, I've also been involved in medical mission trips. Through my best friend from medical school, her organization was able to build a orphanage, a school, a church, and a medical clinic, and now a birthing center in Malawi.
Jimmy Sandram: I came at orphanage because I lost my birth parents and then because of some other issues at my house. And then I went to the orphanage because my family couldn't afford everything that I need in school. I received Jesus Christ there because we are learning a lot of Bible stuff there. I ended up to be a worship team member at that orphanage.
Kay North: And finally in 2017 I was able to make my first trip over there. Loved every second of it. It was beyond hard, hard, hard to see, but loved every second of it.
Jimmy Sandram: I met with her when she was there because I was one of the kids that help people translating English into Chichewa because some of them they don't know know how to speak English. So, that's when I met with my mom.
Kay North: And then it was last summer just was kind of talking about the future of some of these kids and John asked, "Do you have any kids that would like to come over here?" He said, "Yep." John said, "Done." It was pretty much that simple.
John North: Six weeks, seven weeks after saying yes he's here and a month from going to school.
Kay North: Once he got here he just was ready to fit in and go somewhere. And so, through Pastor John, he helped us a lot. We asked him we were like "How do we do this? What do we do? Where do you think is a good spot for him?" And so he just plugged us right in. He helped us plug Jimmy right in.
John North: Well, during KidsGiG he was chosen to serve on the worship team.
Jimmy Sandram: It was so amazing, and I was feeling more excited singing in KidsGiG. They ask me if I can help teaching with kids there, and it was also amazing working with kids at Westside Family Church and teaching them.
Kay North: Even though we consider him ours like one of our kids, it's really kind of a scholarship. He was brought over so that someday he could give back. He knew that he was going to be going back this summer to the orphanage. But I don't know if he knew what he was going to do there, how it was going to work, what it was going to be like. But when we started the Believe series, it was almost right away, he would, "I want to teach this. I want to teach this. This isn't good. This is what I need to teach the kids back there."
Jimmy Sandram: I feel like God was speaking to me that I have to do Believe when I go to Malawi, and I was kind of like "So how can I be able to find the Believe book and every resource that I need to teach back in Malawi." And then I talked to Pastor John Huber, and then he give me the Believe shirts and then bags and also, he add more Believe books and give to me.
John North: Just overwhelmed us with what they gave us. And Jimmy was so excited because now he went through the Believe series himself. He's impassioned because he wants to go teach from the orphanage he came from, teach these kids the Believe series.
Jimmy Sandram: If I can take that to share with kids what I have learned here it's going to be perfect to them, and it's going to make them to change their life also to learn some other new things that can help them to grow in spiritual way. So I was feeling more excited to take the Believe books to go to Malawi and to teach them so that they can learn what I have learned here in Westside Family Church.
Orphanage kids: Thank you, Westside Family Church!
Your generosity fuels all of Westside's efforts to make disciples, equip families, and share Christ's love, here and around the world.
Hey, we are wrapping up an amazing week that KidsGiG here. And we are so thankful for all the volunteers and all the parents who made a commitment. Your generosity has helped us reach over 2,000 kids, students, and leaders.
The chance to impact kids when they're young, and plant a seed in their life, it doesn't get any better than that because you know that God is going to do something with that as words faithful to return fruit.
I love doing all the songs with the kids and watching them learn them. And then as the week goes on, they are powered up, and they are crazy excited to worship with us.
But they're also learning how to communicate with everybody, and they're learning how to praise the Lord. And they're learning how to have fun with each other.
I love KidsGiG.
I like learning about Jesus.
I like the teachers.
I like the dancing and singing.
We are just so thankful for all of the volunteers that make this happen in order for kids to understand the love that God has for them.
I volunteer because it's always fun teaching little kids about Jesus, and just showing them how fun it can be growing in God with others.
I volunteer because I love seeing all the kids happy and then growing in their faith.
I've done KidsGiG the last two years, and I wanted to lead a group this year.
We could not pull up KidsGiG without the amount of volunteers it takes to pull this off every year.
I volunteer because they make me. I'm just kidding.
I've been working in many different places. I started in the Little Minis, but I transferred into Missions. And it's my favorite thing to do. It's just so cool teaching kids about other places, and about them being thankful for what they have.
And so without the church's generosity pouring into KidsGiG, so that we can then take KidsGiG, not just here in Kansas City, but around the world. None of this would be possible. So thank you Westside.
I want kids to grow up knowing that Jesus is fun to serve, that it's fun to dance and raise your hands, and scream out. And when the spirit moves you, you just move with it. And I want to teach kids that.
I love KidsGiG.
Westside Family Church.
You helped make these blessings possible through your faithful giving. Thank you.