Amidst the rough and rugged waters of Lake Victoria are distant shores teeming with people. These isolated islands are the very places that missionaries, Brent and Virginia Earwicker, are called to go. Compelled by a compassionate love for the lost and unreached people groups even further beyond, they bravely board boats and sail these unpredictable waters alongside their Bold Ventures Ministry team.
At Westside, we believe that everyone has a story to tell, a voice that deserves to be heard. As we begin to share the stories of what God has done in our personal lives, we build audacious faith in those that hear, encourage our own walk, and bring glory back to God.
Don Lang was excitedly looking forward to retirement when the unexpected happened. Losing his wife, Pauline, of 28 years caused him to lean into God for comfort and ask the challenging question, “What’s next?” Having always considered himself an “ordinary guy,” he wondered if God might have something unique in store for the many years he knew he had left. Don looked ahead with faith, expectancy, and an open heart. God took Don’s readiness and today is working through his simple steps of obedience to help give people around the world access to the Word of God in life-changing ways.
Alongside the voices singing and hands raised in our weekend gatherings, there is a unique expression of adoration and connection happening that may go unseen. This is the deaf community that comes together every 9:45am service to experience Jesus in authentic ways. We are so thankful that God allows us to be unified as one family in this beautiful community of believers. God is doing incredible things in the lives of our deaf brothers and sisters and we celebrate with them.
Having faced a childhood filled with abuse and neglect, Teri Crump navigated life with a pain and dysfunction that landed her in an unhealthy marriage at a young age. Years of brokenness were turned around when she finally encountered the love of Jesus in a life-changing way. Teri finally understood her immense value and worth in God’s eyes and that He had a purpose for her life beyond what she could imagine. As she responded to this unconditional love, she found courage to walk away from abuse, step forward in faith and establish a new life teeming with hope. Her broken past and God’s beautiful redemption in it is what fuels her ministry to women in prison in Deschutes County today.
With a culture overwhelmed with broken marriages and hurting people, the hope of healing seems a distant idea. When both Rhonda and Charlie Abellera found themselves heartbroken from divorce and single with little ones, they leaned into Jesus and the community that He provides. God did a miraculous work in restoring them as individuals, equipping them to be the parents they were meant to be, and eventually bringing them together into a healthy, new marriage. “We believe in marriage, and we believe it is God’s best for us,” say the Abelleras. “You may think that you are on Plan B, but God can turn it around to Plan A. If he did it for us, then he will do it for you.” When the world would throw in the towel and claim broken marriages as the norm, stories like their’s give us hope. God is in the business of restoring what was lost and making all things new.
After 27 years as a Deputy Marshall, Jerry Butler believed that retirement just meant a reassignment to something special that God had planned. A simple “yes,” to serving in the nursery at his church has turned into a beautiful legacy impacting more lives than Jerry could have imagined. Jerry has been rocking fussy babies, blowing bubbles, and changing diapers in the name of Jesus for a total of 40 plus years. His life of faithfulness is a stunning example of what God can do with a humble heart surrendered to His calling. We are so thankful for people like Jerry who serve Westside families and sow seeds into the next generation.
Jodi Carlson admits that her life seems to have two layers. One is the “show worthy” layer and the other is unseen. “I’ve kept the other layer of my life hidden because shame tells me to,” she says, “ But it’s here that the Lord has done His deepest work, and it’s here He continues to meet me.” As Jodi faces two disabilities that have become a thorn in her side, she has learned to lean into Jesus in raw, authentic ways. Again and again, Jesus has powerfully met Jodi.
With a passion to see the next generation truly experience who Jesus is, Aaron Schrader stepped out of the walls of the church where he had served as a youth pastor, to brave the halls of a local high school as a teacher. Aaron is committed to reaching kids who would never step foot into at church setting. He chooses to be present in the lives of his students and brings his faith into the sometimes volatile world of the public school setting with subtle, yet life-impacting steadiness. His students and their families experience authentic care and God’s love in some of their most challenging moments through Aaron and his committed approach.
Equipped with nursing skills and a willing heart, Heather Morehouse expected life to unfold with somewhat normal simplicity. Little did she know that God has purposes beyond her expectations. Called to serve as a nurse and bring God’s presence to the frontlines of disaster relief areas and war zones, Heather has seen more devastation and pain then she could have imagined. But she has also seen her compassionate, powerful-working God who is present amidst suffering. With eyes wide-opened to the desperation and suffering in the world, Heather will continue to go where God’s called her, empowered by His love.
Facing tragedy more than once in his life, Trey Anderson has encountered God in tangible ways through the community that God placed around him. Community isn’t always easy, but it is a powerful agent of change in a hurting world. Through God’s people and the power of worship, Trey has walked through loss as well as miracles that have shaped who he is and how he sees God.