Years ago, Westside Church had a vision statement that guided what we did as a church and how we did it. It was, “changing the face of faith one conversation and one act of kindness at a time.” The idea was how our actions could redefine, for people in our community, what it means to be a Christ-follower. You know, for decades, one of the top five responses of how non-church people view Christians is the word hypocrisy. Right or wrong, the face of faith for thousands of people was not a positive one. More recently, we started asking a question that leads to the same idea, “what does love require?”
Whenever we are uncertain about what to do or what to say in any given situation, this question leads the way, “what does love require?” You know thousands of Westsiders are leading the way and changing the face of faith for their world. Every week I hear story after story of what Westside Church is doing corporately to answer that question. I want to run through several ways that your church is loving our world.
Over the past several months, we have given tens of thousands of dollars from our For The City fund and from our general funds to help people in these dire times. Just the past three months alone, we have spent $75,000.00 directly toward helping others. Together we recently donated our box truck to the non-profit Furnishing Hope that helps provide hope to lower-income and struggling families by providing beds and new furnishings for their homes. We continue to support Shepherd’s House Ministries every month, and we provided Christmas gifts for the men and women in that program. We continue to partner with Every Child in our shared efforts to surround vulnerable children with family and to surround families with community. Recently we helped find the funding for a needed playground to be built in Warm Springs in 2021.
Together through our iheart365, we partnered with J Bar J, a youth program here in Central Oregon. We organized 12 individual boxes of needed resources for specific students graduating into adulthood on two specific projects, and we collected warm winter jackets and layers for 30 youth. Through our Hope and Helpline, we saw a massive increase in families in need calling us. We were so grateful to assist over 30 families every month with utility, rent, and grocery card help. Our hope and helpline is one of the ways we’re providing COVID-19 relief for families in need. Through our Community Care line, we give a helping hand to any individual in our community who reaches out. Thanks to the Stop And Go Shell Market on the east side, we’re able to give out ten gasoline vouchers every single week to those in need. This is such a beautiful partnership and standing in solidarity with our community.
We continue to support and partner with the Bethlehem Inn. We love Teen Challenge and their heart for Jesus and discipleship. We resourced them and also provided Christmas gifts for their local house. We have continued to resource and partner with Rock Bottom Hope, which is a local grassroots non-profit that has volunteer coaches who talk with people about their addictions, their mental health, feelings of isolation, and they walk with them through it. We continue to offer our Free Food Market every month, and we’ve met huge needs in October and November. We were able to feed over 600 people every month, thanks to our volunteers’ efforts and your faithful giving. Through our annual Giving Tree, we will be providing Christmas gifts to 813 people. We partnered with 19 community organizations this year to choose children and families in need. We were able to extend the Life and Love of Jesus through the generosity of God’s people. We also invested $5,000.00 into Christmas gifts for Warm Springs school students. We invested $5,000.00 into the Madras High School Food project, which is a program that keeps students cared for and fed over the Christmas break.
Globally we’ve given gifts through Compassion First and Foursquare Missions International to support churches that are struggling globally and resource street ministries that serve those affected by human trafficking. We provided Christmas gifts to our missionaries serving faithfully in Africa, Asia, Mexico, Australia, and Spain.
Well, this isn’t everything, but I think you get the idea. I don’t share all of this as a way of self-promoting our church or anything like that, but to celebrate with you what God is doing through us, through your giving and mine, and through our serving together. This is changing the face of faith. It is one way that we’re answering the question, “what does love require?” I love you all and keep being the extension of the life and love of Jesus to our world.