To all of the women that have helped shape us. The nurturing hands that have carried us. The steady voices that have cheered our wins and comforted our losses. To the bonus moms, wise mentors, patient listeners, faithful servants, and steady friends. You have laughed us into laughing, believed us into believing, and changed us beyond measure.
Longing for real connection and friendship, Katie and Trent Stutzman mustered up the courage to attend one of our Summer BBQ’s last summer. Even with the fun, relaxed, and relational environment they found themselves in, they never expected for God to provide the very thing that they were looking for.
When most families were planning trips and how to relax over Spring Break, the Tobiasions and their many kiddos decided to use their time off in an unexpected way that has forever changed them. Now 6 years later, they are still inspiring others to join them as they build houses for the less fortunate living in Mexico.
Expecting with joy the birth of her second child, Christa was nesting and letting anticipation build. When the unexpected happened and the birth went not as planned, Christa found strength like she had never known. Her strength and peace in the midst of the unexpected has her ever more convinced that God is present to cover us when we need him most.
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.
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.
With a desire to grow their family, Shanda and Ross Ackerman believed that God would be faithful to His promises. For years their journey was filled with pain, waiting, and loss as they faced infertility and complications. But God is faithful. The last 7 years shaped them deeply and ultimately has left them amazed and humbled at the grace and power of Jesus.
Stirred by missions adventure on the islands of Lake Victoria, Uganda, Peri Gregory returned home with a call to become a nurse; caring for both the physical and spiritual. In the thick of nursing school Peri faced intense opposition, exhaustion, and extreme doubts of her calling. But God was there all along. He pursued, steadied, and empowered her to grow.
After her family was betrayed by close friends, Noel Wood was faced with a decision; close her heart to people and to the Church, or risk trust and live in community. What Noel learned next challenges our views on community, the Church, and God’s unchanging purpose.
Faced with decisions about what to pursue in her future, Alicia trusted God to unfold His unique plan for her life. Using her artistic talents to reveal God’s glory has become a life pursuit and calling.
Wearing a hoodie, jeans and some converse, Josiah Stern, looks like your average seventeen year old. Except that he’s not. Behind that slightly scruffy face and sweet smile, Josiah wears a badge of honor. A badge not desired by any, but nonetheless earned. Josiah earned it along the rough road walked alongside his family and those impacted by the devastating disease known as ALS.
Joy Bachman didn’t spend much time thinking about cancer. With stage 1 melanoma removed from her neck via surgery a decade prior, her life was rich and full. This mother of four was happily married and looking forward to celebrating her husband’s birthday. No one could have seen it coming – the grand mal seizure in her sleep that left her flat on the floor by the bedside, not breathing.
Most people look at Miranda Schmucker and assume her life must be pretty sweet. With a smile constantly radiating from her face, effortlessly prompting more of them from the perfect strangers passing by, the assumption is a fair one. But when the assumption is that only people with smooth life circumstances can smile, then the assumption proves faulty.
Jenna Anderson wears many hats. In addition to dreaming up, coordinating, and leading the Story Team, she serves at Westside as a pastor and writer. She has led and ministered in Africa, spending five years there as a missionary. She wears the title “child of God” with confidence and humility. She is artistic, creative, loving, intentional, and grounded. But there are two roles that for her are the most cherished; Wife and Mot