How Westwood Fellowship is connecting people to Jesus
“Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” – I Thessalonians 2:8
Westwood Fellowship in Woodburn, Indiana, is creating multiple “connecting points” with people who live in this small, rural community just outside of Fort Wayne. Armed with the vision of “live life, share life, speak life, new life,” Pastor Chad and Heidi Olszewski and the Westwood congregation have been praying about opportunities to build relationships with as many people as they can, in as many ways as they can. Chad began in his ministry as senior pastor of Westwood Fellowship in August of 2015. He and his wife, Heidi, and their two young boys, Evan and Noah, moved their family 90 miles west from their Ohio home to follow the calling that God had put on their hearts-loving and serving others in the name of Christ in Woodburn, Indiana.
That calling has involved building on the outreach focus of Westwood, including everything from hosting a community dinner benefit and talent show, fall family hayride, a grief seminar, Weight Watchers, a weekly AWANA children’s program, and an Acts of the Heart Room, which offers household and personal items for those in need. This past summer, Westwood sponsored a cookout and game day at the common space in a neighborhood close to the church. Westwood has also partnered with Miracle Camp and Retreat Center’s women’s retreat, which has drawn people from the community who might not enter a church but would consider a weekend away. Youth group, life groups, prayer groups, men’s and women’s ministry events, and counseling all fall under their Gospel-centered mission, and people are coming to Christ as a result.
“One of the many things we appreciate about our church family,” says Heidi, “is that everybody pitches in and is willing to help.” Pastor Chad agrees. “Westwood was established in 1896 and is one of the oldest FEC churches. Sometimes in smaller churches, people tend to get comfortable, but our congregation still has a big vision.” Take the single mother raising two children. In addition to working full time and going to college, she has started a Life Group to encourage others. After this woman’s mother witnessed the transformation that God has accomplished in her life, her mother started coming to Westwood, too. Over the summer, both this woman’s mother and son were baptized together, and her daughter made a commitment to follow Christ.
Or the woman who lives in the neighborhood mobile home community. She hadn’t been in church for a long time. After meeting members of Westwood, she said, “well, I may just surprise you some Sunday and pop in.” True to her word, she came for a visit and has been attending faithfully ever since. One member of the community saw the advertisement about the upcoming Weight Watchers program and decided to check out the church—and a Life Group, as well. “There are so many hurting people in need of the hope of Christ,” says Heidi. Working as a team, Chad and Heidi have been able to partner together providing individual and marriage counseling, and resources, resulting in renewal. Want to learn more about how Westwood Fellowship is seeing new life in the Woodburn community? Visit Westwood’s newly updated website at http://westwood-fellowship.org.