I know I’m in the middle of telling you this really cool story about something God did through Michael Howard and his Santa Cruz Foursquare Church, but before I finish that story I have to tell you about my very cool visit to Westside Community Church where Ben Hartel serves as pastor. It’s funny how you get so locked into the rhythms of your life that you literally can’t think about, or see, anything past the nose on your face. In other words, when it comes to “church life” you get so busy in the rhythms of your church community that you don’t really track with God’s kingdom work throughout your community. I mean, you theoretically get it that God is at work in other places but you don’t see it and experience it.
Yesterday I got to see and experience God’s kingdom. I hopped in my 59′ GMC truck and drove all the way across town to the west side of Santa Cruz and pulled into the Bayview elementary school parking lot to worship with the people of Westside Community Church. The instant I walked in the door I was greeted with smiles, handshakes and hugs as if I was a life-long friend. The people work so hard to set up the room and tear down the room for worship every Sunday as they leave the door open to the parking lot to let the sound of praise to God emanate out of the room and out into the street where many people walked there dogs on a Sunday morning. I can see why Ben loves the people of his church because they were full of love, and full of eagerness to be on mission for Jesus on the west side of Santa Cruz. If you are looking for a genuine faith community, who loves their local community and wants that community to know Jesus – you have to check out Westside Community Church. They are truly beautiful people who reflect Jesus Christ!