"YWECC Is a Safe Place"

For the past five years, West End has been my church home. West End serves as a tangible example to me of God’s love for His chosen people and one way that He demonstrates how He designed us to be in community with each other. West End doesn’t promise to be perfect, in fact, they acknowledge that they are not.

The youth group at West End is a special place. Getting to be a part of YWECC has grown my desire for knowledge of the Word, and helped me to see the importance of building relationships based in the Word. I’ve seen volunteers firsthand give faithfully of their time to pour into students, like myself. I remember after going to my first night of D-Groups my freshman year of high school, my mom picked me up and I began to cry. My mom was concerned, but these were actually tears of JOY because it was the first time at church that I had been with girls my age and had leaders that facilitated conversation to make me feel so welcomed, accepted and free to be vulnerable. One thing that Carter often says is that our greatest desire is “to be fully known and fully loved.” West End cultivates true community and strives to help people connect.

Our greatest need is to be loved, and by attending West End I continually get to experience not only the love that God has for us through teaching and worship, but love through real relationships with those around me. I’ve had the opportunity to go to St. Louis on a Sr. High Mission Trip, Panama City on the Jr High Summer Camp, Rock Island for Fall Away, and Barefoot Republic Camp for various weekend retreats. Through all of these experiences and opportunities I have learned and grown in more ways than I could’ve expected. YWECC has equipped me for college by providing many leadership opportunities including getting to be a part of the Student Leadership Team and helping lead worship in SWAT. Through leading worship on Sunday mornings I’ve been pushed outside of my comfort zone and am continuing, as a recovering perfectionist, to learn that it’s not about being a great musician or choosing the perfect songs, but instead using what the Lord has given me to serve others. I’m thankful that YWECC is a safe place for me, and that when I do mess up, which is often, that I am still valued and loved.

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about how we as believers are arranged by God as many members of the body of Christ. He says, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” What a constant encouragement West End is, to walk alongside each other in dark times, and to also celebrate in joyful times. I’m forever grateful that the Lord led my family to West End in 2013, and for the countless ways that it has shaped my personal relationship with Him.     —Rebekah Skinner