This is Lannie Wyma's connection story of how she got connected in Evergreen SGV, not just showing up on Sunday mornings but feeling truly "enfolded" into the community and ministries of our church family. She serves in the Welcome Center and helps others connect as well.
Pastor Dan Christian
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As I look back to 13 years ago, it was a long journey before I felt connected to Evergreen SGV. For the longest time, I couldn’t claim Evergreen SGV as my church. At Rio Hondo, I attended the services and took my children to Church School. I returned to my car and hoped someone would notice my existence, come and talk to me and not just say hi or hello. There were times I felt like people noticed I was walking alone but they pretended they didn’t see me.
Imagine sitting alone with people surrounding you, joking and laughing with their friends but no one includes you in their small group. As time went by, I isolated myself in the car and waited for my children to finish their class.
I am always grateful for a few people who knew me from my children’s elementary school because they were able to reach out and be REAL. I didn’t know that I was having a critical spirit toward others, my own family and especially God. I was upset about people and their cliques. If you don’t belong to an original group it’s very difficult to fit in. I still remember, one of my A.S.K. (prayer request) from BSF for several years was to ask God for discernment and clarity for a new small church. God knows His plan and His purpose is better than mine. He kept me here for many years.
Since we moved to La Puente, I noticed a difference. The Pastors were reaching out to get people to be more open and to welcome the newcomers.
How did I get connected to Evergreen SGV? When we moved into La Puente, there was a new Church School class called BRANCH (like the weekly Bible Studies in homes during the week) and was led by Ron and Gayle Tanaka. I forgot who invited me to join but I decided to go and check it out.
As soon as I walked into the class, Gayle came and welcomed me and my heart just melted. I talked to her about my struggles at church and she was so kind to encourage me to come and get to know people. She introduced me to different people. Each week, the BRANCH always had a time for us to break up into small groups and pray for each other. I got to know more people. Each time, when I shared about my journey and my struggles with people at church, I got very emotional and would cry. As I look back, I thank God for my struggles. He taught me through my loneliness and now I can relate to others and be sensitive.
Next time, when you are chatting with friends and you notice any newcomers, or someone by themselves, take a moment and include them in your conversation or give them a sincere warm welcome. Walk them to the Welcome Center and introduce them to a Welcome Center Greeter and help get them connected to the church.
It’s sad for me to hear others talking about feeling disconnected from our church. This is not just from the newcomers but also from some people who have been attending and some who just returned to Evergreen SGV. I also noticed there are people who attend the service and as soon as the service is over, leave.
I am very grateful for Pastor Dan having the passion to reach out to others by starting a new ministry geared towards newcomers or anyone who has been attending church and is still not feeling connected. I encourage all to stop by the Welcome Center and get connected or reconnected. There are small groups available for you to get involved in. Remember, God brought you to our church for a purpose and you just need to let us help you. You don’t need to be alone. God loves each of us and we are the body of Christ. It doesn’t matter how long you have attended Evergreen SGV. Each of us is responsible to reach out and love our brothers and sisters. I hope by writing this testimony you will be able to see how important it is to please our Father in Heaven and to love our brothers and sisters. Thank you Pastor Dan for asking me to share my journey and my spiritual walk. It has allowed me to look deeper into my walk with God and be able to ask for forgiveness for my critical spirit.