My name is La’Tisha Hensel, and I’m currently a part of River Christian Fellowship (Kansas City East Foursquare Church) in Raytown, Mo., pastored by John Wiley. My husband, Timothy, is an ordained Foursquare pastor and assisting minister at the church.
When I was 12, I began attending another Foursquare church in the city. While I had begun my personal relationship with Jesus earlier, joining that church forever changed my life. When I first became part of the Foursquare family, my own family was in tremendous turmoil. During this difficult season, I learned to trust Jesus in deeper ways than I ever knew possible. I also formed lifelong friendships in our little youth group, attending every available service, summer camp or retreat, and growing with a community of believers every single week.
In addition, the day I began attending that church was the day I met my husband. We became childhood friends in youth group who grew into high school sweethearts, and we have now been happily married for almost 13 years.
My husband and I both received our Bachelor of Arts degrees from Life Pacific College (also called LIFE Bible College) in 2002, and we received our Foursquare ministerial credentials following graduation. After graduating from college, we served at a church in Southern California and took some time to enjoy married life for a while, until we felt God was calling us back to our hometown.
In 2004, we returned to the church where we met, and served as the young adults pastors there for two years. During that time, we grew as ministry leaders, formed wonderful relationships with other young families, and we received our Foursquare ordination.
In time, God began to draw our hearts toward another Foursquare church in our area, River Christian Fellowship (RCF), where we now serve. We began attending RCF early in 2006. We were inspired by the tremendous amount of community involvement and ministry opportunity at RCF, especially their focus on serving others.
We have enjoyed participating in several ministries with RCF through the years. We began hosting and leading a weekly house church (small group) with a focus on giving back to our community and those in need. Whether it’s giving out quarters and detergent at the local Laundromat or serving hot meals to families living together in one room at a pay-by-the-week motel, it’s all about showing the love of Jesus in tangible ways.
We have also been blessed to volunteer at RCF’s partner non-profit organization, River of Refuge. River of Refuge is dedicated to helping working poor families in pay-by-the-week motels get a stable place of their own. In fact, I organized a 5K run/walk fundraiser to benefit River of Refuge in Sept. 2010, and it was incredibly fulfilling to be a part of something that is bringing about real change right in our own neighborhood.
My husband, in addition to serving as assisting minister at the church, is the accounting manager of River of Refuge. While I stay involved serving with him in our house church and in weekly children’s ministry in the preschool room at RCF, I have stepped back a little bit to focus more on raising our three young children. We have two boys: Kai David (9) and Asher James (4); and one girl, our little Brynnlie Grace (2). When Brynnlie was born, we learned that she has Down syndrome.
With Brynnlie’s arrival into our family, we joined another family of sorts, the Down syndrome community. Our local Down Syndrome Guild was a tremendous support and resource to us from the moment our precious girl was born. They shared with us the joys and blessings that come with raising a child with Down syndrome, as well as provided us with the facts needed to navigate the challenges that we also experience.
In time, we learned about the annual Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk in Kansas City that raises funds to support this organization. The walk is the largest of its kind, with over 10,000 participants raising over $450,000 each year. One hundred percent of the proceeds stay in our community, serving over 1,200 Greater Kansas City area families.
We are thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in giving back to an organization that gives so much to us. We have committed to have a team—we call ourselves The Brynncredibles—in the walk every year. With the support of our family and friends, as well as so many caring individuals from RCF and River of Refuge, we actually received an award for being the largest new walk team the first year we participated!
We were amazed and humbled that over 100 walkers came out to show their love and support. The Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk is just one more way we get to serve our community, showing the love of Jesus the way we have learned from our Foursquare family, and we couldn’t be more blessed.