Life Together | Mark Wardle

Each month we will be sharing the testimony of one member of our community’s experience of and commitment to our life together. This month’s story comes from Mark Wardle.

WE ARE NOT MEANT TO BE SELF-SUFFICIENT

What are the reasons we become committed to a particular organization or activity? There are several different answers to this question, but to me the one that has the greatest impact is a sense of belonging. Many people go through life longing to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They seek a place where they can be accepted and welcomed with no exceptions, and where relationships are made and can flourish in a community setting. Heritage Presbyterian Church is such a place.  The Harvest Table and other ways we share our lives are the reasons I offer my time and talents to support the ministries here.

I grew up in the Kansas City metro area and have been here most of my life. For eight years I lived a few miles away in Wellsville, Kansas. As a youth I was an active member of Eastwood Hills Baptist Church. After high school graduation I attended Longview Community College for a year and a half. I joined the work force after realizing college wasn’t my thing.

A career in construction was a good fit for me after trying three different jobs. During this period of my life I stopped attending church and became more interested in my own agenda.  Aside from work, that agenda consisted of hanging out with my buddies and partying. 

I was married to my first wife in 1977. Together we have two children, Jeremy and Justin.  They both have their own families now.

In 1986 I found employment in the concrete industry and joined Local 101 Operating Engineers. In 1988 my first wife and I separated, and that started a very dark part of my life. It was hard to cope with a situation I wasn’t prepared for, so I looked in all the wrong places. My parents worried about my lifestyle, which included drinking and late nights out.

After a few years of this destructive activity I found myself in jeopardy of losing my job. Because of a caring supervisor and the answered prayers of my mother, my life began to change for the better. My mother had been praying since my divorce that God would send a stabilizing force into my life, and those prayers were answered when I met my current wife, Joani. We were married in 1994 and have two children together, Luke and Brooke.

Joani wanted us to find a church here in Olathe, so we began looking for a place to worship. After attending a few churches in the area, we decided to put our search on hold because none seem to be what we were looking for.  One of our neighbors had a daughter who was a school friend of our son Luke.  The neighbors regularly attended Heritage and invited Luke to go to church with them. After a few weeks of getting very positive reports from Luke, Joani and I decided we needed to check out the place too. The people at Heritage were so inviting and friendly that we also started attending regularly. However, there was something missing and neither Joani nor I could be sure what it was.

At first, we were Sunday worshipers that didn’t get involved except for a small dinner group. Like many new churches, Heritage was going through changes early in our attendance.  That made us wonder if this was the right place for our family. 

Luke, Joani, Mark and Brooke Wardle.

We learned that a certain amount of change is inevitable and can even be good over time.  People committed to the baseline Christian mission and set of principles of a church will endure.  We also realized that the strength of Heritage was in its strong commitment to becoming a close community where all feel they belong.  When Pastor Clare arrived, she nurtured that sense of belonging. It was then we realized that Heritage was the right place for us after all! 

It was also then we became more involved as a total family. All of us felt we belonged here in this place and with these people   Our children became active members of the youth group. I served as an Elder and Deacon.   I became a member of the men’s group, the Facilities Committee, and Prayer Team.  Joani got involved with the youth group and is now a member of the Mission Committee. As a family we have gone on mission trips, and worked with Harvesters and other local mission projects.

Mark with youth at the ropes course at camp.
Playing in the mud at camp, can you can find Mark?

I am committed to Heritage and its ministries because of our people, who share my belief that we are made to be in community together.  For that reason, we must build relationships that are real and unconditional. We must also share the love of Christ, who teaches us that we belong to one another and to our Lord.

God is moving in and through this place and I’m excited to see where he takes us!

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