Faith: Youth congregation ministers to community

Staff Photo: Brooke Finch Davida Padilla, far left, and Jojo Padilla present bracelets to Leota and Brian West as part of the Kids for Christ Church outreach to cancer patients.

Staff Photo: Brooke Finch
Davida Padilla, far left, and Jojo Padilla present bracelets to Leota and Brian West as part of the Kids for Christ Church outreach to cancer patients.

By Brooke Finch
Staff writer
bfinch@cnjonline.com

Visiting the elderly every week and ministering to cancer patients monthly are no easy tasks, no matter the age. But Kids for Christ Church members are always up for the challenge.

Kids for Christ Church is the local youth congregation led by Dee Madrid, or “Sister Dee” — as the kids like to call her.

While Madrid is locally known for her store Sports Connection, not many know the rest of her time is spent ministering to about 30 kids ranging from elementary to high school age.

“We (the church) welcome the kids with open arms,” Madrid said. “I teach them through the Bible and through prayer.”

Established in 2008, the nondenominational church mostly focuses on outreach in the community.

“My biggest deal always for the kids is (to) serve God and serve others,” Madrid said.

The congregation regularly visits local retirement and nursing homes on Sundays. But three years ago, the kids also began reaching out to cancer patients.

“Once a month, we visit a person (who has cancer) and present gift cards to them, bracelets and a homemade framed plaque,” Madrid said. “We sing to them; we pray together.”

Madrid explained the handcrafted plaques feature inspirational messages meant to be displayed at eye level so they can be seen every day.

“That has really lifted their spirits up. And it affects the caretakers too,” Madrid said.

On Tuesday, Madrid and 10 members gathered outside the Kids for Christ Church building to pay their monthly visit to someone on their prayer list, a list filled with names of those who others feel might need a helping hand.

This time it was Brian West, a cancer patient, and his wife and caregiver, Leota West.

Brian West suffers from a recurrence of invasive squamous cell cancer and is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments. He also has kidney problems and has had three heart attacks in his life.

“But to look at me from the outside, you’d never know it,” he said.

He and his wife explained they travel to Lubbock for his treatment, so transportation gets costly.

“It’s a godsend,” Brian West said about receiving the gifts. “Every little bit helps. These children are wonderful.”

Likewise, the kids’ feelings are mutual.

“It’s amazing — I almost started crying,” said Kids for Christ Church Member Mi’Linda Gallegos.

Gallegos, 14, made and presented a plaque to West and his wife.

“They’re great people,” she said. “I don’t know a lot about them, but as he’s fighting it (the cancer), I believe he can do it … so does God.”

Gallegos said being a part of the church is “a great experience.”

“Meeting these new people … I’ve learned a lot of good things.”

Madrid said she strives to guide children on the right path.

“What it is, is just being an example — not just in the church but outside the church — and reaching kids and the neighborhood,” Madrid said.

Madrid said she’s been invited many times to minister in other parts of the world, such as Brazil and the Philippines.

“But my mission field is right here,” she said. “Right here in Clovis, Farwell, Texico, Portales … Kids that I’ve met throughout the years.”

“The ministry is a job, but it’s a calling,” she said. “I know what my calling is.”