After finding restoration through the Central Kansas Dream Center’s discipleship program, both Nathan Kitchen and Angelica Garza have found a purpose and a ministry calling at the Generations Church in Ness City. Both sat down with the Great Bend Tribune to share their stories.
Angelica Garza, Children’s Pastor
Angelica Garza described her life prior to entering the Dream Center as “pure bondage.”
Before she came to the Dream Center in 2017, she had been an alcoholic for 18 years who took her first drink in seventh grade.
Though she grew up in the church, Garza said pursuit of a relationship pulled her away from her faith and down the destructive road toward alcoholism.
“I was searching for someone to love me. And then the first guy who came, I ended up submitting to him and not submitting to God anymore,” she said.
The relationship produced a daughter, who she described as, “my only reality” within the darkness of the alcoholism.
“I was struggling with my identity and my self-worth,” she said. “I would check out for weeks at a time.”
The low point came in 2017 as she drank alone in a hotel room in Liberal, and decided she needed to find help.
“I called out to God and told Him I was done,” she said. “My heart was desperate for help. I knew He had heard my heart.”
Through a recommendation, she said the Lord drew her to the Central Kansas Dream Center. She was accepted and was in Great Bend in a matter of days.
The unconditional love she felt from the staff of the Dream Center was different from what she felt from the rest of society. As part of the process, she began an earnest search for purpose, spending hours in the Dream Center’s chapel praying daily.
Through this, she felt the Lord calling her into a life working with children, something she’d never done before.
After graduating the Dream Center’s program, she said God began to fulfill that purpose, with doors opening rapidly as she learned to follow His voice.
In 2018, she took a job with the Great Bend Children’s Learning Center, which quickly led to a position as an art teacher at the Central Kansas Christian Academy.
Then the Lord opened the door for her to become a children’s pastor at The Generations Church in Ness City.
She said she now views her previous struggles as an opportunity to relate with others, to walk with them through their struggles, especially with the kids she works with.
“My goal with children is to protect them as much as I can from others who bully, to build their confidence to stand up for themselves and who they are in Christ,” she said.
Healing, she says, is a daily walk with the Lord who loves her. Garza now approaches life with joy as a process of daily surrender, obedience and complete trust in His purpose for her life.
She still finds daily strength and support from the staff at the Dream Center, which is another crucial part of her healing process.
She hopes those currently struggling will look to her story to find hope that the Lord can work in their lives for His glory.
“I have come through hell and high water, and He has used me.”
Nathan Kitchen, Associate Pastor
Today, as a husband and a father to a six-month old son, Nathan Kitchen, 38, says he is living a God-fulfilled dream.
Five years ago, with a gun to his head as a result of an addiction brought on by a mountain of trauma and grief, having a family was a dream he never thought he’d see fulfilled.
In January 2011, his first wife died of cystic fibrosis. While in town for her funeral, a cousin he was close to passed away from an overdose in a hotel.
Though he had experimented with drugs prior to that, full-blown addiction took hold of him after those two major traumas. It began with medications his late wife had been prescribed for her illness leftover after she passed away.
“I just didn’t want to deal with the pain, and (the drugs) numbed the pain,” Kitchen said.
This was the culmination of a life of tragedies which he said he did not have the structure to process in healthy ways.
“Without a knowledge of the Word of God, my coping skills were really bad,” Kitchen said, “Fear and anxiety was always a really intense emotion for me.”
When he came to the Dream Center in September 2015, Kitchen said he finally found both the structure and the safe environment he needed.
After struggling with other programs, he said the faith-based intensive one-on-one trauma counseling helped him finally work through what he’d experienced.
As he healed, a question from a mentor, First Assembly of God Pastor Dwight Dozier, rekindled a dream in his heart to have a family, one he’d given up on when his first wife passed away.
God, he said, gave him that, and much more as he grew in his relationship with the Lord.
He met his wife Kara shortly after graduating from the Dream Center, and calls her, “the epitome of grace.” Last year they had their first child, and becoming a father he said taught him new levels of grace and patience.
“There’s a different type of love I think I’ve been given access to since he was born,” he said.
Along with that, he felt a pull to begin serving God through ministry, something He’s been pursuing for about three years now.
“The comfort that I received at this place is something that is important for me to reciprocate back into a broken world,” he said. “So I’m basically doing everything I can to provide some sort of hope for people I meet.”
Though he sells insurance full-time, the call to ministry has led Kitchen and his family to Ness City, where he now the associate pastor of The Generations Church.
Kitchen said the credit for his recovery and where he’s gone since is not his.
”Anything good that has ever happened in my life is not because of something that I’ve done here or that I deserve. It’s because of the grace and the mercy of Jesus Christ.”
And instead of turning to fear and anxiety when life is difficult, the healing he found in that relationship gives him a firm foundation to deal with whatever comes.
“Even in the valleys of life, He’s upholding me. He’s my strength, and that salvation that I’ve received gives me hope even in the most bleak of circumstances,” he said.