When the staff of Encompass World Partners moved to Atlanta in 2012, they committed themselves to missional living by intentionally choosing ethnically diverse neighborhoods as their new homes. John and Kate Ward were no exception. They moved their family into an increasingly diverse area in northeast Atlanta, and soon after, their children were attending the local school.
Kate quickly found that her kids’ school was a great place to connect with the community. The school has slowly transitioned from a predominantly Caucasian middle-class population to a highly diverse population representing many international families. That shift is always difficult for a community, but Kate was excited about the opportunities it represented.
It started with one relationship. At a school parent meeting, Kate met a Muslim woman with a son about the same age as Kate’s son. The woman was single, all of her relatives were still in Egypt, and she did not know much English. Kate empathized with the woman’s struggle in this incredibly stressful transition. Their friendship started that day, and in time both the woman and her son came to be a part of the Ward family.
Kate was there to help her friend through the language barriers and over the cultural hurdles, attending parent-teacher conferences and school meetings as a support. Other parents and teachers at the school began to take notice of Kate’s heart for the international community, and soon Kate realized that there was more she could do.
There was a desperate need at the school for some kind of advocacy program, as many families were struggling with the language and cultural issues, so Kate went to the principal to discuss it. The principal was very supportive and suggested that she use the Parent Teacher Organization as an avenue for meeting that need. Kate started attending the meetings.
Soon after, she was approached by the treasurer of the PTO, a Christian woman who had read one of Kate’s blog posts about the need for Christian families to engage their international neighbors. The woman saw a large disconnect at the school between the American-born community and the international families. She wanted to team up with Kate to change that dynamic.
Through this partnership, Kate has helped lead the school in developing structures to aid the international families, and the school community is embracing its diversity like never before. Kate is now the Vice President of the PTO, and she’ll be the Co-President next year, a position she hopes to use for even more advocacy.
Kate’s faithful commitment to serving the families in the school has opened many doors. She has been able to lead a prayer group with the PTO, befriend multiple international families, and help disciple a new believer in the PTO through Bible study. More recently, her future Co-President eagerly agreed to attend the new multi-ethnic ATL Life Group at the Ward’s house with her family.
The fruit that Kate has seen in her community all started with the intentional choice to live on mission right where she was, in the neighborhood and school where God had placed her family. Are you ready to live on mission where God has placed you?
PHOTO: The Ward family: John, Kate, Micah, Camden, and Owen