Katie Pacholczyk struggled to understand God’s love as she grew up, but the constant pursuit of the Lord changed her heart. God used a stranger in a coffee shop to extend His grace and love to Katie, and now she spends much of her free time serving and caring for under-resourced communities in Dallas. As you learn about Katie’s story and the ways she serves, consider how the Lord can use you this summer to love our city. Learn more and find service opportunities.
How did you come to know the Lord?
“I grew up in a family where we talked about God, but we never talked about what a personal relationship with Christ looked like. And although I began to develop a relationship with the Lord in high school, I experienced a lot of hurt within the church that led me to try to do my faith on my own when I moved to Austin for college. I was distracted by the party scene and tried to find wholeness from my success in school and men – jumping from one high to the next. That pattern followed me as I moved to Dallas, and it continued to drag me into isolation and despair. Even through all that time, I felt like the Lord was calling me back to Him.
“I ended up coming to The Porch, and in one message, the speaker said, ‘I know no Christian more exhausted than someone who has a heart for the Lord but is trying to live for the world.’ I felt understood in that moment, and I knew it was just another way the Lord was calling me to Him. I started taking steps to get more deeply connected to the local church, like pursuing Membership and joining a community group.
“But I still had a hard time understanding grace – full payment for my sins through Jesus’s death on the cross (Romans 6:23). I thought there was a threshold for sin, and I had crossed it. I thought the cross paid for the sins of better people and that I wasn’t completely forgiven for the sins of my past. I prayed that the Lord would somehow help my head and heart connect.
“Then, about a month later, I was in Starbucks on my way to work when a homeless man (Kenny) walked in. Most people turned their back to him, but I knew I was called to love. As we talked about the weather and his day, he was writing something on a napkin, which he handed to me as I got ready to leave. On it, he wrote ‘Hebrews 13:1-2,’ which says, ‘Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.’
“It was in that moment that I understood fully the Lord's pursuit of me. It's nothing that I do or can do. He chases after me, a wretched sinner, deserving of death. He came so I'd have life (John 10:10). And He used that moment to strike right through to my heart to make sure I understood that, regardless of what I had done, I was His. The Lord used this homeless stranger – who society would say has no worth or value on his own – as the final link in the chain to connect what I knew to be true about God and what I believed to be true.
“That moment also spurred my heart to care deeply for the homeless community. I know that each human on this earth holds an innate worth and value because of Christ and His sacrifice – not because of what they do or who they are.”
In what ways are you serving and loving our city? How can Watermark help?
“I serve with the City Engagement team and support the Poverty Alleviation impact area. It’s a group of ministries primarily in South and West Dallas that includes Brother Bill’s, Mercy Street, OurCalling, ACT, and several others. I work with those ministries to help connect our church body with opportunities to love and serve those around them and to help them understand God’s grace and love in circumstances where it might be hard to see.
“I know that God chooses ‘what is weak in the world to shame the strong’ (1 Corinthians 1:27). Christ’s first miracle – turning water into wine at the wedding at Cana – was performed in front of servants, not kings (John 2:1-11). The first people to see the risen Christ were women – who society at the time said had no worth or value on their own (John 20:1-18). God consistently chooses the ‘least of these’ (Matthew 25:40) to prove His love for all of us, not just the powerful and strong. And because I now understand grace and the love of my Father, I want to serve Him in such a way that allows others to understand it too.
“People will be in need until Christ returns (Matthew 26:11), so I’d encourage our body to find opportunities to use their passions and giftings to serve others across our city this summer. It's a great opportunity for families to train their kids to have hearts for serving God and others – and to understand the call to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matthew 22:39). We have a unique opportunity with Watermark and our ministry partners to send thousands of people out into the city for Christ, and there is a huge impact that can be made by the gifts and talents of our church body.”