By Jess Lindsey | Photo by Cassie Johnston
A slow, downward spiral drew Steve and Karissa Vitale away from actively living out their faith. Hopeless and broken, they sought God with their whole hearts and found a renewed strength to serve Him above all else.
When they married eight years ago, Steve and Karissa were active in church. Gradually, though, that focus shifted.
“Steve and I went through a dark period in our marriage that coincided with our ‘just attending church’ attitude,” Karissa recalled. “We arrived just before service, and left as soon as it let out. This seemed to mimic our life at the time. We were total consumers.”
They battled infertility for years and the hopelessness was overwhelming when they were told having children might never be possible.
“We fell at the Lord’s feet and grew closer to Him,” Karissa said. “Just attending church no longer felt satisfying and we jumped in. Serving the church…that’s a game changer and it was the biggest part of our growth.”
After a long struggle, miracle baby Stephen was born. Challenges threatened to beat them down again as Stephen spent a month in the hospital and Steve’s parents divorced. But fully trusting God’s plan and having constant support and prayer from their church family carried them through.
So when a job opportunity brought the Vitales to Wichita later that year, finding a church home was a top priority. During the interview process, they met Greg and Tally Stroud. Karissa mentioned their search for a church, and the next morning the Vitales joined the Strouds in the Café.
“It was great to feel comfortable at Pathway so soon,” Steve said. “Karissa got plugged into MAPS and I was blessed with a men’s group. Both of these helped us build relationships.”
Wichita has been home for a year now and a few months ago they started a Home Team.
“None of us knew each other, so we all just dove in,” said Steve. “We learn from them, we can be real with them and get their fresh perspectives.”
Being in community, generously giving God their time, money, and talents has healed Steve and Karissa’s hearts.
“Giving isn’t about helping God,” Steve explained. “It’s about allowing God to work in our life. It’s a decision we have to focus on daily; it’s waking up every day knowing that Christ is in control of our lives.”
“As long as our vertical relationship is strong,” Karissa said, “then I know our lateral is going to be okay.”