updated September 2014:
SPAIN – “This trip to Spain has challenged me to think about pursuing missions more than I ever have before. In the past, I have looked for short-term ministry opportunities in countries that are very obviously needy or are open to help from missionaries. I had honestly never thought about mission opportunities in Europe because most of the nations there do not appear to need them. I feel like most people in Spain do not feel as if they need anything. They have so much entertainment and so many conveniences that they do not realize their need for Christ. Someday I would love to return to Spain to minister to these people. Like me, I am sure that there are many people in the United States who have not realized the urgent need for mission work in developed countries. This trip has opened up my eyes to a new area of need and opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus.” – Sarah Wales, Senior, Charlotte, MI
TRINIDAD – “I had an opportunity to spend three days at Charis Works Christian Academy. It was there that I saw God use my weaknesses and my own life circumstances to help someone else. It was also there that my own attitudes about my weaknesses and circumstances were challenged. At this school, I met an 8 year old boy, Ezekiel, who has spina bifida. He was in a wheelchair that was in major disrepair and needed attention. I was able to work on it a little bit because of dealing with my own wheelchair repairs. This situation blew my mind because going to this school was not on my schedule, and I was asked to go last minute with another member on my team. God alone orchestrated my path to cross with Ezekiel’s. I wasn’t able to do a lot to fix his chair, but I am now working with some connections to get him a new wheelchair.
By getting to spend a few days with Ezekiel I saw such a joy in his little smile. It really challenged my attitude about dealing with my own disability. He doesn’t have much of a future in his society, and despite the he has such joy. I needed to see that because sometimes it is so easy to get caught up in how my illness makes things harder, but I still have so much privilege and opportunity. I really began to question why I have been blessed with the privilege that I have and this little guy wasn’t.
I am forever changed by my experiences in Trinidad. I take so much of my life for granted when it truly is a blessing that I was fortunate to be born in the U.S. Dealing with a disability isn’t easy, but I still have so much opportunity just because of the country I am in. I can live independently, go to college, have a career, and a family. I will always cherish the time I had to watch Ezekiel live his life and remember him as I go through my own life.” – Melissa Brown, Senior, Bedford, KY
RUSSIA – “There’s no way to boil down my journalism internship at the Sochi Olympics to one word. Ten words? Maybe. But due to the wide variety of experiences and emotions, one word would simply not suffice. Amazing, frustrating, exhausting, exciting, terrifying, and breathtaking are just a few of the words that immediately come to mind. Although I knew that going to Russia for the Olympics would be the experience of a lifetime, I don’t think I was fully prepared for all of the ways it would grow me. After being tested physically, academically, emotionally, and spiritually, I left Russia with not only a sense of professional accomplishment, but a sense of personal accomplishment as well.” – Cassie Gerhardstein, Senior, Mason, OH
INDIA – “In one slum we went around and did house visits. The most amazing aspect of the house visits was that it didn’t matter if we were in the house of a Believer, a Muslim, or a Hindu, they all wanted prayer. It blew my mind. They were all so open! I’m used to seeing this attitude of ‘I’m right and you’re wrong,’ but they were just so desperate that they wanted help from wherever they could get it, even if it wasn’t their god or gods. I just hope that their eyes will be opened so that they can see that Jesus is the only God they should follow.
One of the craziest experiences that I had in India has to do with this black doll that Hindus will place around their houses and stores to keep out evil spirits. These dolls are actually inviting the evil spirits in but sadly those who are a part of this religion don’t realize that. One night when the whole team was leaving one of the slums, Sam and I were in the back of the group. As we were walking Sam looked up and said, ‘Is that a cross?’ I looked and noticed that there was indeed a shadow of a cross on one of the buildings. We both turned around to see what was causing this shadow, and to our surprise it was one of these dolls. It was quite shocking to me that one of these dolls, a piece of demonic worship, could cast a shadow of hope and redemption. I wasn’t expecting it and it’s definitely taken me awhile to process what God was saying through this. I can see now that while this world is full of darkness and evil, God is able to redeem it all, and he wants to.
I’m still in awe that I actually went to India and that I got to serve God in that way. It was better than anything I could have ever imagined. I’m so excited for the next opportunity to serve abroad and right in my backyard. There is nothing that compares to serving God.” – Christa Stone, Sophomore, Richmond, KY
ALBANIA – “My heart is with and in Albania and the people I encountered and gained friendship with. It was such a blessing to work with the Waggoners and get to know them and their kids. Esther and Elio’s family and Ada’s family had the most impact on me. Their testimonies and devotion to the Lord’s work are so powerful and bring such joy. Although Islam is not practiced in full by every family, it is beginning to have more of a presence. I am glad to know that these families have a presence [there] in order to be the witnesses that even the Waggoners, as Americans, cannot be. If the Lord called me to ministry in Albania, I would not hesitate for a second. I am prayerfully considering doing a VIA (Volunteers in Action) with WGM after I graduate next spring. God opened my eyes to dead areas in my life and to physical and spiritual poverty of others. For right now I know that I must be patient and finish out my training in school so that I am prepared for whatever ministry God is calling me to. God has also shown me that even in the present, I should be intentional with my relationships and people I encounter and be responsible with what He has given me.” – Kelsey Lane, Senior, Terre Haute, IN
HAITI – “Throughout the whole week, I was able to interact with many orphans. However, I also witnessed how the orphans interacted with one another. I saw a seven-year-old girl carrying around a two-year-old child. I saw children feeding one another repeatedly. I saw a child picking up another child who was crying. I have never seen young children be so selfless, willing, caring, and responsible.
It is hard to put into words how the trip to Haiti impacted me. Personally, I grew intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. I learned the culture and lifestyle of Haitians and their different values and norms. Emotionally, I learned a greater sense of selflessness and what it means to truly love by watching how the children interacted and cared for one another. Spiritually, I became closer to God and strengthened my relationship with Him. Witnessing how dedicated and whole-heartedly the Haitians worshipped Jesus and leaned on Him with everything they had showed me how to completely trust in God. Overall, I have learned to be more thankful and appreciative towards what I have in America and the luxuries and opportunities I have in life.” – Sara Sticklen, Junior, Brooksville, KY
Check back each month to view more inspiring words from our students!