Each year, the General Youth Division of the United Pentecostal Church International sponsors a resident from TCM to go on a missions trip. This is a wonderful opportunity for those who are selected to participate. It is indeed a life-impacting experience.
Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, I served as General Youth Secretary and had the privilege of coordinated this program, which was then called International Youth Corps. It has been so rewarding to see how many of the students who were involved back then have gone into ministry, and some are even serving as missionaries overseas today. One such example is Brad Thompson, our missionary to Guatemala, who credits his IYC experience with us in Central America as contributing to his call to missions.
Last month, Cristina Forrester, one of our fine young ladies at the Mansion, had the experience of her life, as she joined other students in Miami and flew down to Chile to work with our missionaries in that country.
Cristina recently wrote the following testimony regarding her trip…
Due to the kind generosity of the Youth Division of the United Pentecostal Church International, I was recently privileged to go on a 10- day mission’s trip to Chile! Words cannot adequately describe the long-term impact that I am certain this trip had on my life.
I have always loved the idea of going on a mission’s trip. But, that was just what it was…an idea. I never could have imagined that I would one day have the opportunity to actually get a passport and visit a different country. The country of Chile was beautiful with breathtaking scenes such as the Andes Mountains. I was in awe of much of the beauty, however, those things pale in comparison to the needs that I saw.
It was heartbreaking to see people with so little, and I found a deep compassion in my heart that I wasn’t even aware I had. When I think back, I wish I would have filled my suitcase with things that I could have left. They needed so much, and though I am only a teenager, I now realize just how much I have to give.
The people we met spoke little English, but did all that they could to adequately communicate with us. I did know how to ask some questions in Spanish which served as a big help. I loved meeting the teenagers, and I was moved by their deep love for the things of God. Also, they were a very humble people. Anytime I complimented one of them, they immediately gave God all of the glory for the gifts that He had bestowed upon them.
Churches in America tend to be more traditional, but not in Chile. Church lasted for hours at a time, and they cherished the opportunity to worship God. Their baptismal services were very special and moving. Those getting baptized were so happy about having their sins washed away. It was absolutely beautiful.
I had hoped to go to Chile and make a difference, but I was not prepared for the difference that this amazing experience would have on me. My life has been forever changed, and my heart is open to the Lord in preparation for anything He has for my future. I want less of me and my wants, and it to be more of Him and His desire for my life. I am grateful to the Youth Division for this opportunity and to the Tupelo Children’s Mansion for entrusting me to go and represent them.