This month’s story was written by Liz Muniz, a college student whose life was changed through volunteer service. As I read her email, I couldn’t help but be inspired by her willingness to give up 5 months of her life in service. Liz writes:
“For me, it was an easy decision to set apart a couple months to be a part of a Discipleship Training in Mendoza, Argentina, last January. I had always had God in my life ever since I can remember. I grew up in a Christian home, attended church regularly, went on mission trips and did many activities with my youth group. But as I grew older, I lost track of my faith and drifted away from my relationship with God. As hard as it is to admit, I lived a double life. Thankfully, God never let me slip far away from Him. Near the end of my high school career, my father had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was a strong type, never to back down at anything and an extremely hard worker. I always thought my father would out live me since he was so strong, but God called my father home during my first semester of college. After his death, God pushed me in the right direction. I moved back home, gave up my past life and decided to start living a life for my Savior. Though my earthly father is no longer with me, my heavenly Father will always be with me.
I felt a freedom in Christ when my feet were finally on His path. I wanted to work harder in building my relationship with Him and to get out and serve the world in His name. I had always dreamed about doing traveling missions and looked into what Youth With A Mission (an international and interdenominational service organization) offered and found a school in Mendoza with the emphasis in soccer. I have always had a passion for soccer; playing in high school, in college and now coaching. I never realized how I could teach others about God through soccer!
In the beginning, I had to adjust to the new living conditions with food, climate, language and cultural changes. I was thousands of miles away from home and was going to have to truly put myself into God’s control for the next five months. The training is divided into two phases: theory and outreach. In the beginning months, we lived on the YWAM base, taking part in really intense Bible Studies and working for the base. After the theory phase, we were able to put into practice all we had learned by traveling to churches, host families and working in neighborhoods. I worked with 11 other volunteers from areas in Argentina, United States and Canada. We spent three months together in powerful classes, prayer time, and work duties on the base…and we played a lot of soccer. As the time passed, we grew together as a team and our spiritual lives were strengthened as we grew in the Lord. We used soccer as an evangelism tool to reach out to others. Soccer is a huge sport in many Latin countries and playing the game is a quick way to get to know someone. Simply by kicking around a soccer ball or playing a pick-up game, we were able to form friendships and tell people about God. The Lord had blessed us with the opportunity to utilize our love and skill for the game to witness to others. Not only did we play a lot of soccer, we also worked in churches, schools, nursing homes and many neighborhoods. Families from churches opened up their homes to take care of us during our stay. We also were all given the chance to share dramas and testimonies for many churches and youth groups. This was not always an easy task, dealing with language barriers, lack of sleep, different cultures and climates. Each day had a new challenge. But God continually provided for us and He was always with us.
Words cannot even begin to describe how God worked in us. Though we were sent out to minister to the people, it seemed as if we were the ones being ministered to. As the five months passed by, my realization of Christ’s love and mercy exceeded all my expectations. As Philippians 1: 21 says, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” I died to myself to live for Christ. He became my rock that I could lay all my heavy burdens on. God became number one in my life and I wanted to share it with others.
When I came back to the United States it was back to “normal” living, except I was living in a different way. God worked in me to shape my character and built me up while I served in Mendoza. I am back in nursing school, but I am also getting involved in youth ministry at church and my old high school. I am looking forward to continuing my work with youth and encouraging them in their spiritual lives and their walk with the Lord. God has put a burden on my heart to point others to Him for eternal life and salvation. I have found an indescribable joy in Him that I simply cannot keep to myself! As far as the future goes, God knows my plan and it is fully in His hands.”
Thanks to Liz for sharing her story with us. What’s your story? How have you put your faith into action as a young adult? How have you seen young adults make a difference in people’s lives for the Lord?