For the past couple of years, I have had the pleasure of serving along side Kristina Smith in ministry at Fusion Young Adult Ministry of Victory World Church. She is truly a woman after God's own heart. From her passion for worshiping Jesus through dance and her dedication as small group leader, Kristina's desire to be the hands of feet of Jesus is undeniable. I interviewed Kristina about her recent decision to step out on faith, trusting God completely in order to travel to 11 countries in 11 months serving and spreading the name of Jesus Christ with The World Raceorganization.
1. When did you first know that God had called you to mission work?
I knew after my first mission trip to Nicaragua to serve with LifeLink International in July 2011. Before that, I knew I wanted to support missionaries and eventually go on a mission trip as a means of "doing my part" and crossing it off of a checklist. However, after I actually went on a mission trip, saw the poverty stricken areas, and served the children who were being educated at the LifeLink School, I came back to the states with a different heart. I knew then that mission work was something that God was calling me to.
2. How did you end up applying to become a team member with The World Race?
I applied for The World Race after I told a manager at work that I would be quitting to pursue something that I was more passionate about. At the time, I didn't know what that “more passionate” thing would be, yet, I knew I was following a prompting from God to step out on faith and leave the job (and everything that came with it) behind in order to pursue God's purpose for me. For almost a year, I had a strong urge to leave my consulting career and to move into something that satisfied my heart rather than my wallet. I began praying about where God wanted me to work and to my surprise; I got nothing. I am not one to make emotional or irrational decisions and I felt it would be irrational for me to quit one job without having another one lined up. Month after month, the urge to leave got stronger and stronger, although on the surface level my career is moving higher and higher. Because I wasn't sure what the next step was going to be, I had fear and doubt and contemplated for months before finally deciding to make a move. On December 7, 2012, I felt the Lord telling me that this was the day for me to let my manager know that I would be leaving the company. Personally, I felt that was not a very smart decision, but I knew that if I were going to grab hold of God's purpose for my life, it would require a bold and radical act of faith. I waited until the last minute, but I eventually pulled my manager into a one-on-one meeting and broke the news to him. I couldn't give him any answers regarding where I was going, but I definitely felt relief after taking that step.
That same evening after work, I was talking to a friend of mine about the recent occurrences at work, and she mentioned The World Race to me. She told me that she felt it was something I would be interested in and that I should check them out. I went online to research more about the organization and the mission trip, and the first thing I saw on the home page was "there is more to life than empty traditions, routines, and working 9 – 5." At that moment, I felt like the Lord was finally letting me know what comes next for me, and 10 seconds later I was starting on an application!
3. How have you been preparing for the trip?
I've been preparing for the trip on multiple levels. The 11 countries that I'll be going to are Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Nepal, India, Swaziland, Mozambique, and South Africa. I've been praying for those countries that I'll be serving in during my 11 month mission trip and asking that God prepare me for them, as well as asking that He prepare them for me and my team.
I visit the blogs and websites of world racers who are already on the field to mentally prepare myself as much as possible by drawing from their current experiences. I've also been visiting outdoor sports stores and websites to learn as much as I can about all of the gear that I'll need to purchase. I know absolutely nothing about hiking, camping, or backpacking and there is a lot more to it than meets the eye! My entire team will have a World Race training camp in July where we'll spend over a week together to prepare us on what it takes to live outdoors, to break away from the many comfort zones that we've established, and to meet the people who we'll spend 11 months doing life together with for the first time.
Lastly, I blog and have started a newsletter to get support and to keep my current supporters informed regarding my World Race financial status towards meeting my $15,500 goal by March 2014. Outside of donors, I'll be having a few fundraisers including a car wash, Chic-Fil-A Dine In Day, and hopefully a raffle.
4. What lessons have you learned so far?
Because I've been spending more time in prayer and fasting, I am learning to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and also to trust in God's presence even when I don't feel that He's near. Being still does not come naturally for me, so the importance of waiting on God has been a difficult lesson. When it comes to raising money and choosing a career path, I want to plan events and take matters into my own hands. It feels like every time I try to move in a certain direction based on what I feel makes sense, it ends up not turning out the way I expected or the Lord tells me to just wait ... and that drives me crazy! It's funny to me that I am in a place where I am learning things about God that I thought I already knew like the fact that God's ways are certainly higher than my ways.
5. What advice would you give someone who feels the call to go into missions?
I would tell them to GO! I believe that everyone should go on at least one mission trip. It opens your eyes to what is really going on outside of your bubble and it also draws you closer to the heart of God. If you are feeling called towards missions, chances are that call is coming from God. I doubt very seriously that the enemy would be prompting people to spread the gospel and love of the Lord around the world. However, God's timing is perfect and His plans are very specific, so I would advise them to pray about the details and to be faithful to obey once God does reveal it to them.
Since I've left my job and begun this journey, I've gotten such great feedback and support. To my surprise, I've had a number of people ask me how I got to the point where I was bold enough to move. Many people know that they are called to do something more and something extraordinary, yet the fear of the unknown becomes very real and very crippling. I love sharing my story with these people because I know it helps to build their faith. I advise everyone to seek first the kingdom of God. Chase after His heart, and allow your heart's desires to align with God's heart. Go full force after what God is preparing you for and don't look back. The stirring that God is doing inside of you is not just for you and you can't put a price on inspiring and changing the life of another individual.