Katherine Garnica | Photo by Margarita Garnica
I used to wonder, Are life-changing mission experiences for everyday teens like me?From June 2018-June 2019, my family and I went on a mission trip to Colombia, where I experienced God’s love.
Within a year of my happy baptism at age 11, I got sidetracked with “fun.” Not having experienced Jesus’ love personally, I steered my frustrations into a passive rebellious spirit toward my parents. Does God really love me?I questioned. Eventually, I paused my GLOWtract ministry, idolizing fashion, phones and friends to try to fill the emptiness only God can satisfy. I was 13 years old, with no defined purposein life.
Perceiving my spiritual destitution, my sister jotted down encouraging Bible verses, which I read and treasured. My dad presented Jesus’ love to me when he demonstrated I was valuable to him, and my heart responded with willing obedience. In August 2017, God gave me my heart’s desire — visiting the Ark Encounter — where we witnessed the Great American Eclipse and distributed seventy-five Noah: Another Storm is Comingbooks. All of these made me realize that Jesus indeed lovesmaking me happy!
Soon after I started ninth grade, a miraculous desire to study my Bible sprung in my soul. As I also read Steps to Christfor the first time, I began to understand the depth of Jesus’ love for me and the privilege of surrendering my life to Him.
Meanwhile, God showed my family that He needed us in a twelve-month mission trip to care for my grandmother in Colombia. Would I be willing to leave home, friends and school for one year?I felt uneasy about taking this big step, but God certainly needed us! So I decided to trust Jesus and accept His call. Although gradually surrendering music, dress and relationships were especially challenging, I felt amazing peace and freedom when I yielded to Jesus everything.
In June 2018, we flew to Mogotes, Colombia, a mission trip that changed my life forever. God proved immeasurably that He overflows my heart’s desires, from a special fifteenth birthday family celebration to numerous musical and teaching opportunities throughout the year.
Involved with music at church, I met the most amazing friends. Even during challenging times, Jesus’ promises were my everyday strength. With Grandma, I daily learned lessons on love. Sadly, her persistent negative mindset affected her physical health, quickly worsening until she passed away a month after we returned to Michigan. Nevertheless, my family and I feel grateful to have spent the last year of her life beside her.
This mission trip showed me the force of Jesus’ love, the strength of faith, and the peace that comes from doing what is right on time. Will you trust your life in Jesus’s hands? Jesus gave everything for you. Your seemingly “big sacrifices” are nothing compared to His marvelous plans for your life.
Today, I have a purpose-driven life because Jesus’ love changed me. I believe He can fashion your life into something beautiful, too. Together, we can spread Jesus’ transforming love to the world! Then, Jesus will come!
Katherine Garnica isa 16-year-old homeschooled sophomore in Abeka Academy. The Michigan Fairplain Church member loves sharing Jesus’ love through singing, playing piano and ukulele, and spreading GLOWtracts everywhere she goes.
Katherine received $100 scholarship for her essay. We’re delighted to accept submissions from youth and young adults for this column. Send your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org.