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Stepping out

by Hope Newcomer

In September 2007, Karen Hess, an Abilene, Kans., native, found herself transitioning from mobilizing others for overseas missions through her work as human resources support facilitator in the BIC World Missions office (Grantham, Pa.) to preparing herself for it.

A few months earlier, BICWM had offered Karen the position of team leader on its 2007–2008 STEP Team. Based on the concepts of Service, Training, Evangelism, and Promoting growth, the STEP program is a cross-cultural experience provided to young adults who want to explore their interest in missions and ministry. Karen knew in her heart that this was a part of God’s plan for her, and two days later she accepted the position.

September marked the beginning of the internship, a two-month period of meeting the other team members, studying Spanish, and learning about community involvement at the Harrisburg (Pa.) Discipleship Center. But for Karen, the real challenges came at the end of November, when she and her four teammates packed up and moved out to Honduras, where they would be spending the next five months.

Through her previous work with BICWM, Karen had heard many stories about missionaries and their work, so she thought she knew what to expect. However, three months into the program, she found herself growing even more than she expected, particularly as she struggled with the difficulty of learning a second language. “Going through it yourself, even just a taste, brings it to reality,” she reflects. “My first couple of weeks here, it felt as if I was stripped of everything that I placed value in. I could not communicate to encourage or show compassion. As I struggled with the language, I had to remember that Jesus is more than enough for me.”

Today, Karen still finds herself leaning on God more than ever before. “I can’t do this on my own! I need the Lord’s help in everything, especially in learning the language,” she shares.

Despite the difficulties she’s encountered, Karen concludes, “It is worth it to give your life for ministry. There are many tough days, but the lessons learned and the blessings received are things you would not experience if you would not take a step of faith.”

And to those considering involvement in missions, Karen has encouragement: “Go for it! If you have an interest in missions, God has put that on your heart for a reason. Try going overseas for a short-term experience and see what the Lord has in store. How will you know that God is calling you if you don’t step out and try it?”

This article originally appeared in the summer 2008 issue of In Part magazine.
Hope Newcomer

Hope Newcomer grew up in Zimbabwe as a missionary kid with BICWM. She graduated from Messiah College (Grantham, Pa.) with a degree in Sociology and Cultural Anthropology. Currently she is participating in a cross-cultural apprenticeship in Lancaster, Pa., that focuses on befriending Muslims.

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