By Katie Scarvey
Last summer, Jenny Measmer was looking forward to her wedding. She’d already gotten the dress, and she was thrilled at the prospect of a new life with a man who had already been a huge part her life. Her fiance had introduced her to Campus Crusade for Christ at Lenoir-Rhyne University before she graduated in 2009, she says.
She was blindsided when he told her the wedding was off.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through,” she says. “All these dreams came crashing down. I felt like it was all being stripped away.”
Dramatic events have a way of prompting dramatic changes.
Jenny prayed for healing and strength.
“I was broken, and Christ met me there,” she says.
Jenny says she listened to what God was telling her and realized that she didn’t have to stop pursuing her dreams, although she might have to adjust them.
“I have this creator who loves me, walks with me, who makes life’s difficulties easier to walk through,” she said.
She decided she needed to get away for a while and throw herself into mission work, so she applied to YouthWorks, which has 76 different locations around the country.
She didn’t know much about the program, she said, though she knew she was applying to be a leader or a counselor on a team of five people who would lead high school youth groups in doing summer mission work.
She was sent to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in Manderson, S.D.
It was an eye-opening experience.
“I’d never experienced that much poverty,” she says. The average annual income, she notes, is about 3,000 dollars a year.
It was a demanding job, keeping her busy from 6 a.m. to about midnight every day, with one day off a week.
While it sounds like a grueling schedule, the work was invigorating for Jenny.
“I felt so alive,” she said. “I have never felt more alive. I felt like I was where God wanted me to be.”
She loved living on the reservation. “It was such a blessing,” she says. “I loved those people.”
Near the end of her time there, she was asked to write a letter to herself that would be sent to her at a later date. She thought it was kind of a strange request, but she did as asked.
After her work in South Dakota was over, she returned to North Carolina and started her job as an occupational therapist in the Gaston County school system. She was working from 8 am.-3:30 p.m. — a lot fewer hours than she had worked in the summer — but found herself completely exhausted by the end of the day.
She didn’t have her heart in what she was doing, she says, at least for the time being.
She’d done some reading earlier about a missions program called The World Race, which takes young adult volunteers who feel compelled to abandon their regular lives and sends them around the world to share Christ.
Volunteers go to 11 different countries over a period of 11 months.
Jenny hadn’t applied earlier, she says, because she didn’t want to feel like she was running away from her problems. The time just wasn’t right, she says. But she began thinking and praying about applying.
Still unsure, she called the World Race headquarters to ask questions about “the heartbeat” of the ministry. She felt drawn to participate but wanted to make sure it wasn’t simply a travel opportunity or an extreme vacation.
She wanted to be sure that that the work would be meaningful and that she would be able to give of herself.
She found herself on the phone with a woman who had participated in the program. Jenny listened, enthralled, as the woman related her experiences, including working with the victims of sex trafficking in Asia.
What really struck Jenny was that the missionaries not only reached out to the victims but the victimizers as well.
“She had to be able to love people where they were, and share Christ with them,” Jenny says. “The Gospel is for everybody, not just the victims but what you might call the villains. Christ didn’t pick and choose who he died for.”
After learning more, Jenny felt herself open to the idea, but she needed to be sure, since the prospect of quitting her job and leaving her family for a year was scary.
“I said, ‘God, if this is what you want me to do, you need to make it obvious.’”
The next day, she received in the mail the letter she’d written to herself when she was in South Dakota.
As she read the letter, she was reminded of how she’d felt when she was serving on the reservation — how vital and alive.
This part of the letter was the clincher for her: “If you don’t feel that way now, you need to stop and do something else.”
That was the sign she’d been looking for, she said. After that, she felt “completely at peace” about her decision to go.
And now, the time is drawing close. Jenny will leave on July 2.
She just returned from a week of training with her team in in Chatanooga, Tenn.
Besides learning about practical things, like how to use their camping gear, the time was also about “preparing our hearts,” Jenny said.
Participants do a variety of things, from working at sites of natural disasters to teaching English to building churches, evangelizing, working with orphans.
The 11 countries Jenny will be working in are Romania, Ukraine, India, Nepal, Cambodia, Vietnam, Phillipines, Thailand, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya.
Some of what they’ll be doing is certainly like nothing Jenny has known. In some of the Asian countries, they’ll be working to combat sex trafficking, she says.
She’s looking forward to being able to get a taste of different kinds of ministry opportunities in different cultures.
She describes herself as “narrow-minded” — by which she means she hasn’t traveled much or experienced much.
“I don’t know what goes on around the world,” she says — although she’s learning. She acknowledges that she, like many in our culture of plenty, have lives of abundance and excess and never really stop to question how they live their lives.
She’s looking forward to stepping off the traditional path, to experience what it might feel like to not know where your next meal will come from.
“I think it will open my eyes,” she says.
She believes the trip will offer “insane transformation” in both her life and the lives of others.
She’s in the process of raising the money for the trip — $15,500. In raising support, she’s talked to churches, sent out letters to friends and family.
On June 11, there will be a yard sale at Lutheran Chapel Church, 135 Eudy Chapel Road in China Grove, with the money going toward Jenny’s mission.
If you liked to learn more aout Jenny’s trip , go to her blog atjennymeasmer.theworldrace.org. There is also a link there if you’d like to donate money to support the trip.
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