As a college student, I had the opportunity to be a student mobilized both on spring break mission trips and through a missions scholarship. I’ve been given some amazing opportunities to see corners of the world I never would have known otherwise.
I came home wrecked.
Before college, it was easier for me to ignore the fact that children are starving around the world. Now, those children are my friends. I used to justify buying bottled water.
Now, I’ve seen polluted rivers families call “sink,” “shower,” and “washing machine.” Before college, my heart was not repeatedly broken by the living conditions people in the developing world face on a daily basis.
Now I see remnants of another life every day. College expanded my world view; it wrecked my life.
With every spoiled piece of food I waste, I hurt because I have looked into the eyes of the hungry.
With every new article of clothing I buy, I remember those wearing the same outfit day in and day out. As my shoes, once again, spill out of their box and overtake my room, I remember the barefoot children running along the dusty road.
It’s overwhelming. Once you’ve tasted poverty, it’s impossible to continue life as you knew it.It’s humbling to realize that even with the best of intentions I can’t free all of those trapped in sex trafficking. I can’t eradicate alcoholism and abuse. I can’t purify all of the water in the world. I cannot rescue every child living in extreme poverty.
I can’t do it all.
But I can rescue one child from poverty in Jesus’ name. I can give the clothes I don’t wear—and even some that I do—to the local clothing closet. I can support missionaries in my community and around the world.
For every dollar I spend on bottled water, I can match it in a well-building project. I can be the person who cares enough to fly around the world to look a stranger in the eye and say, “I love you. You’re beautiful.”
I can remember the joy, love, and hope I’ve experienced.
I’ve been hugged and kissed. I’ve had “¡Dios le bendiga!” prayed over me. I’ve played with little girls who call themselves blessed because they have one Barbie to share, never mind that she’s missing an arm.
I’ve asked friends how they’re doing and they always say well, thanks to God.
Never mind that their church can’t pay the electric bill. I’ve worshiped at a chicken plant because the government confiscated the church’s land 20 years ago.
I can’t change the whole world. Maybe the whole world doesn’t need to be changed. Maybe I need to be changed.
I have been changed. College wrecked my life forever. And it is good.
About the Author: No longer a mobilized student missionary, Katie Axelson now gets in her local mission field and work as a professional writer. You can find her on her blog or on Twitter @KatieAxelson.