Christina Lopez, who attends the Nashville First, Tenn., Church, had heard a lot about life-changing mission trips. Her family had just returned from one to the Dominican Republic, and they were raving about how great it was. Lopez, a sophomore at Vanderbilt University, had not been able to join the trip due to school commitments, but, as she heard her family’s story, she felt a growing conviction that participating in a mission trip was something she needed to do.
Around the same time, Nelson Mercado, Nashville First Church pastor, was in communication with ShareHim, a donor-supported ministry of the Carolina Conference that organizes mission trips abroad. Eager for the youth in his congregation to have this unique experience, he discussed the opportunity with the church board, and they immediately jumped at the chance to sponsor up to five young adults to go on a mission trip.
“This was an important ministry for the church,” said Mercado. “They recognized that anyone who engages [in a mission trip], even if they haven’t preached before, experiences incredible spiritual growth. The church was eager for our young adults to experience this.”
When Lopez found out about the opportunity, she quickly jumped on board. From October 25 to November 6, 2023, Lopez, alongside Mercado and two other young adults from the Nashville First Church, traveled to Lima, Peru, for an evangelistic series. Despite facing challenges such as technical failures and illness, each individual delivered a total of 11 sermons at their designated church. At the end of the series, eight people were baptized.
As Lopez reflects on her experience, she says the person she was before the mission trip is different from the person who came back.
“You hear so much about mission trips and how they change your life and your perspective, but if I am honest, I was skeptical. How could a two-week trip change your life?” said Lopez. “But, every single day I was [in Peru], God found a new way to humble me. I felt so small, but yet so seen at the same time. God was showing me something that was bigger than myself.”
When she came back from her trip, Lopez wrote a thank-you letter to the church members who had sponsored her. She says their kind gesture inspired her to do the same in the future.
“I just have so much admiration and respect for them,” said Lopez. “They spent their time and money for a project they were not going to, and did not know who it was going to affect. They just trusted me and God …. Now I want to do the same. When I am financially stable, all I want to do is sponsor someone else.”
Kentucky-Tennessee | February 2024