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Pictured: Lauren Stovall, center, with two of her fellow interns

A Summer Internship Reveals a Surprise Call to Missions

I had somewhat successfully suppressed my call to serve God cross-culturally. However, as a teacher, on school breaks I found myself praying about and researching opportunities to serve other cultures. I had participated in trips that spanned a week, but was burdened by a desire to pursue longer-term service. Last year, I perused the MTW website for opportunities and to my delight, I discovered a two-month summer internship with a focus on ministry and missionary service—in Ukraine.

What did I know about Ukraine? I knew that Ukraine is near Russia and that it’s cold. “Cold” and I aren’t great friends. I also assumed that there probably weren’t too many people walking around in my shade of brown. After briefly navigating that thought process, I found myself emailing the team leader in L’viv to obtain more information about the internship. I was ecstatic about what God would teach me in L'viv. Upon my arrival, I was overwhelmed by the beautiful architecture, people, and language. As interns, we learned about the culture and the specific needs of the people of Ukraine. It truly burdened my heart to know that the number of evangelical Christians there was fewer than 4 percent. I thought, “There are not enough workers here, or in Europe in general.”

One of our big outreach projects was to help serve Ukrainian university students at a weeklong summer camp in the Carpathian Mountains. That week was one of the most challenging and beautiful weeks of my time in Ukraine. It was at this camp that the Lord revealed a passion in my heart to serve university students through teaching English. I enjoyed my students so deeply. I didn’t want to leave them. On the bus ride home, I reflected on my experience as the Ukrainian landscape transitioned from rolling hills to bustling city life in L’viv. I felt this intense rush in my heart as it beat harder and faster. While watching elderly women tending their fields and passing signs in Cyrillic script, I thought to myself, “I want to stay here. I want to be a part of this culture. I want to learn the language and walk alongside students as they learn the gospel and discover who they are in Christ.”

It was on this bus ride that the Lord revealed to me a desire to be replanted in Ukraine, a place I never in a million years would have imagined myself living or even desiring to live. With each passing day, I am more convinced that my heart's desire is to serve in Ukraine.

Editor’s note: Lauren is now itinerating to serve longer-term in Ukraine with MTW. Pray that the Lord will guide her and bless others through her. Click here to learn more or join her support team.

Serve with MTW on a summer internship! Visit mtw.org/internships to learn more.

Lauren Stovall, Lviv Odesa Ukraine Dec 11, 2018
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Pray for courage for Christ’s followers in and around Ukraine. mtw.org/ukraine-crisis

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