For the past several decades, it has been normative for graduating high school students to subsequently venture on to colleges to earn advanced degrees for their future careers. Recently, however, there has been a shift in that mindset. This is due to technology opening different avenues post graduation and the idea of a “gap year” gaining cultural popularity.
This Alumni Column features one student who exhibits that scenario. Just weeks before she was going to head to Colorado for college last August, Katrina Hiebner had the notion that it wasn’t the correct next step for her. “I just felt God pulling me to something different than college. My heart was desiring for an opportunity to serve the Lord while growing in my relationship with Him, and that’s when I discovered the World Race,” she explained.
According to worldrace.org, “The World Race is a life-changing mission trip where you will grow with God, serve with others, and make a difference!”
Katrina departed on January 23 for Georgia where she trained with her team for a several days. Their next stop was Medellin, Colombia. “In Medellin, we served at an alcohol/drug rehabilitation center called Ciudad Refugio. I’m still amazed by the amount of different ministries the foundation supports including men’s and women’s rehabilitation programs, homeless shelter/homeless church service, regular church services, aqua panela (outreach to an impoverished part of town), prayer walks, lots of kids ministry, youth group, a bakery, Bible studies, and more.”
Tuesdays were the team’s Sabbath day with the rest of the week consisting of ministry. This time was spent going to the nursing home most mornings and prepping for men’s and women’s Bible studies they led in the afternoon. One time a week, they would take the women in the rehabilitation program on an outing in Medellin. After having dinner as a team, they would head to evening activities. The weekends consisted of kids/youth ministry. On Saturday mornings, they went to a nearby poverty-stricken village. “There were typically over 300 kiddos that showed up every Saturday. We sang, taught them about Jesus, gave them lots of food to eat and bring home to their families, and most importantly, just acted like kids with them and loved them.” She also mentioned two weekend highlights for her were the humorous skits they presented and helping lead worship times.
Katrina was going to serve in South America until August 1, but because of the coronavirus, it was decided that the team would return home. Within a quick and hard 24-hour notice, the team had to pack up and say their goodbyes. “Coming back four months early definitely wasn’t part of the plan. But on this trip, the Lord spoke to me in ways He never has before. I’ve learned how to completely surrender myself, knowing that He is guiding my paths and is NOT confused.” As of now, her next step is that she will help start a ministry in St. Louis with a teammate and others.
Katrina has many additional inspiring stories if you get the opportunity to visit with her, but you can also find her blog here: https://katrinahiebner.theworldrace.org/
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