While many recent high school graduates will be moving into their college dorms, taking trade school classes, joining the workforce or committing to a military career this fall, Southeast Christian Church member Sadie Mishler will be hopping on a 14-hour flight to the other side of the world.
In September, Mishler, 18, will begin World Race Gap Year, a nine-month journey with Adventures in Missions to three continents with the purpose of sharing the love of Christ, serving communities and developing relationships.
Mishler went on her first mission trip when she was 13.
As she walked the streets of Guatemala’s slums with her family and played with children who live in the city’s dump, she thought, “I can’t wait to come back one day.”
But Mishler’s passion for sharing the Gospel with the nations lay tucked in the back of her mind until college applications and plans for the future grew overwhelming.
After completing her junior year at Christian Educational Consortium last May, Mishler felt uncertain of where God wanted her to go after graduation.
“I was asking God, ‘Why isn’t there something I feel like I’m called to do?’” Mishler said.
Mishler grew up at Southeast. She served on the SE!Kids worship team in middle school, has been involved in Middle and High School Ministry groups and HSM’s Kingdom Worker Wednesdays and served as a middle school girls’ small group leader for three years.
Mishler said she knew she wanted to be obedient to what God wanted her to do after graduation, but had no idea where to start.
During a weekend worship service last summer, Mishler listened to Pastor Dave Stone preach on “Overflowing Love” from First Thessalonians.
“Dave was preaching about how sometimes love comes naturally, but others times, you have to work for it,” Mishler said. “I knew God wanted me to love others like Jesus, but I didn’t know what that would look like or how I would do that.”
God began to reveal the answer to Mishler while reading the book “Kingdom Journeys” by Adventures in Missions founder Seth Barnes.
“God kept putting things in front of me that were pointing me to the mission field,” Mishler said. “I realized this is where God wants me to be and what He wants me to do.”
Mishler began talking with Bob Mudd, a family friend, Southeast member and president of Adventures in Missions. Mudd encouraged her to look into World Race Gap Year.
“Mr. Mudd explained World Race Gap Year to me and was able to talk through what that would look like for me,” Mishler said. “He was a huge reason why I decided to apply, and I’m so grateful that God has given me this opportunity.”
Mudd explained that World Race Gap Year is an opportunity for 18- to 20-year-olds to experience sacrificial service and spiritual growth in community. Mishler took a leap of faith, applied and was accepted.
“I was nervous at first because it’s so easy to compare your life to your friends who are going off to college, but I just knew this was something God wanted me to be faithful to do,” she said. “I really had to humble myself and choose not to follow what I wanted to do, but trust that God knows what’s best.”
In a few months, she and a team of other young people will travel to Africa, Southeast Asia and South America to serve in numerous ways, including assisting children and adults with disabilities, volunteering in orphanages, helping build church buildings, working in fields and serving in sex trafficking safe houses.
“One of things that most excites me about serving with Adventures in Missions is being able to just love and serve people however I can, regardless of abilities or languages barriers,” Mishler said. “I’m so excited how God will use our team to show people how much Christ loves them.”
This summer, Mishler will attend a weeklong training session to meet her teammates and prepare for her trip.
“I feel like even though I haven’t met my team, we’re already like family,” Mishler said. “We’re in a group chat, and we talk all the time about what God’s doing in our lives with so much openness and vulnerability. I can tell these are going to be lifelong friendships, and that’s definitely something I’m praying for.”
Mishler said that although being away from home in unfamiliar places for nine months is intimidating, the opportunity to grow her relationship with Christ and share with others is worth it.
“I’ve already started to see my relationship with God grow, just in preparing for Gap Year, and I can’t wait for that to continue,” she said. “I’m most excited to just help people and form relationships with them. My prayer is that when people see me, they will see Christ in me. Even though we may be different, we can share this one, big God.”