What happens when an nineteen-year-old, recent high school graduate spends nine months traveling and serving through three countries? Lives change.
Kory Markel left Fort Collins in August, 2012 as part of a 22-member squad through Adventures in Missions. AIM sends thousands of young people on missions trips every year with a focus on prayer and discipleship while working alongside local churches and ministries overseas. His personal goals were to more clearly hear the voice of the Lord, witness the Spirit move in himself and in ministry, and to serve and love everyone he met with an undeniable anointing of Jesus.
After training in Georgia, the squad headed out for three months each in three different countries. The first stop was Nicaragua where they lived in a village spreading the gospel. Though there is a significant “Christian” population in northern Nicaragua, the church is plagued by legalism and condemnation. Kory had many opportunities to disciple teenage guys in the form of Bible studies or playing soccer. His Spanish was helpful in preaching the gospel of grace in a variety of churches in the area. In addition to spreading truth, the squad also partnered with local ministries in raising up leaders and various service and restoration projects. God moved in huge ways while they were living, loving and praying for the people of Nicaragua.
In November, they moved on to the Philippines where Kory’s team worked with rescued street kids and orphans. Kory’s team of seven lived at Children’s Garden, a boy’s home in a poor outskirt of Manila. The vision of the ministry is to get boys off the streets, get them fed, a bed, educated, and job skills training so they no longer have to steal and sell drugs. The most amazing part of CG though is that at the home, the boys are discipled through daily Bible study, worship, prayer, and one-on-one training led by Kory’s team. When the boys are ready, they go back on outreaches to the streets where they used to live, to hang out with the prostitutes and murderers they used to live with and share how God has changed their life. What a deadly perspective for these teenage boys to come from, to say ‘I know how you are feeling because 2 years ago, I used to be you. And Christ wanted relationship with me anyways’. God performed incredible healing and miracles in and through the hearts of the boys while Kory was there, and he still keeps in contact with many of them.
The final leg of the adventure began in Senga Bay, Malawi, building up a Bible school and sharing the love of Jesus. The squad was living in in mud-hut Islamic villages, also populated by many Rastafarians and witch doctors. They lived with no electricity, no Internet, and the nearest well was a mile away. It is an incredibly spiritual environment desperately in need of God’s truth-hence the Bible school. Kory found that in the bush, everyone is already spiritual. It is impossible to deny the interplay of the spiritual and the physical when so everyone knew someone who had been cursed by a witch doctor, and you live every day not knowing if you will have food for tomorrow. So when the squad would pray for people and they would get healed, or they would feel the Love they brought, it was a matter of telling them it was the power of God, not us, that the love came from Jesus, not on Earth. It was a daily battle: the fear of the “natural healers” versus the hope of our Lord, the control of Islam versus the grace of the Gospel. Kory and the squad learned so much and saw God move in absolutely amazing ways.
Although it wasn’t always easy, Kory wouldn’t trade the trip for anything. Missing friends and family, or any sacrifice for that matter paled in comparison to seeing God move. Kory felt honored to have had the opportunity to serve and is incredibly grateful to everyone who supported him by prayer and finances. The fact that He went the nine-months without getting sick or injured in an incredible testament to the power of prayer. He feels so blessed to have fully devoted nine-months of his life to serving our One True God.
Kory returned to Fort Collins in mid-May, 2013. After spending a few days in Fort Collins, he returned to Noah’s Ark in Buena Vista, Colorado where he is a white-water rafting and backpacking guide. In the fall, he will attend the CSU to study Biomedical Sciences in the Honors program there. Kory is excited to implement all that God taught him in the Field to life back in the States. After living among the poor for nine-months, Kory is now very sure of what is important in life. It isn’t your house, car, clothes, running water, electricity, or even food: it is knowing God and making Him known. Period.